Monday, April 09, 2007

I lost my train of thought...

I finally decided to get on with my movement and departed Lahore. I was suggested to take the train from Lahore to Rawalpindi. I have used almost all imaginable transportation in India: bicycle, every rickshaw known, horse, pony, motorcycle, car, train, bus, hitchhiking, pony and cart... I think you get the point. So I ventured on the rail systems of Pakistan to experience the experience. I have to tell you that this train was fantastic. This is the only way I will travel between these two cities from now on. I was feeling anxious on my way to the station though. It has been a while since I've travelled unfamiliar territories and foreign transportation. I sat in the Parlor car and next to me was a man I was always supposed to meet. Kismut.

There was a young man wandering the car asking anyone for ice cream, water, 7up, Pepsi, food, McDonald's, coffee and chai. I bit on the chai. I was finally aboard, all my belonging in the overhead racks and the anxiety of foreign affairs was now over. I just wanted a chai to settle down and relax with. The gentleman sitting beside me told me that the rail service provides you with chai and it's much better. I explained that I just wanted a cup now. I slipped back into English with that last statement and that intrigued him. He of course asked me where I was from and then the conversation ensued. I explained that I was just wandering about the sub-continent and purchased a motorbike out of the blue and just kept on driving. His eyes lit up like a kid eating candy. Younis then asked me what kind of bike and I replied, Royal Enfield. He began telling me of his passion of motorcycles and that he owned a vintage BSA and BMW. He is my new contact for purchasing a vintage motorcycle ;)

We carried on enjoying each other's company. And the stories, magnificent - some horrific though. They ranged from the history of the motorcycles in Pakistan and India and where to find what kind in what area. Younis told me that he most usually gets a window seat to enjoy the scenery along the way because if another Pakistani was sitting next to him, they would remain stiff, quiet and unfriendly. I had the window seat and this trip he had something out of the ordinary to sit beside, again reinforcing my beliefs. He told me the reason why everyone is to themselves is that they are fearful. Fearful of what could happen next. No one know what to expect in Pakistan of one another. He shared with me a story of how his son came running into the house, out of breath and told him that just down the block he had been robbed at gun point for his personal effects. Younis dialed 15 (911 equivalent) and no police we to be seen or heard from. But the tuggees (the origin of our commonly used term, "thug") came back. In the meanwhile, Younis, his son and nephew were all wielding guns and headed into to their car to engage in a chase. The tuggee opened fire on them and they returned fire. This was all happening in proper Lahore?! After the wild west shoot out Younis's son was having trouble walking. He took off his shoe and it was bleeding. A bullet found it's way into the side of his foot and was lodged there. I guess that's what happens when you play with guns, someone is bound to get hurt or worse. I could imagine this happening in Peshawar which is the wild west, but in Lahore?

Younis was a refreshing drink of water on what otherwise would be a sand filled train. This man, or rather I should say young man in an aging body was wonderful company and I look forward to meeting his family when I return to Lahore. We were instantly friends even though years of experience and upbringing separated us. It mattered none in those moments, we were long lost friends catching up it seemed. Not only did I meet with my new old friend but I have continued experiences that I have no other explanation for than it was always supposed to be this way.

Thank you for making my life a constant mystery, the illusions of confusion and for losing my train of thought...

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