At the house of the priest Patras John (the guy behind Mr. Shushtari)
This is the second time in three weeks when we have access to hot water. We can wash our clothes. We don’t need to sleep with our jackets because it is warm. For dinner we have thousands of fruits, Nutella, mango jam and many other things. On top of all this our host lives right next to the embassy and lends us his driver.
We are reborn after the hard times we had in the mountains, not that we want to change it for luxury, no, but today is a real blessing.
We spend the day at home and in the evening our host Rana takes us to dinner and then shows us the Rawal Lake. We eat pizza at one small but elegant restaurant, and we are shocked that the modern people we see wear jeans and eat western food. Rana treats us with dessert too – salty ice-cream with pasta…
Salty ice-cream with pasta
Our host is really amazing – we feel like royalty at his place. He takes us to many different places, treats us breakfast, lunch and dinner and lends us his driver during the day. Today we spend almost all of the day at an Internet café. Only at noon we go to see the National Monument of Pakistan – that is a strange building situated on a hill. The ticket is very expensive and it is not worth it in my opinion.
We got the visa for India today! We needed to go 7 times to the embassy. Lucky for us the driver took us there 4 of the times and they let us enter through the side door.
We are so happy! They gave us 6 months multiple entry visa. We are getting ready for India mentally and emotionally and we are becoming impatient.
Early in the morning we take the train to Lahore because we want to get there sooner – if we hitchhike we will lose a whole day. While we are travelling one can feel we are getting close to India – there are piles of garbage everywhere and the degree of overall misery gets higher gradually, otherwise there are quite a lot of plants and the scenery is green. We are still flabbergasted by the beggars who circle around in the train, but we have to get used to this. Some of them sing religious songs as loud as they can. The train on the other side is clean and there aren’t so many people in it. There are beds in the coupe so one can lay down occasionally.
We reach Lahore around noon – this is the centuries old capital of Punjab. It is a historical city full of various landmarks. We just get out of the train and you can guess who comes to us – the police. They take us to the police station to register us and from there we call our Christian friends to come and pick us up– they are the ones we met on the train to Multan.
This time we had decided to rely on our new friends instead of searching a host through couchsurfing.org. We still don’t know it but great surprises are coming our way. Our friend named Patras John comes with a motor bike, takes our luggage and hires us a rickshaw taxi. We head to his neighborhood Green town which is in the outskirts of the city and Lahore is pretty big. The contrast with our life at the diplomatic neighborhood is stunning – obviously we have spoiled ourselves.
We used to live against the Parliament and have on our disposal a private driver – now we will live next to the cloaca sewer. There are piles of garbage everywhere on the streets.
The cloaca sewer under our window
There are no air-conditioners or power generators in the houses so when there is no electricity, the fans stop working and it gets really hard. The temperature outside is 42-43 degrees Celsius (107-109 Fahrenheit) and inside the houses it as hot as in an oven. We are accommodated at the house of Sister Farah and the view from our window is staggering – the river, or better said the cloaca sewer, has black water, it stinks and passes right under our window. But our new Christian friends are very hospitable and we are happy we came here because we will see and feel another part of people’s lives in Pakistan.
There are 40-50 Christian families living in this neighborhood and Patras John had founded a small church called Grace Assembly of God. We spend the afternoon going around the houses of the people in the parish. Everyone is really poor but they treat us with what they have – soda, chips and other things. A guy tells us that in ancient times only the people from the lowest class converted into Christianity and that is why most of them have darker skin color.
At Patras John’s church
When we reach the last house I start to get paranoid because inside is dark and too many people live in the three small rooms. We enter behind some curtain and there we see a very strange woman. She sits on the bed, waggles back and forth and says she is possessed by daemons. Patras John puts his hand on her forehead and starts screaming some spells. The heat inside is unbearable and this scene is too much for me to bear.
When we come back to our super-hot room we crash in our beds. Good that we have electricity and the fan is working. In fact most of the people living in the house sleep on the roof because it is cooler up there. There are also people sleeping in their beds on the street. The sewer stinks but we are getting used to it.
Sleeping on the roof-top – I’m still in bed 🙂