The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Wednesday—Our flight to Peshawar was delightful and shorter than we expected. The countryside below us was a mixture of desert and irrigated fertile land, which was delightfully green, and rugged mountains, which are bare of all vegetation. This is a tragedy because they tell me that once all these mountains were covered with trees.

We were greeted by a number of ladies and some officials when we landed and were driven straight to the government house where the governor of the province, H.E. Khwaja Shahabuddin, awaited us.

We had a little time before lunch so we walked down into the garden to review a branch of the Women's Naval Reserve which was on parade for inspection.

After lunch we left to drive up the Khyber Pass. This was really a sentimental journey for me because I had remembered my father's description of going through this pass on Indian hunting trips. I kept trying to think what his "safari" would have looked like alongside our line of motorcars.

On our way a fort was pointed out to me where the Sikhs had fought against the British, and their commanding general, Hari Singh, had been killed. Whereupon the Sikhs propped up their leader with his face looking out of a window so that no one would know he was dead. He remained in that position for four days.

When we entered the tribal area of the Afridis I got out and was greeted by some 20 tribesmen who had brought three sheep to give to me and who would, after my departure, sacrifice them and use them for food.

The Afridis guard the pass and are paid by the government. All along the way one sees figures against skyline—or men standing motionless against the rocks—all within signaling distance of one another. I was constantly reminded of Kipling's tales, for this was his country.

A little farther on our journey we stopped and climbed a little hill to see the view. Then we reached a guest house where we were offered tea and I was greeted by another group of tribesmen who presented me with more sheep.

Here I made an unheard of request to be allowed to go into one of the native houses. This caused a good deal of consultation but finally it was agreed that on my return I would be allowed to do so.

We drove to the end of the pass, sometimes seeing little patches of green, sometimes just stark rocks towering above us on either side. At the end of the sentry boxes of Pakistan and Afghanistan stand almost side by side, but one may not cross line; otherwise, one might find it extremely difficult to return.

On our way back we photographed a sign which amused me very much. On one side it pointed to a little road that was almost parallel to the one we were on and on that side was painted a picture of a camel and a donkey; on the other side, with the arrow pointing to the paved road, was a picture of an automobile.

We paid a visit to the house as we requested earlier and were given green tea in beautiful Russian china cups. These date back to the days of the czars and can no longer be bought. Then we looked into other rooms of the house and the ladies were permitted to go into the women's part of the place. With great hospitality the tribesmen begged us to stay and said they would roast a sheep and have their favorite dish ready for us quickly, but this we could not do because I already was late for a speech I had promised to make at Peshawar University.

Back in Peshawar we had dinner at the government house but I'll have to tell you about that tomorrow.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Peshawar, North-West Frontier, Pakistan [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 28, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.