Tuesday, October 31, 2006

gunshot vodka, part 2

Got the hell out of Multan as early as possible.

Decided the South wasn't for me and worked my way North to Gilgit.

I lost track of the time after the 30th hour of my ass-bones rubbing against the metal rod in my seat.

But once I arrived, wow. Gilgit was/is Shangri-la. Absolutely stunning town and wonderful people.

Just a little restaurant that reminded me of Blade Runner for some reason.


I befriended some kid that would classify me as a pedophile. He ended up escorting me to my hotel. But then the fucker stood me up for our ComSat Internet date. But I forgot about him when dinner time came along. Small problem.

Just a little shoot-out directly outside our totally exposed restaurant. Needless to say everyone dropped to the floor and pulled out their concealed/smuggled weapons for a full-scale exchange of gun fire. Happened not once, but twice. (Of course we couldn't go out onto the street, that's why we were in the restaurant during the second incident) Surprised I didn't shit my pants. Things are starting to heat up with the bombing that killed 80 people in the town that I'm supposed to be going to in 2 weeks. Of course they're hypothesizing that the Americans are involved, if not DIRECTLY linked - so there's been some anti-America protests going on. And seeing that I'm in the province that's ruled by tribal law and not real law, I thought I may have to zip out of here sooner than I expected.

Earlier this day, I took pictures out of inner-city public transport system. Upon later inspection, I realized that every picture had military personnel in it. All the pieces are starting to come together.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

multan this!

Arrived in Multan. I still hate Multan.

But the people were nice and the tandoori chicken was devine. Until I hit a bone, I wasn't actually convinced it was chicken - tender-to-the-max.

While eating said tandoori chicken, a group of teenage-somethings came over and wanted to practice their English. Honestly, they had no idea what they were saying, so I took a picture of them to remember the retarded-ness of it all.

Then I met these dudes - both are policemen and married. I asked where their wives were and they said, "Oh, they are at home. They don't like to leave the house unless they're with us. They don't like going outside." Hmpf. The one on the right is alright though.

So I got a picture with him. Don't I look pretty?!


On my way home, two boys on a moped started following me. And then shouted, '"I'm not a terrorist, I'm just a student." Which was funny enough to make me stop and attempt a conversation with them. But actually, they couldn't speak English, but they wanted so badly to have a conversation that they spoke in Urdu very, very slowly hoping that somehow I'd magically understand. We stood there staring at each other for about 2 minutes in silence, then I left. I had
things to do, like follow the shit LP map back to my hotel.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

just grunt

I arrived in Bahawalapur at some un-Godly hour, slept at some flea-bag truckdriver hostel for more rupees than it was worth. But it was some place to crash and it had a screen on the window to keep the little malaria beasts way.

I woke up a few hours later and scavenged the market for something to eat. I found daal. And a man to feed it to me. Seriously, dude tried to spoon daal from his dirty hand into my mouth.


I then proceeded to Uch Sharif to visit the shrine of Bibi Jawindi. It was beautiful. But not nearly as beautiful as the man that walked me around to all the sights for two hours. Even though he was probably on a work-rehabilitation program, he was sweet. We communicated in grunts.

Friday, October 27, 2006

labor pains

Lonely Planet strikes again. It's officially official that the writers of what some people refer to as 'The Bible' don't actually travel the way their reader's do. My bus ride from Karachi to Bahawalapur wasn't the 11 hours that LP writes, but rather 18! Hello, that's a huge difference. And of course, I didn't find this out until hour 11. At least I got to sit in the front and was able to stretch my legs for a good portion of the journey. That is, when the locals weren't inch-ing their way to the front of the bus to take a sip of water from the communal glass.

a) glass on a moving vehicle = dangerous
b) communal drinking vessels = a recipe for the herp

There was this bizarro gurney-type thing located next to the driver. It resembled something in a Gyno office, but without the stirrups. I later found out it wasn't for pot-hole-induced labor, but rather for the assistant to sleep when he wasn't busy sucking on opium-laced tobacco.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

cover boy

I have so much to up-date about my last days in Syria:
- pervy taxi driver stroking is 300 year old dick and asking me if I lived alone
- a sit-down chat with my Syrian roommate about 'my thoughts on religion' and his full-fledged belief that the hoax in Germany (tree's grew into the arabic letters, reading - There is no god, but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger) wasn't actually a hoax
- the sit-down chat with my Syrian roommate that ended in him drawing a map of my path to hell
- a drunk, gay, British 20-year old telling me that I have one year to figure out my life or I'm just going to be one of those sad hippies

And my time in Beirut:
- hello, fierceness (minus the blown-up bridges and dead people)

And my time in Dubai:
- oh yeah, it was just me on the toilet for 9 hours until my flight left to Karachi. My plans for binging on Mexican and Maragaritas was foiled! Damn you spaghetti bolognese.

But now I'm in Pakistan. I've been here for a week now and I think I've travelled through all of the hell-holes on offer in the country. So, folks, I've checked out Southern Pakistan for all of us - you DO NOT need to go there. Just stick to the North.

I just endured a 32 hour bus ride up the Karakoram Highway - considered to be the 8th Wonder of the World. It's the 8th Wonder for me - I wonder how many people have jumped to their death on that road because of the severe ass-pain one must endure on the hardest seats on the bumpiest road for 32-fucking-hours. Anyway, I made it. I've decided to hike through the mountains for two weeks (pending weather conditions - I'm am here in the off-season, afterall) and work off the pain.

However, it was worth it because the North is like Shangri-la. Huge mountains, clean villages, and immaculate polo grounds. The annual competition starts tomorrow - I'll be the one in the Phillipe Starck glow-stick hat.

But America had to go and fuck things up for me yet again by bombing a madrassa in the province I'm in - and killing 80 students. They're protesting here ... and everywhere else. We'll see just how hot things get.

The people here are so nice - it's like the twilight zone. Women are so colorful with bangles up to their armpits and body decoration to the max. The men sport henna-ed hands, hair, eyeliner, and funky jewelled caps. I love it.

But I did have one bad experience the other night. Some douche of a rickshaw driver tried to charge me some exhorbitant price which I just wasn't willing to pay. Of course (and hindsight is 20-20) he parked me in a desolate spot for the purpose of holding onto both of my arms until I gave in. So what did I do? I mustered up as much Tina Turner (during the Ike years) as I could and screamed like a fucking banshee. It scared him, attracted people that I could use as shields, and I broke out of there like Whitney needing a crack-fix fast.

Friday, October 13, 2006

i smell hungry people

Like my last Ramadan experience, Syria has taken on the stench of starvation.

Let's elaborate. I spent last Ramadan with Laura (pictures of her dancing with Nubian barbacks can be seen below) in Jordan. Because of company policy and the fact that we were working on tourist visas, we had to bring Khalid - our token Egyptian - along with us. Seeing that Khalid is Muslim, he was fasting during our trip.

Laura and I weren't sure if it was Ramadan that was doing it, but we had to rename Khalid. Khalidtosis was more fitting.

Laura actually had the balls to ask him if brushing your teeth and gum-chewing were allowed during daylight hours. I about shit myself, not because she asked the question, but because both acts are indeed allowed.

I'm re-living Khalidtosis all over again in every conversation I have with a non-Christian Syrian. Everyone's breath stinks exactly the same - its like hot, stale bacteria. It's so potent I can almost touch it.

Therefore, I have an idea for a new product line - Ramadan Gum, Breath Spray, Mouthwash, and super-potent toothpaste. Of course, it will need the approval of some revered Islamic authority. But I figure if there are commercials on Syrian television of a doctor promoting the consumption of corn oil during every meal, then surely I can find some dude with a beard to help me with this project.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

i'm telling you, they are very 2007

My fabulous friend whom I met in Yemen during Round 1 of my studies has just arrived in Damascus. She'll be studying here for one year at the French Institute with Oxford.

I went out for dinner with her friends (and her) the other night. Needless to say, two years on the road has made me forget just how (I don't even have an adjective for this behavior) some people (younger than me, by the way) can be.

Dinner was at this fabulous old Damascene house. I was expecting it to be pricey, but at $1/appetizer it was actually quite a bargain AND delicious. No problem there.

But the conversation was completely mind-numbing. Let's re-inact a segment that I haven't repressed just yet:

Girl: Do you play chess?
Boy: Yes, I quite like it.
Girl: I quite like it, too. But I'm afraid my skills are abysmal (how do you even spell that?)
Boy: We should play.
Girl: Yes, we should. You're good, aren't you? I'd quite like to improve my skills.

Personally, chess can wait. I'd quite like to improve my hand-stand skills, being able to thread pasta through my nose and out of my mouth, and basically just 'working it'.

Was that for real? What happened to talking about body shots at the all-you-can-drink and Lindsey Lohan's knack for not wearing knickers?

Fortunately, I've found this German girl to discuss such hot topics with. Even though she corrects my Arabic all the time, we have fabulous discussions. However, since people are always listening in on foreign and domestic conversations, you can't actually say what you want. Let's re-inact the heated discussion we had on the bus yesterday:

Her: Well, are they in America?
Me: Most. But I don't think health insurance covers it anymore, so the numbers are going up.
Her: I wish health insurance would cover it in Germany, because sometimes it's just not pleasant.
Me: Well, I don't think it's the problem of having it or not, it's the fact that some people are just disgusting.
Her: I know. But it's nice when it's not there.
Me: Hmm.
Her: But sometimes it makes things easier.
Me: I know. Like. You know.

Monday, October 09, 2006

free winona

So I've been hanging out with Mr. Emirati semi-frequently. We're officially acquaintances and are pretty sure nothing is going to happen between us. Which is fine. Really, it is.

Instead of talking about his cancer-ridden mother and his addiction to coffee, cigarettes, and anti-depressants, I decided to delve into his love life the other night.

Basically - he's just a guy that fucks guys. And therefore not averse to giving the random hot beef injection to willing women. Whether or not bi-sexuality has been clinically-identified as an actual state of being . . . what the fuck?

Is this 1992?

Do I have an American Eagle flannel tied around my Levi 501s?

I'm not sure I can smell the wicked Ethiopian brew that Janeane Garafolo is clutching on her way back from munching carpet at Chasing Amy's house through this haze of Axe body cologne.

No, no. I can smell it now. It smells of Summer's Eve breath.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

you should start your own business

Even though the Egyptians would take home the gold in crotch-clawing, the Syrians are definitely dominating the category of 'Shitty-ass direction-giving'.

One thing I have a relatively good grasp on is directions in Arabic. This being said, when I ask someone where the bus to X is, I generally expect a detailed list of instructions. But no. What I get is

Me: Excuse me. Where is such and such?
Syrian: "[point], [grunt] over there".
Me: So would that be near, far, to the left, to the right?
Syrian: No, by that man
Me: So would that be by the man with the chest hair or the man with spray-painted-on jeans or that fat man?
Syrian: No, go to that corner over there
Me: Oh, now I see. You're really helpful. I think you should open your own tourist kiosk so that others can benefit from your fountain of wisdom, intelligence, and overall helpfulness.

It's fascinating, really.

I currently have a hideous growth on my neck - the result of a combo in-grown hair and skin infection. I'm swollen, red, and basically just a mess. It's hard being fierce when you look like a bloated alcoholic.

Since I live most of my life here in Damascus in my super poor area, wandering into the monied areas is always an eye-opening experience. Today I went to get coffee and baked goods in the Christian (ie. rich) area. The establishment was very modern, super fashionable 20-somethings, delicious American-style chocolate chip cookies, and a healthy dose of Mid-East sleeze.

Why do boys take out their camera phones, aim it in your face, and snap away? It's fine if you want to jerk off to it later, just have some common courtesy before acting like such a tool.