A very different experience to buying clothes in Britain : )
Today we made our way into the local town centre. The first thing I noticed was the driving in Islamabad. How the driving test association of Pakistan hasn’t been sued to death I’ll never know, but like most things here, it works.
There is a distinct sense of community value here. I saw a 9ish year old boy, working in a small square of shops, with who I presume to be his father. Their line of business is cloth; washing it, dying it, drying it and much more that my small gaze in didn’t allow me to see. It made me think, life here is much unlike England where you may or may not enter your parents’ line of work, here it’s expected. To an extent of course, but I’m quite sure that in 10 years, the son will still be working with cloth, and one of the best in the town.
We are trying to condense ~15 hours of Pakistan experience a day into a short documentary and blog post. Our ‘left over’ thoughts, sights, and experiences are left out and we regularly repeat sentences so they can be recorded the second time. Each time we repeat a sentence or act like there isn’t a camera following us, it is done to emulate reality for the viewer, which made me think – are we any different to the news?
Like most expeditions, the final week of preparation was a bit of a blur. Important documents scanned, uploaded and printed in triplicate, permissions confirmed, itinerary finalised and team in place.
A year ago, when we first mooted the idea of taking a team of students to explore this country and get beyond the media stereotypes, people said that it would never happen, that it was impossible and that we were wasting our time.
The reality that it might really be happening began to sink in, gradually at first with the last reassurances to worried family members at Heathrow, then increasingly with the buoyant enthusiasm and excitement during our layover at Abu Dhabi, and finally with the bump and squeak of our touchdown in Islamabad.
However much I know that the media portrayal of Pakistan was overblown, my responsibility for the team’s safety and security weighed heavy.
Everything went smoothly, fixers greeted us in the still humid night outside arrivals, minibuses were waiting, customs seemed unperturbed with all the filming equipment and most importantly all the hard work of the past months means that the team of young people could enjoy, relax and take in the atmosphere. And I could see this country afresh through new eyes.
The jangle and flash of trucks on the road from the airport, the smell, calm, bustle and hum of a Pakistan evening, the allure of a new country, life lived on the street in the open, vats of dye bubbling, rolls of cloth unfurled with a flourish, kind faces, warm greetings, hot tea, experience after experience, preconceptions jettisoned, thoughts shared, and so to sleep.
My reflections on day 1!!!
Page 1 of 2 pages
What is my idea of Pakistan?
The team arrives in Pakistan and touchdown in the capital Islamabad. It’s another world away from rainy Britain. We settle in and take a visit to the local market and discuss what their idea of Pakistan is.
Over the next two weeks, we shall be exploring their ideas before they came and how they feel about the perception of Pakistan in Britain.