Gilgit – The Story of My Visa

Some tricks are needed to get a new visa extension March 9, 2006 Sorry for being snobby about visa, but I dont know why I have to be the poorest creature to be created to always have tragedies with visa, especially in this trip. From the Indian visa in Nepal, Pakistan visa in India, and now, Pakistan visa extension. As what I was believing, Pakistan visa was easy to extend, as the country is promoting tourism now. My visa was about a week left when I was in Muzaffarabad, and Rashid, the guy from our NGO, said that if that possible, than it would be very easy to extend. He just came back from Islamabad Monday 6th, and on Tuesday we started our ‘visa extension struggle’. First of all, instead of directly went to the DC Office where the extension and passport paperworks are done, we visited the Muzaffarabad SSP (I dont know what this stand for), the man with highest position in police department in Muzaffarabad. U know, in Pakistan you can go anywhere with connection. Knowing [read more]

March 9, 2006 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Sea of Tents

Sea of tents March 4, 2006 The city of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, sprawls along two important rivers in Pakistan, Niilam and Jhelam. The two rivers meet in the heart of the city, where the economic activities of the city concentrated. The main road stretched from the north through Chella Bandi area until the ‘Secretariat’ area, of total 4 kms of length. Muzaffarabad is hilly city, the roads are all ‘uupar niche’ (up and down), with several steep cliffs (many were collapsed due to the earthquake 5 months earlier) and ladder provided to pedestratians to up the hill. Was the main landmark and tourist attraction of the city, the historical Red Fort or Lal Qila is now a bunch of red stones. The remains of the fort, walls now not more than 2 metres tall, are still standing on the top of small hill near Chella Bandi. The shops and houses are also still showing the scars of disasters, with orphaned children beggar sleeping on the street, [read more]

March 4, 2006 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – World Hartal Day

Protesters yelling “Death to America”, in front of a banner stating that help from an American fondation is highly appreciated March 3, 2006 Friday, March 3, 2006, was supposed to be the world strike day to protest the Danish cartoon. I didn’t know whether it was indeed done universally, but at least it was nation-wide in Pakistan, and included in this quake torn capital of AJ&K, Muzaffarabad. The experience of unrest in Lahore gave me a fore thinking, that anything could happen in so-called ‘peaceful protests’. The boy from the office accompanied me along the way, and I was wearing my Indonesian peci for my national identity, not to be misunderstood as Chinese and Japanese. From the information I gathered, the whole city would be under strike situation, where all shops were supposed to be closed and no public transport operating. But even though most shops were closed, those which kept doing business were not few anyway. And many restaurants were [read more]

March 3, 2006 // 2 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Missed Call

It was a real call, not just mere a ‘missed call’ March 2, 2006 After the major earthquake disaster on October 8 last year, up till now there were already 2,000 big and small aftershocks, of which the people called as ‘missed call’, as the shocks resembles the short vibration of the mobile phone when a missed call comes. I was not shocked by the small earthquakes, as we also live in earthquake area in our homeland. But the people here, covered by the trauma from the disaster, were all running to the street. Still most people chose to live in tents instead of inhabiting the house buildings; no matter how good and untouched the house was, as everybody was still afraid. I was sleeping in my room at that time, when the young boy in the office urged me to run away immediately. It was a missed call anyway. No [read more]

March 2, 2006 // 2 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Farewell Party

A lavish farewell party in a ‘hotel’ (aka restaurant) in Muzaffarabad March 1, 2006 The NGO work is almost to an end. It has started since the disaster, and now everybody in the relief team was going to go back to their life. Most of the team members were temporary members, working for 1 month or so, but some like the Gillanis, were here since October last year. As today was a new day of a new month, the members were reducing again. The guys planned to have a farewell party in Muzaffarabad to say good bye to some of leaving members. The transport to go back to the province capital was not easy, and after waiting almost about an hour, we successfully ‘hijacked’ a Suzuki bus. The lunch was in Muzaffarabad Cantonment area, with splendid fried rice, roti, mutton curry, and the pink coloured Kashmiri tea. I really regretted to come very late, that the work is almost to an end. The NGO would be still in the area up till the third week of this month, and there would [read more]

March 1, 2006 // 1 Comment

Noraseri – An Exhausting Day

New development in the earthquake zones February 28, 2006 Mahmood Gillani, who possesses a strange habit to only spoke Urdu when there was the sun and spoke other strange tribal languages to me in other time, just came back a night before from Islamabad. The road was open. The work of clearing the road from the blocks was done very rapidly, thanks to the heavy machine donated by ‘the people of Japan’. Electricity was supposed to come yesterday, as the weather was clear. But it came very late, so that the plan to watch porn movie with young boys from neighborhood was cancelled. And I also met a young guy who was very desperate in kissing and hugging me. I gave my palm for him to kiss, but not my face (yet). The porn watching plan was replaced by sexy gabshab (sexy talk), where the goftgu (conversation) was dominated by sex topics. The boys here not only put sexual jokes verbally, but also physically, like hugging and kissing. It was really hard to determine their sexual [read more]

February 28, 2006 // 1 Comment

Noraseri – From the Rubbles

Tent school February 27, 2006 The discussion about Playboy magazine somehow had brought strange dreams to me. I dreamt of some Indonesian girls wearing traditional transparent kebaya dress, unbottomed, half-naked, and … . Hmmm …. Somehow, living too long time in Pakistan had made me more wilder in sex fantasies. Next to our camp there was a rubbles of collapsed school building. There was another blue tent with huge Chinese characters: For Disaster Emergency Use. This is the temporary school tent for the students. The students started their class at 8:45, singing a chorus outside the tent, and then got into the big blue tent. Today I started to visit the project of the NGO with Mr Ijaz Gillani and Mr Manzoor. Our NGO, an NGO from Denmark, bearing the name ‘Danish’which might be hated by the fundamentalists due to the red hot Danish cartoon issue. We prefer to spell ‘Danish’ as DUN-NISH, to avoid misunderstanding, as ‘Danish’ with this [read more]

February 27, 2006 // 0 Comments

Noraseri – Tent Life

Morning ritual of the volunteers February 26, 2006 The rain which was started the day before yesterday and lasted for more than 30 hours had just stopped at midnight. The sky was still dark in the morning, and I had problem with my camera lens. I don’t know how to clean the lens, and because of overusing under the rain, the lens had vapors on it, and the pictures taken were not sharp. Any input from other photographers is expected. The morning life is always hilarious in our camp. Everybody started the day by shaving the moustache (the Pakistanis prefer to use the plural form of the noun – moustaches, possibly mean the upper and lower part of the moustache, as it indeed means ‘two different parts’ – the men tend to preserver the upper and clean shave the lower), washing faces with the warm water, and brushing teeth with a stick of a certain tree. I prefer not to do anything to clean myself in this cold weather (learnt this bad habit from China), and [read more]

February 26, 2006 // 0 Comments

Noraseri – Funeral

Haji Shahab just passed away few hours earlier February 25, 2006 Here, 17 kms away from Muzaffarabad, is hilly areas surrounded by snow-peaked mountains. From here, the glorious snowy mountains of Nanga Parbat can be seen in clear days, flying in the blue sky, towering and dominating the atmosphere. Here is the mountain area of Noraseri, where the NGO I am working with has several projects of building permanent shelters for the earthquake victims. And my work is to take documentation pictures of the projects. But the rain has started since yesterday night, not so big, but continuosly. The weather in the morning was very cold, that everybody in the camp had to halt any works. The rain has made the trekking path in the villages dangerous. And indeed, this is the best weather to just stay lazy and sleep in the tents (not intending to be lazy though… but given chance by the weather ). Gool Muhammad, the cook, who has experience of working in Greece (Urdu: Yunan, Indonesian: Yunani) [read more]

February 25, 2006 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Five Months after the Disaster

Muzaffarabad, 5 months after the disaster February 23, 2006 So, at last I am going to Kashmir, the earthquake affected area. The departure was with an NGO, Dannish Muslim Aid. The organization name bears the name of the country mostly infavorable in many Muslim countries. Rashid, the guy from the NGO told the driver, a Pakthan from Peshawar, to say that we were from ‘Ganesh’ instead of ‘Danish’ whenever anybody ask. Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Azad= Free), one third of Kashmir which is under Pakistan control, is a winding 4 hour journey through the Murree Road. For Rashid, the trip was extremely unbearable. He tried to make himself fall asleep instead of tortured in the “uppar-niche” – up and down journey. Murree itself is among popular place for vacation for locals, as there are several tourist buses passing the area. And the Punjab province meets its end in the border town of three provinces: Punjab, NWFP, and Azad [read more]

February 23, 2006 // 0 Comments

Rawalpindi – Dannish Cartoon

A demonstration day, a hartal day, means all shop and businesses and schools have to be closed February 22, 2006 Still stucked in Rawalpindi, waiting the departure with an NGO (Dannish Muslim Aid) to go to Muzaffarabad. The NGO itself bearing the name of Danmark, the most unfavorable country name in Muslim countries nowadays. The situation in Pakistan, in many parts of the country, is in unrest condition. After the huge disorder in Lahore, the bigger destruction happened in Peshawar – understandably with more traditional society. In the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, many of educational institutions are closed until the 23rd. Last Monday, 19th, was the biggest day in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Most shops were closed, hartal. The main roads connecting the twin cities were blocked by police. There was call for demonstration, and the police worked hard to prevent the demonstrators to reach the capital, where the government institutions and embassies are located. Still, the [read more]

February 22, 2006 // 2 Comments

Rawalpindi – Do Nambar

Women are rare on Pakistan streets. But when they are, mostly they are totally covered February 21, 2006 I have written many stories of examples of male to male sexual harrassments in Pakistan (personal experiences) and it’s unfair if I dont write the sexual harassments that happen to women, which are far more common. I was in a crowded bus today, heading to Islamabad. When I entered the bus, the seats next to the drivers (supposed to be seats for ladies, and it is really pronounced as LADIES instead of ‘aurat’ in Urdu) was occupied by some men also. The ticket men allowed me to sit in front seat also, maybe because I was foreigner. Then there were about five seats left for the ‘ladies’. But as there was only one woman passengers, the seats were again occupied by male passengers. Then everytime coming a female passenger, those male passengers have to move away and give the seats to the women so that no women will sit next to unrelative males. Something [read more]

February 21, 2006 // 0 Comments

Rawalpindi – More About Public Transports

Travelling and eating can be done in one-go in Pakistan February 20, 2006 Sometimes I have to grumble, and it was about the public transport service in Islamabad. In New Delhi I had an example when I took a bus and suddenly the bus stopped in the middle of nowhere as the driver didnt have mood to continue the journey, and all passengers had to find their own way. In Rawalpindi, it’s another story. Conductors are little bit too much enthousiastic in selling tickets, that they will lift you even they know surely 1000% that the bus will not reach your destination. Instead they will take you the nearest point between your destination and their route. Once I took a bus to Phir Wadhai and they dropped me somewhere in Murree Road and asked me to go by Qingqi instead. I chose to walk, and it was even further than the initial distance where I took the bus. In Islamabad, some bus numbers concern too much about the profit. Take an example, bus number 120 which passing from Melodi Market to [read more]

February 20, 2006 // 0 Comments

Rawalpindi – Another Night in Rawalpindi

In fact, Rawalpindi is usually a friendly city February 16, 2006 After the 6 hour gruelling bus journey from Lahore, I arrived in Pindi. Today met an expat, from Switzerland, have been in Pakistan for years and speaks brilliant Urdu. We were discussing about what we feels in Pakistan, as foreigners. And somehow we shared many similar opinions. Pakistan for me, in my first visit, was a perfect country with honest people everywhere (despite the sexual harassments) but after I speak Urdu and involved more in the conversation with the locals, I found more and more contradiction and hypocrycy. When we were walking together on Muree Road to go home, he asked me whether I had an experience of someone driving car and stop to offer me free ride. I said except those Pathan truck drivers in Northern Areas, I didnt have this kind of experience. I am a boy anyway, I never expected a rich old man will stop his car to offer me free ride and another thing. But just one minute after we talked about [read more]

February 16, 2006 // 3 Comments

Lahore – Not an Ordinary Valentine’s Day (Riots in LAHORE)

Anger in the name of God The day started very quietly in Lahore, Pakistan, today. The restaurant at the basement of my hotel didnt do their business. I asked why, they said hartal (strike). Tried to find internet, but everything is closed in my area. Went to Regale Inn where most of foreign backpackers stay, and I was sure I could get internet connection. I asked the Pakistani guy working there what special day today was, as most of the shops were closed. He said that today was Valentine’s Day, and it was day of love in Pakistan, and it was national day nationwide. :question: He even asked me to go to park where I could see couples showing love each other. I thought there should be a little bit mistakes in his information. Later on I found on newspaper that today is strike day, the whole city is recommended to stop their business. Yes, indeed today is ‘hartal’ day, to protest the Dannish blasphemical cartoon, in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I just questioned [read more]

February 14, 2006 // 6 Comments

Lahore – Ya Hussain

Darah terciprat dalam prosesi zanjirzani. February 9, 2006 Artikel ini ditulis dengan segala keterbatasan pengetahuan saya tentang sejarah Islam. Masukan, koreksi, dan kritik sangat diharapkan. Muharram, adalah bulan yang penuh dengan kemuraman, di Pakistan. Pada bulan ini semuanya seakan dibawa ke dalam suasana perkabungan, mengenang kembali kematian keluarga Khalifah dalam perang di Karbala, lebih dari 1400 tahun yang lalu. Bahkan warung internet yang selalu memasang musik keras-keras, tiba-tiba saja menjadi sunyi. Musik tidak dimainkan sama sekali dalam bulan ini. Para periang pernikahan, penabuh genderang yang biasa menanti rejeki di persimpangan jalan di Rawalpindi tiba-tiba hilang. Tidak ada pernikahan sama sekali selama bulan ini. Dan pesta seks yang berlangsung di kalangan atas remaja Lahore dihentikan sementara selama bulan Muharam. Bulan perkabungan, bagi seluruh umat muslim dunia, mengenang kembali penderitaan dan pembantaian keluarga Nabi ribuan tahun yang lalu. Terlebih [read more]

February 9, 2006 // 3 Comments

Rawalpindi – Peak Hours

Commuting in Pakistan can somehow be crazy. Almost no women are visible, by the way February 4, 2006 The intercity buses connecting the twin cities Islamabad and Rawalpindi (the two totally different twins) are such important like blood and heartbeat in a human body. In the peak hours, many of Rawalpindi dwellers going to Islamabad for education and works, that getting a bus could be very difficult (women especially, due to the rules of seats). Waiting for lift is difficult, that everyone has to fight to be lifted, and in the little sized Toyota, standing up without seat means that you have to forget that you have backbones for a while. Squeezed. I felt relieved I got a seat, which was incredebly a luck. The standing quota for passengers is usually two people, but our Toyota took more people. Actually the passengers were also happy as they got lifted, even though the Toyota was overloading. But the policemen didnt. Our Toyota was stopped by the police, the driver got annoyed, [read more]

February 4, 2006 // 0 Comments

Rawalpindi – Earthquake Relief

Margala Tower, destroyed by the earthquake February 4, 2006 As trusted before, my visit to Pakistan is to be a volunteer for the earthquake relief. But due to the sickness I got, I still havent started any single movement. I felt guilty myself, when my friends asked start asking, hey, when you go to the earthquake areas, or you look like also a tourists. Nobody to blame, but being late is always better than nothing. I got several contacts of NGOs working in earthquake areas since my arrival in Pakistan. And today I just got the first chance to visit Dannish Muslim Aid, which was happily received me to be a volunteer and go to Muzaffarabad. The manager, Mr Syed Abid Gilani is just a friendly and helpful man, showed me the pictures of the victims of the earthquake and the work they are doing. The happening was quite similar to that in Indonesia, the tsunami in Aceh, but the terrain here is much more difficult as it happened in the mountainous areas, while Aceh terrain is much more [read more]

February 4, 2006 // 0 Comments

Islamabad – The Capital of Pakistan

The modern Faisal Mosque, named after the king of Saudi Arabia February 3, 2006 The capital of Pakistan, Islamabad- the name means the city of Islam, is a new city created just few decades ago. The designer of the city was a European, and it was designated to be a modern city. The roads are long, straight, with blocks of commercial regions, residential regions, and government offices. The names of the blocks and the roads are even in number, like F-7 for ths Jinnah Supermarket, or G-7 for the block opossite F-7 separated by the main road called ‘blue area’. The using of letter and number is not quite user-friendly. But it seems how it also goes in the West. Nevertheless Islamabad is a new city, the roads are wide, but the population is not that much. The buildings looks more modern and clean than the nearby Rawalpindi, with obvious reason that the strata and level status of the inhabitants are higher, but the feeling of the city is totally empty. Not so much live, [read more]

February 3, 2006 // 0 Comments

Rawalpindi – Slums

Phir Wadhai February 1, 2006 A whole day in Phir Wadhai. Phir Wadhai might be never been in any places you wanna visit. Phir Wadhai is the most important transport hub in Rawalpindi, where you can get bus from here to anywhere in Pakistan. But as other bus terminals in Java (Indonesia), Phir Wadhai is another stinky and polluted place. First I saw the place at a glance from the bus which took me from Gilgit to Pindi. I suddenly ‘fell in love’ with it. The huge stinky pond of unflowing water flourishing the road, while people selling fruits, grilled meat, rice, and anything ‘eatable’ around the stinky black water. The environment made me curious how people here survive, and at last I decided to spend a full day in Phir Wadhai to discover the life here. Rawalpindi is a harsh metropolitan, with dreams to offer about high income to the villagers all around Pakistan. Here you can meet people from Northern Areas, Balucshistan, Sindh, Punjab, from big cities like [read more]

February 1, 2006 // 2 Comments

Rawalpindi – Welcome to Rawalpindi

Guys having fun in Rawalpindi January 27, 2006 Hotel Al Hayat Hotel, Liaquat Chowk, Pindi, 130 Rs/nite The gruelling 20 hours bus journey from Gilgit, which I regretted to take, at last finished. The regret came from to my anxiety of getting the ticket since the road block, that I thought the ticket can be difficult to get, so I booked earlier. The bus I booked started at 3 pm yesterday, and I booked the ticket at 12. When I lingered along gilgit road, I was invited by Pathani truck drivers to go with them in their truck to Pindi. But I had the bus ticket already, and they couldnt wait for me to cancel the ticket. What happened next was I attracted so much crowds on the streets, as I tried to explain to the drivers that I would like to go with them but I need to cancel the ticket I got first (650 Rs, not that cheap to throw away). Then the owner of their truck coming, and saying I had to pay 400 Rs if I hitch the truck, which I think more like a polite refusal and suggested me to take [read more]

January 27, 2006 // 2 Comments

Karimabad – Travelling Again

Journey is about meeting and farewell. Now comes the time to say goodbye to Hunza. January 24, 2006 His name is Hassan Shah, a father of 4 sons and 1 daughter. Today, two of his sons are going to leave him to Manshera, which is around 18 hours away bus journey from Karimabad. Hussain Shah, one of the sons, is bringing his elder brother, Salman Shah, for medical check up. His brother has got a sudden mental attack 2 years ago, and regular check up is needed, as now Salman’s hairs are getting lesser and lesser. This might be a very, very common farewell of a short separate between father and sons. But when this happen to Karimabad, in a family which rarely separated each other, this can be very dramatic. Hussain has never been further than Rawalpindi, not to mention how he dreamed to go abroad. But as Northern Areas citizen, passport for them is not easy to get. Only China is the country that people from this area can go, easily, with border pass. Passport for Northern Areas could [read more]

January 24, 2006 // 2 Comments

Karimabad – Wedding

Prepared to bring the bride home Being delayed is not always bad. The road to Pindi has been blocked for more than a week now, and I am still in Karimabad. I have heard the rumours that Mr. Karim’s brother was going to marry. So 2 days ago I visited him. Mr Karim was busy, preparing for the feasts and everything. He offered me sharbat (the traditional food for 2 days before marriage, made from flour) but I felt he tried to send me home politely as he couldnt entertain me due to his business. From him, I learnt about the tradition of the wedding in Hunza. The ‘nikah’ will be held in bride’s side, in the nearest jamaat khana from the bride’s house. For this, the bride side invited 40 people from the groom side. These 40 people, mostly relatives, were carefully selected and counted. As we might know, the families in Pakistan are all big, that 40 is a very limited number. It seems that the culture is quite closed for outsiders, that I probably might not be [read more]

January 21, 2006 // 1 Comment

Karimabad – Another Night Talk

Tourism also brings cultural impact to far flung places January 17, 2005 At last the guys from the restaurant successfully moved the TV and VCD to my room. They played hide and seek with the old man, the owner, and it was indeed funny to see the games. The sound was mixed with other movie, Bunty and Babli, to distract the attention of the old man. And they successfully made the old man sleep earlier. One accident happened when they moved the TV, the man woke up. Haroun (not real name) told the old man that the Indonesian guy (me) need the TV and VCD to do his homework. Damn! The 2 CDs, both were painfully obtained, were all damaged. One of it, the funniest porn CD I have ever watched, from South India. The actresses were all old, grey haired, bathing in the river. Then came the raper, old, fat, black, ape-faced man. The open sex happened openly in the river side, but it was too ugly, and the Pakistani guys also thought so. Talking about the open sex, I mean sex in open field, Haroun [read more]

January 17, 2006 // 0 Comments

Karimabad – Trapped

A journey to no-men peaks January 16, 2006 Planned to leave Karimabad already, awaiting for the coming jeep from Sust which I can hitch for free, but the friend who is going to go together delayed his journey for unlimited time. Meanwhile the bus ticket from Karimabad to Rawalpindi arouse to 821 Rupees, too expensive for me. And another bad news, there was road block somewhere between Gilgit and Pindi, so all buses will not operating for these 2-3 days. What a luck. Again, I am trapped in Karimabad. Yesterday, to pass the time, I decided to join some local guys climbing up to the Eagle’s Nest. From here we can see the whole valley. I have been there two years ago, and it was a terrible walk in summer. Now in super cold winter, nobody is up there. All hotels and houses are empty, and the road was slippery of ice and glacier. Luckily I was not alone, so there was someone (Mr Karim) who held my hand along the way…. Totally deserted in winter The snow was thick up there, and [read more]

January 16, 2006 // 1 Comment

Karimabad – Porn Night Part 2

Women are rarely seen on the streets of Pakistan. But they are quite open in the movies January 14, 2006 Today I didnt know what was the plan, when I came back to the restaurant, it seems that the guys successfully invited some guests to the old owner, so the old man was busy in his room (just next to the TV) with the guests. The guys locked the owner room from outside, so that the old man cant go out. And then, as previously suggested, the show began. The title today is Horny School Girls. There were about 3 guys watching, and they were all too excited. Not to make the old man hearing, the VCD was played in mute setting. All of the doors of the restaurant were locked, the windows were closed, and they ignored all coming guests. It’s funny to see how these guys, at least 22 years old, still have to play hide and seek with their parents just to watch porn. When suddenly the old man wanted to open the door, the guys were turning off everything just less than a second, and ran [read more]

January 14, 2006 // 5 Comments

Karimabad – Porn Night

January 13, 2006 Porn night in Pakistan? Yes, the idea was started due to the sudden heavy snow here in Karimabad. Some young guys in my restaurant decided to rent a porn VCD and played in the middle of the night. It’s just a usual thing in Indonesia to watch porn movie together, (read: nonton bokep rame-rame), but it’s become a very special thing here, in a traditional village in mountainous area of Pakistan. That is why I was interested to observe what going to happen. Due to obvious reasons, all names included here are not the real names. Umer, brought his favorite VCD which he got from Aliabad, after more than 100 minutes of journey go and back. He was so excited what we were going to watch tonight. “A guy with two girls, big cock, one girl sucking one girl kissing…” and you could see a slight of horny feeling from his eyes. Yeah, we couldnt wait for the exciting tonight. Everything was prepared, a secret room, a plan to move the TV and VCD player [read more]

January 13, 2006 // 2 Comments

Karimabad – Pakistan Will Open

Pakistani movies are actually quite …, well, “sexy” January 11, 2006 Talking about films with the locals is always interesting, because I believe that films are also part of the culture. The satelitte dish in my hotel restaurant is broken, so for a temporary moment we have to say good bye to Raj and Rani (lit. means king and queen, a typical of Indian movies where the hero is named Raj and heroine Rani and they both will be married) from the TV series of Vuh Rahnewali Mehlon Ki. But quiet life is unimaginable in this house, that the guys then rented a VCD player to fill up the emptiness due to the absence of the TV programs. They only had one very old (of 1960’s) VCD of an Indian woman singing all the way with super high voice. The movie itself is black and white, and soon they got bored. They asked whether I had some interesting VCDs. I brought mostly DVDs with me, but yes, I have some VCDs. First I played Inul. This Indonesian diva with her famous pumping [read more]

January 11, 2006 // 3 Comments

Karimabad – Indian Connection

Indian influence is obvious here India is just a bordering country, but the history of hostility between India and Pakistan makes the relation between the two countries interesting. As we all probably know, the language of both countries, Urdu and Hindi, are 90% similar. Urdu has more Persian and Arabic originated words, and Hindi from Sanskrit. But both languages are mutually intelligble. Though, the scripts are different. The influence of India is very huge in Pakistan, this is unquestioned. Everybody can sing the gigle of Aashiq Banaya, the new popular Bollywood movie, even though that this new film may not reach the villages of Pakistan. “Mujh se Saati Karogi? (Will you Marry Me?)”, Salman Khan’s newest movie, is a famous sentence anywhere here in Pakistan. And it became a laughter when we use this sentence to tease the others. The people in Karimabad, far away from anywhere, stuck their satellite dish to Indian channels. And guess what, a very plain TV drama, [read more]

January 9, 2006 // 3 Comments

Hunza – From Sust to Karimabad

The icy road of Hunza Today decided to go back to Karimabad. During the stay in the Upper Hunza area, there is a very big problem: electricity. Due to failure of generator in Khyber, a village next to Pasu, the villages in Upper Hunza has to wait for its turn for electricity. One in 4 days the electricity comes to a village. I missed both in Sust and Chapursan. So that my memory cards are full, my batteries are finished, my harddisk couldnt start, completely I cant take any more photos. The main reason to leave is that actually I missed the food and hot in Karimabad. Before starting, my Sust friend and I had breakfast together in Sust. Practising my Urdu, I was joking with them that I was very poor, but I could earn money when I didnt have enough, by sleeping with Pakistani men for 150 Rs (1 US$=60Rs). It was merely a joke. But apparently it was an offer for the restaurant owner. When my friends left for work, I was still having my breakfast. And the restaurant owner came, whispering [read more]

January 7, 2006 // 3 Comments

Chapursan – The Land without Sunshine

The difficult journey to the land without sunshine January 4-7, 2006 Have you heard about the land without sunshine? It was a cloudy morning when someone in Sust bazaar – just one step more to China – told me. “You should go to Chapursan, over there, there is no sunshine for 2.5 months!” Chapursan is up north from Sust, going parallel with the Afghan border. And for harsh winter like this, nobody goes there due to the low temperature, harsh wind, and of course no sunshine. The last part of the challenges really made me decided to depart. There are several cars departing from Sust bazaar. There is no exact departure time, all departures are depended on passengers. Noor Khan – a Chapursan native who have been living in Karachi since student time, and Aziz – a teacher, Noor’s relative, also have been living in Karachi, are my fellow passengers. They told me many things about the culture of Wakhan Tajik – the native of the valley, about the [read more]

January 7, 2006 // 1 Comment

Karimabad – The Land of Heaven

Haider Inn 75Rs Hunza in winter This is my second time coming to Hunza valley. The first time was in summer 2003. I arrived here 2 years ago, and amazed by the development projects carried out throughout the valley. The colour of winter is sad, yellow and grey. But the sadness colour doesnt make the mountains and valley mute, it’s still singing, beautifully. As I remember from my last visit, due to failure of the generator in the valley, I didnt have electricity at all during my 3 day stay here. But now it’s different. The electricity, even though that is still unreliable, works for most of the time. 2 days with electricity and 1 day off. Not bad. And it even has an internet cafe with affordable price. 40 Rs/hour, which is not bad considering the terrain of the area. The Internet cafe is run by KADO, with a partnership with an NGO from Western country. The connection was run by a sattelite, as the Internet administrator told me yesterday, and it cost 2000$/mo for this. The [read more]

December 23, 2005 // 2 Comments

Rawalpindi – Cantontment?

I never expected that it’s very difficult to find a place to stay in this city Imperial Hotel, Muree Road, Rawalpindi 400Rs/double bed room After the 5 hour bus journey from Lahore to Islamabad, and long taxi drive to Saddar Bazaar in Rawalpindi, I was really resent by the hotel owner who refused me to stay in his hotel. Saddar Bazaar is the place for the budget hotels in Rawalpindi, where 2 years ago I used to stay. Today, they refused to accept me as their guest, as there is a stamp ‘Visa not Valid for Cannt Area’ on my visa page. I didnt realize what the meaning of the small stamp on my visa before today. The feeling of being refused in a hotel was very bad. I can imagine the same feeling of people being refused to enter a certain country despite of possessing the valid visa. And I felt disappointed, badly treated, being looked as second class man, etc. Cantontment is military area, which sometimes also include residential and bazaar area, as in this example [read more]

December 17, 2005 // 0 Comments

Going North

Going up north to the mountains. But it seems they love China so much… As my sickness require me to take a total rest for about 2 weeks or so, I decided to move out of Lahore to go up north in the mountainous area of Himalaya. The journey will start today to Rawalpindi, staying there from some days, before taking the long bus journey to the Northern Areas. Meanwhile, Internet will not always available, so that I wouldnt be able to update my blog often nor replying email for quite a time. I hope that my absence will not make you worrying I will be allright for sure. But I am trying to get a new mobile phone number and I will announce the number to anybody who is interested. I love Lahore very much, but I havent seen much of it. Surely I will come back here again as soon as possible, as well as travelling around Pakistan. But yet, I also need a rest anyway…. Salaam [read more]

December 17, 2005 // 1 Comment

Lahore – Sufism

Regale Internet Inn 150 Rs Berputar… berputar… berputar… Bagi kita, sufisme mungkin sudah tidak asing lagi. Kisah-kisah tentang Syeikh Siti Jenar sudah sering kita dengar berkali-kali. Dan penggabungan antara mistisme dengan religiusme Islam sudah bukan merupakan hal baru lagi di Indonesia, di mana Islam berbaur kental dengan hembusan nafas kehidupan Pra-Islam (Hinduisme, Buddhisme, dan animisme). Lagu adalah bagian dari spiritualisme kaum Sufi Menari demi sang Kekasih tercinta Di Pakistan pun sufisme merupakan bagian dari kehidupan Islamnya. Setiap hari Kamis siang, pemusik-pemusik sufi berkumpul di Masjid untuk memainkan musik-musik yang membius hati. Tak kurang dari 40 grup musik dari penjuru-penjuru desa datang ke sini, dan setiap grup menampilkan pertunjukan dari 5 hingga 7 menit. Alunan akordion dan gambus seakan merupakan ekstasi bagi sebagian penonton, yang tak hentinya menggelengkan kepala dengan cepat mengikuti alunan musik, bahkan ada pula yang [read more]

December 15, 2005 // 1 Comment

Lahore – Welcome to Pakistan

Regale Internet Inn 150 Rs/dorm Indian border guard across the Pakistan borderline. Being sick for so many days has given me the chance to read lots of books recently. Just read Salman Rushdie’s “Shame” about the ridiculous stories of Pakistan history, from uprising and downing of its political leaders, from the ridiculous political manouvers, and also the stories about the founding of the “Land of Pure” and it failures. The other good book I got is VS Naipaul’s “Among the Believers”. This book is about Islam in Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I have read the Indonesian part, and felt that the critics was quite well-said, even some parts I dont quite agree. The Pakistan part is quite interesting, how these Indian Muslims created this “Land of Pure” and how they tried to be the most purified Muslim on earth. But the struggle is full of failures, and Pakistan was a country of experiments. And today, I successfully [read more]

December 13, 2005 // 0 Comments


她在轻轻呼唤,声音微弱而深沉,穿过蓝色面纱,震颤着听者的心灵。我知道,那后面一定藏着美丽的双眸,终日凝望,满怀憧憬, 那是一张略施粉黛的白色面庞。我注视着她,用同样轻柔的声音说:“请让我掀起你的盖头……”这段旅程是由一个梦想开启的,这个去揭开阿富汗神秘面纱的梦 想,初时只是出现在我的幻想中。但正是这个梦想,引领我穿过巴基斯坦,将我带到了几千公里外的阿富汗,去窥探它的神秘面庞,欣赏它美丽的容颜,并舔舐它两 颊上流淌的泪水。

November 20, 2005 // 0 Comments



November 11, 2002 // 0 Comments

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