Day Five: Ladian and Bhurch
With monsoon season over and mosquito season beginning, ZP and I were treated to a few unwelcome bites through the night which resulted in a tired, cranky, and itchy couple. After breakfast, we quietly boarded the coaster and joined the morning rush hour traffic to get through Lahore. The farther away we got from Lahore, the clearer our stuffed up noses became. Everyone was subdued on the smooth stretch of the Motorway but once we hit the Grand Trunk Road, which was jacked up beyond belief, our calm serenity gave way to head-clutching, teeth-rattling, and body-aching. The morning chai caught up to us and I can guarantee you that tremendously bumpy roads plus uncomfortably full bladder equals torture. Desperate for a bathroom break, we pulled into a shabby gas station along the side of the road, rolled up our pants, wrapped up our loose ends of clothing, and hit the alaturkas.
Of course, bathroom breaks deserve bathroom-themed stories and so my mother regaled us with a tale of the first time LB came to Pakistan. The night before the flight back to the States, baby LB was not feeling well and ran through the available stash of diapers. Upon boarding the PIA airplane, my father asked the flight attendant for some diapers which they kept on board for the passengers. She replied that once the flight took off, she would come back with some. So he waited and she never showed up. He tracked her down and asked for them again. This time, she said, "oh, we are out." Apparently, the stewardesses used to steal the snacks and drinks and supplies and Dad knew this so he gave her this choice: "either you bring me the diapers or else I will use the cloth headrests on the backs of these chairs as diapers." Two minutes later, she showed up with the diapers. Heh.
That story is a nice segue to the introduction of the villages we were entering where neat rows of hand-pressed manure lined the outside of some of the buildings, don't you think? Some how, our Lahori driver managed to navigate the huge twelve-seater coaster down the winding, narrow alleys of the Bhurch and Ladian without a single scrape. We were greeted by various family members at the entrance of the residential section and while Mom, Aunty Farhat, and I were driven to the house in style in an air-conditioned car, the rest of the group hoofed it, followed closely by curious children in various states of dress and undress. I took advantage of my delicate condition and immediately usurped someone's bed and took a nap while everyone else paid their visits, ate their elevenses, and pretty much followed the same route that we followed during our last visit.
ZP was introduced to motorcycles, goats, parakeets, and cows, cows, cows. With his exponentially expanding vocabulary, he was getting quite chatty and was proud to point out all of the things he could identify ("beep beep, car" in particular was a constant refrain). When we finally wrestled him down to release the birdcage and take a nap, we enjoyed a spicy lunch at Gul Nawaz's house before loading back into the coaster for the remainder of the journey back to Islamabad. GT Road got a bit better the closer we got to the city but the traffic, construction, and poor road conditions still took its toll. Some amazing and much needed hot sweet-and-sour chicken soup, delicious and hearty haleem (I had about three servings of it), and soothing mint tea greeted us upon our much delayed arrival home. Complete collapse followed.
Lesson of the day: Creative threats to airline personnel can go a long way.