Saturday, November 22, 2008

17-19 November – Lahore and Wagah, Pakistan

The smog thickened when we were approaching Lahore. The city has close to ten million inhabitants and the pollution is terrible. We arrived at dusk and it was a chaotic experience to navigate through the masses of people, pushcarts, donkeys, bicycle rickshaws, motor rickshaws, etc. We managed to find a hotel parking where we were allowed to camp. We had a constant stream of curious visitors during the evening and fell asleep to the big city noise of Lahore.

Lahore was an important strategic place on the Great Trunk Road, the trading route between Kabul and Calcutta. We strolled around in the famous Lahore Fort. It is huge and must have been very impressive during its glory days some centuries ago. We also visited the adjacent mosque complex which is better preserved than the fort. We have to walk quite fast, because we attract hordes of people who want to get familiar with the children.
Our final stop in Pakistan was the Wagah border post. We went to see the flag ceremony at the border line between Pakistan and India. Every day, just before sunset, the border guards on each side are playing tough, cheered on by thousands of spectators on each side of the border. They are marching back and forth and celebrate the closing of the border to the enemy territory. It is a very bizarre theater performance. These two countries should cooperate rather than demonize each other in this nationalistic folly. This is the only border between two very large and populous nations. But almost nobody is actually crossing the border. Pakistan is importing some potatoes from India. India is importing some cement from Pakistan. That is it. Tragic.
Tinna turned three years on November 19 and we celebrated her during the morning in Pakistan and continued with the celebrations in India in the afternoon.

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