Why me?

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Pakistan  ,
Thursday, October 6, 2005

On the way to the station we picked up some snacks as we didn't know what would or wouldn't be available on board. We'd already tried the potato samosas and they'd gone down a treat so we got some more. We didn't get to the station too early because we'd heard about the tardiness of Pakistani trains, but with about 20 mins to spare. We were told not long afterwards that it would be 30 mins late. It did indeed roll in, but we were told not to board because it was going away to be cleaned. Ok, that won't take long (ha!).

After a couple of hours we moved to a different spot on the station. No one could give us a time of departure. Bugger. A guy came over to talk to David. It was like flies to shit, more joined the group, then more and more. Of course it was all cricket, cricket, cricket. Lucky he knows what he's talking about! Soon some women came over to talk to me. The one doing all the talking was actually wearing a black chador! She was with her sisters and extended family. 18 of them had just spent two weeks in Iran touring the important religious sites. They don't really like Iran, they think they're too religious!!! Kettle and black come to mind. Anyway, they took me over to sit with them and aunties etc. it turns out they were wives and sisters etc of the group talking with David. They were quite nice and gave me sweets and a necklace. One of them was really embarrased because she didn't have anything to give me. I assured her it was fine and not necessary but she skulked away in shame. I offered to share my samosas but they all graciously declined. The talking woman had been married for only 4 months and was very surprised to hear that David did all the cooking. She hinted that it should have been me slaving away over the hot stove, but I'm still not convinced. Eventually the train turned up. Only two and half hours late. We found our seats, 2nd class economy sleeper. Our companions were all men (how surprising!). The scenery was fabulous and I couldn't get my camera out in time to capture it. We saw nomads with their berber style tents and camels, villages, and as the sun was setting we passed through a huge flat space filled with tall, smoking kiln towers. It would have made a fantastic picture! We had some chai and ate our samosas. There were two religious guys that had a few prays on the seat. They were very generous and shared their fruit with us and the others in our little compound. At each long stop everyone raced off the train and bought food and chai from the platform. David bought some sort of sweet pancake thing. At about 9ish the other guys wanted to sleep so we had to put the beds up. I stayed up for a while writing a letter and then decided to try and sleep.

My stomach hadn't been feeling comfortable but I managed to close my eyes for a while. Then I felt it. Oh no!!! I tried to put my things in my bag as quickly as possible and shove it David's sleeping face. I scrambled for my sandals. I was stumbling blindly down the aisle over all the legs of the other passengers. My head was dizzy and my eyes must have been wide with panic!! Oh god, some guy was going to the loo. I grunted as loudly as possible, waving my arms around madly. He moved quickly and just in time for me to crash through the door into the stinking, disgusting bog. Horrible. It was terrible. There was no water left in the tap. When were the cleaners last in here? I felt marginally better and practically crawled back to my dusty bed. I managed to close my eyes and drift off but I don't know how long for but I was soon repeating my mad dash. It was occupied!!!! God, what do I do now?!!! I stepped round the corner to see someone standing in the open door way. Arms in the air thrashing around again the guy moved just in time. Had it been a second later he would have been wearing my potato samosas. I felt awful and decided to stay near fresh air and the bog so I slid down the wall and rested on my heels. I must have looked a sorry site. Sagging nearly onto the floor, acceptionally dirty and dusty top, hair a mess and plastic bag with bog roll in hand. A nice man helped me up and asked me why I was there. He thought I didn't have a seat but I explained that I wasn't well and he gave me his seat which was a single one right with an open window. I collapsed into it and stayed there with my head on the sill for the rest of the journey. Lovely sunise. I went back to get my bag and David just as we were pulling in.

We got a taxi to a hotel and crashed for a few hours. I didn't want to spend the rest of the day in the room so I dragged myself up and we went for a wander round town. The bazaar was full of life, unlike me. It was great. I wished I had more energy to appreciate my surroundings. Oh well. We found the Jami Masjid Al Sadiq mosque. It's not that old, built just before Partition and big and white. Very different from Iranian mosques. We wanted to take a look at the zoo. Not something we normally do. We got directed in various ways and eventually someone pointed us the right way. It was really really hot. It cost practically nothing and when we looked round we knew why. There were cages with domestic cats, chickens, turkeys and loads of other boring birds. The cages had nothing of comfort in them, just concrete. The cats had been thrown bits of raw meat that were now covered with ants. They didn't even have boxes or dirt to use for the toilet. Poor things. The big cats looked just as sad. Panting and not looking healthy there was a snow leopard, lions, tigers and a gorilla with two tabbies in the same cage. There didn't seem to be anyway out for them. They walked over to the bars and cried at us. The bars were too small for them to crawl out of. There were also some monkeys in dirty concrete cages and horrible little boys poking sticks at them and making horrible noises to scare them. There were plenty of eagles screeching overhead and dogs running around. I wanted to get into the cages and stroke the animals and take them to lush surroundings. The wallabies looked like they were going to fall over at any minute. It was a very sorry looking zoo.

We left and headed back to our hotel to wait it out before sunset. Ramadan had begun and there was nothing to eat. We went to a really nice restaurant and David ordered too much food for himself. I still wasn't feeling ready for too much so I just had steamed rice. Then it was David's turn. I heard him get up. And again, and again and again. Morning arrived and it was a day in bed for him. At least he had the comfort of a private, larger, relatively clean bathroom and a bed!! The only thing I could find to eat during the day were two half melted chocolate bars. I was starving!!! I stuffed David with some painkillers and he finally stopped moaning and fell asleep. Men are such sooks when they're ill.

Next day, David felt confident enough to venture out so we went out to Uch Sharif a couple of hours outside Bahawalpur. It was stinking hot though. There are some very important shrines there and it's supposedly a pilgrimage site. We walked through the bazaar and people directed us to the tombs. They're all over the place! The best looking one, I thought, was the Mausoleum of Bibi Jawindi. Built in about the 15th century it's the tomb of Gholam Fatima whose nickname was Bibi Jawindi (I don't know why), wife of Jehanian Jehangashat. It's a lovely blue and white tiled structure set a little higher than other buildings and looking over lush green fields of corn and date groves. From the front it's really impressive, however that's the only piece remaining. The rest was washed away in floods a few centuries ago and it's held up by scaffolding at the back. We saw another two tombs nearby and decided that was enough. Our energies were suffering at the lack of food, our recent runny bums and the heat. We went back and waited for sunset, then set out for the best place in town for dinner. We ate like kings and also too much! I even had hot chocolate just because I could!

We both made it through the night without having to visit the bathroom!! Fantastic. We were safe for our bus ride to Multan.
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