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Published: August 25th 2012
After nearly a week in Islamabad, it's only fair to write an update of how things are going...
I had an absolutely gorgeous bedroom in Saher's place- in fact, it was her room! Only in Pakistan are the people so hospitable that the bride will give up her boudoir so that you can sleep easy. I felt really bad one night when I noticed her father (the man responsible for organising most of the wedding) sleeping on the marble floor in the corridor. I had repeatedly asked 'Are you sure it's okay for me to have this room all to myself? I can share it! I honestly don't mind at all!' Ahem, be careful what you wish for. On one of the nights I was unexpectedly bombarded by three loud young ladies from downtown Islamabad. They stayed awake all night, running in and out of the room and screeching with (what seemed like, at least) twenty other girls! I suppose with the lack of alcohol and Western social norms, this is how these youngsters party. That reminds me: I haven't had a sleepover in excess of ten years...
What else do you need to know? Right, riiiiiight, Islamabad. Well, brace yourselves folks, are you ready...? Sure? Definitely?? Islamabad is... Islamabad is... well, you know how it's in the news frequently for all the wrong reasons? Well, the capital city of Pakistan is... wait for it... drum roll please... REALLY BORING. It's practically silent, subdued like a disobedient child who's been told off too many times, and remarkably lacking in anything worth note. No bombs, no terrorism, no threat of danger... However, at the time of writing, there is a scandal involving a young Christian girl with Down's Syndrome facing jail and/or the death penalty because she unknowingly set fire to some pages of the Qur'an. http://blogs.jpost.com/content/child-mine-11-year-old-down%!E(MISSING)2%99s-syndrome-child-faces-death-penalty-over-burned-islamic-texts
Having mainly only experienced the Islamabad Highway (we've been back and forth between the General's house and dress designers/roti makers/the airport all week) the only flashes of colour I've seen are the brightly, elaboratedly decorated trucks (pictures to follow...). On the first day I saw a couple of camels, but since then all I've seen is clean roads, mopeds with a modest 3 people on them, one goat, many Toyotas and some grass. Oh, I tell a lie, I did see one 'Butt Brother' (if I see another I promise to take a photo and then you will understand the hilarity!). Oh and we did go to the Diplomatic Enclave, wherein houses the Marriott Hotel. Yes that one: the one that was blown to smithereens just in 2008. Incidentally, it looks as good as new know. You'd never know it was the sight of a massive bomb blast. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamabad_Marriott_Hotel_bombing
So that's tranquil Islamabad covered, what next? Ah yes, the people. The people are what makles this place for me. Hospitable doesn't even come close. They would go out of their way (see aforementioned) to make sure that you are comfortable, well-fed (i.e over-fed!), happy and feel at home. And I thought the Slovenians were a friendly, welcoming bunch! Let me give you an example... Charli sits down. Within less than a minute Hira (Saher's brother's wife) is over offering 'Juice? Chai? Water?'. As soon as the drink choice is seleceted Sijal (Saher's brother's wife's sister) will be there. 'Hey Charli! Why don't you come and join Saher and her friends? We are practising the wedding dances. Come, yes! Join in! Accha? Theek hai?' Charli has a sip of the drink and leaves it there for after dance practice. A handful of seconds later and the glass has gone (the housekeeper has been watching me like a hawk and she swoops in as soon as I've got out of my seat).
As the only vegetarian in the house I feel a bit bad that they have to make extra things for me, but then normally I just eat the sabzi (side vegetables) and daal (lentil curry) that have been made for everybody anyway. They always make sure I'm full to bursting, too! Luckily I learned my lesson after living in India: a simple 'No thanks' doesn't wash and you get more food on your plate but if you keep insisting 'No thanks. No really. Truly I'm stuffed' then EVENTUALLY they get the message. Being polite and British doesn't work sometimes 😊
I think that's quite enough rambling for one post. See you (not literally) for the next installment...
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