Those amongst us, who profess to have visited Chitral, but raise a questioning eyebrow at the mention of Bombret, Rambur or Birir, need to relinquish that claim. Not wishing to be stood up and counted amongst this group, two friends bitten by the travel bug and whose journey to Chitral and exploits therein, were the subject of my last two columns, decided to spend two days amongst the Kalash of Bombret Valley. The Kalash are unique in the sense that they have managed to retain their customs and beliefs in spite of pressures. This and the fact that it takes some going to reach their beautiful land, has created an aura of mystery around them. Some say that they have descended from the remnants of Alexanders army, but others say that this is an unsubstantiated theory. The fact remains that our interaction with these people more than four decades ago, left some of the most pleasant memories that continue to brighten up our otherwise dreary evenings. We left our rest house in Chitral early for our journey to Ayun, from where we were expected to back pack our stuff and walk to Bombret. We put our lives once more in the hands of our jeep driver and set off on the katcha road to our 'road head. Our trip was as uneventful as our drive to Hot Springs, described in last weeks column, till we reached the suspension bridge at Gahrait Gorge. The Gahrait Gorge was what the name implied - near vertical walls of rock enclosing a fury filled river that thundered its way past them. Not content with this awesome demonstration of power, nature had added a terrifying twist to it. The narrow confines of the gorge and speedy flow of water through it, created a Venturi Effect, with the result that high speed gusts of wind continuously buffeted the bridge across it. This was like no other structure that we had seen as it was simply a long strip of stout wooden slats held together with ropes and suspended with the help of parallel steel cables strung across the chasm. The access and exit to this bridge was provided through two gates positioned at 90 degrees angle to the road. The wooden slats could bear the load of one small vehicle at a time and once on the bridge, it required nerves of steel and excellent driving skills to keep the wheels on both extremities of the structure. We disembarked from the jeep to lighten the vehicle, but halfway across the structure, our driver began beckoning for us to follow. Not wanting to be dubbed as cowards, we began walking only to realise that the pair of us had become subjects of a practical joke, for the bridge suddenly began to sway from side to side as gusts of wind hit it broadside. To make matters worse, we saw our driver doubled up with laughter, as he drove across and waited for us on the far side of the gorge. It was only after we were across that the comic side of the situation dawned on us and we too had a good laugh. Leaving the jeep at Ayun, we began what was more than a 10 kilometre trek to our destination - a small hotel referred to us by that lovable old rogue of our driver. We found that the 'hotel was nothing but another chai khana with a single room, a central firepit and a hole in the roof for the smoke to escape. There were charpoys placed around the pit and these served the twin purpose of eating and sleeping. On enquiry, we were told that there was another small detached room, but it had been rented out to a gora and his mem. Since we were the only 'guests in the big room, we ate a spicy meal of small potatoes and tandoori roti, washed down with - of all things - Seven Up (we later found crates of this beverage piled high in the back of the hotel). We awoke early next morning, rolled out of our sleeping bags and went to the largest toilet we had ever used - an open mountain side shaded by apple trees and pines. We spent the day exploring the nearby village and were back in the hotel for lunch. We were told that last nights potatoes were once again on the menu. A little piqued, we decided to buy a chicken and slaughter it. What followed was an unforgettable farce with the main actors consisting of a headless chicken flopping about on the ground and a pair of young men desperately trying to catch it. That evening we were joined by two individuals, who were officers from the Paramilitary Scouts unit in Chitral. We heaved a mighty sigh as these men told us of a comfortable rest house, where they had been spending their leave, just a few minutes walk from our 'four-star abode. The four of us started back for Chitral and we offered to drop the scouts at their mess overlooking the town. It was here that we were introduced to Lieutenants Bonzo. Booby and Henry, immortalised in the cornerstone of the officers mess which read, this cornerstone was well and truly laid by Lieutenants Bonzo, Boob and Henry, and inside we came across more of the trio when we saw the words, may this cup never run dry, crafted on beautiful silver mugs that adorned a cabinet in one of the rooms. I looked around me and was suddenly pervaded by the feeling as if I was in company with three young lads far from home and from a time long gone. n The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.