Friday, 7 May 2010

Islamabad Blues

I miss Islamabad. When I lived there, I didn't much like it. More because I was in a constant state of rebellion against all things Pakistani. Now, I love it. I have to admit though, when we touched ground and had to go through the hassle of the airport, I did wonder why I had agreed on a trip to Pakistan.

Once we were out though, it was a whole different story. It was good to see the Margallah Hills in the distance, the tree lined avenues and experience the Islamabad rain. It did my heart - and soul - some good. I got to chat with old dear and darling friends; eat in old haunts; shop in my favourite shops in Jinnah and Super Market and discover new ones. Despite it's sleepy reputation, Islamabad is not at all a sleepy city to me. Neighbours were constantly dropping by with plates of food. The Boogster enjoyed himself and for the first time I saw my son's feet get really dirty (as in black soles). I took on Pakistani traffic and drove. The hubby and I ate Afghani burgers (Afghani naan stuffed with chips, sausage, chicken, various chutneys and a sprinkling of Islamabad dust). We discovered Saidpur Village. Ate some more. Found out you couldn't play ball games in F-9 park. Something was always happening.

I have the Islamabad blues.

Travelling with a toddler, Volcanic ash clouds and the long journey home

The hubby and I decided we should visit Pakistan over the Easter holidays as summer gets far too hot and my mother-in-law hadn't met her little grandson yet. I was very apprehensive about travelling with a little toddler - not quite knowing what to expect. I had read night flights were good for little ones as they tended to sleep through it and we were lucky enough that the flight to Islamabad was in the evening. When we boarded the plane the Boogster was asleep much to the envy of the two mothers on either side of me who had to contend with crying children. All I could do was smile in sympathy at them until, that is, he woke up and then would not go back sleep. The smiles of sympathy were then directed my way.

I and the hubby spent the next couple of hours walking up and down the aisle with him. He was so tired but he just would not sleep. Eventually, he was so tired he managed to sleep the rest of way and didn't wake up till we had landed.

We were due back on 16th April but then the volcano in Iceland erupted which went on to show how inept PIA were at prioritising passengers whose flights were cancelled because of it. I refused to bribe, upgrade or do anything that involved an exchange of money and would have still been stuck in Islamabad till at least 10th May if I had not agreed to fly to Manchester instead. And did PIA arrange for transport from Manchester to London? No.

The journey back home involved airport officials openly asking for bribes so our luggage would not be opened; baggage being x-rayed and checked 3 times; my son sleeping lots on the plane trip back (always good); visiting Manchester for the very first time and a very expensive cab journey back to London.

But as they say, all's well that ends well.