Saturday, 3 July 2010


I remember the first time I came back to Islamabad from my first trip to Afghanistan. Pakistan seemed like such a developed country. The roads were smooth, paved and straight. The hills were green and everything seemed to be in order.

I used to get the same thrill landing in Islamabad each time I came back from Liberia, a place I call the Afghanistan of West Africa, to provide context to those who don't know what Liberia is. Afghanistan freaking de-stabilised the entire region. And little storm-in-a-tea-cup Liberia proved to be no less of a catastrophe for it's neighbours.

So it has been a thrill to be back after two years. There is a sense of home, belonging and familiarity.

I was nervous about seeing my old man after a period of two years. He seemed older and so much more vulnerable at the airport and it made me realise what a long time two years is.

After that initial pang, things fell into a good routine and it was good to be at the house. My father enjoys pottering around, tending after the plants and garden. He's rummaging all the time. Or reading a book. Watching the news. Or making me a cup of tea!

He insisted on making me tea and stuffing me with food all the time. It felt like being a kid. I wake up late, drink tea, watch the sensational Pakistani news channels which have multiplied like mushrooms and just generally take it easy.

It's really nice to do nothing!

I didn't get to enjoy any smokes with the old man but we played a lot of chess and Scrabble. That was totally fun. Just like the old days.

I am not going to do this again - not come back to Pakistan after two years. That's way too long.

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