Saturday, 6 February 2016

Kashmiri Chai

Enjoyed an ironic cup of hot Kashmiri chai at Munchies in F-6 Markaz a day after Kashmir Day, 5 February, and after I picked up my forgotten suitcase from the Airport and returned some poor devil's bag I had mistakenly picked up the day before.

Kavita and I arrived in Islamabad early Friday morning and, after 2 days of traveling, we crashed for a  nap in the afternoon. I did not start unpacking late at night and, lo and behold, after I cut through the shrink wrap, I realised it was someone else's bag.

In  my defence, Kavita was extremely cranky and insisted I carry her through out after we landed at the bus stop that is Islamabad Airport. I had had all my bags shrink wrapped back at RIA and I guess one bag looked very similar to mine. The porter picked up all my suitcases and stroller after I pointed them out and, of course he had my baggage tags too but he did not check them nor did the security at the Exit. In the porter's defence, he asked me to make sure all the bags were there after he put them in the car.

The porter service cost 400 rupees and I gave the porter another 200 rupees tip.

I didn't start unpacking until Friday evening when I saw I had the wrong suitcase. The next morning, I received an e-mail from Baggage Services to say I had picked up the wrong bag. I phoned the number on the e-mail and, profusely apologised for the goof up. I told the lady I would be at the Airport in an hour. The lady said she would tell the poor sucker their bag was found.

Ami drove me to the Airport. It took us forever to enter the Airport and we had to drive all the way to a bridge in Pindi before turning around, past all the barriers and past the small protest just outside the Airport. A few PIA staff were killed by the Police in anti-privatisation protests in Karachi in early February. 

I went to the DNATA Services office. At first, the lady wanted me to wait for the other party whose bag I had mistakenly taken. Since I had brought the bag back, I did not know why I should have to wait especially because the folks were coming from Attock and were going to be a couple of hours. I offered to speak to the lady on the phone who turned out to be very friendly and actually thanked me for bringing the bag back. 

After all was settled and agreed, I was taken afterwards to the Arrivals Hall and a small room next to the conveyor belt. A gentleman proceeded to retrieve my bag from a locked cage. He first had to move through a literal sea of bags, suitcases and boxes which were carelessly dumped on the floor. He explained these were mostly bags of Hajj travelers and usually could not all fit into one flight. 

As always, Islamabad Airport, its shabby halls, its pathetic smallness for an International Airport depresses the hell out of me. I got my bag and could finally get out of the Airport. 

Driving back from the Airport, I took these photographs of the Kashmir Day propaganda on the highways. Needless to say, Pakistan does not have the cleanest of human rights records and to put this blatant and hypocritical posters every where is a bit of a joke.

One English poster said "Kashmir is unfinished business of Partition" and another quoted Jinnah as saying "Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan." It all sounds very good to remind everyone of how Pakistan was dealt an unfair hand at the moment it was born but unfair to nit and pick Jinnah's words, especially forgetting his ideas about a secular Pakistan. We did not create a democratic, secular Pakistan and instead we have a hyper Islamic state with one of the world's poorest human rights records, whether for Ahamdis, women, Christians, Hindus or poor folks.

Pakistan ranked 3rd in 2016 for number of executions. Shameful.

For Pakistan to cry "Kashmir" is to literally cry "wolf."

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