Time for a Fool’s Leap

There have been many times during this adventure when I’ve felt strange things. Things, places, people, situations, all affecting my body through senses and reflecting in my mind. Sometimes the effect is bigger and sometimes not so, but sometimes they have been thought altering experiences that have shaped my body as well as my life. Every scar, every wrinkle and every fiber of my being, reminds me of my history, and I love myself for going through everything I have.

To tell you the truth since the beginning of this adventure I had an Idea. It was a childish wish to make some magic and bring peace into my world that I share with all of you. Just like every other time I’ve wished for something in my life, I made the wish, I had the will, and I proved to myself once again that be careful what you wish for.

As a child I wished for many things. Some with positive intent and some with negative intent. I was messed up, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to behave. I didn’t even have the ability to speak. I made myself lonely, because that was my time to adventure through life alone.

With a life long stammer from fear, I have learnt that a wish, whether it have good intentions or bad intentions, will come true if it is put out there strongly enough. By making that wish for this journey, I surrendered myself to let life opened my eyes to it. Life has made me understand something surreal, and it has brought peace into my world.

Anything of any value in our lives, whether that be a career, a work of art, a relationship, will always start with a fool’s leap. And in order to make it you have to put aside the fear of failing and the desire of succeeding. You have to do these things completely purely without fear, without desire. Because the things that we do without lust or result, are the purest actions that we shall ever take. -Alan Moore

At the age of 13 or 14, I had an epiphany. I found my dark heart inside myself, and I wanted to make it pure again. When I stumbled upon this quote I found the key out of my box, a simple fool’s leap.

I have tried to live by that quote, to understand what it means, and learn about purity. Fear and success are the two things that are engraved in almost every human mind from the time we are born, and letting go of that box seems to affect everything.

On this journey I have had the pleasure of meeting two absolutely fabulous girls, who travel through the world alone, with a pure smile and a good heart. One is now 22 and has recently finished her unbelievable over 2 year journey. It started with a wish to see India and South East Asia, but it turned out to be an around the world journey hitch hiking from China to England along a squiggly line, then boat hitch hiking from South Africa to Brazil. From there she went to the Caribbean to sail a quarter of the world to New Zealand through the Panama canal and back home to Australia.

The other is a 19 year old Canadian girl, who is at the moment travelling the world alone. We met in Myanmar briefly and as we left Yangon to go north, she went south by train into Thailand. She decided to bike down south through the monsoon and live with a local family in a small village. I haven’t had time to catch up too much so I don’t know what happened after that, but I know she is in Israel now seeing what is truly happening in that country.

These girls travel the whole world, alone and without fear. That already speaks mountains. Sure they have had their drawbacks just as we have, but I cannot stress enough the fact that the good will of people is something sublime and indescribable. A single act of pure good will from anyone, is always that driving force behind those unexpected changes that mould the path in front. They are the reason why adventures are adventures and why we ended up in Karachi.

I realise now that it was not me who made the magic. I only allowed myself to be swept away by a childish dream, and good will came to help make the magic happen. I am truly touched by what an amazing world we live in, and I don’t know how to feel. I don’t know what to think anymore and it doesn’t matter. I don’t care, because I feel good. My oldest friend, my other half once said, that analysing is ok but thinking is pointless. I’m starting to understand.

I know now that what matter’s in life is finding that fool’s leap to get me into a new box. When that box becomes the present, it’s time to take that fool’s leap again, because inside the new box is another gift that gives the possibility to learn and grow.

A child’s mind grows wise with life, and I will never lose that gift. It was inside my first box I came to know through birth, and it is engraved in my mind and body.

 

Karachi


Karachi is the hub of Pakistan. It has everything.

I had no expectations about it before arriving, with only vague associations to vibrant 50’s style dance clubs, smiling charismatic people, and a true sense of freedom. I saw the old Karachi from the old James Bond movie mixed with Casablanca.

In reality Karachi is a city with 23.5 million people with very few tall buildings. Without the arabian sea it would be completely surrounded by desert, and the atmosphere is something I didn’t even know existed.

Karachi used to be more like I imagined, but things have changed. At first glance it seems very restricted, but there’s a soul that pumps deep inside the heart of Karachi. By taking the chance and trusting Ins’Allah, we were invited to see the invisible.

Karachi is freedom. This is a place where rules really are more like guidelines, and where a persons actions towards others are reciprocated many fold. Projecting danger will get you danger, but smiling and opening up will open a world I thought only existed in fairytales.

I thought the world had been rid of freedom, thinking that we just need to accept where the world is going and make the best of it. I see now, that the Karachians value their freedom and will not let it be so easily destroyed.

riksa täynnä miehiä

For me freedom used to be something that could be taken away from people. Especially if people have the stupidity to give it up. Even the idea of freedom could be changed through decades and centuries of propaganda, but now I see that true freedom is something very different. True freedom is something that cannot be eradicated because it is an integral part of life. Life has freedom to do as it will, and like this it will forever be.

We’ve been staying at Shahids place and he’s a couch surfer. He’s a Big Man, and the big brother of the coolest, most humble guy on the planet. Their family took us in, gave us food and shelter, and made us feel right at home. Our cool guy Ali took on the responsibility of fixing the transmission with his his mechanic friend, so we had a chance to see the city.

By letting these humble and hospitable people show us their own city in the way they see fit has taken us to unbelievable places. The city streets are deserted always 1-2 hours before Iftar and it has been the perfect time to go cruising, and the best thing about the cruising has been going to the ‘dangerous’ places where no one goes.

In some places it is clearly seen why an air of danger is pushed out there, and it’s because people have things that they don’t want others to see. It’s easier to hide them from people if no one even thinks about going there. Not taking too much curiosity on whatever they’re hiding and staying respectful, nothing has felt dangerous.

Ajossa KArachissa

Not even that one time when we went to swim in a place we apparently were not allowed to called Paradise Point. This was an amazingly beautiful beach where the humble seaside glamour of the historic Karachi could still be felt.

Paradise Point used to have a great arch from which to peer out into the horizon, but life has done it’s deed and now only an imaginary arch can be seen being held up by a huge pillar in the middle. We enjoyed the swim and as the sun went down we were greeted by 7 armed men in a car.

The seven men saw that we were three men and one girl swimming. Immediately they started asking whether this ‘indecently’ dressed girl was alright. They wanted to make sure we had not taken advantage of her, which was very nicely done, and then they asked to see some ID.

AQ, our host, had forgotten to take his documents. We had also forgotten to take our documents, the car had no documents, no one had a drivers licence, and the only one who had a passport copy was Hannah. You might think that in the worlds most dangerous city, this situation might be somewhat uncomfortable.

Juho and Hannah went into the car to be safe, and I stood there smiling at them while they asked AQ a lot of questions. They then checked Hannah’s phone, because they thought I had no phone with me. Within twenty minutes AQ had talked our way out, without giving corruption money, and we were driving towards dinner.

AQ really showed us what it meant to be free, and from his way of being we noticed that there’s a way of thinking in Karachi.

The freedom comes from people taking power for themselves, but not in the bad way. In this religion people respect each other and take care of each other, at least during the month of Ramadan, and by doing that they take responsibility for themselves. Here people do not rely on authorities, because everyone knows that authorities are not there to take care of them.

This means that people don’t give away their power. It might seem a little anarchistic, but it works here. People do as they feel right while still respecting each other. It’s amazing.

Even traffic jams have a way with them. Normally everyone is trying to take their own space, but when there’s a knot people work together lubricate the going, faster than anywhere else I’ve seen.

This is by far my favourite place to drive around with the tuk tuk. Wide good roads, not much traffic, and it feels like driving across the world. This city is huge, and it changes so much from area to area. I love it.

Today is Eid, the local Christmas, and Karachi is at peace. Next week we should be back on track Ins’Allah, but before that we will explore more of this city that defies understanding and turns the world upside down.

Osaman katolla

The sun is setting, hundreds of prayers are gathering and echoing together, and mosques are filling up. The words of the day are Love and Goodwill. The sky is Pink, and soon Karachi will transform once again into its groove as the fast moving hub of Pakistan.

The Road to Karachi

After the good nights rest we were towed to a small town called Rahim Yar Khan through endless fields of cotton. I have finally seen the plant that grows my clothes, and now I understand why all the cotton in this country is incomparable to anything I’ve seen in Finland.

The local mechanic in Rahiem Yar Khan started work straight away. The temperature rose to an unbelievable 48°C as he disassembled to whole transmission unit and brought it to the local, specialised transmission mechanic. There in the midst of hundreds of gears, a 13 year old boy who was his fathers apprentice, took on the job of checking out our transmission.

This kid reminded me so much of myself when I was his age, always trying to get my hands on anything I could take apart to try and figure how it worked and how to fix it. His eyes glistened with intelligence, and I’m sure that with time, his knowledge and attitude will shape up to a great deal of wisdom. It is rare to see such a youngster, and know that he will be able to take care of himself throughout life, no questions asked.

Immediately after revealing the logo on the transmission box, the mechanics knew that spare parts were available in Pakistan. Unfortunately the spare parts bazaar of that small town did not have the pieces available.

The local man who was helping us by translating arranged us a truck so that we could get ourselves to Karachi, which is apparently Pakistans hub for everything. We were assured we would get the tuk tuk fixed there.

While we waited, our translator took us to his home where his mother made us some delicious food, and we had a chance to stay under the fan in the shade. Due to power shortages the fan was on for only a few minutes, but it was very enjoyable seeing the true side of rural Pakistan.

sharukh

Once the truck was ready, we were pushed by a local rickshaw driver all the way to the trucking station where we loaded ourselves on. The tuk tuk was bondaged to the deck, and we were given the driver’s bed, which was a space of maybe 2 meters in length, 70 cm in height, and 60 cm in width. It would be our home for the next 17 hours.

During the night our little dollhouse shook for quite some time since the road was in many parts under construction. The roof hatch, which ingeniously had a fan on it, was idiotically designed to open towards the front. This meant that the hatch door guided all of the dirt from the air coming head on, and the fan sucked it in double time. Without the windows open we’d have died of heat exhaustion, and without our turbans we’d have died of sandstorm suffocation.

We realised that we would never have made it in the tuk tuk because the desert is no joke during summer.

rekkakoti

Despite the rumbling we were so exhausted that we fell asleep only to be woken up for tea and food, every few hours throughout the night. We slept all together 15 hours during the ride, and it really was needed.

At 2 p.m, AQ, our local contact found us still asleep from our tiny home. We were finally in Karachi. All we had to do was figure out how to take the  tuk tuk down from the truck. It was pushed up on landslide, but no one had given a thought to the unloading. We were in a city, in the middle of the street.

As we were wondering how on earth we’d get it down, Ali came to see us. Ali is probably the humblest and coolest guy there is, and he’s a friend of AQ’s. Ali just seems to be chilling all the time with his red sun glasses, but he get’s things done. He used his imagination and he hired a smaller truck where we managed to push the tuk tuk using wooden planks. The smaller truck was then driven next to a railway platform where the tuk tuk was pushed down all the way to street level.

Karachi Rekka Pois

That evening we took it easy. It was Sunday and we were stressed. Our Tuk Tuk was busted, our visas were running out, and we didn’t have enough money to get out of Pakistan. We we’re closing in on rock bottom.

All we could say was Ins’Allah.

Maxing out the stress levels

We had decided we were going to truck the tuk tuk from Lahore to the border town of Taftan so that we wouldn’t be screaming out to the kidnappers in Balochistan with our new bells, whistles, and spinning propellers.

We still didn’t know whether to take the bus ourselves, or rent a car from Quetta, because sometimes busses are stopped and those unliked would either be killed or kidnapped, and the rent a car is much more expensive. Our funds are quickly running out because of everything, and we don’t even have the money to pay for the ‘translator’ in Iran anymore.

The night before however, our contact down in Karachi had insisted it would be worth going there with the tuk tuk because of the media coverage, so we decided to leave Lahore at 5 am to head down south. We were going to truck our tuk tuk from there and head to Quetta with the bus, and at some point make a decision about how to go on from there.

Karachi is 1235Km from Lahore, so we were told to stay the night at Sukkur, which was a 777 km drive. Apparently it would be best that way since no safe place would be in between. This was one hell of ride in the heat, and all three of us were already showing signs of a breakdown.

At one point we stopped to buy some drinks in front of a shop that was of course closed, and upon turning the ignition to continue, our tuk tuk said absolutely nothing. The elecrtics were busted.

Pyry opened up the dashboard to follow the leads, and after the short detective work he noticed one of the battery cables had detached from the engine. It’s an easy fix if you know what to do and where to put it, but neither of course had the slightest idea.

Within minutes we had helpful Pakistanis looking over our shoulder, and one called us a mechanic. Within 20 minutes it was fixed, we were wiser, and an 8 man band came with their even smaller three wheeler called Qingqi, to say hello and take some pictures.

8 man band

Then our speedometer broke, but Pyry managed to fix it with some more detective work. The local over-the-shoulder helpers and one don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-but-I-want-to-poke-things helper gave Pyry looks of acceptance as he jacked up the tuk tuk and got his hands dirty.

The engine had also started making a weird noise, so we checked everything we could, but nothing helped. We were in desperate need of a mechanic, but we also needed to make it to Sukkur.

All we could do was drive, and hope that we’d make it to Karachi the next day as we we’re told it would be best to get all the way there before stopping for the mechanic.

This only raised the stress levels. We didn’t want to breakdown in the worlds most dangerous area, we are running out of money, and we didn’t really have time to fix everything either. This was the time we thought to ourselves that we really are in deep cotton flowers. We were truly hoping that the strange works of Allah would produce us some kind of miracle.

Driving along we had to slow down because everything started shaking when going over 70km/h. We googled what we could and came to the conclusion that it was either a faulty spark plug or then transmission fluid. With 225 km to go, 1 hour of daylight left, and no hope in sight, we decided to check the spark plugs since it was quick and easy.

After starting up again, Pyry accelerated to 70 to see if it had helped, and the shaking began again. Now we were almost certain it was the transmission.

Within ten seconds of this thought we heard a loud BANG and felt the tuk tuk shake like crazy, and as we pulled over and looked back we could see our crankshaft tumbling on the road with many smaller pieces of metal spreading out. Oh cotton flowers we thought to ourselves, realising we just had a major breakdown somewhere in the middle of Pakistan. There was no chance of us going anywhere.

With this, all our plans, all our hurry, and all our stress

vanished.

crankshaft

The beauty of a force majure is that there is absolutely nothing to do but to make the best of it, so with a smile on our faces we pulled out the camera to record this predicament we had gotten ourselves into.

In the time of need friendship is weighed, and Pakistan in spite of all we were told, turned a friendly hand. People helped to gather the broken pieces, one helped to call the help line where no one answered, and within minutes a police car came to tow us to the nearest mechanic.

That mechanic could not help since we needed spare parts, so as the beautiful sun was setting we were taken to a gas station where we were fed, bathed, and offered a place to sleep.

On the back yard of the gas station, next to fields of sweet cotton and soft sugarcane, we had a fan, two beds, and our personal sniper on the roof to keep all three of us safe.

While looking up at the stars with a huge smile on our faces, our eyes closed into the first relaxed sleep we have had in a long long time.

Ins’Allah.

Up ‘n’ Down in Pakistan

Our timetable had been set by the media company that had been issuing our Iranian visas time after time. We were to get our visas from Islamabad on Monday the 14th of July.

Three weeks had gone by with numerous attempts to obtain the visas at the Iranian Embassy in Delhi, but because of the incompetence of the media company they were unable to give us the reference numbers and every attempt had been in vain. That’s why we had asked for them to be sent to the Embassy in Islamabad.

We drove from Lahore to Islamabad with a little detour to see the Himalayas on the Pakistani side. Less than 100Km North from Islamabad there is a place called Murree, which turned out to be a tourist haven for the locals. Murree is an ideallic town on the mountaintop with hotels starting from 30 bucks a day upwards, actually they all started around 100 bucks, but most came down to 30-45 USD in hopes that we would stay.

We ended up going back to the first hotel that had come all the way down to 25 dollars, but this time the manager was there and he refused to take us in. Apparently this side of the mountain was off limits to foreigners. Taking it as a clear sign we put our hill-trike in neutral and slalomed down a total of 35Km with the engine off.

Murre Mountains

We stopped along the way to buy a few Kashmir and Pashmina scarfs, since this is as close as we would get to Jammu and Kashmir. The price of each scarf was a nice 5 USD, so we bough 6 to bring home to the women of the family. Then we found ourselves a nice place to sleep in the historical town of Rawalpindi.

The next morning we headed off to the rickshaw-denying capital of Islamabad with a taxi, and went to get our Iranian visas from the Embassy. This diplomatic enclave was from a different world, as cars and pedestrians were not allowed, and a shuttle service was used to bring people to their corresponding Embassies.

Once at the Embassy, excited to finally receive our visas, we knocked on the small iron window that was head height in the huge stone wall. Above us NATO-wire was leaning over us and riflemen were fixing themselves a fan. It seemed a little overdoing the security in this diplomatic enclave, but illusions have to be kept up somehow, and who know’s, maybe we just don’t see all the danger lurking around every corner here. We only seem to see good hearted, exceptionally welcoming people inside all of these so called terrorists.

As the iron window cracked open, a man who spoke no English asked us once again for the reference numbers. We tried to explain that we were told we don’t need them so please ask a superior about our visas. He asked us to wait and he shut himself inside the fortress.

Every once in a while we knocked on the window to ask about progress and to pressure him into calling the media company like we were asked, but all he wanted was the reference numbers and refused to help in any other way. We tried 4 hours to get the visas in the scorching sun, but were denied once again.

This was the fourth time we were told to go to the Iranian Embassy to receive the visas, and the fourth time it was in vain. We were told by the media company that the visas they had nicely issued us were for only 4 days starting from the 19th, so not receiving them that Monday meant we were really in a hurry.

Pulling our hair in frustration and sending emails to the media company in Iran as well as the counsellor in Helsinki, we decided to use this setback once again to our advantage. Not leaving Islamabad that Monday gave us a chance to visit the World This Morning, PTV:s morning show on Tuesday. It was a great way to start a new day and the hosts Maha and Shazhad were amazingly nice. Here’s the link to the video if you are interested to see it.

It was the most relaxed 45 minutes I’ve ever had in front of cameras and after the show we had a little chat with the crew. One nice lady taught us more about Ramadan and the Islamic religion.

Muslims are apparently compelled to help other human beings, which is something that we have noticed here time after time. Human rights is apparently a big issue in Islam, since everyone should be respected. The idea of Ramadan rooting from natural ways was not too far off, but it was deepened by the fact that the fasting is also done so that everyone knows what it feels like to be poor and without food.

Ramadan is to remind all to share food, and during Ramadan there are special street food restaurants that offer food for free to all those who want it. Mostly the poor go there to eat, but we too had a chance to check one out later that day. Also during Ramadan, all good deeds are seen as twice their worth in the eyes of Allah which is logical, since when hungry, it is twice as difficult to be a good person.

During this conversation we got a call from the Iranian counsellor from the Embassy in Islamabad that the visas would be ready to be picked up as soon as we bring back the receipt of visa payment for 11,500 rupees each. We left straight away and Shazhad was kind enough to take us there with his government licence plate car so we could enter the diplomatic enclave without the shuttle service. This meant that we had an Urdu speaking man with us so we were almost certain we were going to get the visas this time.

We knocked on the iron window once again, and listened as Urdu was being spoken in front of us. We were denied the visas because the receipt should say 11,600 rupees instead of 11,500. We had been advised incorrectly over the telephone.

We hopped back in Shazads car and headed to the nearest bank to deposit the rest of the money. Seemed once again pathetic to still be running around for these visas, but bureaucracy is bureaucracy and money doesn’t move by itself.

Once we returned with the 2 USD receipt, we were asked to return the following day at 2pm. There was nothing to stop them from issuing the visas then and there, but instead they’d rather practice pure idioreaucracy.

Thankfully Shazhad was nice and took us to his home to eat his mothers tasty dishes and offered us a hot shower. He also took us to hang out with his friends at the comfiest bachelor pad I’ve been in for a long time. It didn’t take long for us to power up the X-box with the new Fifa and immerse ourselves into hard core gaming.

Pro Evolution Soccer, or PES as we call it, has been ‘The Game’ for us for decades. They had no PES, so we took the challenge and plunged ourselves in to it’s rival FIFA. To tell you the truth, due to this instance, I may have been turned into a Fifa player after wholeheartedly dissing it for years. I must admit the new FIFA is better than the new PES, and it might be because FIFA bought the programmers of PES a few years back and they seem to be the genius behind the game.

So it happened that for the first time during this voyage I forgot I was travelling. I forgot I was in Pakistan, I forgot I had a tuk tuk, and I forgot I wasn’t with my own homies back in Finland. I was deeply touched to find exactly same setting in Pakistan that I’ve found in Finland, Brazil, Thailand and all countries I have ever visited with such natural and comfortable rapport. This is a universal language, and Pakistan is no different.

That evening we went to eat at the street kitchen that makes food for the poor, and once again it was a wonderful experience.

Ramadan streetfood

We did make a huge mistake though, an emämunaus as they say in Finland, by eating the food once it was given to us. We were told to eat so we broke our fast and thought everyone was just amazed that two foreigners were eating with the poor. Then we quickly realised that it’s not after 7 that the fast is broken, but after the muezzins prayer.

It’s hilarious to go through the footage as it is so clear that only one man is eating, which is Pyry, and being so hungry that he is oblivious to noticing the other 100 people staring at him in dismay. The good thing is that learning the hard way makes the info stick.

On Wednesday we returned to that ever shrinking gap in the fortress wall in the hopes of finally receiving our Iranian visas. Finally after nearly a month of wasting money in vain we got the visas. We had been informed falsely once again as they were not issued for only 4 days, but instead for seven days within a ten day period from that day.

This gave us the benefit of the doubt for losing the few days, but we still only had ten days to drive 5000Km, through the scorching desert from Islamabad to Turkey and it was already afternoon. There was no point in leaving into the darkness, so we did an interview with a nice journalist called Shiraz, who took us out to see the old town of Rawalpindi. Here’s a link to the article.

On Thursday we woke up early to get a head start to the day. All three of us were really tired, stressed from the situation, and maxing out our performance. It was still open on which measures we would cross the dangers of Balochistan, and the media company from Iran decided to boost up prices for the compulsory ‘translator’ from a 450USD a day to nearly 700 USD a day plus flights plus this plus that.

Not knowing what else to do we drove to Lahore. On the way we decided to make ourselves feel better by stopping at one of the local pimp my truck shops and giving our third wheel a makeover. Now our Vehicle of Peace is tuned up Pakistani style, though it’s still no match for the local trucks.

Aman ke sawaree - Vehicle of Peace

Aman ke sawaree – Vehicle of Peace

By evening time we had arrived back to our friends at the plant nursery, and after breaking fast headed straight into another TV-interview. We were finally asleep by midnight.

Chapter 5: Playing Sharades in Hunger

The winding pot whole roads of the Himalayas teamed with beautiful scenery really made our maiden do the work. She carries our luggage on the roof adding an extra wiggle to the move, and she really needed a fix.

We drove to the Wagha border with our squeaking ride and getting out of India was a breeze. Within 2 hours we were stamped out, thoroughly searched and even a lovely dog came to greet us.

The dog sniffed our places and even said hello to our tuk tuk by jumping on the back seat to feel what it’s like to sit in the one and only, busted up rack we call our tuk tuk. Unfortunately there were no treats to go home with this time.

Then we drove through the stadium where people come to watch the famous Wagha border closing ceremony, with its drink stands and fast food stalls waiting for the crowd. Everything was closed because this is a bad time for food business during daylight hours since this is the time of Ramadan.

Ramadan means fasting, even without drinking for 30 days during the time that Allah can see. This means during the time the sun shines brightly.

At first I thought it’s idiotic to do this during the hottest time of year when its at least 45 degrees in the dry desert with dust everywhere because it seems like suicide. But there’s always a reason behind everything, and after spending 2 days trying it out myself I started thinking.

This is probably the time of year when in the days before, food has been scarce and water has been nowhere to be found. Everything has needed to be rationed to survive through this roughest month.

The good thing about the human body is that when it gets used hunger, it takes in nutrients from food much more effectively, and so eating only at night means less food is needed. This is also why anorectics stay alive.

The not drinking water is different though, but it too is most likely a resonant of a time long gone. Multinational companies have not been around for too long so bottled water was not a given, and naturally there is barely any drinkable water here during this time of year. There is a tribe in the deserts of Africa, at least there used to be, that never drink water as to not get used to it, and I think Ramadan has the same idea.

The hunger and thirst means that people are easily agitated, and simple everyday things seem much more difficult physically and mentally. Spirits need to be kept up somehow and that’s where the praying comes in. People pray everyday, most likely to keep up the will to survive, so they don’t start dying of thirst and hunger. As long as there is a will to survive, the way will be found.

This is all my logical reasoning about Ramadan and I may be way off, so don’t take it as fact, but to me this is good enough to accept Ramadan as not being idiotic.

The best part about this festival came right at the beginning, when we drove to the Pakistan side of the border. Everyone was hungry which meant that everyone was more difficult than usually, but staying persistent, we slipped through like butter since they had no energy to stay difficult. Everything happened as fast as possible with the slow motion of hunger, because they wanted us to leave as quickly as possible so they could go back to doing nothing.

When we got to Lahore on the first day we tried to find a local sim for ourselves so we could call our contact. This turned out to be more difficult than we thought because here they need a local national identification card number, and the Mothers maiden name, as well as birth dates etc. etc. to make sure no unworthy person is given a registered Sim card. We had none of this info so we didn’t get too far.

We did however manage to call up our contact from a mobile shop and he of course happened to be out of town. He did however call a friend, who called a friend, and we ended up following a weaving motorbike through Pakistani traffic to a place called Gulberg II.

We slept on the comfortable floor in a hut in the middle of a plant shop with greenery all around. The guys who work there sleep on the outside because it’s cooler, and they are super nice. They showed us some local places to eat once 7 pm had come and immediately we started bonding.

The next morning they called us a mechanic who fixed our dancing partner back into a sturdy speedster, and we got some time to spend with the boys. Everyone wanted to communicate, but they spoke no English and we spoke no Urdu. This meant a lot of plaing sherades, trying to communicate through gestures, facial expressions and pointing. It was visibly clear that people were actively thinking about how to show, rather than how to say, even if it was someone else that wanted to say something. We had a blast together and they took us into the family with locking fingers before we headed north to Islamabad.

We were to get our Iran visas there, but for some reason our travel agency failed to do their job once again. All they have needed to give us for the last month is one simple reference number, but for some reason they refuse to give it even though the visas are already waiting.

On the plus side we had time to visit Murree in the mountains, and tomorrow morning we will have an interview at Pakistan World This Morning. Apparently it will be broadcasted to almost all Pakistani households, which means maybe 200,000,000 viewers. Pakistan has 250,000,000 people so it’s a rough guess.

We are once again in the middle of a visa battle, and once again it’s turned out to be a good thing. Pakistanis are mostly greatly hospitable people, sometimes almost to the point where a humble Finnish person gets a little uneasy, but at least it has been good to our budget and we’ve received lot’s of great food and good conversations, and many brothers. Sisters seem to be a little more difficult to meet in this country.

Tomorrow is a new day, and let’s see what it brings.

Road Tripping in the Himalayas

Before heading to Pakistan we took a small detour to the Himalayas. After all, we wanted to test if our three wheeled tiger could find her inner mountain goat.

On Sunday we set Manali as our destination and headed north. We did nicely and the road was straight, wide and in good shape. The only problem was that our horn broke.

When we started from Delhi it was working, then after a few beeps it silenced. Suddenly I realised that what had at first been an annoying and uncomfortable noise, had become a life dangering, missing safety device because horning is the lingua franca of indian roads. People are horning all the time. I’m here, I’m coming through, get out of my way, I’m overtaking on a mountain curve so move out, is someone there, I like your tuk tuk etc, etc. Thanks to the high tech machinery inside Pyry’s brain, he managed to connect the two wires that had come off during the bumps.

On the first day we drove half way, about 350 km, and the next day we started at 10 am. After driving 50 km we saw the foothills and that’s when the road started to get scruffy. It was full of potholes and in many parts under construction. It took us 6 hours to get to the beginning of the real mountain road, which luckily was in excellent shape.

It wove up the Himalayas revealing one breathtaking view after another. Pyry was deep in the zone for a whopping 5 hours steering us higher and higher into the Himalayas, but we had lost too much time, and darkness fell upon us.

Then came the sheep.

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It took us nearly an hour to get through the sheep, but we made it.

Vashist gave us rest in magnificent scenery and a high flying experience. We met a couple of guys after hiking to swim at the waterfalls, and they happened to be paragliders, so they took us for a flight.

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On the morning of departure we visited the shiva temple for a hot bath, to warm ourselves before packing everything again. Pyry tried to fix the gasoline meter and engine temperature gauge, but they seem to need a rocket scientist, not a circus artist.

Before heading off we got a chance to exhibit our Thai Tuk Tuk to Thai Baba.

He is the guardian of the fire, making sure the tea keeps coming and the chillum keeps burning. Thai Baba is an old Thai man who lives on the corner of the Shiva Temple and shares everything he is given. Materialistically the man has nothing, but people do not come to this shaman for riches and gold, they come for the spirit. The man radiates positive, loving energy and his spirit rubs off everyone that comes around. Maybe that’s why they call him spiritual.

Thai Baba Then we headed off to Amritsar.

A tuk tuk loaded with stuff on the roof is not the best mountain snake so we decided to take it easy and enjoy the ride. This has been a perfect day and a perfect route for a road trip. Rolling easily on well paved Himalayan roads is what road tripping is all about.

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Now we have taken shelter in the village where the Dalai Lama sleeps. Tomorrow we go to Lahore.

END OF CHAPTER 4

To Mumbai and Back in 6 days

Mumbai

Mumbai

That is Mumbai, but we’re in Delhi again. This quick journey South turned out to be semi-epic.

After having dinner and learning about the Sikh religion, we returned to the hotel turbanised and gifted. We received holy turbans, wristlets, prayer chains and a holy Sikh blade as well as tons of information about a different spiritual culture.

‘A beard is a gift you give your face. And a passport to awesome’

The Sikh are warrior spirits, and in the time before, they used to take off their protective turbans only for battle. They realised that the hair makes the head look larger, and therefore in the eyes of the enemy they seem more fierce. That means the power lies in the facial hair, and that a man without a beard is like a lion without it’s mane.

With power comes corruption, and therefore the metal wristlet on my right wrist (sword hand) is there to remind me not to use the hand for evil. An evil hand used for personal gain will not accomplish content in life, instead a protective hand will always protect the content in life.

The turban around my head protects my hair, my ears, and if necessary, my face. It is surprisingly good while riding the tuk tuk on the dusty roads.

The prayer chain is used to pray in the mornings, and each bead is given the intent, ‘Wah, hey, guru’, ecstasy beyond words, to remind the mind to think positively.

And the sword is carried at all times as a symbol of willpower and purification.

Just before learning all this, while waiting for our new brothers to come pick us up, we got a phone call from our Pakistan counsellor friend. Our visas had been approved, and we were to be back in Delhi asap. I received an email later that started with the words, Dear brother Pyry. I think this is the most peaceful way of starting a letter, and it should be used more ofter.

The next morning, after the lovely dinner, we contemplated whether to cancel the shipping and drive through Pakistan, or continue with it and go by foot. The shipping company had already started the shipping procedure and there were still so many question marks concerning Pakistan.

We tried to contact everyone we knew to get all possible information, but we couldn’t reach anyone. Juho was set on shipping, but Pyry was set on driving. We decided to see what the shipping company had to say.

Turned out that the shipping company had already ordered the container so there would be charges, but luckily the customs had not been started yet. This didn’t lean to either side, so we still didn’t know what to do. Then something unexpected happened.

Mustafa, the shipping agent, a man from India, told us to drive through Pakistan. This was an act of humanity, because it was against personal gain. Mustafa said that shipping is always and option, but driving through Pakistan is what our project is about. He encouraged us to fight on, no matter what happens. We will make it through driving, and fulfil this once in a lifetime dream the way it should be done. We should at least try, because if all else fails, shipping is always an option.

This was a clear decision, and something opened up in us. Teary eyed from the kind gesture, we offered to pay the charges that had come from our haste. Mustafa answered that we need not pay. He told us that this is part of business, and that sometimes these things happen. He knew that we need the little money we have more than him, so instead of taking our money, he gave us spirit to get home.

This was something so unexpected that all of the stress from India was released. It seems like one small humane gesture can make a huge change for the better in someone else’s life.

As a thank you, we would like to mention to all who are in need to ship vehicles to/from India, that there is a good hearted man in Mumbai called Mustafa, who works for the shipping company Sadikally Esoofally & Co. (Estd.1938). He does things effectively, knows how to deal with the infamous carnets, and it was a breeze dealing with him and his team. It was very welcomed after the horror of Kolkata.

Then, on that Tuesday, we left Mumbai to be in Delhi by 10 am Friday. It was already 2 pm so there was no time to waste.

On the first day we managed our destination which was a motel on the south side of Vadodara. We chose that because on the way we were there and it had absolutely fabulous food.

The second day we were supposed to drive an epic 800Km to Pushkar, but close to Modasa we had our first break down.

We had stopped for lunch and once finished we drove off.

Pyryhigwaystreetfood

After one kilometer the engine stalled and refused to start up again. It seemed like petrol wasn’t getting to where it was supposed to, but we didn’t know how to fix it. Almost 10,000 Km driven, it was about time to learn.

Hinaus

We managed to hitch a ride with a local auto-rickshaw who towed us to a mechanic in Modasa. You can probably imagine we gathered ourself quite a crowd.

mechanic pällistelyä

The problem turned out to be a blocked petrol tube and it was fixed with compressed air and while we were at it we decided to fix everything else as well.

The wire for the back charger was changed, a chipped metal bracket that holds the electrics was reattached, and the belt was tightened. We spent 3 hours learning about our engine as well as the locals.

mechanic

In the end we let the mechanic do a test drive with the tuk tuk around town and he drove around stopping every once in a while to show this strange phenomenon to his friends. He bought us some pidi cigarettes as a gift and drove back.

Once asking for the cost, the mechanic refused to take any money. Everyone was smiling so we accepted it as a gift. With humanity completely restored, we headed off for Pushkar.

Every once in a while the blockage came back, but this time wiser than before, we could unblock it by opening the petrol tube and blowing hard. We’ve also found out that if we clean the air filter often, our engine keeps it’s power. With a lack of air the petrol doesn’t burn properly and power is lost. Keeping air and petrol coming keeps the engine working effectively.

We had lost 3 hours of driving, so we only made it 100 Km South of Pushkar, to another roadside hotel. This was close to a beautiful small desert mountain village and they happened to have the best food we’ve had so far. I found a new favourite dish, though unfortunately I cannot remember the name. It starts with a K I think and there might have been an L.

On Thursday we drove all the way up to Delhi so we made it for our 10 o’clock appointment at the Pakistan High Commission. Once again the meeting at the Pakistan Embassy was superb. I’ve noticed that all of the Pakistani people I have met so far have all been honest and humble. Every place has it’s good sides and bad sides, but most countries cannot openly say that they have problems. Most prefer a path of illusion, but the counsellor we talked to told me that in Pakistan, they believe that in the end honesty will prevail. The country is not perfect, but they are still good people, hopefully.

We have now strengthened our tuk tuk, cleaned the suspension as well as everything else, and we are ready for the next unknown. By next week we will be in Pakistan continuing our adventure.

mechanic posse