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Asalaamalekum! A few days ago we, the Jalal family, embarked on a journey, six years in the planning, six grandchildren later, and involving 6000 argumentative emails.

Our father, Al-haj Saiyed Abdul Jalal, was taking his children to visit his Pathan ancestral village, Hamzadher, deep in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, near the border of Pakistan/ Afghanistan, not too far from the Khyber Pass, in what is euphemistically known to many as "No Man's Land". My dada (paternal grandfather), Haji Saiyed Rehman was born in Hamzadher, as were his forefathers.

We left our spouses and children behind in Fiji and Australia. Largely, they accepted this, despite the occasional grumbling. This was a special journey, one dedicated to giving our father a great deal of happiness, and to exploring some of our somewhat mysterious roots, in an area mired in a mixture of romance, ancient history, tribalism and intermittent warfare. It was an irresistible combination, too powerful to defy, despite the occasional concern about security. Imrana had winged her way to Dubai and then Lahore from the 53rd Commission on the Status of Women in New York; the rest, our parents, Abdul and Pinky; and siblings, Joycelyn Nazhat, Carolyn Ariza and Saiyad Altaf Jalal from various parts of Queensland.

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