SUNDAY 14TH NOVEMBER, 1976
“First stop was the ancient city of Bam. Hot sun, very still, eary place. Amazing maze of mud houses including mosque, surrounded by old city ramparts and reconstructed fort. Wandered round city walls (crumbled away to narrow ledges in places – not exactly Nat. Trust style!) View over newer town and palm trees, showing oasis in the desert.
Sat on ledge in front of fortress looking over ruins – lovely and not after bitter cold morning, but huge scorpions so we left. Me and Jan made for mosque and then got separated somehow, while climbing through ruins. Really scary – incredible silence except for ugly cawings and throat rattlings of huge black birds wheeling overhead and scuttle of lizard in front of me! Got lost! (Expected to meet a snake at any moment!) Finally saw the “red elbow” signalling from ramparts! (She knew I’d be lost in there somewhere!)
Walked into town – palm trees up middle of road, women washing in drain, loads of veiled women in main street etc.
[For centuries this amazing mud city was an important staging post on the trade routes between India and Europe. In December 2003 it was largely destroyed by Iran’s worst earthquake in which tens of thousands of people were killed or injured. Children’s charity, Action for Orphans, has built homes in Kerman for some of the children whose families were wiped out. http://actionfororphans.org.uk/]
Stopped in afternoon at Bam lighthouse – crumbling ediface in middle of huge expanse of desert. Climbed to top and looked out over road – only thing to see apart from bus. (Crazy thing to be doing on a Sun afternoon!) Brewed up cup of tea sheltered in 2 lorry tyres and had stone throwing session with Jan and Rob. [Such ‘lighhouses’ were viewing points for the many camel trains that plied the old trade routes]
Saw mirages of water and then stopped at military cay shop and bought coke. Drew up at Camp C – like a mirage in the desert! Construction camp for Marbles Ridgeway for road blasting in nearby mountains. Made a b-line for the showers with Diana and Shirley – hot water in basins! Had orgy of washing hair etc, then went into mess room. Jim, nice Scot, bought me beer straight away – ate my curry in there then they ordered me a caramel pudding, followed by lovely bits of chicken and ham. Beer and vodka flowing that night.
Talked with Malcolm – v interesting about Baluchies and preparation for Revolution to make a country out of bits of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then Di and me got talking with 3 super Geordie miners – had a really nostalgic session, felt homesick to hear their accents! There was a bit of dancing at one end. Ended up having great sing song – one fella could play guitar. Very stuffy sleeping with heaters in rooms.”
[This camp in the desert seemed to be divided up into three separate quarters for British and Pakastani migrant workers and the local Baluch workforce]