Ok so just to be clear- I hardly wrote anything while I was in Pakistan. I wanted to but instead I took A LOT of pictures and video along with Rifat. All together we took about 200 GB's so I will just go by what I remember and those pictures and video that we took for future posts- but for this post I actually wrote all of this the 4th day I was in Pakistan.
I added way too many details but this gives the person reading a glimpse into what exactly I was thinking the first moments I was there....
April 2, 2016- Day 4 in Pakistan
I will write about my first few days here but first I want to write about my first initial visit in Gujranwala. It was over 2 hours to get here and the road was terrible sometimes. Tariq, Rifat, and I passed through several villages and they were all dirty and crowded. I am shocked by the extent and severity of the pollution and littering...I think that's one of the things that bothers me the most.
There is also still a very real problem with slavery at the brick kilns, child labor; among other things... people here don't know about basic hygiene…or personal space for that matter. Since being here I have not had a moment alone…that is very unusual for me. I am always alone… not to mention that there are men everywhere… ALL THE TIME! And they have a habit of staring regardless of who you are. It actually doesn’t make me uncomfortable because it is a part of their culture and I haven’t been harassed or bothered by anyone.
I am very-exceedingly-glad that I brought ear plugs! At 4:30AM there is the call to prayer and it is very loud and woke me up immediately but Rifat doesn’t even notice it because she has lived with it her whole life. I will not make the mistake again of not wearing ear plugs again!
Anyways, on the flight over here I took a plane to San Francisco- flying into there was gorgeous…I miss being able to see the sky! While I was there I found out that my mother called my father and told him about the trip… so I called him before I left for Turkey. We had a good talk- I know that he is worried about me, which is understandable- but he was also supportive and he knows me too well and how stubborn I can be!
Also- before I left I found out that I booked my hotel wrong. I was off by one day and that was really the only thing that I missed but it proved to be a headache! I had a 12 hour flight to Turkey. I sat in between two women. One (on my right side) was from Iran- an elderly woman going to Iran and only spoke Farsi. The woman to my left was a Chinese American who was about my age going to Tanzania to help distribute medical supplies and set up a medical facility. Then I had a short layover in Turkey (and found out that their wifi doesn’t work but they have a giant international mall hidden within that airport). When I went to my gate downstairs to board for Lahore, Pakistan I was the only foreigner there among Pakistani’s (my only guess would be that they are going home and visiting relatives). There was a nice (and handsome) young Pakistani man there from London and he spoke better English than me. I am sure (especially after my visit) that he also spoke fluent Punjabi and Urdu (99% of the population does it seems).
Then after I was seated on the plane I was seated next to a beautiful woman in her 50’s named Shaheen. She was very kind. I learned that she moved from Pakistan to America 30 years ago and that she converted to Christianity from Islam 14 years ago which is frowned upon in Pakistan big time but she did not hesitate to speak about all her religious experiences with me openly on the plane all the while being surrounded by Pakistanis (I am pretty sure that most of them were Muslim considering that the country is 95% Muslim). We became friends and exchanged numbers – she called me beti (daughter in Urdu). She also proceeded to protect me – she accompanied me off the plane through passport check and made sure I got my bags and found Rifat before leaving me.
After getting my bags (oh reminds me… I can’t do anything here by myself without a man doing it for me it seems!) a man put my bags on a carrier and then asked me for $20- I told him “mhenga! (Expensive in Urdu). Just because he knew that I was a foreigner. Then I met Rifat and Tariq. I was amazed at how beautiful and tiny Rifat is in real life versus how she looks on video. She said I looked much younger in real life and slimmer (it’s true, the camera adds 10 pounds). Then we waited outside for Tariq to get the car- while we were waiting another man that helped us demanded that we give him $20- this time I added a word (bohot- a lot in Urdu) “bohot mhenga!” (very expensive in Urdu).
I plan on writing more blogs…. They may not be this detailed because I didn’t write much after this unfortunately but I have a lot to write about!