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Published: January 27th 2010
Iwe, do I get my lollypop?
It ain't Oranjeboom Malt, but crap is was...
no, we did not disappear in Pakistan, got kidnapped or was subject of any criminal activities, it's an OK country. After our lovely week with Renate in ISB, we moved out of the capital to explore some more countryside. Rawalpindi, ISB's twin city is the travel hub, so we caught our train to Lahore from there. Rawalpindi is worth a mention here. Even though it is damn close to ISB, it is so much different. Pindi (as the locals call it) is not pre-planned by grids/sectors, but more like a HUGE bazaar, messy, crowdy, etc. Somehow we have the feeling that we like chaos more than ultimate order... But we only spent one night there, so just enough to check out the bazaar and have a greet evening on our small balcony to view the sunset. Dirty and cheap, that was it, I mean about the balcony... had great samosa pick nick though with Big Apple from Murree brewery (imitating champagne :-)
Next morning we were celebrities at the train station, but we already got used to this. Train service is pretty good in Pakistan, clean trains, no crowd (probably people just
Creating lovely carved stones with Islamic verses and other stuff... (Sorry, I'm no an expert in this).
decided to stay at home if they can, and avoid travel), and we met nice fellows there so we had entertainment on our trip. 2 guys approached us, both Paki businessmen, one with fabrics for female clothing, while the other with a cutlery factory. Had a nice chat, and the only tricky question we (or more precise: Chris) got was: what do you think happens after death? This is a simple question compared to the ones our fellow foreigner travellers got on their encounters with locals, like: Are you a shiit or a sunny muslim? or What do you think about the Israelis? or What's your opinion on Hitler? Yes, having a good sense for proper answers can save a lot when chatting about these topics...
So we arrived in Lahore on time, hopped into an autorickshaw and got to the tourist-famous Regale Internet Inn quickly. Looks like this is the only place where foreign travellers stay if they go for the budget option. OK place, with lots of help from staff to make your stay great. We knew that Thursday is the day to be in Lahore as the Inn can bring you
to qawwali singings (muslim religious songs, performed in a mosk) and to sufi nights. So our Wednesday arrival was kinda perfectly orchestrated. The qawwali singing was great, really special, different groups perform in a rotating manner, changing every 5 min approx or when the organisers think that the group is not that great. I was the only female of course, trying to hide among the tourists, but it's not easy when you are only 4 people. Anyways, we stayed for 2 hours for listening and more interestingly watching the crowd and its actions: some rich guys imitate a money rain on excellent performers at the stage while some staff spray rose water on the audience.
In the evening we had the opportunity to attend to a great performance of Pakistani traditional music at Alhambra Art Centre. This is a real music hall in Lahore which is by the way the cultural capital of Pakistan. We enjoyed the performance, but funny enough the whole event was taped by lots of local TV channels and interestingly they spent the most time with filming us tourists and not the performers. I got most the flash and recording
time, being female foreigner around. Superstar feeling again... I really dont want to become a famous person... Actually the staff in the hotel confirmed that we were on TV, including Chris' small talk with one of the cameramen just when we left. Yes, when we left the show the cameramen followed us to the exit to take the opportunity.... You need to know though that we left before the show was over as we had to proceed to the next event of the day: Sufi night.
Still on Thursday, around 10 pm we hopped into an autorickshaw and headed to the shady suburbs of Lahore. After approx 30 minutes we arrived to small open air place, which was the venue for the weekly Sufi Trance Shows. Sufi's are really famous for their great drumming skills, and we were lucky enough to see the performance of the famous Saeen Brothers. The elder guy is deaf unfortunately, but still a super star drummer, he feels the rhythm through his abdomen. Remarkable. Again, I was the only female foreigner watching in the male section, so actually some men made remarks to our guide to move me to
Halfway my visit at the barber.
Somehow Agi didn't like my beard anymore, so I did her a favor: I went to the barber on the streets to solve it!!!
the female corner, but I managed to stay. It was pretty cold though sitting on the ground, so we left after listening to 2 hours great drumming. Sadly, next day we found out that we missed the best part of the show, when some people in the audience fall into trance due to the drumming sounds and start dancing and singing on the stage. But at least we saw the video of it, so that's OK.
We spent 3 more days in Lahore, which we spent with visiting the famous Fort and spending the rest of the time with hanging around in the Old Town. This part of the city is really cool, autorickshaw are not allowed, so the noise pollution is minimal, the small narrow streets are worthwhile to get lost in and the food there is just so GREAT! Of course we also enjoyed the roof terrasse of our hotel, was pretty comfy to chat around with other foreign travellers. Lahore was the first place in Paki where we met other western persons besides us...
Wagah, the best country border of the World
When you hear about land borders between countries, you only
think about the hassle you have to get through, but this border is REALLY special. The only land border in the world where every evening a special ceremony takes place both on the Pakistani and the Indian sides, perfectly orchestrated and done in great harmony. The objective of each side's soldiers is to out-march, out-salute and out-shout each other. And this goes on every day, since 1948, one of the daily duties of the soldiers on duty is to participate in the show.
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