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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Only a few are completed yet between Robat and Nushki


We

passed a great many parallel sand dunes, 100 feet high, east and west of our track, and went through a cut in one of these sand banks, beyond which the sand hills had accumulated in a somewhat confused fashion upon a crescent-shaped area. They seemed of a more ancient formation than those to the west of the track, and had a great quantity of shingle upon them, which gave them a black and greenish appearance, while those to the west were of a light brown colour. The shingle in this case, I think, had not formed on the hillocks themselves, but had been washed and blown down from the high mountains to the east.

We were now in the territory of Beluchistan, and with a bounding heart--after the experience of Persian rest-houses--we saw a nice clean square whitewashed bungalow standing on a high prominence under the shelter of a rugged mountain. This was Robat, the furthermost British post in West Beluchistan.

Although still some 463 miles from the nearest railway I looked upon this spot as the end of my difficult travelling, and, taking into consideration the fact that most of that distance had to be performed across barren and practically uninhabited country, I found that I was not far wrong in my opinion.

CHAPTER XXVIII

The Lahr Kuh--Robat _thana_ and bungalow--Said Khan--Persian and Beluch music,

songs and dancing--Beluch musical instruments--Beluch melodies, love and war songs--Comic songs--Beluch voices--Persian melodies--Solo songs--Ululations--Persian instruments--Castanets--Persian and Beluch dancing--The _chap_.

South-west of Robat (at 210 deg. bearings magnetic) stands a fine mountain, the Lahr Kuh, and from it descends a little stream flowing towards the north-east. There is a large _thana_ (fortified post-house) at Robat of eight rooms and a spacious court for horses. A shop with grain and provisions is found here, and a post office with the familiar black board outside on which one was rather amused to read the usual postal notices in the English language stuck upon it--announcing Queen Victoria's death, notifying that the office would be closed on such and such bank holidays, and other public news.

The quarters of the _Jemadar_ and his seven levies, of the _Duffadar_ and the postmaster, were enclosed in the high-walled _thana_ with its imposing entrance gate and four towers at the corners. Beyond the _thana_ was the old resting place built of stone, with six rooms, but now rather in a tumbling-down condition.

Then last, but not least, of the buildings was the new bungalow, with a nice portico all round. It contained four spacious, lofty rooms with well-drawing chimneys. There were windows, but not yet with glass in them, and this was rather an advantage, because the air of the mountains was pure and better than would have been the shut-in atmosphere of a room. Each room had a bathroom attached to it--but of course the bath had to be brought by the traveller himself.

[Illustration: Said Khan, Duffadar and Levies at the Perso-Beluch Frontier Port of Robat.]

This was one of two types of rest-houses which are being built by the British Government for travellers on the Nushki-Robat route. The other kind was of similar architecture but with only two rooms instead of four. These bungalows were solidly built, well ventilated and excellent in every way--of course in relation to the country they were in. It was not proposed when they were put up to compete in comfort and _cuisine_ with the Carlton Hotel in London, that of Ritz in Paris, or the Waldorf-Astoria of New York. They were mere rest-houses for traders and travellers accustomed to that particular kind of travelling, and the British Government ought to be greatly thanked for building these shelters at the principal halting-places on the route. Only a few are completed yet between Robat and Nushki, but their construction is going ahead fast, and within the next year or so, if I understood right, they would all be ready to accommodate travellers. They were a great improvement on the old _thanas_, which, although comfortable enough, were not always quite so clean on account of natives using them.


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