A very warm welcome in Islamabad


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August 22nd 2012
Published: August 25th 2012
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After a flight that was worse still than the one from Milan to Dubai (this time the vegetarian option was 'bread and butter only love' and there was a terrorist scare as soon as we boarded) I was surprised, overwhelmed and delighted in equal measure that I had a kind welcome as soon as I stepped off the plane. It made the kid who'd been lobbing bits of chewed up bread roll and snotty tissue at me throughout the flight seem but a distant memory...

Saher (Raza's wife to be)'s father is a high-ranking officer in the Pakistani Army and so he was allowed direct access to the plane. He was a warm, smiling chap who greeted me with a bear hug as I left the aircraft (I didn't think that was the done thing). A few seconds of sauna-like heat and I was whisked away to a luxury suite in the airport to await my luggage. It seemed like heaven after the turmoil of the 43 hours preceding!

In the suite I met Raza's mum, Zainab, who is the loveliest woman in the world (apart from you, Mum, OBVIOUSLY). She immediately made me feel at ease and showed me the reality of a colourful, friendly, diverse Pakistan; a world away from the negative press the country receives. I couldn't wait to wake up the next day and experience the Pakistan of Zainab's stories for myself...

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