Swat Visit 2011 – a typical Pukhtun village home

Note: I’m transferring the posts on my Swat visit to this new blog from the old one. This category is the home (the next category is the rivers; stay tuned for that).  Since the post was written in 2011, “this summer” refers to summer 2011.  I haven’t been back since. Pardon the writing style … ugh… I can’t re-read anything I write, so.

The Swat home is often built and designed for the joint family although it varies with most families now. There’s an unmatchable sense of peace and happiness and joy that these houses, and the people in them, bring to one’s life. It’s quite perfect for people like my parents. (I have different preferences about where and how I’d like to live, but may God fulfill the wishes of my parents and anyone else with similar wishes to theirs that can only be fulfilled in a place like Swat, aameen.)

Now pasting.

The thing is, I always have a hard time describing these houses to people who have never seen them or been inside them. Now that you can see what I’m saying, I’ll go ahead and tell you which part is called what. Annnd know that each house comes with its own stories, of which I have hundreds to tell… like homes everywhere else.

So this here is what a typical Pukhtun home looks like, people!

The open space (yard) is called gholey in Pashto; it means a courtyard, I suppose. The open space that has stairs leading to it (in almost all houses) is called mandao. Some Pashtuns call it baranda (veranda), but I’ve seen houses that have a courtyard, a mandao, and a baranda, and the baranda is the space between the courtyard and the mandao in those houses.

When I was there this summer, most of the houses I visited or stayed in had a nice little garden where the family (or families) grew vegetables, fruits, flowers, etc. This was not as common back 12 years ago as it is today. It is, however, very common–almost essential–for a typical home to have at least one tree or some other plants in it somewhere. When I was growing up, our house had one banana tree, one apple tree, a couple of plum trees, a couple of apricot trees, and one walnut tree. My grandpa cut down the apple tree when I was probably 8 or 9 years old, but the rest remained. Twelve years ago, my family shared that house, which was pretty big (it had 9 bedrooms and 2 mandaos on both sides across from each other) with all of my dad’s brothers (3 of them) and my paternal grandparents. My aunts were married by then, so they all lived in their husbands’ homes. Grandparents typically live with their youngest son; if not, they live with whichever son’s family (and the son himself!) is most welcoming to them. That same house now has been divided into two and sorta cut into pieces to build entrance gates and a betak (an exclusive male space, since non-related men, such as male guests, are not allowed inside the house where women are) for two of my uncles. That house I grew up in had a water well near the banana tree. I don’t have a picture of how the well looked back then (but the picture above  is sorta what it looked like), but the way it looks now (see image at the right) makes me cringe! It’s very dangerous to draw water from it (I have a video of it — click here to see it.) because it doesn’t have that little wall surrounding it anymore. The picture to the left, something I found online, is how we used to draw water from it before – oh, and that’s the “wall” I’m talking about. The picture of the new well is the one on the right above.

Oh, and where the camera-person is standing in the video is where we used to have a “wall” surrounding the the well; behind the wall used to be some plants and the banana tree. The banana tree is unfortunately no longer there, as you can see in the video. The house in the video is the first house below.

The old well! (Or something like it anyway)
The new well! Not at all dangerous, ai.
You see the well (right of the picture) next to the damp spot under the grapevine? It has a lid on it.
Oh, and the houses behind the wall are the neighbors’ houses.
Same house (house #1). Behind that red door is where they built the betak, and you see the betak when you enter the house through the gate, which you can’t see in here.
The apricot (khubanai) tree! 😀 It’s the same tree that was there 12 yrs ago! In house #1.
The other end of house #1. They’ve changed a lot. It’s a separate house now, with its own entrance and all.
Pukhtun home 2

The other end of House #1

House # 2
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Another angle of House #2 with the gholey and mandao showing

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Same – house # 2 Where that woman’s headed is the kitchen.

On our way to Marghozaar, we visited a family friend in Gul Baandai. Beautiful family. This is their house. House #3.
House #3’s kitchen.
House #4. From the mandao‘s view.
House #4. From the courtyard’s view.
Dishwashing area in House #4.
Me in a burqa (full body covering, including the face) in House #4’s gholey.
Same! Except in House #4’s mandao.
Pukhtun home 3

From the roof of house #4

Pukhtun home 4

From the roof of house #4 – the blue things are called “draams” (plural of “draam”) in Pashto; they’re water tanks. The more well-off houses have one, linked to a water well either in the house or in the neighborhood.

House #5. This is the “village” (or section of a village) of a people called gujar, a term that refers to the socially low status of the people. They often have a lot of animals and sell milk.
House #6
Pukhtun home - 1

House #6 – another angle

House #7 – this is the “outside” of the house; its inside is more western-style, closed and all.

 The following photos were taken by my sister during her recent visit to Swat (2015). I’m not sure if the first one’s inside a house, but it easily can be. The kitchen area in a village style home. The photo below that is a neighborhood dumpster – I know; we’ve got a lot to work on. The lats photo is of a woman in a parruney (the shawl worn by women to cover their face with when leaving their home), standing in an alley. The alley is representative of the alleys I spent my childhood in in Swat, so.

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About Orbala

Pashtun. Interested in all things Pashtuns, feminism, and Islam/religion. And I want it to rain on my wedding day, pliss, inshaAllah.
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