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Fine in Lahore...I think

Reader comment on item: America's Crash Course on Islam
in response to reader comment: don watch out in Lahore

Submitted by Don (Pakistan), Sep 21, 2007 at 10:19

Honestly, everyone I meet here (or talk with) is really nice, welcoming, and interested in me, why I'm here (as an American), and curious to what Americans think of Pakistan - "We're not all terrorists. Does America know that?" "Of course."

I have a madrassa just down the street from me, and on Friday afternoons the bullhorn blasts with what always sounds like angry ranting (in Urdu). Occasionally I hear "Amreeka" in the ranting. That bothers me. I've been told by a couple of my neighbors - nice folks who've sent me gifts and sweets on Christmas and Easter - that the Madrassa is "Talibanized."

I've been to Karachi and Islamabad and Muree and Burban and a few other places. I feel pretty safe and comfortable in Lahore. Karachi was stressful and I wouldn't want to spend much time there; take care of business and get the hell out of that city. Surprisingly, Islamabad was really cool, and I was even walking around in shorts there and nobody even gave me a second look, and I think Westerners would be shocked at the easy-going kind of atmosphere in Islamabad - the parts I was in anyway.

I was even invited to an underground dance party with a live rock band in Islamabad with a lot of fine Pakistani chicks dressed to impress and doing the Bollywood ass-shaking thing, drinking beer and cocktails. Good time. Unfortunately, the 30-40% (I figure) of the country is Islamists, anti-Western or anything non-Islamic, and I have to be careful of my surroundings and security, mix up my routine frequently.

But the Islamists are easy to spot: They all dress the part, big beards, high-water shalwa pants, pissed off look like they're angry at the world. Everyone else dresses Western, shaves, smiles and laughs. Heck, it's Ramadan right now and, unlike in Kuwait where it was against the law to eat/drink during the day, I see Pakistanis eating and drinking all over the place. The restaurants are closed till iftar, but folks are eating and drinking anyway in their cars, at work, etc. No biggy here. I'm surprised.


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