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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

34.0151366, 71.5249154

Thurs 22. [22 January 1903] And arrived at Peshawar at 2.30, 2 hours
late. Straight to the Alexandra Hotel where I found a warm room and
tea and so to bed. Before breakfast Mr Paul appeared to ask about
Mankyala. Grey horrid day, a duststorm and then rain. I went to see
the Russells in the annex and H [Hugo] to see Mr Jelf whom he
brought back with him - very pleasant. Capt. Venour also came. Mr
Jelf came for us at 12.30 and drove us through Edwardes' Gate
(Kabuli) to the town. Outside, under the mud fort, are the transport
mules ready to take the army at 24 hours' notice into Afghanistan.
The Afridis plot with their friends inside, burrow through the mud walls,
and go in and murder and steal. There are 125 murders in a year.
We went in by the Kissah Khanah Bazaar and drove on through a big
gate marked City Police Station which leads to a sort of circular place
where the dyers work; then to the left past the Hindu merchants' shops
to the Tahsil. Everywhere mud colour and the unforgettable menace
of the Frontier. The houses are 2,3 and 4 stories, built of half burnt
brick laid between laths - generally 2 storied the lower shops, the
upper carved wooden balconies and windows. From which look out
turbaned fierce heads of Pathans and Kabulis. Scarcely any women
and all veiled. We went to the Tahsil where there is a suite of empty
rooms where the Amir's envoys are lodged, with a zenana for their
women. The Tahsildar is an agreeable Persian speaking man.
From the roof we had a wonderful view over the rabbit warren of mud
coloured Peshawar and away across a plain set with trees to the hills
of the Forbidden Land. Out to the Shahi Bagh and back by the
Circular Road where we saw shaggy Bactrian camels and the
guardhouses with their search lamps and mud walls set with upright
stones to imitate heads and deceive Afridi raiders at night. Lunched
with Mr Jelf and Mr Howells. Then to Safdar Ali in the town. His sign
says: Carpets and Bokhara [Bukhara] other things. We only
discovered in the middle that he was Safdar Ali and produced Mr
Jelf's letter. He burst into praises. I observed that he had 4 brothers,
at which S.A. held up a hand and said [Persian[?] characters] at which
we made friends and he assured us we might have his wares for
nothing if we liked. Back to tea. Raining. Mr Jelf came in after.
Poured all night. A Mrs Foster at dinner, a grass window with a
husband in Somali Land who described with rapture Indian balls and
said she wd go anywhere short of Bombay to get one.

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