Day 99 – Lahore
The morning proceeded much like the previous day: we joined our hosts for an early breakfast, complete with hot cross buns made for Good Friday, and then settled in to wait for the call from the mechanic.
As the morning wore on, Dad decided that it might be best if he actually went down to the mechanics shop. He returned to the apartment about an hour later with the news:
The supplier had sent the wrong part.
Yup, it turned out that the part that had been sent from Karachi was for a 400 cc Honda, and was absolutely useless on his bike. And ordering a new one would take at least another three days. So with nothing else for it, we will be leaving tomorrow on the shock that Dad was using before. It’s not actually broken yet, just suspicious, and it only needs to get us to Kathmandu, as we’ll order a part in either to there or to Bangkok, where the bikes will be shipped to. It is just incredible that it is so difficult to find parts for our bikes. We’ll probably end up shipping the parts in from South Africa, as that’s where we have the contacts. Seems crazy when Japan (who manufacture the Kawasaki) is probably three times closer to where we’ll be.
Deciding to go on with a dodgy shock is not an easy decision, as it seems shock absorbers are the weak points on our bikes in Asia (the rear tyres were the African Achilles heel), but after waiting three days, and now with nothing to show for it, we just don’t have time to wait any longer.
By this time, it was already after our 12:00, cut-off time, which meant that we weren’t going to be leaving today either. The mechanics had asked if we would be willing to come down to the workshop to have some photos taken. Considering that the fault wasn’t theirs, and that they had now spent hours on the bikes that they refused to accept any payment, it was the least we could do, so the four of us trouped down, and sat down for the ever present cup of tea. We chatted for about an hour, which included an invitation to come around to the house of Qaser, one of the mechanics, and his brother. It turned out that they actually attended the Salvation Army church, which made it extra special that they had spent the morning working on the bike, considering that it is traditional for Christians in Pakistan to attend church on Good Friday morning. After taking a whole portfolio worth of photos, we said our goodbyes, and returned home.
On our way home, we decided to fill up with petrol at a station about 200 m from the base. Shan had gone on ahead to the base and was already inside the gate when I arrived to tell her the plan. The guards, though, were very unhappy about the idea, and were very insistent that we stay inside. Eventually, Qaser, who had accompanied us back, explained to them that he was with us and that it was just down the road. They grudgingly allowed Shan out of the gate, and we drove the short distance to the station. This incident just highlights how careful the Pakistanis are about foreign visitors, as there has been a number of attacks around the country over the last few years, which just seems so at odds with our own experience. We have found the Pakistani people to be indisputably the most friendly, hospitable, helpful people that we have met on our travels thus far, and it is such a pity that fringe elements within the country have done so much to destabilise things. I would strongly encourage anyone to visit this wonderful, warm country if you ever get the opportunity.
Back at the base, Shan was about to get another photo shoot of her own. Two of the girls who work at the base invited her to come to their apartment for some tea, and when she was up there, she asked if she could take a photo of them to remember them by. They were amenable to the idea, but were very keen to first go and fix up their clothes and hair. After a few minutes, they returned, but seemed horrified that Shan hadn’t done anything to her own appearance, and cautiously asked if they could help her out with her hair (essentially a big dreadlock by this time). To their dismay, she declined their offer, but seemed satisfied when she at least accepted a liberal application of lip liner and gloss and so the photo shoot went ahead. After a session that would have exhausted a professional ramp model, they told her it was time for “naughty pictures”. This was quite a surprise coming from two Salvation Army officers, but it turned out to be a lot more tame than it sounds. “Naughty pictures”, it seems, means sticking out your tongue at the camera, waving your hands and such other silliness.
When all the naughtiness had finally worn down, it was almost time to go and visit Qaser. In the meantime, I had gone down to a local barber for a much needed haircut and shave. These are the small things that make one feel that you are actually participating in the normal life of a place, and as with the last time, I was quite pleased with the results, and even more pleased with the price, which came out to about R15 ($2). When I returned from the barber, I sat chatting with the Wards until the others returned from their visit to Qaser.
When they returned, it sounded like they had had a great time. A number of children were at the house, and they had happily entertained the guests with singing and dancing. John in particular was great with the kids, and they were soon crowded around him singing away. Although there are just two families that live at the house (JUST two families), many of the other relatives stay nearby, and everyone was keen to come and see the foreigners, so soon there was quite a sizable crowd gathered. Although the language difference sometimes made it difficult to communicate clearly, the people there were incredibly generous with what they had, and the grandmother that was there insisted that Shan call her “Mom”.
Finally, it was time to go, and they were escorted back to the base. There, Shan spent a few minutes offering some of the female officers at the base a ride on the bike (although most preferred to ride side-saddle). Supper was a smorgasbord of leftovers, from our last five suppers that we had shared with the Wards. It was delicious, as we had experienced first-hand on the previous nights, and after a lovely evening with our long suffering hosts (who had probably expected us to be gone a few days ago), we were off to our apartment for our last night’s sleep in Pakistan.