A Sufi Sensation

For a dose of sensory overload, Karachi style, a visit to the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi is highly recommended. I stopped by it the other night and felt pity for the photographer who was with me; there was no way a picture could absorb and express its beauty and chaos. (I also realized that words couldn’t do it justice, either.) The Sufi tomb, on a hilltop overlooking the Arabian Sea, consists of a green and white dome with flags fluttering in the breeze and waves of incense leavening the air. Barefoot pilgrims ascend a long and steep staircase: beggars, peasants, bricklayers, drivers, addicts, office workers, etc. Some sing, some pray. Surrounding the shrine is a marketplace that counts, among its attractions, fortune tellers and traditional musicians whose listeners pass, from hand to hand, the joints they have made from tobacco and hashish. The joints are unnecessary; the shrine is hallucinogenic.

Author: Peter Maass

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In 1983, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, I went to Brussels as a copy editor for The Wall Street Journal/Europe. I left the Journal in 1985 to write for The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, covering NATO and the European Union. In 1987 I moved to Seoul, South Korea, where I wrote primarily for The Washington Post. After three years in Asia I moved to Budapest to cover Eastern Europe and the Balkans. I spent most of 1992 and 1993 covering the war in Bosnia for the Post.