Friday, November 21

Pakistan, Day Seven: Coming Home, Kinda

According to our list of things to do, we were quite ahead of schedule. This allowed us to have a bit of a lazy start and our driver picked us up at around 10am. Since our afternoon was more or less set, we decided on the museum on the mall. This was a mixed bag, and had some genuinely interesting stuff (particularly the religious items) alongside some more mundane items (mostly regarding the formation of Pakistan).

Lunch was at Pizza Hut, where we met a few Sikhs from the UK who were in Lahore on a pilgrimage; it had been Guru Nanak's birthday a couple of weeks ago and thousands of Sikhs come from across the world to pay homage to his birthplace this side of the Indo-pak border. It was good to have a conversation with folk from the UK, all the more so since they weren't Pakistani.

On to Shalimar Gardens then. These weren't worth the hassle we got getting in (we were foreigners again, although I saved myself a hefty fee by flashing my NICOP card) and I'm still struggling to see why it's so heartily recommended. But it was on the way to our next and final stop so we thought we'd drop by anyway.

Wagah was amazing. We made it a point to attend the closing parade and it was just like you would see it on television, but live. For once our tourist credentials came in handy – those not from around here get courtside seats to where the action is and it was brilliant seeing the Punjab Rangers do their stomping thing – I got caught up in the going ons and may have shouted “zindabad” more than once. It was a brilliant experience to watch and be a part of and I'm still grinning now at the whole thing.

It was also the closest I've been to India – an irony considering my plans to go there in December. It was surreal seeing the distant land and people at an arms length away, and I now want to go there even more.

On the way to dinner we stopped off at Food Street. At last I found the architectural delights I had been looking for with some fabulous haveli, possibly spoiled by their strong modern colourings. The smells and sights were all tempting, but we decided against actually eating there; I had a flight to China to catch in a couple of days and I didn't want to risk it.

Dinner proper was at Freddy's, a fish and steak house on the way to the airport. There's not much more to say about that, except that the food was pretty good (I had a chicken steak and chocolate millkshake), and the place trendy. It was a nice place to spend our final moments here in.

And that was it. Our time in Lahore was now over. We had a wonderful time here, and two days was a perfect amount of time to spend exploring the place, although looking back we could have done all the bits we liked in just a single albeit rushed day. Wagah was a wonderful experience and the mosque unmissable, but I had somehow missed the vibe and atmosphere I was desperately seeking and without these big ticket attractions I'm not sure how brilliant Lahore would have been for me.

What's really strange is how as I landed at Karachi airport how at home the city felt. I never thought I'd have those feelings about Karachi, but then I guess it takes something like a few days without to really appreciate what you got.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous02:18

    Man...Pizza Hut and Freddies!? you shouldve gone to Bilaal Ganj, Bashir Fish mahi, Lahore broast and so on, and Jinnah Baag. They really give you a good feel for what Lahore is like, its a shame we couldnt go together with rellies or mates who know the place - next time inshallah!