One page really doesn't do it justice, It was an amazing experience and trying to get it all in, I decided there was no alternative. You'll have to see some more. We were based in Lahore, in the Punjab but spent some time in lots of different places. One was at the western border with India where we saw the ceremony of the opening of the gates. This involves enough shouting, stamping and crashing of boots to frighten an osteopath and that distinct element of theatre that Regimental Sergeant Majors love. A fine co-operative spectacle that must let off a bit of the steam generated between the two naturally competitive armies. The Sergeant in front of me would have brought tears to the eyes of my old RSM as he snapped, stamped and glared. Apparently Cricket generates similar feelings.
Visiting the Pakistan end of the Khyber Pass and admiring the scenery I was given this to hold. Frankly I was the most dangerous and careful person in the area until I gave it back (safety catches are tricky things) It was a bit odd though, there we were on the border, hyped by the media as a flash point, bubbling with unrest, and a soldier, grinning all over his face says "Hold this for a photograph, It'll make you look good."
Seriously though I really did get the impression that the vast majority of people there on both sides of the border thought the conflict was caused by idiots who didn't listen. Also it was messing up a perfectly good smuggling opportunity, which is the traditional local activity when a bureaucrat draws a line in the sand. For the spy networks, I should indicate that I have never used one of these in anger, and would appreciate their gradual removal.
The Fountain is a bit out of sequence here but I've put it in because I like it, the red colour is because of rust in the water, but I think it made a fantastic effect, and should be kept as a feature.
We were in the south of the country in southern Punjab, if my geography hasn't let me down, and there were a few mosquitoes, but our accommodation had repellent which worked better than the old punka fans would have done. The hooks for the fans were still in the high brick vaulted ceiling the building being of old British construction. I never registered the fact that the poor bloke operating it (Punka-Wallah) was outside and getting hotter rather than cooler, and had to sit where the mosquitoes could find him easily.
This bit of sky just appealed to me, so you get to see it too. We had gone up (about 10,000 feet) into the foothills of the Himalayas, Every where we looked there was evidence of Aleem's work, usually forests or reserves, he really has changed the appearance of the country. This was the first time the driver, Jabbar, had left the level alluvial plain, and it was a steep learning curve in both senses. The ground goes from flat to steep in less than a mile, and is made all the more exiting by the driving style of the locals, which owes more to their belief that God is looking after them (and that anything that happens is his will) than any regulatory system. It surprised me how I learned to relax considering the frequency of the near misses.
Here is proof that we had our own private train, it looks as though Aleem is driving - Well he did pretty well everything else, so it wouldn't have been a surprise. Actually this is the back of the train, the engine being at the other end, so that we could get a nice clear view of Changa Manga Reserve on the way in and another of where we had been, on the way back. Notice the lack of other passengers, and the fact that we could stop wherever we liked. I could get used to this style of life.
When we were in Multan we were a little early for the market, and we do like a bit of haggling, so we had half an hour to kill, conveniently the Police took us in for questioning, The question was "would we like a cup of tea?" We cracked immediately under the strain and confessed. I tried bribery, but he insisted on paying. Aleem looks a little sad, but it's just because he wanted to pay.
Here's the mosque inside the older, walled, part of Lahore, through the Delhi gate where the streets are kind of narrow but the traffic doesn't slow down. I don't think the building in the background really leans like that, Aleem doesn't seem bothered, but I can't explain the tilt. probably one of those optical thingies. I couldn't leave Jabbar out, after all the driving he did. the Car deserves a special mention too, I think it may have had a life changing experience and I'm just hoping it didn't collapse in a heap when it got back from dropping us off at the Airport. We returned to Scotland in a howling gale and pouring rain, but as I finish this page the sun has come out.
I must go and do some more work on the conservatory which has happily not blown down while we were away. We do miss the warmth of the people and the climate in Pakistan though, and here winter is on it's way.
Aleem, thank you, I shall put up a wedding page for you as soon as I have scanned in a few photos. When I have , the button below will lead you straight to it. Hopefully a few days after