A RANGE of buildings separates the two counts, in which we were allotted an upstairs room. The other passengers, who are soldiers, at once took advantage of this to exchange their uniforms for turbans, long coats and loose trousers. Disturbed by the rain of puttees and tunics, I ensconced my bedding on a balcony, and was unrolling it when a procession of portly middle-aged gentleman entered the court below. Taking off their gowns and turbans, they stopped below a cleft tree, and each in turn tried to squeeze himself through it. Those that succeeded, I was told, might expect salvation hereafter. They were in a minority.
'Do you happen to have any arak with your?' whispered the gate-keeper when they had gone.
He led me up the avenue to the tomb. As I stood on the roof of the arch, watching the cranes wheel overhead and a ruddy glow suffuse the horizon of snow-covered mountains, another procession, portlier still, began to approach. At its head strode a lordly figure in black top-boots and a green quilted gown, beneath whose vast turban a white beard projected horizontally over a chest as big as a pouter pigeon's. 'The Hazrat Sahib,' vouchsafed the gate-keeper, 'comes to greet Your Excellency the Frankish traveller.'
'What big fish you have in the pond down there,' I opened politely.
'Those!' answered the Hazrat Sahib with contempt. 'You should see the ones in the madrassa.'
Literally Lost: 6
Last week's extract was by Bruce Chatwin. The action took place in Patagonia, and the extract came, aptly enough, from 'In Patagonia'. The winner was Trevor Warner, Essex.Reuse content