Thursday, 1 March 2007

rukhsati!

and now i'm on holiday in pakistan=).
i left a sunny kabul wednesday afternoon. in the morning we were all decorating and glazing, bowls and jugs and things all around. they'll fire the big kiln when i'm away, it'll be exciting to come back and see it all!
my pakistani visa was supposed to be finished at 2 o'clock, so Amazing Shabnam went and stood in line for me for an hour before, but then when they finally opened the little window they told her it wasn't finished; there was apparently some problem with the letter. i thought that this was the final proof that i have some kind of strange visa-curse on my head. but after we told them that i was leaving straight away by car, and with shabnam's help, they handed me my passport 15 mins later. woohoo! so we drove all through kabul, through karte-nao that i haven't even been to before to the main bus-van stop for heading east and south. (last time i went from another place, and travelled on the old road, which was mostly unpaved and much longer. this road was really good, and went through some amazing incredible scenery, i felt like i couldn't have my eyes open wide enough. i was the only woman in a van full of silent bearded pashtun men. the only time anyone spoke was when there was a huge big boulder fallen on the road and we had to drive really really close to the edge of the drop down down down. the only time we stopped was in a beautiful valley, where all the men got out to pray. it was so beautiful, by a river, with trees. i realise how brown and tree-less kabul is whenever i leave it. it's funny how i've gotten used to it, the varying shades of brown and brown and dust and mud... the closer to pakistan the more green and trees. while they were praying i was tempted to go out and have a look around, but decided against it and kept knitting my sock. i just about finished it, but unfortunately forgot the other ball of wool in kabul ~stupid! now when i'll have time to knit!
we arrived in jalalabad just after sunset. i wasnt sure where to go, but jen my lovely sister came to my rescue with her driver in a big shiny-white 4wheel drive which felt a little bit strange to get into after the car we'd come in.
i like jalalabad! we didn't see too much of it, but went to a guest-house of a french ngo, where we made some non-greasy vegetable food and had a really lovely evening. we'd bought some famous jalalabad cauliflower, mmhhm! lots of interesting conversation, and lovely people=). i was pretty tired though, and happy to be able to go to bed early and sleep... i´ve been having strange dreams lately... i don´t think i´ll write about them here.
i don't know what i'd do without jenny here.
the next morning the same nice driver in the same flashy huge car drove me to the torkham adda (bus station), where we were very quickly surrounded by a huge swarm of men all trying to get me to go in their cars. they no doubt thought i had 1000s to spend... finally i got into a little corolla with a small, thin old woman in the back, her hair and nails bright red from henna.
the driver spoke to me in broken english while we drove along at breakneck speed. it´s a great road for driving fast! but we saw a few cars smashed up completely at the side of the road...
we stopped in a small village where the little lady got out with a plastic bag and went to a shrine to pray, coming back a little while later without it. the driver said apologetically "it is our culture", but i didn´t mind waiting, we were early and i had my knitting.
at torkham there was a mad frenzy of wheelbarrow boys who all wanted to take our luggage, but the little lady was quite fiesty and chased them all away, and then led me by the hand all through the men and cars to the passport place. we must´ve looked pretty funny i reckon!
the border policeman controller man didn´t recognize me, thankfully, and i was past the border in 2 minutes! amazing! the little old lady had disappeared by the time i got out, though, so i never could thank her for her help. she could´ve shared the taxi to peshawar with me as well, so that was a shame. anyways. i got a taxi, with the compulsory guard accompanying us. the driver had one of those dvd players on his dashboard, so we charged through the frontier province with its forts and conservativism with music blaring and scantily clad bollywood actresses dancing very provocatively on the screen. it was pretty surreal.
on the way i saw a brown field that was covered with little purple flowers, with lots of school children playing on it, all wearing blue. at another place a group of girls with really colourful clothes were climbing trees=).
in peshawar we went straight to the flying coach adda and found a van headed for abbottabad. we had to wait a while till it was filled, but luckily there were 2 other women so we all got put on the back seat. here, if there is only one woman, she has to pay for 2 seats, so that a man doesn´t have to sit next to her... sometimes it makes me really upset, the whole situation here, and in afghanistan as well... but then, worryingly, sometimes i just get used to it. crazy...
we were stopped 3 times along the way by police, they´re checking alot more closely now for suicide bombers. apparently last week they found a man close to here with a bombbelt strapped on him, but i wonder a little if that wasn´t just set up to make the police look good....
after about 4 hours, we finally arrived to abbottabad, and my parents and an old schoolfriend came and picked me up. good good to be here. there are trees everywhere, and blossoms and buds and lots of birds.
i really wish i´d had a camera, cuase there were some amazing things along the way, but i´ll take pictures on the way back.