Day 4 – Food, Glorious Food
I am not sure if it is jet lag or just insomnia but I managed at most around 5 hours sleep last night and woke this morning feeling very tired, muggy and with a thick headache. I wondered if I could get through the day!
Sunia served me a lovely mushroom and cheese omelette, fresh orange, and peppermint tea in my room, which went a long way to reviving me before Sofia came in to have a girly chat. Sofia has a lot of life’s difficulties to bear right now, and although she does not want me to go into detail, due to personal circumstances her husband and she are estranged and he lives elsewhere with his aunt. Sofia has a deep sadness about her situation, but wears her pain with a quiet and mature dignity. She never raises her voice or lets her pain turn to bitter nastiness. My admiration for her and how she is dealing with her situation knows no bounds.
So, full of my lovely breakfast and following our chat, Sofia informs me that Grandmother (who was born in the caul) had said it was important that I had a meal to make me feel at home, so later this morning we are off to Munas’ house for a roast chicken lunch! Oh my goodness, lunch? Breakfast has not even gone down. I also knew that the plan for the evening was to go out for an evening meal with the whole extended family. At this rate I will be going home needing bigger clothes.
So to Munas’ for lunch, and following the delicious roast chicken with many different traditional accompaniments, I could easily have slept for a week. To keep awake instead I asked to be shown a hairdresser to get a blow dry. Typically, all the plug sockets in my bedroom were nowhere near any mirrors, and blow drying my own hair is not one of my few accomplished girly tasks let alone doing it without a visual guidance.
Like most “nice” shops, restaurants etc. the hairdresser shop was hidden behind high walls and greenery rather than being on the typical streets with shop fronts. It had everything you would expect of a beauty parlour and superficially was clean, although like most buildings I had been in, with the exception of the very western shopping mall, was a little battered, grubby and rough round the edges. However, the experience was great and the prices dirt cheap. I had a full pedicure and blow dry for the amazing price of 3800 Rupees (£18).
Muna had left me in the hairdresser with assurances that Sharif the driver would be waiting for me outside when I was ready to come home. He wasn’t, and for a few minutes I had a few cold feelings of dread; here I was alone in Karachi, a very unsafe city, it was dark, I was a westerner (so stood out like a sore thumb) and I was alone! Dark thoughts of kidnap had, once again, just started to creep in around the edges.
But a few minutes later the lovely Sharif pulled to halt right next to me. At this point I realised that the doorman, who were ever present at all establishments, had been keeping an eye on me and rushed forward to where I was standing next to the road, and opened the door for me with a reassuring nod of his head. My fundamental belief that most people are good was restored.
Unable to communicate with Sharif I sat and watched the night lights of Karachi pass by. With the dark of the night hiding the dirt, rubbish and decaying buildings it actually looked pretty and just like any other city in the world. We drove through wide brightly lit streets and then onto the sea front road, where vibrant coloured lights lit up the fun fair, and the night hid the appalling lack of safety precautions!
Now back home to get ready for the night out and yet another meal. Into my lovely Pakistani outfit, with my brightly painted toes and a preened hairstyle. The only thing missing to make me feel like a queen was my king by my side.
The restaurant we went to was a typical Pakistan meat feast establishment. Huge and over 4 floors it was obviously very popular with the locals. Alcohol is banned in Pakistan, which is a shame, because the varieties of meat consisting of chicken, lamb and goat in varying degrees of hot spice were so delicious that a glass of red would have complimented it no end. With many women covered up in Burkas and the rest in traditional dress I was glad of my outfit, because this was not a restaurant with western attitudes. Although I felt I blended in well my white skin and red hair still afforded me many a curious glance.
Finally home to bed, well fed well socialised but a little culturally shocked. Maybe a baby will come tonight!