Thursday, March 22, 2007

Embarrassing embassies...

I spent the day at the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad today. Existing with a flu that I have never experienced before. I needed to do this regardless of my physical condition. Time is running short and apparently I have to be on a schedule... I forget what that means. Filofaxes, day planners, phone calls and meetings. No thanks ;)

March 23rd is Pakistan Day and offices are closed, so it was today or never. With the upcoming festivities I witnessed air force jets flying over performing their rehearsals. Jets in packs of four would roar above and set off nearly every car alarm that could be. The enormous sound that is projected from these machines was absolutely phenomenal. Then after the fighter jets do their tantrums in the sky, they come back with show jets with their streaming colorful smoke making their ever so dainty painting in the sky. No to mention the dozen or so parachutes floating down to the sky like a dry dandelion in the wind. As I was driving by the markets, no one eye would meet mine. They were all fixated on the sky and the wonderment of flight and fancy.

I managed to arrive at the Diplomatic Enclave not knowing what to expect ;) It was all about making some money from my first impression - I'll explain. You enter an area where no cars are allowed, so you have a car park available near by for 10 rupes. Then once in the waiting area, you must purchase a round trip bus ticket through the diplomatic enclave for 15 rupes each way. Then if you happen to have a briefcase or any kind of bag on you, another 5 rupes and finally, the mobile check for another 5 rupes. I was appalled at the set up that they had, nothing like any other embassy clad area I've ever been to. And I can't tell you where any of the money is going because nothing is pretty or nice. Weeds grow wildly and by weeds I literally mean weed. Wafts of marijuana would hit you in your face as the wind gently blew by. It looked like the embassies of the Swiss, Indian, Turkish and UK were growing a surplus.

With the embassy work for the day completed I was on my way to retrieve my belongings with a strange feeling that there would be something missing from my bag that I checked in. I removed the thought and proceeded. Bag check, check. Mobile check, check. Everything was copasetic and all right. I was approached by a young taxi driver and we soon to have a liking to one another when I asked how much he wanted, his response translated was, "Give me what ever you like or that what makes your heart feel good (happy)". I offered him 5 rupes on a 200 rupee fare. We laughed. He turned up the music to it's bearable limits of distortion and shot down the road like a bullet out of a barrel. Weaving back and forth in a tiny little car with no seat belt and releasing all control is such a wonderful experience. Something I'll miss where lines painted, signs posted to a certain degree are obeyed. Keeping beat with my fingers to the driving drum beats with softly coated declarations of love and I watched the flow of the sea in front of me, weaving back and forth. The drivers in these parts are world famous for their abilities to drive what seems to be recklessly crazy. On the contrary, mon frere... there is method to their chaos and it works, somehow, it works. Magically drivers can communicate with one another and find their way. It is rare that I see or hear of accidents. No accidents with great speeds involved, unless you're me and you happen to have a couple of cows get together for a pow wow ;)

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