Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pak Conversations - II

The story continues thus.....

We crossed over to the Pakistani side and were required to show our passports to a soldier sitting at a desk near the gate. The rest of us made for the soldier, while R continued to walk blissfully into the sunset, lost in heaven only knows what visions of happiness. It took the startled shouts of the soldier and our combined yelping to bring her back to earth. We were quite tired, because in a misdirected fit of woman power, we had dragged our very heavy luggage for over a kilometre on the Indian side (okay, alright, it wasn't just about the woman power. We were pretty sure the porters on the Indian side were trying to rip us off). So, by now, the backaches and shoulder pains were getting too insistent to be ignored. At this point of time we were accosted by a Pakistani porter, and A very quickly began the inevitable process of haggling.

A: - How much?
Porter: - Fifty rupees.
Me (secretly pleased) : - Hah!
A: - Way too much.
P: - Baaji, I'm not trying to cheat you. You are our guests, four ladies, lugging so much on your own. Fifty is at a special concessional rate just for you. Consider.
My thought bubble: - 'Baaji'! How sweet! (I really think it was the novelty of the word. I never get really thrilled when anybody addresses me as 'behenji'. Actually, the pejorative dimension of the word 'behenji' sadly overshadows the 'respect' dimension of it).
Me to A: - I think its okay.

Then followed the long drill with some more incredulous officials at immigration and customs, this time on the other side. After half an hour or so, we went out into Pakistan, met P, co-hosteller, gracious host and nervous wreck. After exchanging pleasantries, we set off for Lahore. I looked out of the window, looked some more. It was so hard to believe that this was it.

Once in Lahore, we made our way to Lahore Fort. It was simpler and more understated, under restoration. Being the sucker that I am, I took a zillion pictures of panels, and relief details, and pretty get the idea. The fort was in the same complex as the Golden Temple at Lahore and the Badshahi mosque. In the evening, the mosque was lit up, and we walked into a little bit of magic. The sheer beauty of these buildings never fails to amaze me, I cannot stop getting astounded by the sheer perfection of Mughal architecture. We managed to lose our guide in the mosque.The poor man was rather irate when he found us again.

Next we made our way to a reastaurant called Cuckoo's Den. It is set in an 18th century (maybe older) building, on the second floor. On the ground floor were exhibited some paintings that the previous owner had made of some prostitutes. The deadened expression in their eyes is something that I cannot forget, alongwith the complete resignation expressed in their person. Pulling ourselves away, we went to the restaurant, climbing steps which brought the reality of Humayun falling down stairs and his consequent death home to us (I'd always thought it a bit of a silly way to go). The restaurant was beautiful, with a view of the fort-mosque complex, but a Coke cost us sixty five rupees! Using history to rob. Ah well.

On getting to the guest house, we were told that the son of the tour organizer would be taking us out for dinner. He landed up in a while, and then the mean one in me came to life again. Here was an NRP, forced by his parents to take out a bunch of very dull women for dinner, when he also had a party to attend that very night. The UK accent first made me realize that fun was on its way. Then the two huge diamonds on the ears and the gaping tear in the jeans made my evil cackle ring out in my head. Anyway, we we driven to the restaurant in an opulent car that actually purred inspite of being driven by this boy, who evidently thought that driving was pretty much whatever he wanted it to be. We almost ran into two people, and R was thoroughly nauseous by the end of it. We were taken to a restaurant by the name of Bundu Khan, because the young one had visited the branch in London. Priceless. He ended up ordering everything on the menu, and we ended up eating all of it. We offered to go dutch on the bill (some 3000 bucks!) but were relieved when he refused....we really didn't wanna go broke on day I in Pakistan.

The weary lot made its way back to the hostel, and crashed. As I slept, I wondered if my dreams would be different in Pakistan. I discovered that they were. They had an infinitesimal bit more colour.

PS: - In winter, having a phone conversation from under one's blanket is about as cozy as it gets.


Anonymous said...

Good writing! ... hows the standard of living there? relative to india? Porters, guides, paintings of prostitues, diamond studded boys ... ummm this is colorful.

Yours truly

Anonymous said...

Cosy post script n' all, whats up?? nudge nudge!! wink wink!!! hehehhehe!!


heh? ok said...

@ anon
depends on who you're talking about, the super rich or the ultra poor. and, yes, colourful is appropriate.
@ idiot.

sun4none said...

yee.. part 2 is up and it rocks too! man ur narrative skills are awesome! i like these posts yaa.. good ones! u keep writn on all ur trips..i'll be too happy 2 read thm :)

raghu said...

hahaha.. the phone has replaced the cofee/tea!
neways..cute post be.. more more more!

Anonymous said...

Someone cosy is blusing. Aye!


heh? ok said...

@ suk
my, god, what an awful superpower to have...narration...eeps.
@ raghu
i'm glad you're enjoying it. more on its way very soon.
@ idiot
you don't need to live up to your name so consistently.

Anonymous said...

Idiot says Ouchh!

heh? ok said...

@ idiot
good. now simmer down.

Anonymous said...

sings ... Lots of people talk ..... but few of them know .....

Soul of a woman was created belowww ... yeahhh!!!

Idiot song for you.

heh? ok said...

@ idiot
heh? ok

Anonymous said...

he is completely simmered down.

heh? ok said...

@ idiot
now that was funny. thank you.

sunaina said...

man ur lucky.i really wanna c dat place.say well go there someday.nice blog...keep up d good work n keep out d wierd ppl(xcept me i mean)

heh? ok said...

@ the pinkster
you have a blogger profile? very nice. and the weirdos can't let go of me, ki korbo, bol?

Atul said...

I agree...Sangy you are very lucky...wish to go to Pak sometime in my life...
but yes lady we are lucky too as you can narrate each and every incident so beautifully which motivates us even more to visit the place…good work mam…wish many of these follow our way…..happy writing

heh? ok said...

@ atul
i could definitely use a few more vacations like this one. the writing continues. keep reading!

Reej said...

Hey.. Great stuff.. feeling all nostalgic.. would be happier if i didnt feel poked fun at.. but its ok cz am always the Diva right?..
p.s. Golden Temple Lahore not in the same complex me thinks..but gotto check up..
see you later.. keep it up. muah.(you make me proud of u already)

Revealed said...

Interesting. Would appreciate clarification on whether it feels different from India or eerily the same.

Quicksilver! said...

May we have a pic of the guy with-the-ripped-jeans-and-diamonds-in-ears please ;)))))

Bundu Khan (wt*?) hope the food was better than the name of the restaurant!

Eagerly awaiting more glimpses of Pak through your eyes.

heh? ok said...

@ reej
we're not laughing AT you, we're laughing WITH you!! hehehehehe..
@ revealed
its not so much a question of opposites as of dichotomy. more on that later.
@ quicksilver
the food was excellent...and we didn't get any pics taken...darn.

raghu said...

btw idiot..keep it goin!
sangy is loooovin it!

akhila said...

ooh i cant wait to c wat u make of the rest...but before that i think gamcha no? :D ;)

heh? ok said...

@ akhila
the truth shall be revealed as soon as my temperamental internet man shows up...