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Published: October 19th 2009
Last week I had the dubious pleasure of visiting Lahore, the commercial and cultural centre of Pakistan. The pleasure was dubious since Pakistan is enjoying a wave of radical Islamist attacks in its urban centres..but a pleasure it was nonetheless.
There are only two flights a week from Delhi to Lahore, both on Pakistan International Airlines whose pilots I am told are all ex-airforce. This became apparent as we entered into some alarming low banking turns about 500 feet over the suburbs of Lahore.
Myself and Perenia CEO David Tow were met by a warm and gracious SMEC employee named Anwar who accompanied us throughout our stay. David is an old hand in South Asia and has visited Pakistan "about 15 times". Engineers, it seems, have no fear. One of the guys I met in the company guesthouse, situated in a nondescript suburg, had just been up to the frontier province to look at the geology of a potential hydropower site. He was a just two valleys from some serious militant action but he says it was "totally quiet". He had some incredible photos of remote villages in lush valleys and children with blue eyes and white skin playing
shoeless on the dirt road.
The daytime in Lahore was spent driving from meeting to meeting, planning our own company's offensive on the city and admiring the greenery and relative lack of traffic. At one point we were waiting in the penthouse office of the CEO of the Pakistani electricity grid, admiring the view for a while. You can see the pics below. The guys in the office were all as charming as as a Victorian gent, in addition to being "action orientated" - a welcome change let me tell you. We ate a meaty lunch together and the evening was spent tasting "the strongest beer available in Pakistan" at the house of a jolly Austrian colleague, who incidentally had smuggled in vast quantities of Swiss cheese and Mozart chocolates to stem off cravings for Salzburg.
Property prices in Lahore are not exactly at their highest so you can imagine that a little money goes a long way. And so it was with Rudolph. He had a 1000 square metre plot with a beautiful marble floored house, a Balinese-style wooden hut on the terrace and a massive landscaped garden with thick green grass.
It's almost worth it..
Probably the highlight of the trip was an evening trip around town with Anwar, my host. He knew the city like the back of his hand and even seemed to have designed half of it himself - at least all of the water and sewage system.
We made two stops. One at the central mosque, just after the sun had set and the power had been cut ( a daily occurance) leaving this majestical Mughal masterpiece to stand sharply silhouetted against the hazy evening sky. Anwar tried his best to capture the moment on camera but all you can see is this very awkward picture of me trying to look inconspicious as hundreds of the faithful amble past after finishing their prayers. The Mosque inside was almost totally dark except for a few older men completing their prayers, the echo of their voices amplified by the dome above.
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