So what’s the Plan?

After the best two weeks I’ve had so far in my life, I’m waking up to a new world. The six hours of sleep I managed last night feels like a luxury, and after opening my eyes to that newly rising sun, I ask myself an elusive question that has become legendary here. What’s the Plan?

Nowhere in the world have I heard these words as often as I have in this crazy food loving country of Pakistanis. It’s as if every time the door opens, someone walks in to ask, so what’s the plan, and not once has it received an answer.

Life is bitter sweet without the answer, and as a true romantic it’s what gives my life a sense of adventure. Always a thousand plans but knowing that not a single one will go the way I think.

There is always something amongst these plans that shines through the fog like a lighthouse, pulsing itself and guiding the way. It cannot be seen with the minds eye, because it is not Einsteinian light. It is the light of intuition, and that can only be felt as it warms up the heart, usually through the stomach.

So, what’s the Plan?

The man of the house where we are staying at the moment knows that warm fuzzy feeling in the stomach. The food here has been absolutely spot on every single time, and it tickles from the first touch on the lips until morning.

While most of the world has alcohol for entertainment, the Pakistanis have their food. I think this is one of the many reasons that makes Pakistan a cornerstone for world food. Just like Thailand, every Pakistani knows about the ingredients, which tastes go with what, and how the ingredients should be prepared. But what makes this country different from Thailand, is that the food doesn’t stop coming, and it’s more of a desert taste. I should maybe say dessert taste instead, because even though the savoury dishes here can be mouthwatering, this is a country with the sweetest of sweets.

I’ve never been a fan of desserts in my life, but somehow I’ve ended up being lured into the magic of sweet things. Some are not so good, some are better than others, and some can turn your world upside down. I’ve learnt that in the midst of trying to make sense of the world through half open eyelids, a sugar rush is just what is needed.

And the choice is endless. You can imagine people since the dawn of time smoking up some of the worlds best hash and putting their heads together to make some sweet munchies. They have come up with everything, and imagination has definitely not been in their way.

There is one dessert which goes above all else on the creative munchies scale, The Falouda. This is a mix of many things and it differs from place to place, but usually it goes something like this. Holy basil seeds, fresh whole milk, caste sugar, cardamons, rose syrup, vanilla ice cream, toasted pistachios or almonds, rice vermicelli, and some sort of candy on top.

Most places that make these manage to get an unnatural sugary taste to it, at least for me, but looking at the list of ingredients I think it could be pimped up into something with the sweetest of nature that would even lure out my tongue.

For example the candy decor on top can swapped with rose pedals, the rose syrup could be made from scratch, or maybe there is a brand of syrup that has a more delicate taste so it doesn’t overpower everything else. Maybe even making some rose honey from that nectar of the mountains. And ice cream. Ice cream is something that can be ok, or it can be jumping up and down ecstatically delicious.

It’s all up to the chef and his/her so called plan. Take the easy way and the taste buds might thank you, but going with the flow, making an effort, and adding a little love into the mix at every stage can caress the ever changing balance of the taste buds into a near orgasmic state of dance.

So, what is the Plan?

We are romantics, so we always end up going with the flow, enjoying the company, and dreaming of those sweetest things in life. The days go on like this, morning ’til evening, socialising, eating, and falling in love.

Ramadan had an Eid of a finale and it’s time to go. We have one more week with our visa extensions and we need a way out. What’s the plan?

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 End of Chapter 1: Part 1

The past few days have been magical.

The Tuk Tuk is finally registered, we have renewed our Visas and washed dishes and clothes. Now we just need to renew the permissions to Myanmar, get the Carnet du Passage and find one pillow.

Magic was made on wednesday. We had to renew our Pakistan visas in the Embassy and it started the usual way, waiting in the lobby not knowing when our application would be handled. After almost two hours of waiting, the secretary called us and in the most polite way pledging us to follow him. The Counsellor had invited us for an audience.

Mr. Amin welcomed us with open arms, with his very good Indian friend by his side, offering dates from Mecca and multicoloured mouthwatering traditional Pakistani sweets. He was clearly inspired by our project and referred us as his little brothers. Mr. Amin opened his heart and mind, and it was magic.

For the next hour or so all worlds came together as we discussed religions, languages, understanding and unity of all peoples. It felt like he gave us a mission. A mission to understand the common ground of religions and beliefs that we will encounter on our journey, and in a way a mission to unite all the cultures within our own minds.

By the end of the meeting he gave us his phone number for any difficulties we might encounter, granted us visas without charge and we are honoured to call him our big brother.

Feeling fancy at the embassy.

Feeling fancy at the embassy.

I have been to a Pakistani Embassy twice in my life, both for this project, and both have opened my eyes to a group of people who seem more humane than most. They seem to be the opposite of everything I have ever read or heard and I am truly waiting to see if the country is as great as all their people I have met so far.

After the magical encounter at the Embassy, we met our journalist friend at his new condo for a pool and a Sauna. A SAUNA!!

It was the first sauna in over 3 months and we got so excited that we blabbered everything we knew about saunas. We enlightened our friend Peter about the Finnish Sauna culture and the Sauna Spirit, Löylyn Henki, a Finnish belief that is unknown to most of the world. I think Peter thought we were mental because the Sauna is just a hot room with a stove. This might be true for most of the world, but not for the Finns.

For the Finns the sauna is a place of Magic, a place of Birth, Healing, Cleansing and it is one of the rare places on earth where even ‘the Finnish Man’ can open themselves to communicate with other beautiful souls. A Finn needs the Sauna like the Monks need their temples. This is a little bit exaggerated, not much, but you get the point of how important the sauna is for the Finnish culture, and the Finnish people, and you can imagine how good it made us feel. Thank you Peter for taking us to the Sauna. Thank you for all the beautiful people we met there who shared the magic with us.

After wednesday the magic has continued. Our close friend Jukka arrived here yesterday by surprise. He didn’t know if we were still here, and we didn’t know he was coming. He was spending time up north and suddenly felt the urge to come to Bangkok for no specific reason. He was just in time for the final farewell party, and it would not have been the final one without him. So thank you Jukka!

We would also like to thank our Thai sister Wanida, for all the wisdom, great conversations, and unforgettable moments we have shared. And an extra super big thank you for coming with us to the Transportation Authority to find our lost papers. You are the best detective and one of the best people we have ever met anywhere. Thank you.

And a final thank you to everyone at P. Hot Pot for everything. You took us into your family, and we truly feel like we are part of it. This has been our home away from home. Thank you.

The time here in Bangkok is coming to an end and it has been a journey within a journey. After these magical days we are finally ready to move on.

Today is the Equinox, the beginning of a new time. Spring has begun and it’s time for new life and boost in growth. Tomorrow we hit the road and start the long-awaited unveiling of the Tuk Tuk.

Ins’ha Allah.

Thank you everyone