Chronicles of Pakistan: Day 6
Our flight at 8am is delayed an hour which is displayed clearing on the board. At 8am, they announce it is an hour late. The flight to Multan is an hour and a half. Jamal seems to enjoy it. Pretty uneventful. We are picked up by their driver at the airport and taken to their house. It is in a commercial area where a security guard with an AK-47 opens the gates and lets us in. A clinic or lab in the front and nice house in the back.
For those of you who do not know much about Pakistan, like me, this is what I think:
First off, I’ve never seen so many AK-47s in my life. Right when you step off the plane, there is one pointed at you coming off the steps off the plane. All the security in the airport have them, too. Hotel security, house security, embassy security, government building security. Some are just standing there, some are chatting with their guns laying on the ground or on chairs. I’m pretty sure I could walk up to one and grab the gun before them but rest assured I will not make any attempts. The scary part is that many of these guards are elderly men. I’m guessing that Walmart, perhaps, initially found their inspiration in hiring the elderly from the nation of Pakistan. Now, I think Walmart is doing a better job of this because they put the old folks in more harmless positions such as greeters. I have 4 concerns here:
1. What if, due to their old age, their eyesight or mental state is off and they confuse me with someone they want to shoot?
2. What if, due to their old age, their aim is off and they want to shoot someone near me?
3. What if, due to their old age, their muscle control is off and they have a muscle spasm?
4. What if they just decide to shoot me?
I don’t think they like Americans here and I don’t think the punishment would be to severe to shoot me, although, I hope those of you reading this would at least sign a petition or hold a candlelight vigil in my honor.
The poverty does not seem to be as bad as Pakistan but it may be that I have only been to 2 cities which may be wealthier than the average population but I have barely seen people going to the bathroom on the side of the road, so that is a nice surprise (the not seeing it part). Servants are a staple here. I assume labor is cheap. Little girls and elderly men always want to carry my bags. I’ll let the old men do it because if somebody sees me carrying my one bag, they may assume the old man has no value and he could be out of a job which means he would be out on the streets. As for the young girls, I figure they wont lose their job for not carrying my bag since they will get older and stronger. I had to fight with a young servant girl not to carry the carry-ons at the airport.
Some dogs running around and one day I saw a horse galloping down the street. I asked Jawad if that was normal and he said no but I saw it again the next day so who knows. More greenery here than in India especially in Islamabad.
Power outages seem to occur all the time here. I’m guessing the power is out about 1/4 of each day. Some of it is schedule due to “load sharing” and some are just basic outages. Many places have generators to supply limited power to certain essentials during these times. I find I am most often on the can or in the shower when the power goes out. I have also found it is not as easy as you would think to wipe your butt in the dark.
All in all, it is like a slightly cleaner India. The people look worn out from the weather and they seem to have very light schedules. They eat breakfast at noon, lunch around 6pm and dinner around midnight. Lots of grease in the food which does not bode well for my stomach. The temperature seems to hover around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, back to my story: I meet Uncle at his house. He enjoys a conversation. We eat quickly and head over to meet the judge. It is probably about 110 degrees today and I’m in a full suit. The judicial area is surprising. It reminds me of Alcatraz or a Turkish prison. These tiny little brick enclaves like jail cells that are apparently offices for lawyers, assistants, etc. with a small fan so it is easily 120 or so degrees in these little cells. I see cheap construction paper all over the place and basic typewriters with an occasional computer sprinkled in. Eventually we walk into a room where about 10 people are sitting around chatting. Turns out the judge is in trial and won’t be back for a couple hours. We talk to the judge below him who had also met my wife. Fortunately, he is fluent in English. He mentioned that he was glad I came because it shows we are serious. It didn’t help that the office we were in was at least 120 degrees with 2 fans and no AC and power outages every 30 minutes or so for about 15 minutes. Fortunately, we left soon and headed over to Uncle’s doctors office for him to do some work until they called us upon the judge’s return.
His pathology lab was hot but not as hot as the judge’s chamber. I saw people carrying chemicals in their bare hands. He brought me a drink to cool off. I had been accepting drinks all day without asking if it was tap water. I am already as wet as if I had played basketball for 3 hours and I’m wearing a suit so a little diarrhea can only add to my party. He apparently wrote a book on Immunology so he had an employee get a copy from a local store and I started reading some for an hour. No signs of diarrhea yet.
So, at 2:30pm we get a call that the judge is back in his chambers. We get back over there in 5 minutes. He is finishing up some other business and had us take a seat right next to him. When he finished, he asks Uncle to explain so he gets up and explains. I also get up and he asks me to take a seat. I figure that does not bode well. After Uncle’s explanation, he explains that he has to look after the welfare of the child and that is why he put in those conditions. I am not sure what to say. I only tell him I understand what he is saying but my hands are tied and that the US embassy specified the removal of these 3 clauses and without their removal, Jamal will not be issued a visa. He asks to think about it for a few minutes and says to file a petition and he’ll do something tomorrow and to come to his office in the morning. So, off we go to this tiny little Turkish prison cave with no power where I meet my Pakistani side attorney who writes a petition.
I have no idea what the judge is going to do. Tannu emails the judge from the US. I eat dinner, (their lunch) play with Jamal for a little while, study for a while then we go out to eat: me, their nephew, aunty, uncle. I just have soup having already eaten too much all day. Uncle wants to eat a big meal but you can tell he feels pressured to eat light because I ordered soup. So, he settles on French fries and takes some chicken to go.