Category Archives: Travelling

I went to Hingol Balochistan so you won’t have to!

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For all those suffering from social anxiety, (yes even the ones pretending to be strong), I have news! Last week, I took a step so bold that I surprised everyone, especially my bed! I got off it for a full day!

I had very recently left my safety net, my very comfortable job where I had been for the past four years. The move on my part was extremely nerve wrecking. Completely unaware about the future, I took a leap in the darkness hoping to land on my two feet (and I did, more on that later!) And here steps in the anxiety bit. For a while I was very concerned about being at home. What would my relatives say? What are you doing these days? Oh nothing. (The horror). The worry soon gave way to absolute happiness. I was doing nothing. I was not expected to be responsible for anything, I was answerable to no one (except maybe mum, over where all the food went). All was good. But you can’t hold on to a good thing can you? I got another offer, and well I accepted it (later!).

Being used to lazing around the house all day like a cat, I realized I had forgotten how to human. So when a friend suggested a day out of the city, exploring the wilderness, I thought hey why not. The easiest way to learn how to human was spending time observing them and so i convinced my mum to let me go (I never ask dad, I know he would say no. instead I let him find out once I have left. My poor poor mum, I love you so much!)

The day long trip was to Hingol National Park Balochistan. I told myself I needed to get out of the house, and with that I messaged my friend asking, what I needed to pack for the trip. Cash? Sunblock? An extra pair of clothes? She told me yes on the first two and on the third she asked me if I was planning to strip tease on the bus? (I swear she’s weird). So packed with a ginormous sun hat, tons of sunblock and a water bottle I headed out of the house at exactly 4;15AM. Yes. You read that right A freaking M! That is how early you need to get up to visit this place! The alley cats all hissed in surprise as I made my way to the car ready to be dropped at the bus waiting to take us out to the middle of nowhere.

The trip was one of those organized tours where different groups are forced to co-exist together for a few hours. My group consisted of six people namely me, my two friends, and three of their friends. There was this group of 40 something aunties which we secretly wished we were a part of because they were loaded with goodies, Snickers even! Then a huge family with annoying toddlers. And a couple more too insignificant to remember. When finally all the groups had arrived we began moving. I have trouble sleeping on moving vehicles. So all through the sunrise, till the time we stopped at a café for breakfast I was wide awake. Erm after that too. The café was again in the middle of nowhere and offered us hot parathas and omelettes with tea.

A gazillion minutes later, everyone boarded the bus and headed back on the road. Our first destination was the Hingol National Park, home to the very famous Princess of hope, a rock formation that over the years has been eroded by mother nature to resemble a lady wearing a Chinese hat. See for yourself.

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The route consisted many of a sandy deserts on both sides with a few stray bushes and clay mounds popping up here and there. Soon however the topography changed into something worth actually taking a picture.

Hills, lots of them! Tall short, zig zaggy, the hills had something new to offer. The view and the never ending stories of my friends about trips they had taken in the past, were my constant companions for the next 2 hours or so.

And finally the bus came to a stop. Standing atop an expanse of crumbly rocks was the Chinese lady, or the Princess of Hope. Getting up close meant hiking up 300ft of those crumbly hills. At first I noped my way back into the van, then the prospect of being in there with ladies entertaining toddlers, I decided falling and breaking my neck was a far better option. So up I marched behind my friends, shrieking on every step that I couldn’t, but managed to advance anyway. A lot of help from strangers and friends and I finally was at the top.

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The hike was scarier than it looks -_-

Selfies ensued of course, because pictures or it didn’t happen. A little further away from the hope lady was something that attracted me more, a desi version of the Egyptian Sphinx! Alas I couldn’t take a picture, so here’s one I found on the internet.

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Say hello to the Pakistani Sphinx!

The next stop was the Kund Malir Beach. I have a thing for the beach. Take me to the beach and leave me there (with all the items of my need of course) and I will happily spend my life. Unfortunately the beaches of Karachi are too full of humans and waste and human waste to enjoy much. But this beach, Lord Almighty wow. The clean sparkling blue water and the garbage free sand was a pleasant surprise. The beach was so clean even the sea shells were alive. We pranced around for a while. Yes, more selfies.

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The Kund Malir beach being away from population has very few huts, and most of them have only popped up in less than six months due to the recent increase in tourist trips. And so the particular hut we stopped at was shared by Lord knows how many road trip enjoying humans. We waited a good hour for lunch to be served. The space was limited, the families unwilling to vacate and a few squirmishes ensued. I didn’t mind them, the food was taking ages, might as well get some entertainment. Finally three huge bowls full of Chicken Karahi were propped down in front of with slabs of roti. All of us were too famished to wait for plates and started eating out of the bowl nearest to us. The time was something around 4pm.

 

Finally around 5;30 all of us were herded back onto the torture chamber and off we went to the next destination, the Nani Mandir, an ancient temple located high up in the hills in a cave. As much as I wanted to go home, I braved the situation (what choice did I have?) and arrived at the temple.  Mind you I hadn’t had much sleep all during this time. So while the crankiness in me tried to find a way to surface, I made use of my camera and took a walk along the path leading to the temple. Picturesque as it was I really wished I was home comfortably tucked in my bed. This was the longest I had been away from it in days! Anyway I followed the crowd up to the cave, met the Swami jee who shared the history of the temple and finally the trip was coming to an end. Not really, no.

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Now came the worst part. The hours long ride back to civilization. During the 4 hours maybe more, I tried sitting in hundreds of different positions hoping to find one comfy enough to let me sleep, but nope.

Hours later, full of sand in places I didn’t know were a part of my body, dirty, with a numb and sore behind and very hungry I reached Karachi. Never had I been so happy to be here.

I am an ungrateful, spoilt daddy’s little brat. So while I complained at every corner, and wished I was home all along, I secretly enjoyed every minute of it. Oh and it all cost Rs. 2,500/-!

Interested in taking the trip? Leave a comment and I’ll connect you with the organizing team.

Lots of love!

Turkish Airlines Cargo – flying high.

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So recently my mum and I were having a conversation about us relocating to another country. We were discussing the tensed situation of the country, and how a few relatives after receiving threats had opted to migrate in search of a safer homeland. And all through this sad exchange, the only thing I could think of was my books. As a proud book worm I own hundreds of books which are like my children. If God forbid we ever plan on moving, what will become of them? I have taken great care in growing my collection over the years, and there is no way I am leaving them behind (not that I would have to).

And merely weeks later, I learnt about Turkish Cargo, operating extensively across the globe, now setting up shop in Pakistan! In an event held on June 23rd, at Avari Towers, Karachi, Turkish Airlines Cargo, unveiled their plans about expanding operations in Pakistan and strengthening ties with the local community to which they credit being responsible for making them one of the local market leaders.

Through Turkish Airlines Cargo you can ship your belongings to family, friends and loved ones across the globes. I also learnt that they do live animal shipping. And I am pretty sure the animals would travel in conditions much better than those offered by some of our local ‘human’ airplanes.

So pack me up and ship me off! Ha!

At the event Mr. Ali Turk, Senior Vice President Cargo, who’s a dead ringer for Bilawal Bhutto (and also pulled off the Sindhi ajrak look impeccably) talked about how much the economy of Pakistan has flourished recently, encouraging them to develop stronger trade relations between Turkey and Pakisan.

Ali Turk in Sindhi attire.

See what I mean?

 “Pakistan’s economy is dynamic and growing aggressively. In fact we believe Pakistan will be amongst the top economies in the next 5 years! We understand that the trade relationship between Pakistan and Turkey is far behind its potential, which is why we are looking to double our investment in Islamabad and Lahore, and also plan on giving tough competition to local players by expanding our cargo operations in Pakistan”.

While he was saying all this, my friend, Umair and I were busy chatting with Mr. Fatih Atacan Temel, General Manager Turkish Airlines Cargo Pakistan, who took us on a virtual tour of the beautiful Turkey. The sights and sounds, the food, which he swears is much better than ours, and the overall coming together of different cultures, left us wanting to visit that very instant.

Bloggers in deep conversation with Turkish Airlines GM [South] Pakistan, Mr Fatih

Fascinating!

Listening to him, I concluded that Turkey is the new Dubai. Log on to Instagram, and simply count how many celebrities have posted their selfies hanging out at Turkey’s one breathtaking locale or another.

The PR of this event was managed by Pitch Media Inc. Oh did I mention there was food? (My first iftaari out for Ramadan.)

After the iftaar, there was a lucky draw, through which people won tickets to Turkey! Before the event all attendees were asked to put in their business cards in a bowl. (The one time I change my purse and forget to put any in). The winners are very lucky indeed!

SVP Cargo at Turkish Airlines handing out a ticket to a lucky draw winner

See, an actual winner, we all know who to hate now!

P.S. I also got this cool model of Turkish Airlines Cargo, which I assembled myself!!!

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Celebrating Pakistan’s love for tea! (Guest Blog)

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by Fatima Naqvi.

Every nation has its own charm, something that brings people together and makes them one. One could think of a thousand things that serve as a unifying factor for Pakistanis, such as, our passion for cricket or our ability to rise above any crisis that we are faced with. Although these are true, but one single factor that brings Pakistanis together is our undying devotion to tea (chai).  In fact, it would not be an understatement to say that most Pakistanis would readily pay for a cup of tea with their souls if cash ran out. As much as it is our weakness, it is also our strength.

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Chai is synonymous with all things wonderful, the warmth of home, the love of family, the laughter one shares with friends, and of course the lifesaving cup of chai that gets one through work on Mondays.   For a Pakistani, chai is the first thing we think about once we wake up. Some prefer it strong, others prefer a light milky flavour, but everyone needs it!

So what makes it such a national favourite? The truth is that chai is a part of our origin and history. Our love for chai goes back to the time when Pakistan was created. Families have passed on their authentic and unique methods of brewing the mix the right way; some mix the milk and tea, some leave them separated and others just use tea bags, but wherever one goes across Pakistan they would definitely meet a friendly face over a cup of hot tea.

Everyone remembers getting together at the neighborhood’s favourite Quetta Hotel for doodh patti and as if by magic, cups would line up as the circles around the tables grew bigger and the laughter grew louder. The cups of tea would accompany hot parathas, especially when we talk about hotels in Nathiagali Pakistan, their welcome aroma wafting through the crowded café. The life of a metropolis does not let anyone complete their days without a hot and holy cup of tea. When driving home from work sons and daughters would await the one simmering in their mothers’ tea pot ready to remove the stress of a tough day in the stroke of a single sip. Nobody ever takes just one.

The fine art of making chai has been learnt by our Pakhtun brothers. Almost all Pakistani’s will say that they have never had chai like the one they tasted at a Pathan hotel; people swear by their chai they make and how the extra cinnamon makes the experience simply divine. It is also interesting to note that the different regions of the country have their own unique chai styles. For example, Kashmiri chai, which is pink in color, is a popular choice and often served at winter weddings. The warm aroma of Kashmiri chai is an excellent reason to visit the country, along with the breathtaking views.

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I can safely say we are chai people. The offer of tea is a mark of hospitality and the national slogan for guests is, ‘Chai lenge ya thanda (Do you want tea or a drink?).’ We might not realize the extent to which chai has a role in our lives, but it is only after we sit down to wonder that we would realize just how different and boring life would have been had we been missing a hot cup of chai.

Explore the love of chai with traveling and pamper yourself while staying in Pakistan best hotels!

The right to be governed Democratically

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The fate of the country is unknown. People are wondering if indeed the elections 2013 will be held as promised. With the current spate of violence across Pakistan, many have decided not to vote at all.

Keeping this view in mind, as well as the growing tensions in the country, the Center for Civic Education Pakistan held a week long course earlier this month to educate 22 young leaders from all over the country.

I too was a part of this course that revolved around elections 2013, focusing on the ‘right to be governed democratically’. The course, led by Mr Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director Centre for Civic Education, discussed the many fundamental rights a citizen has in a country and the extent to which he is aware of them.

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Held in Islamabad, the workshop began on 11th April 2013 and commenced with asking all participants to introduce their partners to the group. This exercise acquainted me with a number of different and incredible people I otherwise could have never met in one room alone.

I came across an incredibly brave lady from Turbat, Balochistan. Working as a social worker, she battled grave dangers everyday to help people of her community. Living is a city where even the basic human right – the right to live, is denied, she carries on trying to make a difference.

I met this young woman from Muzafargarh, Punjab who was doing her Bachelor’s in Nursing, the first girl in her family to do so.

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All in all, I got to be introduced to people who had actually done something with their lives, helped in some way to make a difference to the people around them and truly deserved being a part of the workshop. I on the other hand was there for God knows what reason.

While the course took us through different issues plaguing our society, it also taught us the basic fundamental rights a person has in his country, the history behind these rights, and how countries are answerable to a human rights council via the Universal Periodic Review. A country has to submit a report of all social, economic and political rights given to its people.

This particular class chaired by Mr. Sajid Mansoor Qaisrani talked about Pakistan in general and the two reviews already conducted in the country. The talk also extended to the changes these reviews have brought and those which will be visible in the coming decade or so.

The group with Mr. Sajid Mansoor Qaisrani

The group with Mr. Sajid Mansoor Qaisrani

The workshop wasn’t all learning. Interactive sessions with group work also asked members to discuss the role youth in the upcoming elections, the culture of fundamental rights in their particular community and dealt with the grounds on which the youth plans to vote.

For me the workshop was an eye-opener. Not only did I learn in detail about the constitution of Pakistan, I through healthy debates with fellow participants managed to gauge their mindset.

The best part about this workshop was the way it integrated people from all four provinces of Pakistan and brought them together. I learnt how people live in the different provinces even interior Sindh. They hopefully learnt that people from Karachi aren’t all dead.

During a group session

During a group session

According to a participant from Haripur, currently a student of Peshawar University, Sehrish Mehmood: “It was the most appropriate time to train (us) about the importance of constitution, as our constitutional history is taking new turns. It is important for us to understand it. And CCE (Center for Civic Education)just provided us with the platform to learn and know about it. This course gave me an insight into the importance of democracy and how important a constitution is for a strong state.”

Field visit to the Center of Civic Education.

Field visit to the Center of Civic Education.

Ifrah Faiz, a pilot from Peshawar said: “It was a great experience and a great learning platform where friends from all provinces shared their thoughts, views (over the) prevailing situation in their areas. I strongly believe that we (will) spread the knowledge gained (to) benefit the citizens of our country in our own capacities. As change always starts from our ownselves and then our efforts, will and endeavour take it further to the society. And we must remember that every individual effort counts so don’t forget to vote for election 2013.”

Sheraz Ali from Nowshera stated: “It (the course) was informative and interesting, but depends how we (will) put into practice (the lessons learnt) to fill the gap in.

For Swaleha Malik, the course was ‘a platform where you can voice your opinion.”

An amalgamation of all four provinces, the workshop aimed at lessening the differences between us all. Yet personally I witnessed the opposite. Conversations at lunch started with ‘who are you?’ The right answer being ‘Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pathan’. Me, I just sat there awkwardly saying meekly ‘I am a Pakistani’ because 1) I was born here, 2) I do not belong to any ethnicity and 3) I really do not care about the background of a person before talking to them.

Above all the workshop might have only been for days, it certainly changed me, for the better.

Certificate Distribution

Certificate Distribution

For more information on Center of Civic Education, please visit their website: www.civiceducation.org and http://www.citizenswire.com

From Sukkhar with love.

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Travelling is perhaps the worst possible time for you to injure yourself seriously, especially if you are far away from the comforting words of mommy, and the ‘I told you sos’ of daddy. Be glad, because unlike you readers, I learnt this lesson the hard way.

The night was cold. Like the hearts of people who chomp down an entire chocolate bar without sharing. The pain was unbearable. Like the faces of the people watching others chomp down an entire bar of chocolate without sharing. And finally with my life hanging in the balance, I entered the government hospital of Sukkhar.

You see I was travelling from Karachi to Lahore with a bunch of friends, when I met with an accident midway and needed urgent medical care. To make things interesting, fate decided to test my patience in one of the remote places of the country, where the word doctor meant a man with wild hair throwing sand at you to cure you of the evils within, that made you develop that weird case of diarrhea. Of course my biasness may be due to the fact that I had to be taken to the neighbouring city of Sukkhar 45 minutes and countless potholes away for treatment.

You have constipation? Eat tapeworms!

You have constipation? Eat tapeworms! *Google Images*

After the life threatening accident, when the ambulance first arrived, my shock had subsided to give way to pain. But nothing prepared me for what was to follow. The stretcher, ready to carry me to the vehicle, was a piece of cloth stitched within two wooden poles. Now the Lord has blessed me with ample umm body mass, so I do not criticize the poor people carrying me, but the leg that was dangling from the rest of me, did just that.

By mercy of the Lord and the heroism of my friends, I arrived at Sukkhar’s government hospital still alive and in one piece. But the nightmare had just begun. In severe pain with a dislocated bone, the emergency staff were clearly in the mood for some fun. When the jumping excuse for a stretcher brought me inside, I was on my stomach, but what joy is it to see someone suffering, when you can’t really look at their sad eyes? So I was patiently told I had to turn. The nerve of the people being patient with a patient.. who wasn’t really in the mood for patience?

However not being in a position to do what I loved(argue), I heaved the remaining bit of strength into turning over my back. Oh it still wasn’t over. Two fat injections of what I am hoping were drugs were pumped into me, and away for Xrays I was taken. Apparently turning over wasn’t enough, my poor disjointed leg had to be straightened too. Did I mention I am a screamer yet? Well so I am. God bless my friends who endured a slew of curses coupled with the highest frequency of screams as they tried to straighten my leg. I was later told it took them nearly half an hour to do so.

Then began the poking and prodding. I also do not like being touched. Especially by weird looking men in creepy hospitals, particularly when drugged. While this was unfolding, my companions found time to ‘make calls’. I happen to be travelling with some really connected people who knew people who also knew people. And then of course my parents were informed, who also knew people. By the time I was shifted from the Xray room to another paint peeled room, more than two dozen people had gathered. And I told every single one of them I loved them. Yes you read that right. Maybe it was the shock, more likely the drugs from Sukkhar. Take note weird stalker if you are reading this. The only thing you need to make me profess my undying love for you is to get me high on medication from Sukkhar.

Hey I don't know you, so this is crazy. I'm drugged and I love you. Call me maybe?

Hey I don’t know you, so this is crazy. I’m drugged and I love you. Call me maybe?

For my friends, clearly saving my life wasn’t enough. They had to bear all the love which had by now replaced the blood pouring from my wounds. Oh and it was January. Nearly freezing, if you like me are from Karachi where winter starts the minute temperature drops below 20 degrees. Seeing me shiver like a rickshaw on a joyride, my friend went to ask a nurse to get me a blanket. But well nothing happened. After asking for the umpteenth time, a nurse promptly appeared with one adding that while the hospital was under equipped and they had no extra blankets, she took this one from another patient because one of the ‘people’ had told her to make arrangements. We all decided it would be better to survive the cold.

The patient in the next room cut himself. Can I borrow 2 inches of bandage?

The patient in the next room cut himself. Can I borrow 2 inches of bandage? *google images*

It was well into the night and the doctor had yet to arrive. The ‘peeps’ did their magic once again, and soon the doctor showed up very jovially, happy to be there at such late an hour. Such miracle workers those people were. Long story short, I finally received enough medication to dream of unicorns, or were those rhinos? When I woke up next, the pain was gone, I could hear nothing and it was pitch black. Great I thought. This is the end of Sidra Rizvi. Looking for the ‘white light’ or Satan more likely, I called out ‘Am I dead?’ ‘No!’ replied a friend, ‘we are all here’. Oh perfect, that meant I was blind. Nope came back the reply. The electricity was out. In a hospital!

So by then I was patched up well enough to be taken back to Karachi and by Fajr the next morning, I was loaded onto an ambulance to disappear into the night. Sukkhar had seen more action in those couple of hours than it would in a full year, in what was one of the most high profile cases in that hospital’s history.

Looking back at it all, I cannot believe how lucky I got. First with amazing friends who risked their precious lives to save a mere meagre mine. Second, getting healthcare in a place where people have to wait hours and hours for doctors to grace them with their presence. As relieved I am to live in a place with a well established medical care, it saddens me deeply the plight of those poor citizens at the hands of the government. How many people die just waiting for doctors, or from lack of proper facilities? That X ray machine alone was older than me. I was well ‘connected’, so I got a bed, a blanket, and a doctor who wasn’t planning on coming before 8am the next morning. What of those in worse shape than me, without any outside help. Poor people, with no one to turn to but God, to save their loved ones? Who helps them? Who comes to aid them? Do they even get enough drugs to turn them amorous for every moving thing they see? Is it too much to hope things can ever improve for them? Or will I too soon stop thinking about it and go back to being immune to other people’s suffering?

PS all those who helped me throughout, not a day goes by when I am not thankful to you all. You know who you are! I really do love you, I say this without taking the drugs.

The Path Once Take – part III

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The women in Iran are required by law to cover their heads. So accordingly we women prepared ourselves for the summer under long chaddars and scarves. My aunt borrowed some from another relative who had been to Iran earlier in the year, while my mum dug deep into her closet to find scarves and burqas from her trip to Saudia many years before.

Right on the border of Iran and Pakistan, the women each were handed a scarf or a chaddar, about to become our second skin for the entire month. And with our heads, forbidden to see the light of the day for a while, we entered Iran.

Reading this blog, some might think wow these people are religious. The truth I am ashamed to add is not quite so clear cut. It was the end of June when we set out on our journey. We kids saw it as a vacation ‘out of Pakistan’. The adults saw it as a way of bringing us, their hopelessly lost children a little towards the right path. And it was just that. A vacation ‘abroad’ with a little faith revival thrown in on a short budget.

What compelled me to share my story with you was the recent killings of Shias in Quetta who were on the same journey as I once was. Barely a week passed when another such incident occurred. Another group of people on their way through the same route were brutally massacred in Turbat. It is said that the notable humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi passed out after viewing the bodies of the deceased. Imagine the time for their families.

I made my journey sometime in 2003. I now wonder, what stopped these animals from this brutality then. Why now do they have such a free hand that they don’t hesitate killing dozens of people instantly? Who are these people and where are they hiding? What is making them kill another human being so mercilessly?

The saddest thing I have experienced while talking about the Shia Genocide is the generalization of the issue. Every time I talk about it, people tell me it is not just Shias who are being killed. No one is safe in Pakistan, everyone is being killed. I agree, but who is specifically being targeted? Who is being made to get down from a bus and shot point blank? And again who is being singled out for having slightly different beliefs. I agree no one is safe, but shoving the continuous ongoing massascre under the rug, will that help? The killers don’t generalize. They specifically target Shias, why cannot other people accept the fact that being a Shia in Pakistan is now almost a crime.

With absolutely no sense of accountability in Pakistan you get easily get away taking someone’s life. In fact it is now easier to kill someone and run away than getting your passport renewed. Dear reader, I ask nothing of you today. But if one day you hear of me being killed, at least have a heart and ask my killers what was my crime? Please do not think of it as just another loss of life in the deadliest countries of the world. And grant me the favor of recognizing the fact that I was killed because of my beliefs.

The Path Once Taken part II

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I thought it was the end of the world. No human in sight, except the tired fellow travelers on that bus. The fear of getting lost was there, for certain. Stories of robbers and thieves lying in wait for such travelers I had heard. But the idea of specifically being targeted and shot in the head had never occurred in my tiny inexperienced brain. But the signs of course were there.

About the Chagai range, one studies in Pakistan Studies. How rocky it is how difficult the terrain. What no text book tells you is that for miles and miles on those rocky hills chalked are the words ‘Kafir Kafir Shia Kafir’ Shia infidels. I kid you not. Go and see for yourself. Even though years have passed by since I crossed those hills, those cold cold words, still chill me to the bone.

We had decided to travel on our own. But on the way from Quetta, we met another family with the same intentions, also hailing from Karachi. They had made the same journey three times before, and hence they decided to ‘adopt’ us clueless beings.

After a grueling 12 hour bus ride we reached the last stop of Pakistan, Taftan. No not the sweet bread. The bus stopped at a rundown, almost haunted rest house greeting us with the picture of the Quaid. Jinnah in case you were wondering which.  Next to him were the words ‘Ghar se duur, ghar ke jesa’ (far from home, yet like home). Seriously where exactly did they think we lived?

Ghar se duur, ghar ke jesa.

As soon as people got down, there was a mad dash stampede towards the nearest restroom. We however were saved from being trampled once again by my uncle’s ‘connections’. Army vans ready to take us to the army mess were a sight for my sore eyes.

More than the breakfast of anda paratha, with halwa on the side, I was happy to find clean bathrooms. But soon, I had to say goodbye to my country and enter Iran. The customs took a while to shoo us all in. And then began the most exciting time of my life. The journey into Iran.

The bored little town of Mirjava welcomed us into oblivion. Deserted as far as the eye could see, my little group tired after the long bus ride braced themselves for what was to come. We van-pooled with another family and reached Zahaidan after two hours, from where another back breaking 22 hour travel awaited us. By now we had started resembling Robinson Crusoes shipwrecked on an island.

The oblivion

The fun however had just begun! The wonderful people of Iran can only speak one language. Persian. No Arabic, no Urdu, and don’t get me started on English. Therefore we were limited to sign language, which we weren’t really very good at. The funny thing was, even though nobody in Iran could read English, most of the billboards and sign boards were in English. What they indicated however was anybody’s guess.

Our stay in Iran spanned over three weeks, during which we experienced things we never thought we would. However never once did the thought of not making home alive entered our minds.

Roza of Imamzada Hazart Shah Azeem

We went about on our ziarats. Visited the beautiful tombs and shrines across the country. Spent a pretty scary night in Tehran where we also had a multi-lingual fight with one of the bus drivers. The shrines on their own were breath-taking. The most memorable one was the one of Imamzada Hazrat Shah Azeem. Located on top of a mountain in Iran, it was so high up that at one point even cars refused to go up. For the weak and the old, a donkey had to be hired while the rest had to walk.

my younger sister atop a donkey

End of part 2

To be continued.