That’s what the a Pakistani said while he was eyeing possible taxi passengers on the Attari-Lahore Train. They seem to have an eye for one, probably its our looks or the long nose with a twist in the middle.
I had finally crossed into Pakistan (though for Kashmiris this is a totally different expression). The last time in 2005, I had eyed the Bab-e-Azadi with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s picture at the Wagah border during the fiery opening of the gates between India and Pakistan. At the first glimpse, it doesn’t seem different. The rice fields are cut in half through border fencing, villages hold the same name though divided by the international boundary, the only thing that differs is the names of the countries they belong to.
Throughout the journey, I had for companion two siblings who were visiting their families in Mirpur, which is a city in Azad Kashmir. I kept mentioning that it would have taken them an hour to cross the mountains and reach Mirpur (sarcasm alert). Our Kashmir is divided in such a way, that a journey of one hour for a person will take days to reach (if one is lucky with the passport and a visa). From the Map sense it sounds absurd, but this is the reality of geo-politics that has created these artificial boundaries tearing apart a mother from her son.
I haven’t enjoyed Pakistan that much, since I had to report in the city within 24 hours of my arrival. But I am here for a while, and Pakistani experience is the one on top of my list (apart from never-ending shopping lists from my cousins in Kashmir). There are absurd anchors who have seen Ghalib film and present holier than thou attitudes. And there’s a sly comment whenever a shady anchor presents his ‘Islamicness’. This is a blog for some-other time.
Praying at the grave of Allama Iqbal (which is at the entry of the Majestic Badshahi Masjid), the great Poet who belongs to Kashmir has been one of my life’s greatest achievement. But disturbing was to know the proximity of a red-lit-haven to this blessed ambiance. The hospitality of Pakistanis when you mention Srinagar, is so amazing that it makes you suspicious if they are for real.
I am writing from my workplace, where I feel at home. There are wonderful people who are keen to hear the stories I have carried with me from home. Will write more, when I get the opportunity.
From Pakistan, Love