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PAKISTAN  13-14/12 1990  DIARY



Well, it  was not planned, and I did not get to see that much on this stop-over. I will have to get back one day. It started with a flight to Malaysia, and a bump into the flight.

13. At 6am, I park my Land Rover and mud in a limousine parking lot, as I have agreed with Claus and Trine, that it should stay just outside the Arrivals Hall, when they get home in 12 hours. Unfortunately, it's been rebuilt since I've been here last, so the only "central" space is the limo P. But who will notis?

After the usual delays, we get in the air, just to head down into London. After a little more delay, it goes to Istanbul. Short stop, where we keep sitting in the plane, then it goes to Karachi in Pakistan, where for a brief moment, we think we will avoid delay.

A small bump turns out to be pretty fatal: A food truck crashes into the plane, and there is a crack in the wing. After a few hours, we are allowed to leave the plane and walk through the rough hands of immigration authorities.

14.Then we sit and wait for four hours for them to find hotel rooms for us. Karachi is the government city of Pakistan, not a tourist city.
Finally we are shown up by some buses and driven to a hotel, just to stay there for two hours, because they have no room anyway. Finally, at 11 a.m. local time, I throw my backpack on a hotel bed, and head out to see Karachi, on a high holy Friday. It will only become the centre of the commercial streets, as the city has 4-5 million inhabitants.

The shopping streets are divided into commodity groups, 2-3 streets deal with watches, others with fabrics (for clothing, i.e.) some with European embroidered clothes, others with the "national suit" (sjakai i chermisse).
Something that I initially thought was a slum turns out to contain a market. From the outside you can only see a covering of about 500 m2 of very old, formerly black, now brownish and very lacy canvas pieces, at a height of 1.5 meters. When you get inside there is higher ceilings.

This market is also divided into regions, each with its own product group. Some deal with live pigeons and chickens, others with sheep, cows and goats, some with birds (quails, budgies, parakeets and parrots, some of which are totally unknown to me). Of course, there is also a slaughterhouse where you can get your purchases slaughtered and parted.

At the end of this relatively clean market, there are some new halls with 6-8 meters high shelves, filled with all kinds of groceries. You feel like an unusually small miniature dwarf, in front of an 8-meter-high shelf, filled with 10-liter canned cans and 25-kilo bags of spaghetti and the like. Either this is the local Metro, or the locals are buying in large portions.

Everywhere, people are smiling and comfortable, even when I explain to them that I only have 30 Danish crowns and a useless Visa card.
Realize that photography is a bit problematic in a Muslim country, but I tackle the problem by asking the merchants if I have to photograph their merchandise, and then aim a bit next door so that I get people included as well.
The most prominent vehicles are privately owned lorries. They remind me of Russian icons: Everywhere, they are clad in exquisitely chrome-plated look, which only a few places let the original motif paint come out.

After three hours of expedition among goats, street barbers and god knows what, I am back at Hotel Royal City. Outside are 10 severely dissatisfied fellow travellers, who do not think the hotel is good enough for them. The rooms contain four beds (but we are only booked two in each), toilet and shower. There is clean, but there is no Sheraton. After three hours of waiting in the sun, these people move to the city's only luxury hotel (peace be upon them).

I go into the reception to see if I can plate them for a Coke. Fall into conversation with the guy behind the bar. He has lived in England for 9 years (has an English mother), and later worked for the English Ministry of Social Affairs for 2 years.
We sit outside, where he offers Pakistani tea, which is brewed with milk. We sit and exchange information about our countries, jokes, political views, explanations of the Pakistan / India and Denmark / Sweden issues and everything else.

When we want more tea, move the furniture into the shade or are missing something from the city, he just flips his fingers and the order is executed.
At 18-19, after dark, my travelling companions came out of the hotel with little sleep. My new friend suggests we drive out to get something to eat before, I leave at 22. I have the impression he knows more about our destiny than our guides.
We head over to a white Mercedes limousine and embark on a smaller sight-seeing tour of the city, while he tells me about what we are passing.

We get back to the hotel while the bus arrives. I run up to the room, pick up Fjällraven and get friendly but definitely show up on the front seat of the bus. A poor Swede, who thought he should sit next to me is disappointed, when the hotel staff put my luggage on "his" seat and throw his up on the roof of the bus, along with the others.
I have a nagging feeling that my new friend is more than a regular receptionist!

Will have to wait 4 hours for the new plane, and then continue towards Penang, "only" just over 24 hours delayed. Nevertheless, I (as the only one) have a good feeling of not wasting time. OK; It might have been nice to have managed to brush my teeth and take a bath. And of course, sleep a little, like the others (fools).

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