Monday, February 21, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities

It took me an hour and a half of working round never-seen-before roads to get to Pindi for an appointment. "VVIP" movement diverted traffic to I-8 and from there to a no man's land that separates the two cities. I had always thought that there was a big blank patch between the two cities. My forced drive of today actually taught me that this is more psychological space than physical. The two cities are actually seamless and do (at least physically) count as one. However, as this would mean rewriting the Constitution, I think it is easier to let sleeping cities lie. Having said all of this, I never visit RWP unless work takes me there. I have no friends who live there, I am never invited to an event there and I have little motivation to go there. There are few (if any) places of historic or cultural interest. My die hard foodie friends take about kebabs in Shahi Mohalla. It will take more than a kebab to get me to drive out so far.

Back to psychological space and differences. I am sure that Pindi (together with Timbuctoo, Oslo and New Mexico) has many wonderful people. However, the usual run of the mill Pindi person I meet is as uninspiring as stewed pumpkin. This is not to say that Islamabad is bursting at the seams with interesting people. It is not. However, the distinction between Homo Islamabadicus and Homo Pindius is still apparent. In some respects RWP strikes me as the land time forgot. It's status is akin to an only child that has the full force of its parents' attention. Then along comes another child (an accident ? a test tube baby ? ) and attention is diverted.

If it were not for the army, Pindi would have ceased to remain a city- it would have been relegated to a town, if it is not one already. The army keeps the city running, paints the trees, has amazing traffic controls, runs the local hospital and some schools and generally infuses whatever passes for army "culture" into the city. There is, for example, an army museum in Pindi which houses the limousines driven by Presidents Ayub and Yahya. I discovered this quite by accident and ended up spending one of my most riveting moments in the city. The odd diversion apart I am as likely to spend more time in Pindi.

Except ofcourse if I discover Adonis in Pindi. In that case I will promptly revise my opinion. The depths of my shallowness remain uncharted!


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