Pakistan’s Beautiful People

(part 5 and last)

 An interesting notes about bathrooms: in almost all houses I have noticed a very fancy sink (a clear blue glass in one house), a gorgeous marble top, little soaps, cremes, etc. and then a plastic hose as drainage into a hole in the cement floor. Always leaking…

We didn’t leave for the last wedding party until close to 9 o’clock at night. It was once again at the groom’s parents
Tonight all the chairs were arranged in different patterns, covered with white cloth and tied with purple ribbons instead of the gold and other colors of previous nights. New incredible bouquets adorned each table and tonight there were lantern sized standing candle holders full of gorgeous flowers. I feel so privileged to experience these events.
A backdrop with flowers was arranged on a stage with another nice couch. We walked through an archway of flowers and found seats from which we could see the stage. Waiters came by constantly with lovely fresh orange juice, strawberry or coconut drinks. And little dainty chocolate and lemon tarts. We sat and watched people for a long time. Tonight, as if by some silent agreement, the men mostly wore dark, western suits and ties and shiny black shoes. The men are impeccably dressed and groomed here. And all so well mannered… all men rise when a lady approaches. They offer their seats immediately. People kiss each other by touching cheek to cheek and a formal greeting, especially to a respected older person, is to touch the fingers of the right hand to the forehead while saying ‘salaam’. The elder person then touches the shoulder of the greeter, all very quickly and barely noticeable.
I met the same wonderful lady from a few nights ago, whose husband is a doctor. She told me about marriages. It has been less than ten years since couples chose their own partners, before that all marriages were arranged. Now about 65% of marriages are still arranged (not this one). She said that because of women getting good educations and becoming more vocal and assertive, it is starting to happen less. Her own was an arranged marriage as were most.  She also said that Pakistani’s are much more involved in their families and friends than westerners are. “We know exactly what our friends feel like and think about. So if there are problems (for instance between husband and wife) we ask and coax and tell our friends everything. Thus we can work out our feelings and always lean on family. That way there are not many divorces, although they do happen.”
When she lived abroad, she said, her neighbors etc. encouraged her to put up a sign with ‘room for rent’. She said that this idea was impossible because in Pakistan one would never ever charge a guest in your own house.
There were no formal parts at all to the wedding celebration tonight.  Bride and groom sat on the stage forever while almost everyone who came, got around them (each family group) and had their picture taken with them. Then they finally got off the stage and sat in chairs facing the stage and this famous group played music. Very, very nice young men with guitars and great voices. They played wonderful music. It was pleasant to just sit and watch and see all the gorgeous fabrics and colors of the ladies saris (most women wore a sari tonight). The colors and materials are just out of this world and never the same.
We left close to midnight, before the food had even been served!

house. On the street I noticed an enormous generator to create enough power for all the lights etc. for the party. I think that each house has it own generator. Our power goes off regularly, sometimes three times a day. Candles lined the drive like the fancy cars lined the street. While the owners mingle, the chauffeurs all visit and also eat, usually the tables are laden again after the guests eat, with all the same foods, and then the personnel, drivers and nannies come to eat. I can’t begin to imagine how much these weddings cost.

My very last day in Lahore… I kept waking up during the night and was sound asleep when a girl knocked on my door and brought me breakfast in my room. Had a quick shower and then we left for the Grammar School – a nice 5 story brick building with open sitting areas on the roof and potted palms everywhere.
I did two slideshow presentations for two groups of students and then a writing workshop with teachers from different schools.  

We had a tremendous wind storm today, with sand and leaves blowing in under the door. The power went off several times.
At 11:30 PM the driver took my bags to the car and I said goodbye to everyone. Leila and her husband brought me to the airport, which wasn’t very far. We drove along a beautiful wide boulevard with green grass in the median. The airport was a gorgeous, new building with very tall arched windows and shiny marble floors, very very clean. The security was just like anywhere else. A man whisked my suitcases away, took me through security, immigration, customs and to the check-in counter. He didn’t leave until my luggage was gone and I had my boarding pass. I walked through the large airport towards the gate and would have a few hours to wait for my 3 AM flight. Immediately, a man from a coffee shop came and asked if I wanted tea or coffee. First I waved him away and did some window shopping. But once I sat down and a man asked, I said ‘sure, coffee’. Well… they should have this at every airport!! The guy went away and came back a bit later with a tray lovely laid out with a cup of strong coffee, milk, sugar, two slices or pound cake and some cheese sandwiches. I sat and enjoyed all this – for around two dollars!
A nice Pakistani lady, living in Ottawa, sat near me and we chatted the time away. She gave me a great CD with wonderful (Pakistani) music!
The flight from Lahore went on time and was fine. I slept most of the way. Had a few hours in Dubai and did some tax free shopping and visited Starbucks! This time it was light when we left Dubai so I saw the different buildings and the blue, blue sea. Dubai is sitting right in this amazing sand desert – nothing but waves of white sand. Previously, in the dark I had thought that it was all water but now I realized that it was an ocean of sand I saw.
We flew with unobstructed views over Iran and Kuwait. There were a few clouds after that but I saw most of eastern Europe in great detail and took photos of Turkey, the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and on over Munich and Holland to London.
It’s been an incredible trip and I have learned more that ever. What an experience! I am so grateful to have been invited to Pakistan. So grateful to Kees for supporting me, encouraging me to go. So grateful to be a writer of books that lead me on this adventure. Our world can be a wonderful place, full of new friends – if only we are willing to meet them, by following new paths as well as our heart.

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