National Geographic Photo Story: A Journey Through Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains

In the heart of Central Asia lie the dramatic Pamir Mountains; while the topography of this lofty region poses unique challenges to daily life, new initiatives including those by the Aga Khan Development Network have helped to bring fresh opportunities to some of Tajikistan’s remotest communities. Please click on Pamir Mountains or on photo below to read Christopher Wilton-Steer’s piece in the National Geographic.

National Geographic Photo
Please click on image to read Pamir photo story in the National Geographic.

Date posted: April 21, 2022.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos. Simerg’s editor may be reached at mmerchant@simerg.com

Fantastic Glimpses and Insights from the 1964 East African Safari Rally

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor  SimergphotosBarakah and Simerg

The football matches between great rival teams in East Africa such as Young Africans and Sunderland of Tanzania and Luo (later Gor Mahia) and Nakuru of Kenya caused a great deal of excitement among football fans, but no sporting event could match the mass appeal and interest of the gruelling 3,000 mile East African Safari rally that was held over 4 days during Easter. Weeks before the event, we would wonder how many cars would be entering the race, how many drivers would come from overseas, and the makes of the cars. Once the rally began in Nairobi, tens of thousands people from all walks of life in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania would throng the streets to see the arrival of the rally cars in their villages and towns. We would be listening to the radio for updates, and waiting to read the morning papers. We are pleased to bring to our readers a selection of photos of the 1964 rally from the collections of The Henry Ford. While the focus is on Ford cars — and specifically the Comet — readers will get an appreciation of the preparations that went into making each car “safari ready” to withstand all that the East African roads and weather would throw at the drivers and their cars to push them into early exit from the rally. Please click HERE or on the photo below to read the story.

Comet Caliente East African Safari American entry; simerg and simergphotos malik merchant
This beautiful Comet Caliente was one of a team of special Ford Comets which was the first American entry in the gruelling 1964 East African Safari rally. The two-door fastback model was equipped with numerous safety features including roll bars, extra lights, engine skid plates and tow bolts. Photo Credit: From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Please click on photo to read more.

Date posted: April 15, 2022.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos. The editor may be reached at mmerchant@simerg.com

How a Small Ismaili Village of 20 Houses on the Roof of the World is Affected by Climate Crisis

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergSimergphotos and Barakah

High up in the small town of Bulunkul, one of the most remote areas inhabited by Ismailis (read Pilgrim Journey — the sacred wonders of Pamirs and also How to self-drive the Pamir Highway), the clear view of the Milky Way is unparalleled, and wolves prey on the livestock tended to by semi-nomadic herders like Bulbulov Doniyor. But melting glaciers and increasingly extreme weather patterns are rewriting the rules of play for this village in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan where, in winter, the weather temperature can drop down to -60°C. 

Story continues below

Partial map of Tajikistan to illustrate the location of Bulunkul. Distance from Khorog to Bulunkul, 123 km. Map Credit: Indyguide article How to self-drive the Pamir Highway

Last winter, wolves descended from the mountains and went straight for Doniyor, instead of the sheep. In a three part series supported by the Pulitzer Center, Klas Lundström, a staff writer for the Swedish newspaper Tidningen Global, tells the stories of the people living through the climate crisis. Begin reading the series on the website Inverse by clicking on Part 1: In Tajikistan, a deadly new type of climate crisis has already arrived.

Read the remaining two parts of the three part series by clicking on Part 2: 76 degrees below zero: Living through Tajikistan’s climate apocalypse AND Part 3: At the Roof of the World, solar power is a necessary evil — “We are waiting for another way of life”.

Bulbulov Doniyor. In 2020, Covid-19 struck and the herders’ usual trading routes closed. Photo: Fredrik Lerneryd/Inverse. Please click on photo for Part 1 of article.

Date posted: January 30, 2022.

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Before leaving this website please take a moment to visit Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also, visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.

The Hawk at Aga Khan Park: Beautiful Photos from Simerg’s 2021 Collection

Hast thou not seen how that whatsoever is in the heavens and in the earth extols God, and the birds spreading their wings? Each — He knows its prayer and its extolling; and God knows the things they do — Holy Qur’an, 24:41, Sura An-Nur

Hawk at Aga Khan Park
Please click on image for more beautiful photos of the hawk’s visit to Aga Khan Park in August 2021.

Date posted: December 23, 2021.

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Available for Purchase: Very Limited Quantities of “Diving Into Wildlife” Signed by Prince Hussain Aga Khan

Diving into Wildlife by Hussain Aga Khan
Cover Page of Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s Diving Into Wildlife.

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, SimergBarakah, and Simergphotos)

Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s Diving Into Wildlife comprises a collection of extraordinary underwater sea animal photographs taken by the Prince over the past decade. A collection of seven of his sea animal photos were displayed in Lisbon in July 2018 during the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan.

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SIGNED COPIES ARE MUCH DESIRED

Signed copies are much desired by book lovers and collectors, and, in this particular instance, the signature of Prince Hussain Aga Khan makes his work “Diving Into Wildlife” a truly unique and treasured item for any book collector, or for anyone receiving the book as a gift. Viewers of this website will recall that some 12 years ago, we offered both signed and unsigned copies of Prince Hussain’s book of animal photos entitled Animal Voyage. Prince Hussain had dedicated Animal Voyage to Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933-2003), and the proceeds from the sale of the book went to the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment.

Prince Hussain’s “Diving Into Wildlife” is published under the auspices of his organization called “Focused on Nature” (FON, www.focusedonnature.org), whose mission is to “assist in the conservation and protection of threatened and endangered species, as well as habitat conservation efforts when and where possible.” Simerg is thus delighted to support the work of FON by offering readers signed copies of “Diving Into Wildlife.”

As of the posting of this announcement on December 7, 2021, we have exactly 9 signed copies, and each is being offered at $US125.00 plus $US25.00 to cover expedited shipping and postage across Canada and the USA. The initiative to ask a premium for signed copies and to submit the premium to FON has not been requested by the author or the publisher, but is a Simerg’s. The signed copies are only available for shipping within North America. Each shipment will be trackable via the website of Canada Post.

HOW TO PURCHASE THE BOOK

Payment Methods:

  1. Paypal: Simergbooks has been verified by Paypal. To purchase a copy, please send a request to Simergbooks@aol.com or simerg@aol.com, and an invoice will be generated from Paypal provided we have the book in stock. In view of the limited quantities payment should then be received within 24 hours after the invoice. Canadian orders will be invoiced in Canadian dollars based on an exchange rate of $US 1.00 = $C 1.30.
  2. Email Transfer (for Canadian orders only): Once we have confirmed that a book is available, we will request you to submit a payment via email transfer. In view of the limited quantities payment should then be received within 24 hours after the invoice.

SIMERG’S EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE

My son was delighted with the excellent photography by Prince Hussain. We as a family will cherish this volume (Animal Voyage) for a long time. Once again, thank you http://www.simerg.com  for making this book available in North America and your outstanding customer service and support. Shamim Rajan, Richmond Hill, Ontario

his is a beautiful piece of work!! The service was excellent. Very quick, safe and efficient turnaround and follow up. I recommend everyone to have a copy. Nazir Alibhai, Markham, Ontario.

“Outstanding customer service, superfast delivery, and the book is great addition to any library.” Yaar, Toronto.

Date posted: December 7, 2021.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Please also visit Simerg’s sister websites  Barakah and Simergphotos.

The Heavenly Ismaili Jamatkhana at Night; and Changing Face of Nature at Morningside and Aga Khan Parks

Hopefully, you did not miss photos of the rich autumn colours at Aga Khan Park, when autumn foliage peaked around November 5, 2021. If you missed the post, please click HERE.

Click on photo

About a week later, as trees started losing their leaves, Malik Merchant happened to be at the grounds of Aga Khan Park at night, and captured the beauty of the heavenly Ismaili Jamatkhana dome through lit-up trees, moments before the lights in the prayer hall went out. See the beautiful photos HERE.

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Click on image

The face of nature changed once again, as more and more trees shed their leaves and lost much of the autumn foliage. For one last time Malik Merchant visited Morningside Park, and also made his customary pilgrimage to the Aga Khan Park. His story and spectacular photos are HERE.

Date posted: November 18, 2021.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Please also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos.

Simerg Presents “With Our Own Hands” – a Highly Acclaimed Book from the Pamirs of Afghanistan and Tajikistan

Those of us reading this book several thousand miles away from the Pamir Mountains cannot fail to be moved by the celebration of human diversity and dignity. I hope this book will act as a spur to other such works, and to the preservation and celebration of other such ancient cultures, wherever they are in the world HRH The Prince of Wales in Foreword to “With Our Own Hands”

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In size, rigor and thoughtfulness this book has become a touching piece of art — Geerdt Magiels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

With Our Own Hands Food and Life in Pamir Mountains
Front cover of “WITH OUR OWN HANDS” by Frederik van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider, 688 pp, illustrated with beautiful photos.

In the Ismaili faith, the relationship between us human beings and the places we inhabit is deeply interwoven. It is important for people who, like the Pamiris, live in places that are isolated, in which each small piece of land must be used in the best way possible. If God created us, it is believed, He also created the things around us that are necessary for us to have a healthy life excerpt from “With Our Own Hands”

Purchasing the Book: At the current time “With Our Own Hands – A Celebration of Food and Life in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan and Tajikistan” is available for sale only in Toronto. The price of the book is CDN $100.00 including home delivery or pickup from a convenient location in North York, close to the Aga Khan Museum on Wynford Drive. Our stock of this book is limited; as of November 14, 2021, only five copies are available, all brand-new in plastic-wrapped cover. Please write to Malik Merchant at simerg@aol.com or drop us a line in the feedback form below with your contact info if you are interested in acquiring this book (we won’t publish your feedback).

Worthy Addition: “With Our Own Hands” will be a worthy edition to your home library or serve as a great coffee table book by virtue of its visual quality, as well as its faithful and superb portrayal of the food, culture and traditions of the beautiful people of the Pamirs.

A 2-page spread from the 688 page book “WITH OUR OWN HANDS

Background: A book that began as a simple 30 page recipe book to fulfill a promise to a grandmother has grown to a magnificent volume of 688 pages telling the cultural and agricultural history of the Afghan and Tajik Pamirs, one of the world’s least known and most isolated civilizations. Through the lens of local recipes, essays and stories, and accompanied by the work of three award-winning photographs, “With Our Own Hands” describes Pamiri food and its origins, people’s daily lives, their struggle and celebrations. Simerg carried a special feature story on the making of the book as well as a review of the book by Shariffa Keshavjee shortly after she received the softcover edition of the volume from Simerg.

As I read and re-read the book, I feel that the earth itself compressed to make a safe haven for these very special people who truly live in harmony with mother earth. Similar to the way the animals live in the Ngorongoro Crater — Shariffa Keshavejee

A 2-page spread from the 688 page book “WITH OUR OWN HANDS

The authors ensured that each of the 1800 communities of the Pamirs received a copy of “With Our Own Hands.” In the featured photo shown at the top of this post, schoolgirls in the Bartang valley are standing with a copy of the book. The authors have noted that they were received time and time again with the warmest hospitality one could ever imagine when they travelled to remote communities with the book.

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ACCOLADES FOR “WITH OUR OWN HANDS”
(See Image of Back Cover, below)

“This…may be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read..!” — Frénk van der Linden.

People touch the book and stroke it, and it is as if there is no distance between them and the pages…it’s very touching to see – Facebook comment

Back cover of “WITH OUR OWN HANDS” by Frederik Van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider, Hardback Edition, 688 pages, illustrated.

Purchasing the book: Limited copies are available for sale in Toronto, Canada. Please write to Malik Merchant at simerg@aol.com or drop us a line in the feedback form below with your contact info if you are interested in acquiring this book (we won’t publish your feedback). Price is CDN $100.00, including delivery in Toronto or if you prefer you may pick up the book from a convenient location near the Aga Khan Museum on Wynford Drive.

Date posted: November 13, 2021.
Last updated: November 14, 2021.

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Simerg welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment.

If you are interested in acquiring “With Our Own Hands” please complete the same feedback form (we won’t publish your information) with your contact imformation.

BBC Travel: A New Road to China for Ismailis Living in Afghanistan’s Inaccessible Wakhan Corridor

Once an isolated region barely touched by the hands of time, Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor stands on the brink of great change with the building of a new road linking it with China. Study map below and click on the map or HERE to read BBC’s new photo travel piece by Simon Urwin.

Wakhan Corridor Map University of Texas.
The Wakhan Corridor is an area of far north-eastern Afghanistan (or Badakhshan) which forms a land link or “corridor” between Afghanistan and China. The Corridor separates Tajikistan in the north from Pakistan in the south. Along with Mazar-e Sharif (Afghanistan), Dushanbe (Tajikistan’s capital) and Ishkashim (which borders Badakhshan of both Afghanistan/Tajikistan) which are all circled in red, the map also shows the Panj River. It is a tributary of the Amu Darya. The river is 1,125 km long and forms a considerable part of the Afghanistan – Tajikistan border. Map: Adapted from University of Texas. Annotated by Simerg. Please click on map for BBC article. Caption includes material from Wikipedia.

Date posted: July 3, 2021.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.

Nurin Merchant’s Photos of the 2021 Tulip Festival in Ottawa, with the Aga Khan Park’s Perspective on the Venerated Flower

Nurin Merchant gets to Dows Lake on a sunny day to photograph some of the 300,000 tulips that are planted there, making it the biggest tulip festival in Canada. She incorporates into her piece some excellent material prepared by the Aga Khan Park on the origins and significance of the tulip, one of the most venerated flowers in Islamic culture, to make her photo essay truly informative and and educational….PLEASE CLICK HERE OR ON IMAGE BELOW FOR PHOTO ESSAY

Please click on photo for Nurin’s photo essay on tulips.

Date posted: May 6, 2021.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.

Photo of the Day: Easter and Sacred Christian Spaces and Objects

On April 4, 2021, Christians observe Easter Sunday, and we bring you a selection of photos related to Easter and the Christian faith captured by Montreal’s Muslim Harji during his travels around the world. Please click Photo of the Day or on the image below for more photos.

Stone of Anointing Jerusalem Easter Muslim Harji Simerg and Simergphotos
The Stone of Unction, also known as the Stone of Anointing, is just inside the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and is believed to be the place where the body of Jesus Christ was laid down after being removed from the crucifix and prepared for burial. Photo: © Muslim Harji, Montreal, PQ, Canada. Click on image for more photos.

Date posted: April 4, 2021.

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