|Up early - confusion as to 'old time' and 'new time' a difference of one hour(daylite saving in new, ha!)made our visit to Ashoke Rocks a bit chaotic. The taxi was supposed to take us to the rocks first then bus station but instead took us directly to bus. We were told it was leaving at 9(by new time we're there at 8:30), so Mari was bummed until the fellow selling tickets arranged a taxi to the Rocks & back claiming there was no problem. Indeed there was no problem because they were going by 'old time' and the bus didn't leave for an hour and a half!
Bus was relatively comfortable(had AC reason for 200 r. fare vs 100 for the other bus - a local which also stops alot). Trip to Lahore was 8 1/2 hrs arr at 'bus sta' in dark. Caught a rickshaw who knew where Regale Internet Hotel was but unfortunately Bon thought she saw the street early on and we got out w/ a 10 block walk to go. Language a problem since he missunderstood the street we told him...either that or it was the typical Indian response that doesn't admit not knowing!? Anyway, found the place asking along the way and 15-20 min later we arrived...sgl/dbl 480 r. dorm 190. Lahore is culture shock for me...noisy, packed streets - two wheel horse/donkey cartts, longhaul trucks, rickshaws both motor & bike, honking, air thick w/ smoke & polutants. An immed. case of 'what am I doing here itis'! I hate big cities to begin with and coming off 3 wks of sm villages, clear/clean air, no traffic, or noise ie serenity to this 'hell hole'...well it was a bit much for my sanity!
To think 85% of the world actually survives in this kind of people madness is mind boggling. I see cities like this and do not question the eventual failure of human existence as a species. Our inability to use our intelligence for the betterment of all, to see that if all humans are not at least enabled to better themselves ie given a chance then the elite/wealthy few will not survive either. Our ride here was from foothills into agricultural plain, wide open flat and harvest of sugar cane and rice plus burning the fields created a haze the entire way!
Went to shrine of Data Ganj Bakhsh Hajveri, a mosque w/ Qawwali Vibe(Islamic devotional singing) in basement where we tourists get front row center seats...especially when led there by a guide from our Guesthouse who knows the folks. Large crowd, kind of a sufi 'revival' (as apposed to a Christian/bornagain type revival) scene, emotions much the same! What struck me the most was the almost competitive nature of the $$ giving to the sufi musicians, obviously rich/wealthy men sitting up front. Literally showering the singers w/ 10 r. notes and tossing them w/ abandon at times. Amazing! Our guide also gave us a tour of the mosque, sufi, very emotional for the devotees, lots of preaching by charismatic sufis(crowds gathered around different ones), plus singing as well. They hand out candies blessed by sufi and wild scrambles ensue for a piece! Kind of like an unruley communion...all very mystically enraptured, superstitions perhaps at base, much like many other religious practices I've seen only taking a different form. The sheer #s of people(all men) was kind of overwhelming and because it was the beginning of a religious festival/holiday they had a whole street of feeding stations for the poor - altho our guide did say this took place every week. Saw the Golden Door(60 Kilos!) donated by the father of B.Butto(one assacinated, actually he was also), very ornate.
A slow start...electicity is on an hour off an hour - very regular at least so you can plan on it. At nite when the fan goes on I wake and off I get hot and don't sleep well. Finally we left for the old town, fort & 2nd lgest mosque in Pak(600 yrs old built by son of one who built Taj Mahal, sp?). We 'accidentally' hired a guide who gave good info but in the end asked us for 300 r.(earlier we were approached and the fellow quoted 50 r. ea) Finally got him to take 200 r. ea but we were not happy even being our own fault. The fort entry was 200 r. for tourists(locals pay 10 r.) the difference too great we declined to go in. Rickshaw back and spent time waiting til 4 when we left for border closing/flag ceremony. EXCELLENT!! See photos. This is a most unique experience which no one should miss who has the chance to see it. I don't remember any performance on this trip more entertaining1 Back by 8 and to bed...no sleep, the owner/guide fellow had organized a sufi singer/drummer group to come to Guesthouse so until 10:30 music...they were good but got no sleep, then lites went out(electricity).
This is a 3 day festival weekend which the fellow claims 100,000s of people come to pilgramige to Lahore - streets even more carammed than usual. Saw huge tented area & cooling pots w/ piles of wood for feeding the multitudes. They stay everywhere in mosques, parks, shrines, under tents + he said they were going to protest higher prices for gas, oil, food etc. Interesting since nothing the govt can do, it is just barely getting by and faces bankrupcy itself. Bush is very beloved here NOT!