Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pakistan trip - The Rawalpindi series

Day 6 - 30th November 2006

We had to get up really early that day because the presentation was in Army Public School in Rawalpindi, and it was a drive from Islamabad. We had to set off at 6.45 am (!!). Maybe that's why I don't have too many memories of the Holiday Inn hotel. I can't even remember what the room looked like. Could be I hardly spent any time in it. Sometimes I felt like all I was doing was checking into the hotel at night, checking out in the morning, going for the presentation and then off to the airport to the next city. Though on some levels, I think I secretly enjoyed it - the feeling of being a travelling businessperson.

As we waited in the lobby for our luggage to be brought down, there was a sudden buzz in the hotel as yet another celebrity walked in. Apparently she was a popular Pakistani singer but I could not identify her. Finally, we set off for Rawalpindi - fondly known as Pindi.

It was a beautiful winter morning, and I took some pictures from the car.

Sweeper sweeping the roads early in the morning

Children going to school

In Pakistan, they love to decorate vehicles like auto-rickshaws, vans and trucks. NBhai told me that sometimes they spend lakhs of rupees on decorating the vehicles. This dhinchak van is actually very simple compared to some others I saw.

Finally, we reached the venue. Security was very high, and our car was searched before we were let into the school. NBhai told me that he'd actually had to seek special permission from the authorities to "bring an Indian national into the GHQ area - General Headquarters." Whoa, I felt like a celebrity. A kidnapped celebrity rather. :|

This time, it was even funnier than Lahore because the audience was there, the speakers were there, but "the boys" had not yet reached so the book display wasn't set up. Surprisingly, no one looked impatient or embarrassed. We just calmly waited around for them. Sheesh, this was SO India! :P

Finally, the boys walked in with the cartons of the books. One of them, R, walked in wearing funky shades with a business suit and to my utter surprise, he actually pulled it off quite well. He proceeded to set them against his forehead where the perched for the rest of the day. Of the three, R was the most charming of the lot - a player some might say. He knew all the right things to say at the right time. The others were more mellow - K who was the friendliest of the lot, and U, who was the most innocent of the three.

Finally, my presentation started.

My audience and me

The English speaker and me with the teachers who'd organised the event

By this time, I'd already heard the Maths and English speakers twice and I was sick of the presentation, just as they were sicking of having heard me twice. So I sat with my Manager and picked up pointers on conducting business overseas. During his presentation, he asked questions and gave out dried mango packets that he'd bought in Manila, as prizes. They were an instant hit with the audience. What I find most admirable about the man is that he can be a total joker one moment, and a perfect salesman the next. It's an amazing trait to have. He's so good at what he does, he can run his department by himself. It's a total one-man show. Very cool.

Finally, the other two presentations were done and we broke for lunch. Lunch consisted of traditional Pakistani food again, and Pepsi and 7Up in cute glass bottles with plastic caps. The teachers spoke to me at length again, and one of them was telling me stories of the time she'd gone to Japan on an exchange program.

"You know Sayesha, there were people from all countries, and yet, the closest friends I made there were from India! I'm in touch with them even now. We just find our own kind, don't we?" She said.

I couldnt' agree more.

We just find our own kind.

We were done by about four or so. Our books went back in a jhataak van, which was also searched thoroughly before being allowed into the premises. I really wanted to take a picture of our books in the jhataak van, but photography was strictly prohibited in the area.

The van took off and our car followed. I took more pictures.

Off we go!

Habib bank - prettiest bank I'd ever seen

Man hangs out from jhataak auto-rickshaw

Fruit sellers and Pakistani women

More fruit sellers!

Graffiti in Urdu

The shape of trucks in Pakistan is quite unique.

Ah, you can see it clearly now! They actually sell miniature versions of these trucks at gift shops all across the country.

A closer look at the truck

Wow, that's a whole lot of sacks for one vehicle!

Capturing the beautiful scenery from the car

The Ministry of Education building

On the way, we stopped at the bus depot to send the books off to our next destination Lahore via bus (in order to avoid the 84 kg of excess baggage again!) My Manager declared that he was hungry and and adventurous and sauntered into the local Rayyan's burger. We'd also flicked the extra bottles of 7Up from the event. They made for a good combo meal for him but apparently played havoc with his digestive system that night.

The glass 7Up bottle with the plastic cap

The Rayyan's burger meal...

...and what was left of it!

As we waited in the bus depot area for the books to be sent off, I noticed the curious stares at me again, possibly because I was dressed differently. The stares were not derogatory or letching in many way, more like the "Na jaane kahan se aayi hai, na jaane kahan ho jaayegi" type of looks. In fact, I vaguely remember completing the song in my head "Kisi ke haath na aayegi yeh ladki!" Hehehe! :P

We had some time before we were due at the airport and Kbhai said he wanted us to meet his family so we dropped by his house for a short while. I'd already met his wife during the Islamabad presentation and she was absolutely adorable. When we reached his place, she was already outside to welcome us. She hugged me and then introduced her beautiful kids to me, who I guess were very excited to talk to me because it was the first time they were meeting an Indian. They shook hands with me one by one! I was really really sad to leave them because that was the last time I would see them during this trip.

KBhai's family and me

Yesterday, as I wrote a letter to KBhai (yes, a letter, not an email) and enclosed a printed copy of this photograph, I felt a lump in my throat. It's strange how you can get so attached to people in a matter of two days. Their hospitality had been so amazing, it had been imprinted in my memory forever. I do wish and hope that some day I will meet them again.

Coming up next in the Lahore series - the grandest hotel I'd ever stayed at, the Pakistani Yao Ming, almost getting arrested, and all the hidden secrets of "the boys" tumbling out over fiery hot food!



  • no comments!!!!

    I hate to refresh kyonki yeh sight dubaara dikhne ko nahi milega..no comments as yet on Sayeshaz blog! aaj sooraj kahaa se niklaa...
    mujhe de dao sonaa chaandi heera moti jo bhee dena hota hai..hahahaha

    By Blogger PSV, at 11:10 AM  

  • Sayesha kaash tooneh jaaney se pehle bataaya hota..toh mai tujhse kehta Nazia Hassan ki vintage collection laadey pakistan se....

    By Blogger PSV, at 11:11 AM  

  • sahin hai bheedu.

    By Anonymous satish, at 12:46 PM  

  • those trucks with sun-shades/caps are amazing n funny :-)
    they hv everything written in Urdu over the soft-drinks bottles....interesting...
    pics look so familiar...truly 'Jaisa Desh Hai Tera, waisa desh hai Mera!'

    By Blogger Bivas, at 1:48 PM  

  • :)) the trucks and dhinchaak autos were awesome!! i can see how you bonded with them, they are so close to us in so many ways. nice fotus sayesha!

    By Blogger The_Girl_From_Ipanema, at 10:19 PM  

  • adorable pic yaar.. :) and yet again..i wish i was there!!!!! :(((

    By Blogger Di, at 10:21 PM  

  • I perfectly understand the "lump in the throat" moment :)
    Been there (sort of), done that!!!

    I came back with almost the same kind of emotions after my Saudi Trip some 4 yrs ago. Hospitality from Indians was kind of expected (but i do feel we are more bhai-bhai in foreign countries than we are in India), but the kind of warmth we received from Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans was awesome. A really great experience.

    By Blogger Iday, at 1:54 AM  

  • Awesome, awesome!! Keep posting! :0

    By Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee, at 4:07 AM  

  • tooo goood :)

    By Anonymous Thisisme, at 7:53 AM  

  • hey sayesha

    was wondering why there was no mention of the phatku trucks in your posts. have heard a lot about them and last month's indian airlines in-house mag, did an article on them. so i was waiting to read about them in yr post. today i did.

    the 7-up bottles in apna bharat mahan are cuter. they are'inspired' by mallika's curves, apparently.

    on-the- watch for yr next post!

    By Anonymous asha, at 2:03 AM  

  • too cool yaar... mast fotos... and yes people from Pakistan have lately been very nice to Indians...

    when the indian cricket team travels to Pakistan all the supporters are welcomed like they have come in a marriage... :-)

    jeeve jeeve pakistan.. jeeve jeeve hindustan... :-)


    By Blogger virdi, at 6:58 PM  

  • Gawd! I waana see Pakistan!!

    By Blogger Strider, at 2:55 PM  

  • #PSV,
    Hahaha! Le lo apna sona chandi heera moti! :P


    Yeah, it's really very similar to India! :)

    Thanks! :)

    Yeah... the thing I loved most in this trip was the attitude of the people... they're amazing! :)

    Thanks :)

    Thanks! :)

    Thanks! :)

    Hahaha! Yeah I got the shaadi-type welcome everywhere too! :)

    Me too! Once again! :)

    By Blogger Sayesha, at 1:25 PM  

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