Sunday, August 13, 2006

T.G.I.F. in Islamabad...

Our travels down the mountain felt quite similar to that old wooden roller coaster they have at the PNE in Vancouver. It was thrilling and heart racing with that thought that it might just come off it's tracks and we'll all perish, except we'd go off the road and off the mountainside. We had a brief stop in Abbottabad to pick up the rest of my belongings and a quick visit with my khalla with the whole 'gang'. There is one thing that you can never say that a Pakistani isn't hospitable. They opened up their home to these foreigners as if they were of the same blood. The hearts of my family are enormous and it is nice to see where mine has come from.

Back on the road in our little 'coaster' and were making our way to Islamabad. The Lonely Planet book for Pakistan came out and we started calling up guest houses and hotels for research and comparisons. In our search we found an Iranian restaurant sporting the name of 'Omar Khayyam'. This was something that we couldn't miss out on. We phoned the number and to our absolute dissapointment the number no longer exists.

As we approached Islamabad we had two choices for accomodations. The Poet guesthouse and the Crown Plaza, the latter being the more expensive option. We stopped at The Poet to see if the rooms would accomodate our needs. Absolutely brilliant place to stay if you're on a vacation with another person but not with a group. I definitely recommend it if you're ever in Islamabad ;)

Finally we were off to search out the Crown Plaza. It was in the Blue Area of Islamabad where there are blocks and blocks of restaurants and shops. It was a luxurious place where we could hang our hats and recuperate after a long journey. We as a group had many plans for that evening. One of them which was to occur later on in the evening was to go bowling. What an event to go bowling with ten people in Islamabad. But alas, the universe was not supporting it because it closed at eleven o'clock and not the 5am that the Lonely Planet had stated.

Hunger pains started making their presence known and I have to commend Benjamin's persistence on finding Omar Khayyam. We decided to just jump in a taxi and go to the cross streets and try our luck. We hailed a taxi and ended up driving 24 blocks away only to find ourselves 4 blocks away from our hotel. One of the funniest taxi rides I've experienced to date. We inquired within a restaurant and to our good fortune the manager eats there all the time and prepares a map for us. Our instructions were to go to the first set of lights and look for a PSO fuel station. We walked from where our taxi driver dropped us off and then decided to hail another taxi. We travelled two blocks in the taxi when we spotted the PSO station and finally the red neon sign 'Omar Khayyam'. As I was approaching the restaurant, one by one the lights were being turned off. As I took my last step the red glow of the neon left me in darkness with the owner of the restaurant. I pleaded with him and explained our travels and that in fact I was named after Omar Khayyam and he accomodated the three of us. Then moments later he turned away a group of five. Our kismut was good.

It was the scene out of Syriana where George Clooney walks down the stairs into the Iranian restaurant and brokers an arms deal. The restaurant was full of poeple and only one table had food on it. The rest had questionable patrons wielding cigars. The tension was in the air and appeared we arrived at a very untimely moment. I noticed in the corner an elderly lady all by herself. She must have run the operation for she looked like the one who would allow people in the 'back room'. Reid, Benjamin and I constructed our own Syrian plot and thoroughly enjoyed our meal and stay at Omar Khayyam.

And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted - "Open then the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more."

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