Pakistan

LOLLYWOOD

There are Hollywood movies from California in the US, Bollywood movies from Bombay in India, and Lollywood movies from Lahore in Pakistan. Always good to know. I felt a bit sorry that I didn’t go to the cinema in India, after all the stories I’ve heard about Bollywood movies. But then I unexpectedly got the offer from Malik, the owner of our guesthouse in Lahore, to go to a Lollywood premiere. And this wasn’t just a regular premiere! The movie symbolised the revival of the Pakistani film industry, because it had died out last years. So there was a red carpet, the audience consisted of the high society of Lahore, and the movie had lots of famous actors in it (at least I guessed that, because of the enthusiastic shouting of the spectators. And I felt extremely underdressed with my shapeless ‘Islamic outfit’. The main actress even showed up with a tight and sleeveless dress. You wouldn’t evensee such a thing on the streets of the more modern India!
Anyway, the movie lasted for ages, I understood only half of the story, and I even fell asleep a few times. BUT, the kitsch pictures, the absurd acting, dancing, and the playback scenes were very amusing. And the funniest thing was the audience that shouted and whistled at each ‘love scene’ (no kissing!) or fighting scene. Check out the movie below with a compilation of scenes I took that evening.

Some like it hot!
We’re quite used to hot and humid climate by now. We love it! But it’s getting hotter and drier each day, since three weeks. And when we’re in Pakistan, the temperatures were higher than we’ve ever experienced before. Especially the lower region between Lahore and Sibi was very extreme. It’s hard to describe how 40°C or even 44°C feel. Try to imagine staying in a sauna for days, without interruption. And when you’re driving and you put your hand outside the window, the wind is so warm that it feels as if someone blows with a hairdryer at it. Or when you buy a cooled bottle of water it’s warm as a cup of tea, half an hour later. A bit like that…
Strangely enough, we didn’t feel too exhausted with it and ‘only’ drank 3x more than usually. But at night falling asleep could become a problem. Especially in Lahore, when the power would break down every hour and therefore the fan wouldn’t work anymore. Or when we were in Sibi in the most terrible heat in combination with lots of aggressive mosquitoes in our tent. That was rather a sleepless night for us. Luckily we’re driving north now, so we won’t have to experience what happens at 52°C.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Okay, we won’t write about the politics of Pakistan. We haven’t done that with a single country so far. No fun to do and too complicated to understand and explain anyway. But we’d like to tell something about how we experienced the safety. Pakistan doesn’t get good news lately, and there are reports about bomb explosions on a regular basis. So it felt a little bit scary for us (and for our folks back home) to visit this country. On the other hand, we’ve met many overlanders till now that happily survived and enjoyed their journey through the country. And they all came up with the same stories. They all told us how hospitable the country is, how friendly the people are and how beautiful the nature is (especially in the north). Well, we can’t tell about the latter (since we drove directly towards Iran). But we definitely agree with the rest (for example, we were invited at people’s home for dinner, just the first evening we arrived). Although it wasn’t either the case that no one would ever want to rip us off. It just happened much lesser than in India, and that felt quite as a relief, haha.
Anyway, we never really felt unsafe. Not even in Quetta, where we knew a bomb had blasted a few days ago. We drove across the whole city, but couldn’t see where that bomb had gone off. So we guess that the chance of being on the wrong place in Pakistan at a specific moment is much smaller than having a car crash in the crazy traffic of India. Nice, statistics, isn’t’ it?
Last but not least there where the escorts… It may sound quite cool, but in fact we got used to it very quickly. The first one started from Sibi, when we had already crossed ¾ of the country. Beforehand we were invited to the police officer’s private house in Sibi for an interview, because he wanted to have a chat with us. The next day, the escorts started. First there was a man in a airy dress on a motorbike. Then came the pick-up trucks with a few armed policemen that liked to be photographed. Those used to drive about 60km with us, until their district would end and then the next escort team would await us. It was all quite well organised, we must say. And the last 350km there was always a man sitting in our car (also every 60km a new one). They were all a bit sweaty but friendly men with a Kalashnikov, and they liked to be photographed as well. Lovely!

The Color Purple
Colourful Pakistan? For sure nothing can be as extreme as India, but we were still astonished about the colours of Pakistan. To start with, the nature. Of course there are also deserted areas, but in general we were surprised about how green the country actually is (Mango trees in Pakistan? Of course!). Incredible with all that heat!
Then there are the clothes of women that are much more colourful than expected. There wasn’t a colour we haven’t seen. But, they were always headscarves. Only in modern Lahore we would discover an unveiled woman from time to time. Besides Lahore, every woman we saw (as long as there were any women in the streets at all!), they all wore a headscarf. Even though it’s not compulsory by law. This showed us that Pakistan is quite an old-fashioned country. Therefore I often chose voluntarily (yes, no kidding!) to wear one as well. But I did it mainly to lessen a bit the looks of men, because I still find it a silly thing all that stupid hiding of one’s hair. The dress code for men had much less variety. In fact, nearly all men wear a wide trouser and a long shirt that reaches until their knees. Wouter also bought a second hand set for € 0,90.
And the winner of colourfulness: the trucks! It seems that the status of a truck driver depends on his vehicle, if you look at how wildly they’re all decorated. Beside all the kitsch paintings and stickers, many trucks also have a row of chains hanging in front, which make a beautiful sound when they pass by. And the most beautiful piece of decoration are the ‘wind mills’ in the shape of a flower that turn around while driving.


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