“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lahore 2

There's nothing like a new country to throw your beliefs and life into turmoil. Being in Pakistan is like being in Myanmar all over again, but without the acquired apathy. The poor are so much poorer here, and the people are so much more aggressive. Mum called them 'bolshie' and it absolutely fits. They challenge me. They make me take a hard look at what I believe, what I do when I encounter challenges, and how I respond to people in general. I really am such an awkward defensive person when I first meet people. I'm abrupt and rude and want my space.

Tonight I left a friendly guy and a rickshaw driver on the street while I went up to dinner all alone. Upstairs there was a lovely Canadian girl who invited them to share her plentiful meal. I felt so ashamed of myself. I would have loved the company and I can certainly afford it so it's not that. Sure I don't want to be the sucker providing the free meal but they turned out to be very generous and helpful although of course grateful for the free meal. A contradiction. Why am I so defensive? I remember meeting an amazing lady in Morocco who said she cannot fear people... Why do I? Am I being cautious? Where does cautiousness end and snobbery begin?

Men talking to me constantly, hooting everywhere I go, rickshaws stopping and blocking my path, begging to take me, even for free. One man followed me, and everyone looks at me! Like the jolt of going over a bump on the wooden seat of a rickshaw. Bump! Think! React! What do you think! What do you believe? Which prophet do you believe in? What do you think of Pakistanis ? Are they aggressive., welcoming, nice, obnoxious? Etc etc. I love this... I love to be forced to look at myself.
There are some amazingly interesting people in the dorm I'm staying in... Moroccan, Swede, Slovak, South African, German, French. Amazing people!! The Swede was excited to buy porn, which is just as sickening as Lonely Planet writer I met in Myanmar who was excited to get a photo of a monk giving the finger.

One was a cyclist living on $150 a month, and who lived on less than $1 a day in Africa. These people are doing things with their lives. Sure it doesn't help humanity but it does challenge themselves. What do I do? I live in Baku where the biggest challenge is which bar, which restaurant. I should learn Russian. Will I meet a nice man? I am so superficial... We all are. I want to do more. I want to be more. I know I inspire some people, but I want t to do more. I want to leave a legacy... Then again,, I am also quite satisfied with my life and if I died tomorrow and I will be okay with it... As Zeeshan says... He cannot live in fear. Fate is fate and you can live smart but life happens. I want to be an amazing person. I know I am an amazing person, but I know i'm not even close to my potential. I want to be more!
Everyone is so religious here. The religiousness surprises me. Speaking of beards... is it a real sign of conservatives or not? Malike said it was a sign of avoiding hassle... of convenience for them. There was a movie on bus... a big shoot em up... but it was also followed by a documentary of young mullahs and conservatives. Two women had prayer books and chanted the whole bus ride. Women ride only at the front of course.

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