See a better version of this on neuage.me at https://neuage.me/2023/03/18/pakistan2023/
We have been here twice before. December 2021 for Brendan and Sofie’s wedding, https://neuage.me/2022/02/03/covid-world-tour-2021/ and in 2020 https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/
To see all our Pakistan video clips, 2019, 2020, 2023 click here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzv1YGfx_SMxVqWs6km_YX3xqq65MchBe
Lahore is the second most populous city in Pakistan after Karachi and 26th most populous city in the world, with a population of over 13 million. It is the capital of the province of Punjab where it is the largest city. Lahore is one of Pakistan's major industrial and economic hubs, with an estimated GDP of $84 billion as of 2019. Wikipedia
Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan. It is the country's ninth-most populous city, with a population of over 1.2 million people, and is federally administered by the Pakistani government as part of the Islamabad Capital Territory. Built as a planned city in the 1960s, it replaced Rawalpindi as Pakistan's national capital. Wikipedia
When we were here last, November 2019, a thousand rupees equalled $6.44 USD ($9.44 Aussie bucks). March 2023 a thousand rupees = $3.75 USD or $5.56 Australian. In other words it is very difficult for the people here. Everything has risen in cost y close to 50% this year alone. For example, water is a dollar more this week than last week which is a lot.
As usual, italic notes are Narda – the other type is moi…
leaving Kuala Lumpur
Woke up at 5.30, our host Steve met us at 7.30 and then off in our Grab taxi. All went very smoothly. The Batik Air flight left at 12.30 right on time. We had never tried these guys before, but I think it was great. Mainly because the departure and arrival times (4 pm) are so civilised. Most of the fancy airlines manage 3 am for arrival in Pakistan.
The leg room and recline was fine ..as good as any economy seat. The food was OK, we had to purchase it. We also purchased a pillow each...never seen that before…but it was only $1 …nice little souvenir. The toilets were pretty bad by the end of the 6-hour flight, but you can't win em all.
Sofie and her mum Niggi were waiting there with their driver, Brendan has an after-school commitment he could not get out of. Back in their nice home now. Sofie has done some gorgeous decorating. It looks very homey.
This my little amateur sketch of part of the living room.
This stunning work by the real artist in the family, Sofie.
We have not flown on Batik Air Indonesia before, certified as a 3-Star Airline by Skytrax. It was budget all the way though comfortable. The plane was new with more leg room than other budget airlines we have been on. Meals were quite basic and cost little, I got some vegetable thing with rice and Narda had her usual something that once was alive meal. We even had to pay for a pillow, water, coffee. We didn’t buy a blanket. The pillows were cheap at about three bucks USD. There was no entertainment screen or plugs or charging. The stewardesses were friendly. Overall to save a few bucks it is OK for a six-hour flight.
Arriving in Lahore has been difficult in the past, two times, because there have been other flights, creating huge lines at customs and long waits for luggage. This time it was just our flight which was half full. We were the first at the passport window and our luggage came rather quickly as there were not many of us. No one checks us, or our luggage. Probably should have brought Brendan a carton of wine. Oh well, next time.
Sofie and her mother with their driver met us. We usually arrive at three am when so many others do also. This time at three pm there was no one else in the car park, the road into town was very sparse and we got to Swedish Flats, the wonderful home of Sofie and Brendan before Brendan got home from school.
Our first impression was of the difference a woman in a house can make. Not that Brendan’s house wasn’t homey, after all, Narda had bought stuff for it the last time we were here, but now there was so much more. Very homey.
Narda is showing the inside of the house below. A walled compound with guards. Inside we could be in any upscale neighbourhood in the world, except the air is a bit smoggy for us. Like Lahore was rated the most smoggy city in the world today.
Feb 16, 2023
Terrell and I happily went for our favourite walk to get coffee from the local chai wallah! Then off to Jalal's at Main Market for groceries and snacks.
On the first night Bren and Sof took us to our favourite restaurant…all western food, called Rina's. I shared a great pepperoni (without pork?) pizza with Sof, Terrell had his remembered favourite dish, spinach lasagne and Bren had a chicken salad-pasta thing. Not sure exactly though I'm sure it was spicy.
Feb 17, 2023
Bren and Sof have half days on Friday. We took a longish nap at lunch then went to the international club. I spent the hour chatting with Dave, an English guy who has just returned to Lahore because his Pakistani wife wants to be close to family again. Bren and Terrell worked out in the gym.
Then at p.m. back there. We met up with Lulu again, she was pleased to see us. Nice long chats with her. She's had an incredible life, travelling all through the middle east with her husband in the 60s, then settling with him (a Pakistani) in Lahore and raising 2 kids, both of whom returned to the USA. Her husband died 16 years ago and she now lives in Lahore, and would never go back to the west. Interesting person, with a long history of involvement at the International Club.
We went outside and were welcomed by the "boys", Bren's close Pakistani friends. Atif, who lent his nice car decorated with to Bren and Sof for their wedding celebrations. Faizan who got us lost driving to the reception. He also recently married and showed me lots of photos. Then there is Cash, a Pakistani with a plummy English accent, and with lots to say and strong opinions on everything. There was a long discussion led by Cash on the merits of psychedelics in finding truth. This man is a devout Muslim. Terrell had quite a bit of stuff to say on the topic 🤔 When asked what my experience was I told him "codeine is great, makes love everyone and everything". One of the other guys (I had not met him before) insisted that reading and studying was the best way to finding truth. I tried to agree, but no one heard me.
It was a fun night. Imran came to pick us up, we went home with him, Sof and Terrell and me leaving Bren to party on. He assured us Cash would drive him home. I must say I was a little concerned about that. He's home, Imran took him home.
Feb 19, 2023
Now here we are up early…..just had an instant coffee, I'm back on my 16/8 fasting regime. Life is good in Lahore.
Feb 19, 2023
Last night we had an interesting meal at Dan and Dan, a hotpot place. The beef was really something, very tender and tasty. So also the eggplant strips coated in stay sauce, which Saquib and I both thought was chicken. Bit of a cliche 'tastes like chicken'.
I had a good conversation with Saquib, Sofie's dad, and the reason why Chris made it to his brother's wedding. He was telling me about his family property in Gujarat.…..?.? here there is a 300 year tradition of helping people and teaching. I want to learn more. I also enjoyed meeting Niggi again, this warm-hearted, generous woman.
We had spent some significant time in the hours before downing snacks with Bren and Sof and I thought I had left no room, but it was all good. Plenty of extra space there..
Walk to grocery shop – tuk tuk back – hour half nap – worked on photos from KL – dinner @ – Rina’s https://rinas.pk/
We love Rina’s Kitchenette. I always get the same, pasta with great cheesy sauce. Narda and Sofie shared a pizza and Brendan got something or the other that meat lovers get. A few dollars each. And my favourite drink here, pina colada, a cocktail made with rum, cream of coconut or coconut milk, and pineapple juice, though of course this is Pakistan, there is no rum in it which is great for me as I have not had any alcohol since 2005.
We love the walk to the local grocery store. We stopped at our local chai wallah to have our cup of tea. I think they remember us from other years as they were very seemingly happy to accommodate us. Quickly making a place for us to sit down.
Walked to local shops – pens notebooks – groceries – nap – gym with Brendan – evening dinner @ The International Club. There are always people from lots of places here. A few from where Brendan works, mostly businesspeople from South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Denmark, USA and so many more places. Good to speak with others. The food is good too. There is a gym, though a bit too hard core for me as I like the machines more than the free-weights which they seem to favour here. Brendan even has a trainer.
Narda has found a favourite stationary shop, she found it two times ago and again last time and low and behold it is still there, with all kinds of stationary stuff so she can draw and we found some odds and ends to give people along the way.
Out for breakfast with Brendan and Sofie at Bundu Khan Lahore - http://www.bundukhan.pk/ Desi Nashta -
11 am QConnect bus to Islamabad – to hotel – dinner with Phil’s parents at our hotel Roomy in F6 -
Today Brendan left for Turkey with his grade 5 class for a school camp learning about space. Turkey has been in the news lot with Syria, having recently suffered catastrophic earthquakes in the southern border region, with 40,000 people so far losing their lives. A shocking thing. Bren and his students are a long way from there, so the camp wasn't called off.
We left on the QConnect luxury bus (rated 'business class' italics deliberate:) headed to Islamabad. It's a clean planned city purpose built as the capital of Pakistan. We stayed in a really nice hotel called Roomy Signature. The room was indeed roomy.
We met up with a couple of American music teachers, with a long, interesting background in international schools. They were visiting their son Luke, living opposite Brendan and teaching at Lahore International School. We have lots of stories to share over dinner at our hotel.
Tim and Gwen.
The next morning, they picked us up with their school driver and showed us all the necessary sites. The museum of natural history, with a couple of competent science graduates telling the stories. Really nice.
Then to the central mosque, impressive.
And then the famous monument, and a craft museum which was dark, electricity down, but the little craft shops were open with nice stuff. Maybe I happened to buy some stuff but I'm not saying for sure 🙃 🤔
The cost of living has increased significantly for the locals. In November 2019, a thousand rupees cost us $6.44 USD ($9.44 AUD). In March 2023 a thousand rupees = $3.75 USD or $5.56 Australian. The rupee is continuing to fall…10% in the last weeks. Terrible for Pakistan. They are unable to pay for imports leaving ships full of goods standing in the harbour causing terrible shortages and price rises.
See https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/ for 2019 blog
With Luke’s parents in AM to museums – nap - afternoon InDrive to The Centarus Mall F8 – Jinnah Avenue – dinner cheesy noodles
1. The Pakistan Monument is a national monument and heritage museum located on the western Shakarparian Hills in Islamabad, Pakistan. The monument was constructed to symbolize the unity of the Pakistani people. It is dedicated to the people of Pakistan who sacrificed their "today" for a better "tomorrow" The four large petals represent each of the four main cultures of Pakistan, the Punjabi, the Baloch, the Sindhi and the Pakhtun. The three smaller petals represent: the minorities, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Its elevation makes the monument visible from across the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area and is a popular tourist destination
2. Natural History Museums - The Pakistan Museum of Natural History has four divisions namely Botanical Sciences, Earth Sciences, Zoological Sciences and Public Services. The first three divisions are engaged in the collection, preservation, identification and research activities pertaining to plants, fossils & minerals and animals resources of Pakistan respectively, while the latter is responsible for mass education and popularization of the natural history through various displays, exhibits and dioramas.
3. The Faisal Mosque is the national mosque of Pakistan, located in capital Islamabad. It is the fifth-largest mosque in the world and the largest within South Asia, located on the foothills of Margalla Hills in Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad. It is named after the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
Our new friends headed back to their son and his family in Swedish flats.
We headed off to the Metro, a new adventure. It's a great idea, a concrete track, in the city for buses only costing very little. It was full of locals. We quickly learned the protocols from the locals pointing and smiling. Boys in the back, girls in the front. I got a seat, Terrell was sandwiched in the back with all the males, pretty much standing the whole time, about 8 stops.
We did not have a destination in mind, which puzzled the girls sitting next to me as I asked where we should get off.
"We want to see a market".
"Commercial or local?" she replied in good English.
"I have no idea", I thought.
"Both" I replied.
She smiled and assured me she would let me know. So, with this non information I texted Terrell urgently to be sure he would somehow catch sight of me as I got off.
It all went well, we both got off at the same stop and headed off in search of chai. It was definitely a local area. (Understatement!). The chai wallah had an "upmarket" area we were to sit in, deep underground with NO light. He was very hospitable. I think we may have been the first to sit down there in quite some time.
A few scarf purchases later, we had lunch, neon noodles. Nice. Toilets navigated. It's all good.
The return trip took us back to Centaurus Mall. I bought a groovy shalwar kameez with lovely material, but too big, it was tent like. Seriously, it needed tent pegs. I later had this altered at our local Main Market to my satisfaction, with sweet Sofie as translator.
Dinner in the mall. Mine: chicken and noodles, Terrell: noodles, but the cheese made it yummy.
The QConnect bus took us back to Lahore without incident, though I did spot a large bus with some significant roof damage, and men standing around looking at it. This was on the very steep decent coming back to Lahore. Not really sure what that was. Maybe they had just tipped it back upright. I did enjoy the fancy these decorated trucks heading west.
See our clips on Islamabad at https://youtu.be/p7oE0ySzNSA - part two
and part one – slideshow - https://youtu.be/oA_IipRvQdc
Bus back to Lahore - out with Sofie and Brendan’s for dinner to Rina’s
We decided to take Imran out with his family as a thank you. He's a good guy. Unfortunately, he had to work and so we played host to his wife and 2 of his daughters. He was keen for us to meet Jennifer as she was home for a short time, working in Dubai. It was a nice experience, buffet in a speccie rooftop location. Food was good.
For some reason I cannot reconnect with Uber after our 3 months in India using them all the time. Nor can Terrell. We have finally managed to connect with InDrive, a similar local service by using our Aussie phone to verify us. Not sure what's going to happen with our roaming charges. So, it's working, sometimes with local folks helping us communicate with drivers in Urdu.
Evening dinner with Imran’s family – wife, Jennifer – her sister – buffet – I had fish ala cart - Nestled in the city of Gardens, situated at the rooftop of one of the highest building around liberty and offers Indoor and Outdoor Dining with an extensive view of Lahore.
“Monal Lahore is the definition of contemporary Restaurant, serving the finest Cuisines with a combination of traditional and exciting flavours from around the world.” So they say – on some website.
Night market tour
The school generously paid for tickets for us and others to join the school community and go on a tour of the Lahore Fort. It is a huge complex, right next to the mosque in the old city. Beautiful. We met at school and were transported there in the school's 12-seater bus. While waiting for the tour guide, we browsed the many souvenir shops.
Then the start of the tour was announced with a trumpet blast, and we were admitted through a low door. The tour guide was full of beans and gave us lots of information on this world heritage site and the restoration projects currently being undertaken. Incredible, everything lit strategically.
We got breaks from walking, watching different performances and also being transported in big tuktuk like vehicles. I enjoyed getting to know Brendan's boss Nadine, a person I could easily be friends with. We both complained that it was way past our bedtime, a terribly late 9pm. 😴
See our three clips:
After all the touring we ate a good meal on "food street", generously paid for by Nadine and Chris in Pakistani fashion.
Bren home again after a week with his fifth graders in Turkey on the school camp in an area far from the devastation of the earthquakes. In southern Turkey and in Syria the damage and loss of life has been shocking. I think the total deaths are now close to 70,000.
Morning brekkie at my favourite place. It has the best sweet lassi. Lassi meethi
Sofie’s mum took us out to Breakfast at the English Tea House http://ethpakistan.pk/. A great way to start a Sunday. I had the eggs Florentine – in Australia it would have been $25 - $30, here about $5 Australian. I had a blueberry smoothie which was good.
While he was catching up on sleep, we attended a couple of sessions at a writer’s week. The second involved a book launch by an ex-student of Lahore International School. In his book he wrote of his kidnapping in Lahore and torture by extremists. He was held in captivity for 5 years. Lucky to be alive. It was a riveting speech, and I'm not going to read the book. Too confronting for me.
Does anyone remember Statler and Waldorf? They were the two old guys who provided a running commentary of Sesame Street. Well, we met their Pakistani brothers over lunch. Two educated gentlemen with opinions. Interesting conversation. They spoke of their support of Imran Khan, their views on the relationship with India, which they said was driven totally by politicians. Their view that the countries of the world who had confiscated weapons in their populations were the ones getting ahead. They compared Pakistan with Bangladesh in this regard. Pakistan remains heavily armed, Bangladesh does not. I want to research this some more.
Feb 26 and 27
Brekkie at the English House on the invitation of Niggi, Sofie's lovely mum. Nice time of conversation.
Bren had an offer one can't refuse of the box seat in the local cricket match, including full access to unlimited food. So, we joined Sof at her hairdresser for head and foot massage and hair wash. 😍 lovely.
InDrive to Mall Road – breakfast/lunch at Grazer Mall 94, Soups: mushroom and chicken $1.95 USD each, sweet lassie $1.18 and mango smoothie $3.15 +$1.25 on top of it all for their 16% GST tax for a grand total of $9.50 USD for lunch – shopping at Imtiaz – Narda bought dress – InDrive back home gave 350($1.35) even though it was about 300 ($1.17).
Feb 28, Mar 1
Another strange experience with the InDrive person, who couldn't find us at the flower market, The vendor helped by talking to the driver and we made a dare devil crossing of a busy road. Not quite comfortable with the tuk tuk, fast car, bus, and pedestrian mix on these roads. We need more practice and need to take a chill pill.
Ordering coffee from the local chai wallah.
Nice dinner last night at Paola's Mediterranean food restaurant. Just newly renovated, really lovely atmosphere. I ordered a pepperoni pizza again. Can't seem to get past it. The pepperoni is made from chicken, and you would never know. This is because Muslims do not eat pork. Just because something is made from chicken does not mean it tastes like chicken. 😉
Sidenote: just because it is made with tofu and tastes like chicken doesn’t mean some poor animal got snuffed just to taste like chicken. Hey, for those who don’t know – or care really, I was a tofu manufacturer in Adelaide for seven-years. Really. I even have a webpage – of course, tofu.neuage.org
Today was going to be a down day because we just got new internet. So, catching up on blogging and bills etc. It was restful. Walked to the local street stall and on the way home bought more than a kilo of strawberries for the princely sum of less than $2 USD. Yum, so ripe. Just hope I washed them properly. Won't know that till tomorrow morning.
My tuk tuk take.
Driving to Sofie's parents was a challenge. I covered my head with a scarf to blend in and Brendan kept driving confidently past the check points. This is the process, each time they drive to their home. Foreigners are not allowed into the "containment" area owned by the army. . Sometimes they check and send you back. Its a bit of hit and miss, but tonight it was busy and we slipped by unnoticed.
Saquib was there too. Dinner was lovely and we had interesting conversations about the current politics, Saquib assuring us that Imran Khan would win by a landslide. Niggi told us that he was being guarded by many women from the city, armed with sticks, who beat off any police who tried to arrest him on trumped up charges. It's a funny image. She said she might join them.
Good morning, Pakistan. I survived the consuming of a great deal of non-sanitized strawberries. Today the sun is shining, little pollution. We headed out early to enjoy the blue sky and the quiet roads. I bought the requisite white vinegar using this Urdu phrase "sofed seriga". It worked. We went home (stopped first at the other chai wallah) and sterilized the remaining strawberries. 4 parts clean water and one part sofed seriga.
Part of our local walk.
Then came the highlight of my trip. We went to the fancy home (Nadine and Chris) of the principal of the elementary school for a pleasant TGIF experience, lots of food and beer. She had actually offered me a job as middle school music teacher for the remaining 3 months of the year. I did think long and hard about it. If this offer had come at the end of our trip I would have done it. It would have an interesting experience, but we still have lots of travel paid for and I didn't fancy cancelling it all.
But that was not the highlight. Brens new band was playing and the boys invited me to sing so I joined them for 2 songs singing harmony with the very capable lead singer who also played ukulele, Brendan playing a mean bass, and two other guys on guitar and single drum. This was something I had always wanted to do.
See the clip at https://youtu.be/rh_o7XGW6mY
You know, the cricket player Imran Khan, became prime minister, was ousted, and is trying to get back in as prime minister. He was injured in an assassination attempt recently in a long march episode from Lahore to Islamabad. Two days before leaving Lahore there was a big protest, rally, whatever, in front of the compound. Rumours were that the current government was going to arrest Imran. His compound has lots of tents in front, probably equal five NYC blocks or more. Apparently, women are camped out and have sticks to beat back police if they try to arrest him. Well Wednesday Brendan and Sofie got released from school at noon due to ‘trouble’ brewing and Thursday Brendan and Sofie got the call that there would be no school as the roads were blocked. The compound is near their school. To us, having taught in New York, it was equal to getting a snow-day. Narda was quite happy. We saw various Twitter clips with the army and police using water cannons and breaking car windows. Narda and I wanted to go and see what was going on but we were kind of told no. in my defence, my first degree, BA, was in journalism. And I fancy myself as a reporter of stuff. Anyway, we stayed near home.
to Sofie’s mother for dinner father there too – left 9.30
On our walk to and home from our daily grocery shopping we sat in the local park and were looked at with great interest, even talked to a few fellows.
We found strawberries to be in season with many venders selling them. We said five-hundred rupees worth and received a large bag of them, that is less than two bucks USD. We read on the internet that we should soak them in vinegar for five-minutes to kill off the local bugs, though before we read that we just washed them twice.
Being an American I have a slight fascination with guns – like why people have them. In Pakistan every business has a (male) guard with a machine gun outside. They are always friendly. Never seen anyone come close to using one which I suppose is good. Here are a few of my gun toting guards…
Hung around house morning – worked on train trips in UK and started looking at flights for NY – Valencia. Brendan and Sofie to a wedding, we took a nap. Packages Mall_ https://youtu.be/eFH2CGigBtw Narda bought shoes at Ndure for rainy weather in UK, dinner at The Pantry -
Bit of this and that. Head massage, dinner at the club, and driven home by someone's driver, then Packages Mall for some waterproof shoes. Found a bargain at Ndure (1,500 rupees which is around $6 USD. Will be useful in the rainy UK. Another run at Imtiaz. We are carrying a dongle which gives us internet on the go. Sometimes. So, we can order a driver or use WhatsApp. No Sim cards for us. Next time we will contact the embassy.
Coffee and cake at Second Cup,– ten-minute nap - InDrive to Al – Fatah to get my hair oil and InDrive back - later walked from Main Market to Imtiaz Narda bought dress and shoes at Imtiaz to go to Lulu’s.
My hair guru, Sofie, put me onto some hair oils to help me. My hair seems to be shorter than a few years ago and is thinning too quickly. Just because I am 75 is not a good reason to have hair loss – really, get with the program. I once had hair most to my waist in the 1960s, and it was black, now it is going grey at an alarming rate. Sofie, having had a bout with TB and losing hair discovered the oil of an onion rubbed into the scalp overnight regenerates hair. Narda already is complaining, and I haven’t even started. Something about I will have to sleep in the other bedroom when we get back home if I dare do such a treatment which of course I will. Her hair grew back long and thick and black – just because she was a hundred years younger than me doesn’t mean it won’t work with me. I did purchase two oils, one with onion extract but not with the smell. I am to use one treatment twice a week for two weeks then the onion extract one for a week and do that until my hair is thick and to my feet. So excited. Thanks hair-guru-Sofie. I am so lucky.
Dinner at home
Yesterday we had another chai at our local street seller. We waved on arriving. This meant and was understood as "the usual please". He made us one with sugar and one without. Cool. We sat in the back and had a pleasant conversation with a local office worker taking a break. Lots about the bad economics of Pakistan, the falling rupee and of course Imran Khan and the (unsuccessful) attempts of the opposition to have him arrested.
Narda asked a child’s parent for permission to take this photo – I called it photo of the day.
One of Narda’s go-to conversations with locals is re. Imran. Seems everyone we speak to is in favour of Imran or they are just fearful of disagreeing with Narda. If you don’t believe me, say you are an anti-vaxxer. For example, at an anti vax rally parade we happened to come across in The Hague, Narda confronted one of them and she got pushed – luckily she got out of their way and survived to ‘discuss’ vaxing with others since. Yes, we have had five, three of them boosters. We may have a future ‘conversation’ about pressed onion oil in hair, but aside of that we agree on most everything. I make fun of her and have lots to say about her meat eating and she pays me out for being a vegetable…lover, otherwise we are on the same page, well, except I still play Dylan and Janis Joplin when I can. Pretty good as we come from such a different background in some ways. Mainly, I did the hippie lots of LSD and everything else and she didn’t. I am still glad I did. I loved my years of doing lots of drugs, no regrets, remember them well, great experiences, but also happy I haven’t done any drugs since early 1980 when my mate Randy sent me a lots of LSD. I was a single parent at the time. When I told Sacha a few years ago he said his whole childhood made sense to him after hearing that. No drugs since early 1980, no alcohol since 2005, feel high all the time, happy. What more could a person want?
Another one of those lovely days…foot massage, head massage, hair wash. Far out, wish we could afford this in Australia. All up it set us back $23 including tip for the two of us, and Narda getting her toenails coloured – kind of a pink instead of her usual red. Go figure, women – but then again today is the international day of the woman or of women – something like that. Huge marches here in Lahore today – and a large rally for Imran Khan. That got Sophie and Brendan home early, as Imran’s compound is near their school and the military is out and there seems to be a lot of nonsense going on Narda and I wanted to go and see it but we were told probably not a good idea. Water cannons – police breaking car windows – lots of mayhem. I wanted to be one of those twitter journalists – had my cameras including zoom lens ready to go too. One of the girls who did the massages is from the Philippines, said she was a Christian. We used to say we were atheists, but Brendan said that is not good to say, so I suppose we are culturally Christians so yes that we are, sort of.
Our last days were a bit of a whirlwind seeing folks and winding up our stay in Lahore plus getting train tickets lined up for the rest of the trip – Newcastle to Liverpool, train to Wales. Tickets for our next trip; Adelaide to Albany NY, renting a car for a week or more, visiting my sister in Oneonta, friends in Albany, my father, mother’s and brother’s cemetery in Clifton Park, reminiscing about living in upstate 2002 – 2006, teaching in Albany, then driving from Oneonta to Battle Creek Michigan where I was born then I was carted off to NY and put out for adoption soon after those glorious few days of my youth in August 1947. Want to check out the place, see if it has changed much over the past 76-years. I suspect it has and I think I will be there on my birthday, August tenth, if you are thinking of wishing me well or sending flowers. From there we will train it to Chicago for our house exchange in downtown for a month. The Chicago folks have just left our home in Adelaide, they seemed to have enjoyed their month stay there. After Chicago we are taking Amtrak overnight – got a sleeper berth, to DC, staying with Chris and Jessica for a couple of weeks then to Valencia. We got one ticket on United with points and will get the second next month when we accrue enough points to grab that one. At the rate we are spending on this trip that should be easy. We have a house exchange in Valencia for a month, our ticket is direct on United from DC to Madrid where we will stay for a day or two then train it up to our house exchange in Valencia. Then back to Adelaide beginning of November. Of course, Narda has us planning for 2024. Coming back to Lahore for a couple then her hope is that we will do a land crossing over the Wagga Border into India instead of flying there, then hanging out in India for three months, or two months there and a month in Malaysia – still connecting the dots now. Of course, there will be world-stuff to deal with. Who knows what the issues will be then? Last couple of years we had to navigate our way around covid, now the ever-expanding wars with Russia.
In June of 2024 we are looking at how to celebrate Narda’s seventieth – something we did, a cruise, in 2017 for my 70th – shit I’m old.
Wow, what a coincidence. I am writing this flying over some snow-capped mountains between Abu Dhabi and London listening to The Pretenders doing the Dylan song, ‘Forever Young’, which is more than five-minutes long and just discovered it is looping after hearing it for too many times, the point being in my ramble I was thinking I was getting a bit long in the tooth for all this travel whilst ‘Forever Young’ was playing.
Back to the real story of now. Now. Wednesday night we went to Lulu’s house. Well apartment. She used to have a house, sold it and got this groovy apartment in a new building with a swimming pool, spa, and so much more. She is a very interesting person. We met her at the International Club last year. She is past 80, from Denmark, married a Pakistani Brit, they lived in Lahore for a long time he died 17-years ago. Lulu stays in Lahore because that is now her home, she loves it. Her two-children live in the States and are married to Yanks. They are Trumpers. We had good talks about how difficult it must be to have a Trumper in the family. Narda and I don’t know anyone who is of that ilk. She is so full of stories of her life. My favourite is about when she and her husband lived and travelled throughout the middle east – living in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. The 1960s were so different in these places. She told us what it was like on the hippie trails through Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan – all these places we no longer travel to. We have met others who have described places being so open and full of westerners. My friend, Michael McCarthy tells of when they used to drive luxury cars from Europe to Afghanistan, sell them and hitch hike back to Europe and do it all over again.
These birds, called Kites, (we have the large ones) are birds of prey feeding on rodents and trash. Black Winged Kites are common in Lahore, scavenging in this local area. They lay eggs in winter, January and February. Their diet consists of small birds, human waste, and meat.
Last week in Lahore PUT IN bIRD PHOTOS
It's all gone pretty quickly. We discovered some new stuff.
1. UnDrive (like Uber). It works using my Aussie phone sim. When the puzzled driver calls with a question and speaks no English, I can pass the phone to a helpful local.
2. We walked in another direction our of Main Market we find ourselves on a road (Mall Rd) which is quite familiar, and which we thought was much further away. So we went walking, using the overpasses on this really busy road and finished up at the hotel where we had stayed for a couple of days while Bren (not personally) was finishing the flat repaint (for Madam…said Imran. I thought he meant me, but he meant Sofie :). This was on a previous visit. And there was the great big box store called Imtiaz where you can buy everything, except what you need. So I updated my collection of hair clips, and bought a groovy outfit, with sparkling shoes for our upcoming dinner with Lulu, the Danish monarch of Lahore, who knows everything and everyone, and with whom we will attend the exclusive Punjab Club, as her guests.
3. Punjab Club
4. We started with drinks (they do drink) at Lulu's beautiful apartment. This was also offered to the teachers at LAS, but Bren and Sof declined, as they like the space and the gardens at their current home. The new flats are pretty speccie!
5. Then on to the Punjab Club where I enjoyed the most yummy lamb dinner, locally called mutton.
6. Counting down
7. The next day was a holiday (like a snow day without the snow) for Bren and Sof. It was all about the protestors trying to stop Imran Khan's arrest. The school was completely hemmed in by it, no one could get through, it was also deemed a security risk.
8. Then met up with Niggi who treated us to a lovely lunch.
9. The Royal Swiss Hotel, Brendan taking the long route thanks to google, but was interesting drive for us. We had a spa bath and a short but good sleep before being woken up for our 4am flight with Etihad.
10. Goodbye Lahore, see you next time.
Because of her upper status in Lahore society, she took us to the Punjab club https://thepunjabclublahore.com.pk/, for dinner. It is very difficult to become a member here and one can only go here with a member. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any photos, as we were asked not to. We ate on the rooftop, quite the meal. Because Pakistan is such a meat-eating country there was no vegetarian options except for a few veggies cooked up, so I had sword fish. Never had that before. It was quite good. According to Brendan, Narda, Sofie, and Lulu their many meat dishes were superb. I snuck a piece of chicken to a feral looking cat beneath the table. Felt quite noble doing that.
Our last day, yesterday, Thursday, we went to lunch with Sofie’s mum. Another great feed. I had a creamy noodle spinach thingy and they had, according to them, tasty roadkill. Don’t recall the name of the place.
Also, I got Neuage soap. Bit of a story. Since 1993 I have been making webpages. That is toward the beginning of it all as the internet was invented 1991, I know because I used to teach computing at the university of Albany in 2002-2003, with a history of such. I saw it originally as 1. Finding friends, I have lost along the way; that rarely happened in the past thirty-years, maybe two or three people from my past. It is either because people thought I was an idiot and never wanted to have anything to do with me again, or because I changed my name from Adsit to Neuage in 1981 - a long story, which I won’t tell now, or because my friends all died off. As a fact I know three from my past, Kathleen in Florida who said I was the first one she kissed back in 1962 or so, Marta Waterman, my brother’s girlfriend in the 1960s – she is in Woodstock, New York and we keep constant contact, even did a book together about my brother, and my once-were-girl friend, Tamazon, from 1974 New Orleans, she even joined a cult order I was in back then, so I probably had an influence on her life, – we have kept tabs on one another for the past decade or so through Facebook as I have with the other two. I did discontinue friendship with Beverly, my girlfriend in the late 1970s, Baltimore, because she got weird, I think she would be a Trumper. Wrote me that my dead-son, Leigh was trying to tell me, through her, to turn to God. That was too much for me. 2. The other reason I was so excited about the internet was that it would be an obvious place for me to sell my children’s stories – books, and my picture-poems. In the mid-1990s I thought I would become so famous and rich that my children and I would travel the world on our magic carpet. Needless to say, that never happened. I never sold anything. I presently have about twelve books on Amazon. I think Kathleen bought one once. Anyway, to make a long story short…for decades if you put in ‘neuage’ into Google I would be the first dozen pages to appear. I have thousands of pages about me. Really, look it up. Well, now, putting in ‘neuage’ the first several pages are about some stupid shit product called Neuage soap. What a foul disgrace to my good name. the Neuage soaps and products are as one would have it, centred in Lahore of all places. It is now available only on the internet. I have tried many stores. So of course, I ordered it so I can give Sacha a gift of love from Pakistan.
Trying this new script called Dreaming Outloud
One final note from me…I was concerned at the start of this trip that I would have difficulty carrying medication that needed refrigeration. I have several liquid ice packs in a thermal bag with the medication, Trulicity, for diabetes. I contacted various airlines and read heaps on the internet with lots of different answers to whether I could carry these things. Adelaide airport said nothing – put the bag through the scanner - nothing, this was the result everywhere so far: Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, London, Ferry to Holland. All my worries as usual have come to naught. Even hotels are willing to put my medication into refrigeration overnight, and the icepacks into a freezer. Even the ferry between Newcastle and Holland did this – that story is for the next blog.