Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pakistan Diary (Part II)

Just haven't been able to find time after all the shoots and stories and sending feed and stuff to blog. Found some time today after ages, so makes sense to key in some basic nuggets and observations about the tour so far...

14 days in Lahore
Well Lahore, seriously, is a great city. There's apparently a Punjabi saying that goes "Those who haven't seen Lahore, haven't been born". It's not that great. And I am sure all major cities have a couple of saying along similar lines. But Lahore rocks in many ways.

I couldn't find time to do the Amit Varma-ish Sufi joint-hopping. Missed out on something quite fascinating going by what he had to tell me and what I read on his blog. But I certainly managed to hunt down some fantastic food places. The fuck-up though is that these people eat more oil than meat and that makes you kind of wary when you are just a couple of weeks into a 48-day tour. But the food is wow! It really is wow! I had some fantastic paya, some awesome shamis, raans, brains, gurda-kapooras, the works.

Haven't managed to ration myself on the beef I had promised myself. But that's not for lack of availability. Just some sensible avoidance of red meat+oil.

Spent most of my time in and around the Gaddafi Stadium (which these people pronounce 'Kazaffi') of course. Strangely, hardly anyone in Lahore - the average person at any rate - knows what/who Gaddafi is. Sad. But managed to take some time out for a bit of cricket history tracking.

The Bagh-E-Jinnah cricket stadium is actually from the 1880s, and has hosted a number of serious teams down the years. When the first India-Pakistan Test series was played in 1955 (when the first Test was in Dhaka and the series was drawn 0-0), it was the Bagh-E-Jinnah that hosted the match. There are records of some fantastic performances by names such as Fazal Mahmood, Khan Muhammad, Hanif Muhammad and Abdul Hafiz Kardar on the ground. It looks a lot like the British county grounds, with a lot of space and acres of green grass...sort of ideal for spending a quiet Sunday afternoon watching cricket, sipping a scotch or three...somewhat like the Lagaan experience, except I still can't bring myself to accepting the loinclothed verns behaving like maniacs on a cricket field. But that's another story...

Also in Lahore is the Government College. Now, practically every major Pakistani cricketer from Lahore had studied at the college, as did Lala Amarnath. Now that's big time history. Kardar - Pakistan's first captain - played for the college team, as did our Janaab-e-Aloo Inzy-bhai. It's a sprawling, magnificent colonial piece of work. Quite fantastic. Very quaint in bits. And absolutely littered with history. That was another sparkling experience.

Spent most of the rest of my time bickering with my colleagues. As they sniffed around town doing things I shouldn't be talking about, I scouted for little gifts for the family...and alcohol. The good side to this was that I managed to get quite a bit of time to myself, which I spent walking around town exploring various nooks and crannies. That was fun. Though a bit unsafe, which forced me to call off the process after a few days.

The cricket of course sucked. And the cricket in Faisalabad has sucked big time so far.
But I'll save the Faisalabad story for another blog. Also, I have a few observations about Pakistan and Pakistanis that I have to key in. Will definitely blog on that sometime. Sex sells, they say. The observations about Pakistanis involves a great deal of sex. So watch this space. And try to find a sponsor if you can.

Allah Hafiz!