We finally reached a cafe in Shalimar Gardens hoping to find a magical life saving drink called coffee. Of course no one knows this word and the ones who do don’t know where to find it. There is just Great Omnipresent Cay. I had to find better substitute so I chose coke as it has a bearable dose of caffeine. Fair enough. At least I won’t become a coffee addict again. One minute of distraction and there it is. Cat just peed on my backpack. Honestly? In this whole 12 hectares park he had to choose my backpack? And now he dear to stare at me and beg for food. “F*** off”, I said, trying to get rid of the piss from my backpack. That’s it, I’m getting out of here. Not of the park, out of Pakistan. But firstly I have to send hating stare to this guy sitting next to the tree who is staring at me for half an hour and to that woman who is jealous of my ability to breath normally cuz my face is not all covered with scarf. Ok, they turned around, now I can have my privacy for about 1,5 minutes.
So, that’s how the life looks like in Pakistan. Not for locals but for foreigners. Besides paying about 20 times more for local attractions than Pakistani citizens, being stared wherever you go, surrounded by locals whenever some issue appears and being stopped by the police in dangerous areas which cover about 80% of Pakistan – yeah, it’s a paradise. Beautiful, covered with rubbish (litter bins almost don’t exist), paradise. Ok now I feel better, I poured my frustration on the paper and I can focus on more interesting things than the piss of the cat.
So even though Pakistan may seem like a hell on earth, in fact it’s the most welcoming, generous, warm and honest country I’ve ever been to. And, believe me or not, all annoying things that I wrote about have some incredible beauty in it. Why? Because people that stare at you don’t wanna harm you, they are simply curious of tourists because you can’t find many of them here. All because of some guys wearing bandanas and running around with rifles that people call terrorists. People think the whole nation is like that. Well, I recommend going to the country first before you judge it, only then you can see the truth. We are manipulated by media that shows all the world’s worst disasters, accidents and attacks making us think every Pakistani runs around with guns. So why shouldn’t we believe it? Why? Because it’s simply untrue.
First thing about Pakistani people is their indescribable hospitality, open heart and enthusiasm. Not only towards tourists but also towards each other. They can shout from the other side of the street: “helooo, how are you!!” because they are so happy to see you. And they always want to help. But besides all, they love to stuff you. I was disgusted by food only one time in my life and it was in Pakistan. Why? Your stomach simply cannot digest tons of chicken biryani, dall, roti and other deep fried staff Pakistan offers. So now after 1 month I think I should start seriously thinking about some diet or something.
To my surprise, here in Pakistan I actually felt much safer than in Turkey. For me as a woman it was quite annoying to travel in the land of Ataturk while here men – yes, were looking at me – but more out of curiosity. Even though women mostly stay at home and act rather like a servant than a wife, I can say that women are really respected in here. I had a chance to use it few times, especially when someone wanted to rip us off. Usually after few harsh words the discussion was over. One of our hosts told us that woman is “a symbol of your life and success”. Well, if they don’t mind to be a trophy than that’s fine.
Nowadays in Pakistan love marriages are more common than before but still lots of families prefer arranged ones. We met a girl who has been rejected by the parents of her boyfriend (Pakistani idea of relationship is a bit different – kiss is an extreme part of it) so they can’t get married as they haven’t been blessed by the family. And here we are. The family. The strongest bond that you can find in Pakistan. While in Europe you don’t know all of your cousins in this country you know and meet regularly an uncle of your cousin’s wife. Whatever you do, family knows. Wherever you go, family is there. When you have a child your life is over because you have to totally devote to him and provide him a bright future not for 20 years but for his whole life. And then he’s gonna repay you but taking care of you when you’re old. Sounds beautiful but the problem starts when 40 years old man can’t do anything without his mummy or without a servant that accompanies him for his whole life.
Besides few tough situations Pakistan left smile on our faces as the people treated us like one of them and made us feel like at home. They opened their hearts and their homes for us even though sometimes they didn’t have much. Looking at locals who live with almost nothing, having each other and few chickens made us think that sometimes we really expect too much and living a happy life doesn’t require a villa with a swimming pool. After 5 weeks of travelling in this beautiful country we realized that we should appreciate everything we have and most of all, the people that surround us every day.