I’m not in India (and even so Bombay is now called Mumbai), but I think various cities in Pakistan could compete for taking the former name, modified as per my subject.
Of course what’s been happening here hasn’t been funny, particularly for those involved. But I can’t take too seriously that a number of blasts happened when I finally arrived here. Firstly Islamabad while I was in Lahore, then Lahore when in Islamabad. And no this wasn’t my doing. Either way I saw nothing first hand and things looked more terrifying on TV news.
I’m due to fly back home to London on Monday. I did have some big problems adjusting (heat, poor local language adaption, stomach problems attributed to what I thought would be good for me: mineral water (stick with fruit juices here)) and homesickness, but right now I’m comfortable in my room on my netbook.
I achieved what was needed here (boring personal stuff I won’t go into) and also came to enjoy the sights and sounds. Islamabad was easier to deal with as it’s a very modern city which is also more cooler, weather wise, than Lahore. But I haven’t taken any video or photo here (yet) as there’s not much to document.
In Lahore however I went to four main historical sites: Shahid Mazjid (the first time I’ve ever been to a mosque as I’m not from a very religious family) which is a spectacular structure, the super-regal Mughal era Shalimar Gardens, Minar-e-Pakistan which is a tower structure so old that it has pre-partition Hindu scripture on it. Not far from it is where Sikhs come for their pilgrimage.
The sight I liked most though was the India-Pakistan border ceremony at Wagah. Compared to London’s changing of the guard, this is much better. More drama in it and it commanded a packed crowd. VIP seating meant I was just a stone’s throw away from India. I recorded the whole 30mins on my portable vid cam and will put that up on YouTube or something soon. A very good video if I say so myself.
I also met some relatives who should’ve been Indians were it it not for the partition. Always nice to meet family. I didn’t make any new friends (or enemies) but I found people here friendly, maybe overly so.
Though I didn’t venture in poverty stricken areas I was saddened to learn how little some people work for, and how cheap many things are.
I’ll be returning here (that is, Pakistan) next year and now that my stomach has hardened and I’m not so terrified by the difference to England (in some ways it’s been liberating) I actually like it. I regret loosening up a bit late. I didn’t need any malaria things too.
Anyway, approx. 500 words is enough to write. I’m well aware that I bored someone with a very long email about my sightseeing a few days ago; sorry!
So, that’s it. I’ll amend this post with photo and vid next week as it would take too long right now…But I’ll leave you with one from the border ceremony.
21 October 2009: My top 40 snaps are on Flickr.
26 October 2009 (last update): Video of the entire border ceremony (30mins) on YouTube. Also look here for one Lahore/Islamabad montage: