Published: March 21st 2006March 20th 2006
Galib & I adventured out into the city of Islamabad...spontaneously accepting the taxi driver's suggestion that we visit Rawalpindi. Though, Salim didn't describe it to us like that, he only said it would be a "nice" place to visit on the outskirts of Islamabad and it was a convenient 20 minute drive. The charge: $35, over-priced, but we couldn't be bothered with bartering for $10 and Salim's English skills were significantly better than most other drivers...bonus!
We scooted around the Margalla Hills in our yellow taxi. Margalla Hills is where you can observe the entire city of Islamabad from the hilltop and see the scenic view of the Faisal Mosque, the most famous building in the capital city of Pakistan.
Excerpt from Wikipedia:
"The mosque has an area of 5,000 square meters and can hold over 70,000 worshippers, including those outside. It is considered to be one of the largest mosques in the world and largest in the subcontinent. It was designed by the Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay. The design is a modern one, but makes use of the traditional structure of an Arabian tent, with its large triangular prayer hall and four minarets. However, unlike traditional mosque design,
Who wonders why there are vegans out there...I mean, come on!!! The lingering odour of animal flesh makes me wanna gag
it lacks a dome, and like a tent, the weight of the main prayer hall in the center is supported by the four minarets. The interior of this prayer hall holds a very large chandelier and its walls are decorated with mosaics and calligraphy by the famous Pakistani artist Gulgee."
As we were heading out towards Rawalpindi, the thoughts going through my head were that we really didn't ask Salim many questions...and I pondered why no one we had met so far had recommended that we visit Rawalpindi. Oh well, I guess there are so many places to see you can't name them all.
Salim pointed out the Afghan refugee areas. Mud huts, or "kaccha" houses, they are called, resemble the living conditions of the tent cities. It is beyond the Western world to believe people live like this, everyday, and their situation is not improving.
We inquired about Salim's views on President Musharraf. To our surprise and excitement, Salim stated that he could whisk us past the President's compound, but we shouldn't take photos or the military would think we were spies. I made sure the flash wasn't on...eeek.(Don't worry, we didn't have any problems, only
GB with our taxi driver, Salim
Salim showed us a run down castle in Pindi
Another tidbit of history from Wikipedia:
"Musharraf became de facto Head of Government (using the title Chief Executive and assuming extensive powers) of Pakistan following a bloodless coup d'état on 12 October 1999. That day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attempted to dismiss Musharraf and install ISI director Khwaja Ziauddin in his place. Musharraf, who was out of the country, boarded a commercial airliner to return to Pakistan. Senior Army generals refused to accept Musharraf's dismissal. Sharif ordered the Karachi airport to prevent the landing of the airliner, which then circled the skies over Karachi. In the coup, the generals ousted Sharif's administration and took over the airport. The plane landed with only a few minutes of fuel to spare, and Musharraf assumed control of the government. Sharif was put under house arrest and later exiled. He and other democratic leaders have even been prevented from entering Pakistan. The existing President of Pakistan, Rafiq Tarar, remained in office until June 2001. Musharraf formally made himself President on June 20, 2001, just days before his scheduled visit to Agra for talks with India." Glad we didn't arrive in Karachi on that day...
As we came into the heart
Dyeing Fabric in Rawalpindi
This guy was matching a pink fabric. Smoking his cigarette, he didn't even notice that I was taking the photo. When the flash went off, startled, he looked up to the sky...must have thought there was lightning
of Rawalpindi, I soon realized why no one had suggested that we go there. It was a slum (thanks atif). Hyderabad was dirty, but this place was squalid. We wandered through the various clothing, jewellery and meat markets. The odor of meat lingering in the air made me gag. Galib felt the same way. We passed a corner only to be greeted by a row of goat heads. I was too shocked to take a photo at the time, but no worries, there were plenty of photo oppportunities later.
Galib & I walked and walked and walked and the streets kept getting narrower and narrower. Sketchier and sketchier. My mind kept wandering back to Al-Karim's wise advice, "Trust no one, trust no-one". Hmmmm. That was good advice right about now! I remembered that our hotel takes a chit of the driver's name and taxi number, whew!!! We were ok. But oh...I tried to recall this time. No chit. Oh sh*t. This was right about the time that Galib shoved all of his money down his pants. Only to have it slide down moments later. Tee hee.
Turns out we were fine. Walking the slums of Pindi with our
Narrow street in the slums of "Pindi"
Rawalpindi is known to the locals as "Pindi"
unknown taxi driver? No travel agency offers that.
Cinnamon & Galib
There are more photos below