Peshawar, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan is a bustling lively place known for its bazaars among other things…or so I had been told. I arrived during a shopkeepers’ strike so it seemed the whole city was on lock down. Some stalls and restaurants were open but the streets were, by Pakistani standards, empty.
Peshawar has a frontier town edginess and vibrancy that comes from the fusion of the mainly Pashtun population with the influx of Afghan refugees and more recently, Chinese Muslims. This heady mix is reflected in those few stalls that were open – local Peshwari Chappals (sandals) were on offer alongside stalls selling cheap Chinese goods. And hidden among the back streets, Afghan carpet traders sat in large dimly lit warehouses talking and drinking ‘Kawa’ – the green tea for which Peshawar is known for.
I guess that is to be expected for a city at the crossroads of two ancient trade routes. A tributary of the Silk Roads drops down, roughly North to South, from China to the Arabian Sea and intersects the Grand Trunk Road which, in turn, runs from Kabul (Afghanistan) in the West to Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore in the East and beyond into India and Bangladesh.
I went a small barber’s shop to get rid of the ragged beard I had grown over the previous three weeks. The pictures below show the young man who shaved me, the owner and a client getting his eyebrows flossed.
Sadly, I did not have too much time to explore Peshawar. But early on my last morning I got out to see the city rising from its slumber. The tea houses were open and busy serving tea and Nashta – the local bread.
Down one side alley I came across a man making just Chappal soles from tyre inner tubes.
Just a little way on was a knife maker busy working but still finding time to engage with his friends…
I met the bird man of Peshawar as I made my way back to the hotel…
I barely scratched the surface of Peshawar during my short visit. I hope to get back there sometime and if I do, spend a few days exploring this kaleidoscopic city.
In shāʾ Allāh