Lahore – Part 1

I stayed at the only hostel that seems to be recommended or frequented by backpackers. For the first day and a half, apart from wandering around did work on a journal article on coaching and sustainability. It was a good spot to work, being cool on the shady rooftop area, half-empty and quiet, wireless internet, and interesting food and markets nearby for when I needed to take a break.

Most people at this hostel seemed to be in a unhurried state, taking a break from some intense days of travel. Another thing in common was that almost everyone had laptops! I think 8 of the 13 or so other people at the hostel were carrying with an eee pcs, or some other small thing. Some were blogging, others were journalists, and I didn’t get the story on the rest. It seems this is something that is likely to be seen more and more frequently.

The food, even just outside the hostel door, was fantastic, fresh and cheap. However, I think any health benefits from the fruit salads, yoghurt, and vegetable dishes would have been completely eliminated by the toxic air I sucked in with every mouthful. Even in the middle of the day, visibility due to sever smog was measurable in the hundreds of metres, and not just in the city centre. At night, it was like driving through a bushfire or dense smog. This air pollution makes spitting very forgivable, for people have every right to want to cleanse their interiors of the wretched smoke. But I still won’t forgive the security guards INSIDE the Lahore museum spitting on the floor (even IF the smoke was as bad inside as out).

The museum was actually really good, though it was the first time I experienced dual pricing: locals are charged 2 rupees, tourists 200 (about $3.50 AUD). It was reasonable value with a variety of orgiastic Hindu gods, and stone, wooden and metal Buddhas getting me into the groove of Asia proper. It was also the beginning of an increased appreciation of the ‘great games’ that have dominated politics and history in this region, with many displays and paintings depicting the various wars over territory, including those fought against the English colonisers.

Staring at some of the images and weapons it struck me once again how really f*&!ing bad war is. I mean there is no way out off these situations except to decapitate someone else, or be sliced open and left to die by some other fellow who is similarly keen on killing you through some combination of religious conviction, thirst for freedom, fear of death or even just because it is what a man does. These images and ideas reverberated through my mind until they stuck on considering my own level of commitment to what I want to bring into the world / the difference I want to make. These people were fighting for freedom, identity, honour, food, land, and I am in a way a ‘sustainability warrior’, so ‘Am I willing to die for it?’…this question stayed with me for a few months, and I will write more about it later.

The displays at this museum also started to make more sense in relation to my reading of Herodutus and Ryszard Kapuscinski’s travels with him in describing the extent of these ancient empires of Greece, the Mughals etc. And, seeing the actual map of the route taken by Alexander the Great in the same museum, it really is mind-boggling to think of the territory covered and the size of the ambitions of these people to need to conquer and manage such a large territory of land!


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