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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Is there a town here called Nasirabad


In

the morning we passed two Cossacks from the Sistan Consulate escort, who, having been relieved, were now on their way back to Russia. They gave us a hearty greeting, and shortly after a messenger from the British Consul in Sistan handed me a letter, a most kind invitation from Major Benn to go and stay with him at the Consulate.

Towards noon we reached Nasirabad (altitude 2,050 ft.), a very old village founded by one Malik Nasir Khan Kayani--the _Kayani_, as is well known, being the former rulers of Sistan, and every big _Kayani_ being called "Malik." We stopped for a couple of hours for lunch, the principal house in the village being vacated by the courteous inmates for my use. The arrival of a _ferenghi_ excited considerable attention, and numerous and anxious inquiries were made whether I was a "Ruski" or "Inglis." On learning that I was "Inglis," they expressed their unsolicited conviction that all Inglis were good people and Ruski all bad, and no doubt if I had been a Ruski the reverse conviction would have been expressed with similar eagerness.

The natives were polite, but extremely noisy, shouting and yelling at the top of their voices when they spoke. The men wore large white turbans over their white skull caps, long blue shirts, opened and buttoned on the left side, reaching to below their knees, and the enormous Afghan trousers.

From Nasirabad we came across a long

uninterrupted row of ruined villages and towns, stretching in a line for some eight miles from north to south. The most northern one had the appearance of a fortress with a very high wall, still in fair preservation, and several more of these fortresses were to be seen along the line of houses, the majority of dwellings being outside these forts. The domed houses--some of which were in perfect preservation--showed the identical architecture and characteristics of Persian houses of to-day.

We were benighted again. Curiously enough, even within a mile or so from Sher-i-Nasrya, on asking some natives where the city of _Nasirabad_ or _Nasratabad_, as it is marked in capital letters on English maps (even those of the Indian Trigonometrical Survey), nobody could tell me, and everybody protested that no such city existed. (The real name of it, Sher-i-Nasrya, of course, I only learnt later.)

This was puzzling, but not astonishing, for there is a deal of fancy nomenclature on English maps.

Eventually, when I had almost despaired of reaching the place that night, although I could not have been more than a stone-throw from it, I appealed to another passer-by, riding briskly on a donkey.

"How far are we from Nasratabad?"

"Never heard the name."

"Is there a town here called Nasirabad?"

"No, there is no such town--but you must have come through a small village by that name, two farsakhs off."

"Yes, I have. Do you happen to know where the English Consulate is?"


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