What surprised you about Pakistan?

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Mudassir Ali 6 months 1 Answer 106 views 0

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  1. Unlike the majority of the answers here who are going by assumptions I have actually visited and lived in Pakistan numerous times. I used to go to Islamabad during holidays and semester breaks from my college in India to visit my family who was stationed in Pakistan at that time. I have lived there cumulatively around 1 year if you add up all the months. I only have relatives in Delhi and even my car was in Pak (I drove it there from Delhi) so I’d rather go to Islamabad to be with my family. I’d live there for 2–3 months then go back every year or so. Longest I stayed in Islamabad was about 5 months.

    I’d take the Amritsar Shatabdi from Delhi and reach Amritsar in the morning. From there, I’d have a car waiting for me to Wagha border where I’d have another car waiting for me on the Pakistan side. If lucky sometimes I’d have other embassy people coming with me as well. Being a huge embassy with a lot of staff, you’d have someone coming or going from Islamabad to Attari border every other day so wasn’t hard to find someone to split the cost with. Guards on both sides of the border knew my dad and I well by now having crossed it all the time. One of the guards would welcome me across the border with a simple salaam when he was on duty since he knew me on a first name basis. It’d be a 5 hour drive from the border in Lahore to my house in Islamabad. Lahore is like any other Indian city though slightly less developed since you don’t see a lot of newer more fancier buildings. The highway connecting the 2 cities and stretching all the way north is top of the line even better than the one between going through Haryana from the last time I was there. Smooth, well maintained highways with little construction/repair going on.

    Islamabad reminded me of a smaller Chandigarh, having well paved roads, checkpoints everywhere, not a lot of traffic, foreigners and nice buildings (Centaurus was my favorite). I loved driving down Jinnah avenue, stopping by Tehzeeb for milkshakes or satisfying my pizza cravings. I’d also go to Centaurus for clothes/chilling or watching a movie (watched Dhoom 3 on the top floor there). What was also surprising was the scheduled power cuts. Everyday around 5pm the electricity would go out on the dot and return around 7 mostly. This was an accepted routine of load shedding. Even the Diplomatic Enclave isn’t spared (although all embassy families and personnel had their own personal inverter in the flat/house)

    Didn’t see a Starbucks there though they did have Gloria Jeans coffee. You will still see a lot of old cars and bikes plying the road like Maruti 800 (which are mostly taxis) and old Honda bikes. One of the most common cars you’ll see on the road is Toyota Camry…idk if its an obsession with Toyota or most likely there simply aren’t many decent options for the middle class so they stick to Toyota/Honda. You don’t see a lot of fast food joints like Burger King/KFC/etc. though KFC was opening up. I did notice a lot more segregation between the genders while out in public and a lot of traditional clothes like Kurta Pajama being worn and barely a few girls in jeans. However if you’d go to the mall you’d think it’s just another Delhi mall with mostly everyone wearing western clothes.

    Small Edit – In the evening I’d go down to play cricket/football with the other Indian embassy kids in the Diplomatic enclave. Sometimes the kids from the Iranian embassy would join us for soccer too. Other embassies don’t have a lot of staff in Islamabad so even fewer kids. There were almost 40 Indian families which means also a lot of kids. They used to go to the International school with other embassy expat kids like Americans, Australians, British, etc. By size and staff, the American embassy was the biggest then in 2nd place was the Indian High Commission.

    I loved the fact that I was so close to the mountains, only a 20 min drive away. I’d spend weekends doing ATV racing at Rawal Lake or catching the view from Daman-E-Koh.

    All in all it was a great experience and blended right in. If you know Hindi it’s easy to get around. Also I noticed when I’d tell them I’m from India they’d say ‘acha Hindustan se ho tum’ so they’re more likely to use Hindustan than India/Bharat. I’d definitely visit again if I’d get the chance and visit some friends there.

    Locations I’ve been to – Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Katas Raj, Taxila, Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, Murree, Khewra salt mines, Gujranwala & Jhelum

    Cheers!

    All pics from my Insta/FB taken with my shitty phone from that time

    Driving in with my car. Left Delhi in the morning and slept for the night at Amrtisar. Took off next morning for Islamabad

    Entering the first time

    On my way to Islamabad

    View from Daman-E-Koh

    Rawal Lake Shenanigans

    Centaurus Mall

    Going back to India/Bharat/Hindustan. I always touched the ground and took ashirwaad as soon as I crossed to the Indian side. Jai Hind!

    Edit: For some reason I was on my Google account(in my phone) when I posted the answer the first time so was surprised when I didn’t see this in my contents when viewing through the browser since it was a different account x.x

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