We have breakfast, we go for a walk around the hotel (Pearl Continental, Bhurban) grounds, kids make use of the swimming pool. At the checkout a Brit-Pak from Manchester gets irate at some guy jumping in front of him, good on him for making the point. People here seem to think that they can push to the front of the queue, there is no regard for convention nor manners, again it comes back to selfishness. I commended the brother on his resolve and vociferous defence of decency. I had some guy behind me holding out his key-card and trying to get the attention of the clerk, I didn’t say anything preferring to wait and see if the clerk would serve him first and then would take the lead from my Mancunian Brit-Pak brother, thankfully the clerk served me first, and I heard noticeable tut of disappointment from the chap. We check-out of the hotel and head for Muree Mall Road.
Muree, noted for its cool climate, shopping and its world famous brewery (they still make beer here!), this is where the British used to hang out in the days of the Raj and there is a rather elegant and generally well maintained church just off Mall Road. However, Muree is a dump and an unpleasant smell of an open sewer hangs in the air. Yes, other parts of it are nice, nice views and foliage etc., but it is a hovel and extremely crowded with gangs of child-beggars roaming and hassling the tourists. I have been here on a few occasions previously and it hasn’t improved one bit, the arrival of KFC is the only sign of “progress”. For me the novelty of Murree has totally worn off as had the novelty of PC Bhurban, I won’t be coming here again.
Oh dear, this morning my stomach seems to have finally given in to the battering of the sub-continent diet. I don’t think I need to elaborate further. It held out for an impressive 8 days, I expected it to last a couple of days at the most. It had been firing warning shots for the last few days so I knew it was about to surrender. So far I had been very careful about what I have been eating and drinking. I think a kebab I had at lunchtime yesterday around a relative’s house may have done it. As soon as I ate it I knew that it would set me off.
I decided to have a a solitary cup of tea for breakfast and see if I can finish the battle quickly. My pre-emptive action seemed to have worked and for the rest of the day it no longer troubles me; the battle, it seems, has been won but the war goes on…
Just returned from Pakistan last Saturday (15th Aug) after visiting for the first time in eight years. The last time I returned, a few days later 9/11 happened. I was there for three weeks in total, my wife and kids went two weeks earlier than me. The main purpose of our visit was to meet with family, particularly my wife’s family, since most of my close and immediate family are in the UK now except for a couple of aunts and a cousin who are there. Were I not married to a Pakistani woman I doubt that I would visit Pakistan very much. The visit was very important for my kids to reconnect a little with their heritage and their cousins and extended family as well as improve their spoken Urdu. My boys (14 and 11) had a mixed experience, they enjoyed it but had a lot of complaints, they missed the comforts of home, computers, PlayStation etc so it was good for them to be disconnected for a while. Similarly with me, as you will see from my notes, I have very mixed feelings about Pakistan. I took my Blackberry and iPhone with me and half-heartedly tried to get them connected but in the end thought that it would be best for me to have limited connectivity since I am constantly connected at home, and so I didn’t. I used my Blackberry to write my notes during the trip to capture my thoughts, conversations and general comments. I am going to be sharing these with you, if you find them interesting and useful then great, if not then please ignore them. I have not copy edited them much and they were tapped out on the Blackberry keyboard either on the day or a day or so after the events. Sometimes I wrote them in the car/van journeys that we had on bumpy windy roads, so please forgive any typos, grammar mistakes etc, please do feel free to point them out so I can correct them.