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high life in pakistan
By Dennis Batchelder 7 April 1998

we flew over the border from india to pakistan last night. it was a short hop of 40 minutes. and we've been living the life of luxury ever since!

at the airport, we were met by a porter holding up a sign for "Latif Khalil and Mr. Dennis". He took our passports, cut to the front of line, got us cleared through immigration and customs, and brought us to the executive lounge, where ruby's (latif's wife) 3 brothers and mother were waiting for us.

talk about royal treatment! they brought us to the hotel (which is nicer than any i've stayed in the stages - much bigger room, comfortable beds), then took us out to dinner at The Village. Which is a Pakistani-style cooking buffet place. The food was incredible - all the different fruits, salads, kebabs, and curries were just wonderful. we ate like pigs (not a very good phrase for a Muslim country - maybe safer to say we grazed like cows).

they had a dessert which was can "Paan". It's a beetle-nut leaf, with all sorts of stuff put inside, but especially beetle-nuts. the object is to roll it up, stuff it in your mouth, and chew. and chew. and chew. you're supposed to enjoy chewing the beetle-nuts for an hour or so. i didn't know this, so i ended up swallowing most of it whole, because the darn stuff just wouldn't break down.

the Islamic calendar is interesting, because it's based on a lunar month. so religious holidays are not the same time every year. come to find out, it was announced a couple of days ago that the Eide would be celebrated today through thursday.

what is this Eide? the koran says that when Ishmael was about to be sacrified by Abraham (our version is based around Isaac), Allah provided a goat to be sacrified instead. so during this Eide, everyone who can afford to buys a goat, or sheep, or cow, hires a butcher, and sacrifices the animal. then all the meat is divided into 3 parts, which are distributed as follows: neighbors, the poor, and family. everything is closed for the holiday - businesses, government, schools. this is a family time - lots of embracing, fun, laughs, eating. like our thanksgiving and christmas combined, i guess.

so the whole city of lahore is filled today with goats, sheep, and cows. we saw them penned up on the side of the road, also being hauled in by trucks. tonight and tomorrow is the big butcher day, followed up by the local mosque coming around to collect the skins, heads, whatever for various charity works. should be lots of fun.

so lucky for Latif that he's here. we're going to his home town of Rabwa tomorrow for the Eide feast - it's about 3 1/2 hours from Lahore, on the way to Islamabad.

I've enclosed a couple of pictures:
1) ruby's brothers, at the restaurant. from left to right: Fahim, Wasim, and Nadim. Fahim is getting married in June, Wasim is visiting from England, and Nadim has just retired from the Pakistan Army.
2) ruby's mother with latif.
3) the restaurant: me looking at the sweets (looking, not eating!)

high life in pakistan - pakistan