Lahore

In our room there was a big air conditioning machine. Everytime the electricity went off, machine stopped and the room became unbelievably hot. We were lying there on a bed not moving, just waiting for electricity to come back again. Every time swearing,when it went off and happy when it came back.
This was one of many entertainments in Pakistan. The other ones were driving a car in a crazy traffic, hiding the fact that you are unmarried couple in public, trying to be unseen when eating during a day in Ramadan time.

Lahore was a beautiful old city, full of colours and sounds but it was definitely too hot at this time of a year. It had all of the big city amusments, like resturants, cafes, cinema, shops. It was quite modern, so were people living there.
Lahori girls were really beautiful and I liked their style. It was simillar to Delhi, but kurtas were longer and they didn’t exaggerate with tacky jewellery like Indian girls. They paid more attention to fabrics and looked more suphisticated.

Our time in Lahore went fast and thanks to amazing hospitality of Uncle and Auntie I will always have the best memories form that place.

Uncle and Auntie are part of T family, but the funny thing in Pakistan is that you call all people older than you ‘uncle’ and ‘auntie’, even strangers you meet on a street. Anyway Uncle and Auntie from Lahore were so nice, that sometimes I wished they were my real uncle and auntie:)

arriving in Lahore

I was nervous and scared. But I new these feelings were not going to help me now, so I decided to stop them and be strong istead. As soon as a bus crossed Indian- Pakistani border nothing changed, exept all the signs were from now on in urdu and the streets were so much cleaner here. Inspite of that I still did not know what to expect, in a country which world was describing as one of the most dangerous nowadays. I was afraid that T would be late and I would have to wait alone in this plac,e I have no idea about what its like and how to behave.
Bus entered the closed parking space surrounded with high walls and barbed wire. I saw him through the window, standing there, tall, looking at the bus, in dark red t-shirt. After long minutes of waiting bus finally stopped, I got out, took my rucksack being the first one from all the passengers and went out of the parking spot, through small wooden door. I walked the warm street, caring heavy rucksack on one arm, looked up at him and didn’t know what to do.
In Pakistan women and man are not allowed to show their feellings in public, no hugs, no kissing, not even holding hands.
He hugged me, saying he doesn’t care, but I couldn’t stop feeling we are strangers now. So much time has passed. We went insinde his friend’s car and we started talking. I was chating with them like I do with people offering me a ride during my hitch-hiking trips, it felt so strange. I was tired and I was going on some kind of autopilot. H., his friend, was a good guy, he gave us a ride to Auntie’s house. We were suppouse to stay there for some time. It was the most beutiful old house, with high cellings, big garden and tall windows. Inside was huge and had an antique look. I felt there, like in the old times scenery. T introduced me to Auntie and Uncle and two of their children. They were all so nice and caring that I felt little guilty being tired and boring, and just wanting to sleep after my trip. They gave us the room together, which was surprising to me, cause I thought in Pakistan everybody is conservative and would never let sleep unmarried couple in the same room. So much I didn’t know yet.
I don’t remember a lot from my first day in Pakistan. I was too tired and in a little bit of a shock. Even after T kissed me when we were finally alone I couldn’t relax. I felt a little bit like after a car crush, I couldn’t believe that I came here, to this place, to see T. after five years. We were both different now, older and changed, and we had to find eachother again.

Martinets

In ths city I feel controlled all the time. Cameras on every street are constanty watching my moves. Cameras in shops, in bars, restaurants, buses, metro, at work.  Maybe people feel safer with so many cameras around them. I don’t. There is no freedom in London.  There is this delusive freedom that money gives you, but there is no real one.

Everything is so organised and so perfectly controlled that sometimes I feel like I cannot breathe. Everything is explained on numerous signs and information written everywhere. Sometimes I think that Londoners stopped to think on their own. They just follow. The streets are full of people following the crowd, following the most popular touristic sights, following the metro arrows.

But what annoys me the most in British people is that they are martinets and they will do their best to help in keeping general order.  For instance you cannot get in a bus with no valid ticket. Driver will make sure that everybody has tickets and pleading, crying, explaining wouldn’t help here, as they are determind to do their job correctly. Not that it affects them if there are people without the ticket inside the bus, but that is their job and they will make sure its done well. The same thing happens in metro and all the offices, banks, agancies you go to. The bureaucracy will drive you crazy, but they will still sit calmly at their desks repeating, they don’t know how long the waiting will take.  It is exactly the same thing you can find in India, but I guess it is not Indian people’s fault as it is a post colonial British influence.

Brits have a bunch of crazy rules and prohibitions that are supposed to make a life easier but sometimes I cannot stop myself from laughing at them.  There is the latest one, which I found in front of the British museum.

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The other crazy thing about this city are the things you have to pay for.  The tube tickets prices are radiculously high, let alone the rent. But there is also a number of things that you woldn’t expect to pay for. One of them are hammock chairs in Hyde Park. I was sitting there relaxed one day when suddenly I was asked to pay for it!Another one is playing in public. Artists have to pay to perform their music on the streets of London. Of course, not many of them do, because prices are so high they could never afford it.  Other things are the public events.  Festival of colours, which in most of European cities is for free (you just need to buy a packet of colours for something about 1 pund), in London would cost you minimum 30 pounds. The same thing with other festivals. In Spain, France, Germany or Poland festivals have prices most young people can afford. Here, you need to have a well paid job to afford these things, as prices can start even at 100 pounds. National museums in London are for free which is really good, but if you take a look at all the private museums and other atractions like London eye, aquarium, Madame Tussauds they are all unbelievably expensive. Also things like cinema or open air events are usually very expensive. That creates a typical problem- people with money have no time to enjoy all these things and people with time have no money to do so…

way to lahore

I was in a bus, women next to me was sick. All the way.

I thought it was good sitting next to the women, no, I wasn’t.

We were driving with two police cars- one in front and one behind us. They had almost constantly their siren on which made me laugh. Three stops for meals. Wagah border, where the ceremony already started, police had to organise drive through all these hundreds of people. There we were, in Pakistan. No going back, I had to go, face my destiny, or better say- my crazy travel ideas.

Porters in blue turbans with long beards were really dissapointed I didn’t let them carry my rucksack. I was dissapointed as well. It was hot, rucksack was heavy and controls were many. But I really had no money at all.  Border controll lasted forever. Bus was full of people, children and laggage. Porters carried every bag, package, sack and suitcase from the bus all the way to the check- point and then back. They controlled everything. They also opened mine. I forgot about the pepper spry that Cris gave me ‘just in case’. When they took it out and ask what it was I didn’t know what to say, I completely forgot it was there.

‘Mosquito spray?’ they asked helpfully.

‘Yes, yes! mosquito spray!’- easy.

Also, totally unaware I smuggled a small plastic bottle of vodka, mine and Cris’s idea to keep our stomachs free of bacterias.

After controls, there was yet another meal. Tea with deep-fried samosas. I had enough. I was not hungry which caused general surprise. Not carying about anything anymore I was sitting outside. Our bus was late and my mobile didn’t work. I asked to make a phone call.

In a small, dirty office I called him just to say we will see each other in about an hour.

London is like India

Not like India, I should have said LIKE DELHI.

London is like a centre of Delhi. When you walk through the streets in Oxford Street there is so many people, you have to be concentrated at all the times. And it is even worse than India, because in Delhi everybody, including rikshas, cars, caws, motos and even tourists, were part of this big moving mass, however it had a secret order, people were creating this organised flow and you could practise and learn how to move in all this crowd. On the other hand in London, it is impossible.People rarely get out of your way, they are all in a hurry, except the tourists who are incredibly slow, instead of changing their passages in a fluant and natural way, they seem to be stuck on a street, kindly waiting for their turn to pass. In tube there is about the same amount of people as in a Delhi metro. Constantly passing through the gates. All controlled by cameras. It looks unreal, passangers like zombies, don’t seem to notice anything around just follow their way. But there is one difference- in India people were full of life, these ones are dead. They don’t look at each others, because it would be impolite, they do not care what anyone thinks, sleeping, reading, always on their phones.

But what recalls my memories from Delhi the most is Soho in the night time. Streets are overflowing with people, there are lights everywhere, mojority of cars are slow buses and even slower taxis, stopping at every corner. Every minute you can spot a bicycle riksha decorated with colourfull lights. There are sounds and smells all mixed together. When I am coming back from work, late at night, on my bicycl,e through all this crazyness, I feel more like home.

Poor London

London is strange. People definitely work too much. They are stressed. Under superficial layer of kindness there is so much frustration, just waiting to be triggered.  And it comes out, after proper amount of alcohol, especially on Saturday nights, but usually just a few hours after work in English pubs, at every corner, every night. They all look so unhappy, hiding behind their ‘fashionable’ clothes, fancy drinks and expensive things. I have never seen so many girls afraid to be themselves. Tan, nails, shaping underwear, fake eyelashes, tones of make up, hair perfectly done, stylish, high heels, even the way they talk is not naural. They are constantly worrying how they look, believing that having all this perfect body and new clothes will finally make them happy. People in London do not live their life. They live the life the have learned form TV and from comercials. The have so many foreign restaurants and yet they will never know the real foreign food, because they preffer to change it according to their own British taste. Turkish, Chineese, Japaneese, Greek, Mexican, Spanish even Italian restaurants they never serve their original food as it is, because British people would never buy it. British go to the Turkish restaurant ad order fajitas, they go to Italian cafe and order English Breakfast, they go to Japaneese and they are having chicken sushi. They are trying to be cool and alternative, but if anything destroyes their perfect routine, they are not so cool anymore.

London people have nothing. They have things they can buy. Is that what makes us happy? In this city with no alcohol and drugs it’s difficult to find your joy of life.