Another Pakistan flashback: This girl and her family are 2010 flood victims. On the day I took this photo, they had just been given a new house, compliments of a couple of nonprofits and a generous Belgian man. I love this bright yellow wall, which is actually the color of all the walls in the house. The girl was shy at first, but then she started grinning like she would never stop. Read more about these families here.
It’s been awhile since I’ve given you any pictures of Pakistan. Okay, actually, it’s been awhile since I’ve given you anything at all. I can’t seem to stay off the road these days, and since an iPad is, unfortunately, not in my immediate future, y’know how it goes…
Anyhow, Pakistan has lots of nifty carts. Here are two of them.
I took this picture from my friend Sipte’s balcony. I like to think of Karachi this way.
Sipte had just rented a gorgeous 1940′s art deco apartment overlooking Frere Hall (that steepled building to the left). This was about a week before I left Karachi, and the monsoon was rolling in. It was one of the few days, in all my time there, that I ever saw the white sky break into clouds. Black kites encircle the city constantly, and people feed them raw meat off the bridges. It’s a prayer and offering to these beautiful, ominous creatures. To me, the kites are the mascots of Karachi, or maybe a metaphor for the city. These are the birds of prey that Parsis rely upon to eat the corpses they leave atop the Tower of Silence.
Sipte’s apartment is on a busy street, but late at night, the traffic thins. American chain hotels, the Marriot and the Sheraton, rise above the park, and Karachi seems completely anonymous. It’s like a prototype or idea of a city, rather than any specific city. I felt anonymous too, this evening, and disconnected from the specifics of my situation, my history and my emotions. When I was little, I used to get this same sensation from black and white movies. It’s a sense of abandonment, related to but entirely more elegant than the sense of abandonment displayed in a good rock song. It’s a delicious, eerie kind of place, that Karachi city.
Shahi Mosque, built in 1928 by the royal family, presides over downtown Chitral. Yep, northern Pakistan can be quite romantic–not only is it the ceiling of the world (a handful of the world’s highest mountains are in Pakistan’s Himalayas and Hindu Kush), but it’s the of stuff shahs and kingdoms, forts and legend, poetry, music and potent hash.