Some things just stick to your mind

Haider Ali Akmal
4 min readNov 18, 2015


En Route Kohat

Packed together close enough your limbs go numb but the warmth of the person next to you reminds you that you haven’t severed anything yet. The horizon a beautiful orchestra of pink and purple reminds me of the kurta I got for the wedding I’m going to attend so many miles away amidst the shadows of these mountains. A stunning splendor this view of reds as the sun sets away under the curve of the earth landing softly leaving behind cotton candy skies, clouds taking the shape of the mountains or the mountains taking shape of clouds.

Shitty situation to be in when you can’t take out your camera. Perhaps some views are best left to be enjoyed in the moment and not through the repetition of technology, or print.

The seat I’m sharing is with a family, they seem to have gone to the city to spend the weekend an idea that seemed off for me but understandable when you live in the mountains. The city held sights and opportunities unavailable or at least different than its outskirts. But that didn’t interest me. It was the setting. A husband and wife giggling something Pashto, there children with their eyes full of sparkly diamonds, some bags with new toys— definitly the children’s doing—a little netted cage of finches. From the looks of it the wife had coaxed her husband to letting her have them, all while their son was sitting on a small protruding seat just above the engine. It didn’t look comfortable as he kept fidgeting but he was small enough to make it usable.

Behind me my fellow wanderer was being entertained by some eldarly passenger. They told us of the local sites and specialities the ‘we must visit and experience’ places while we were there. I was more interested in how they mentioned the large body of water we were crossing was ‘yahan ka samandr’the sea. I let that thought wander in my head for a while, there we were two aliens in this land crossing an ocean within the mountains!

The boy had started to sway his head back and forth sometimes with the motion of the van sometimes to his own rhythm. As it fell on its own weight on my knees, resting for only a second or even a fraction at times before snapping back, his mother sat beside talking to her husband unaware.

There was a special confusing kind of feeling over me as the child looked up—I never know what to do with children around, they are, strange. I thought about giving in to those emerald eyes that shone like glass, a depth coursing around me as it took over slowly telling me something—see what I mean.

Meanwhile the road stretched on seemingly to some infinite dot in the distance, there were conversations going on in the van that made the ride a lot more bearable. Although very few were in a dialect we could understand so a sense of intimidation crept up our spines with the pakh’s and lakh’s, da’s and za’s they kept on repeating. The driver did his casual stops then went over to a store where he had some fresh pakorda’s sent in. In a big city bus this would’ve been odd especially for the passengers since they’d have to wait because the driver was hungry, he obviously cannot be considered human he has a job, a routine, he is a machine. But here everyone merely gave it a laugh, talked on even had some drool enticing yummies sent in for themselves. The little boy had been fidgeting for a while and now started moving closer, stroking the bag I had in my lap with his finger—I was petrified.

The thing about being in a strange land is that you are alien in many ways than you can imagine. Sure language is always the first hing that hits making you feel like you’re on a different planet altogether but other more present elements make the experience all the more believable. Gazes, stares, attire, tradition, all in all telling you “Yes, you are an alien in these lands, maybe you shouldn’t be here”.

By this time the breath taking hues in the cotton candy skies had dilluted down to a sliver of light. A halo over the horion just escaping the ominous clouds kissing the mountain’s foreheads in the distance and I realised that my hope of reaching our destination in the light was a thing I should forget about and allow that part of my mind to be occupied with other thoughts—like why I didn’t just stay home and play StarCraft?

I decided to give my attention to the boy.

With that he finally got what he wanted. Cradled in my arms the bag a pillow under his head he settled down and stayed comfortable for the next two hours of the ride. I, still confused at these little creatures, they were as alien as I was.

Originally published at as part of an earlier travel log.



Haider Ali Akmal

Design Futurist, Printmaker, nerd, and occasional writer interested in the interconnectivity between empathy, memory, and the digital world.