A Young Man’s Strange Erotic Journey Around the Globe
Wagah Border to Lahore
A wall at the Wagah border crossing between India and Pakistan, manned at the top by an armed guard. The floating head to the right of that basic map of the country is a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan. Next to him is Minar-e-Pakistan which translates, easily enough, to Tower of Pakistan. According to Wikipedia, “The tower was constructed during the 1960s on the site where the All-India Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution on 23 March 1940 – the first official call for a separate and independent homeland for the Muslims of British India, as espoused by the two-nation theory.” And of course, to the left of the map is the flag of Pakistan. The green is meant to symbolize Islam and the white stripe on the left represents religious minorities. The crescent is a symbol of progress and the star a symbol of knowledge and light.
A closer look at the map from the wall in the photo previous. On the right side of the map just east of the dot representing Lahore in the province of Punjab is where the Wagah border crossing is located. In late April of 2017, after visiting Oman and doing The Rickshaw Run in India, it was my intention to ride my bicycle from Amritsar in the Indian state of Punjab following the yellow line I’d drawn on the map through Pakistan up into the old Silk Road town of Kashgar in the Xinjiang Province of China.
Before doing The Rickshaw Run with a couple high school buddies of mine, I flew into New Delhi with my bicycle and paid the manager of a hotel to keep it in the storage room and look after it for a month while we did our thing. I eventually returned and reclaimed my disassembled, boxed-up bike and took it with me on a train to Amritsar in the north where I planned on spending three days putting it back together and mentally preparing myself to compete with the madness of South Asian traffic while on two wheels. The reassembly of the bike went swimmingly but, much to my dismay, I became violently ill in Amritsar and, despite getting some meds from a pharmacy, never recovered. Being the stubborn motherfucker I am, I wasn’t about to let some mystery stomach ailment ruin my trip for me and departed as planned. Pictured here atop some wild growing weed plants is one of the hundreds of bright yellow diarrheas I took on the side of the road while forcing myself along in the 100+ degree heat typical of the Pujabi plains in late April/early May.
The gates that divide the two enemy nations that had been one until Pakistan officially broke away on August 14, 1947.
On my first day of cycling, in hope of beating the heat on the 30 or so mile ride to Lahore, I left Amritsar pretty early in the morning and ended up getting to the border crossing a couple hours before it officially opened. With nothing better to do, I found a cafe where some truck drivers had been hanging out and posted up at a table whereupon I bought a liter of water, pulled out a book, set this bookmark on the table and began to read. On the left of the photos on this bookmark is yours truly and on the right is my drunken mess of a friend Mike enjoying the shit out of his bachelor party. So, as the story goes, after a few minutes of sitting at that table, about five guys had gathered near me and had been touching my bike and my panniers without my permission. It was pretty annoying but seeing that they were curious, uncultivated village folk and their intentions hadn’t been to steal or damage my shit, I just let it go and kept reading. A couple minutes later, one of the guys came up to me and tried his hand at striking up a convo. His English was pretty shitty but we were able to get a few basic ideas across. A minute or two in, just as I figured we’d pretty much expended all the conversation topics the language barrier would allow, he picked the bookmark up off the table and said, “Oh! Very beautiful wife!” And I replied, “That’s not my wife. That’s my drunken friend at his bachelor party. We were just fucking around.” He, having no idea what I just said, stared at me blankly. I tried again. “That not wife. Wife no.” He got it that time. “Oh, lady not wife?” “No,” I said, “that’s not my wife and that’s not a lady.” Again with the blank stare. “That,” I pointed to my friend’s face, “is a man. A man. His name is Mike. He’s a man.” The guy understood and looked at me like I was some kind of freak. He started laughing and, with the bookmark in hand, scampered over to his friends who all subsequently took turns passing it around and laughing their asses off at the expense of my alleged gayness.
Heading into Pakistan after the gates between the two countries had opened at 10am
A look back towards the bleachers on Indian side where nationalists and tourists alike gather every evening to watch the lowering of the flags ceremony – an event which I’d be attending on the Pakistani side later that day
I can’t tell if that one guy is floating or if he’s a giant or both or what the artist’s intention was here
The Grand Trunk Road is one of the oldest thoroughfares on the subcontinent and stretches from Bangladesh in the east to Kabul, Afghanistan, in the west. I planned on taking the Grand Trunk Road from Amritsar in India to Peshawar in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province before turning north and heading towards Chitral. Shortly after crossing the border, these guys were the first I’d encountered on GT Road. As I’d been riding past their pharmacy, they flagged me down and invited me in and gave me a cold drink out the fridge and snacks off the shelf for free and said, “Welcome to Pakistan.” They even let me diarrhea in their bathroom. How’s that for hospitality?
Quarter brick, half a brick, whole brick ayyyyyyy
As I made my way along this stretch of GT Road eating thick black clouds of exhaust, this guy had been driving next to me trying to get my attention so he could take photos of me out his car window. He then proceeded to cut me off and slam on the brakes forcing me to swerve off the side of the road before jumping out the car and running up to me as if he was about to attack me. “You take a photo! Take a photo of me and my boy!”
Outskirts of Lahore
Wagah Border Ceremony
After I’d dropped my bike off and got settled into a hostel in Lahore, along with a couple other travelers – from Italy and China, respectively – I took a taxi back to Wagah border to observe the famous flag-lowering ceremony
A look towards the now-full bleachers on the Indian side of the border. The lowering of the flags at Wagah has been jointly carried out by India and Pakistan since 1959.
The comparatively humble bleachers on the Pakistani side
It is the duty of a paramilitary law enforcement agency known as the Pakistan Rangers to secure the international border with India during both times of peace and times of war. Their counterparts on the other side of the gate are known as the Indian Border Security Force.
Prior to the start of the ceremony, a military family posing for a photo in front of the gates
Before the actual ceremony itself begins, impassioned, angry-sounding Pakistani music is blasted at an eardrum-rupturing volume while these dudes do their best to get the crowd pumped up
A close-up of the gents. The guy on the left had such massive pit stains because…
…he’d spent the last ten minutes spinning around on his one leg like a top, brandishing the flag of the country he holds dear. It was making me dizzy just watching him.
And then there was this guy. Espousing the theatrical presence of The Undertaker during his introduction on Monday Night Raw, there was at the same time something very Chris Farleyesque about this guy and his mannerisms. The way he’d throw his hefty torso around in front of the spectators as if he was telling us how he lives in a van down by the river gave me the impression he was gonna end the performance by crashing belly-first through a coffee table.
The main event. This had to be one of the most bizarre things I’d ever seen. Coming off as some sort of high-stakes international dance-off, grown men sporting the formal military attire of their respective nations – two countries that are sworn enemies, both in possession of enough nuclear weapons to wipe the other off the map – aggressively march towards one another until they meet at the border line whereupon they do high kicks and stamp their feet in what appears to be perfectly coordinated mirror movements of the guy on the other side.
At the very end of the ostentatious showdown. one guy from each side reaches across the line and shakes the hand of the other as the flags are simultaneously lowered and the gates are closed until 10am the following morning.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his – let Billy Idol tell it – “eyes without a face”
Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan
Taco! Burrito! What’s that comin’ outta your speedo?
Your typical Punjabi rickshaw
A rickshaw backed by John Cena
Some kids that just came up and stared at me when I pulled over to take a water break on my two-wheeled arrival into the city
Guys behind the children in the photo previous
The poster of a Lollywood musical from the 1980s sent to me by my buddy Bilal. According to the script, Hitler escaped Nazi Germany and started a new family somewhere in the Pakistani province of Punjab where he had an evil son that terrorized villagers and robbed businessmen. The film also suggests that Hitler was secretly responsible for dropping nukes on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. If anyone out there has this film on DVD with English subtitles, please send it my way.
I’ll drop a jazz load…
…all over your cum lunch buffet.
A handlebar bell that I picked up at the bazaar
Sign hung above the entrance to a Sufi mosque. Sufism is sometimes described as “mysticism within the realm of Islam.” And to take things a step further, mysticism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience”
Inside the roofless place of worship where certain congregants had been smoking hashish
The two-sided drum played by these guys is known as a dhol. The guy on the left is named Mithu Sain and is a celebrity in the world of Sufi dhol playing. Since we were white and stood out in the crowd here, we (a French Canadian couple and I) were invited by Mithu Sain as personal guests to a private party at which they’d be performing in some Punjabi mansion later that evening. Since it was a private party, we were not allowed to take photos or video. And that’s a real shame because, although the drumming had been just as intense and had just as much potential to bring a mystic to the elusive state of spiritual ecstasy which they so ardently seek, the crowd at the venue pictured here had been quite tame compared to that at the party. Within the confines of the home belonging to some well-to-do Pakistani family, when they could feel the spirits calling them, men and women alike would push their way to the front of the crowd where they would stand before Mithu Sain and his two cohorts and begin fervently shaking they bodies and their heads to the beat of the drums. The movements would get so intense that the shakers would have spotters standing behind them to catch their bodies when their eyes eventually rolled into the back of their heads and they’d lose consciousness from the violence of their own agitations.
Apologies for the poor quality of this still shot from a Snapchat video I took at the mosque. What’s shown here is a Muslim woman with a stack of cash in her hand, throwing bill after bill, making it rain on the woman who’d been sitting next to me on the floor. Having never seen this done outside the context of a rap video, you can imagine how excited I was for this unexpected treat at the most unlikely of places. Although the people at the mosque only made it rain a handful of times quite likely due to their below average socioeconomic standing, it was nothing less than thunderstorming at the after-party. The matriarch of the mansion, a beautiful Punjabi woman in her mid-30s, had access to a seemingly unlimited source of rupees which she’d spent the night sprinkling on vigorously shaking kinfolk as well as Mithu Sain and the other two drummers who, as I was told, get to keep all the money on the floor at the end of the event.
Lahore to Islamabad
The day after the Sufi event, I was back on the bike. Pictured here is some shanty town along the Ravi River just outside Lahore
Sweet ride, bro
Note to self: Don’t end up like that guy
Me with some dudes at a convenient store I popped into. Like the guys at the pharmacy on my first day of riding, in a show of Pakistani hospitality, these fellas wouldn’t let me pay for anything and wouldn’t let me leave until I’d had my fill of drinks and snacks.
Some kids standing in front of a pile of rubble that used to be their school. Just kidding, I don’t know where their school is.
These dudes rode alongside me for several miles, trying to have a conversation over the sound of their motorcycles which would be quite difficult in and of itself, but adding to that their strong accents and poor command of the English language, the dialogue just wasn’t getting anywhere until I decided to pull over and chat with them during a water break.
On the left is Atiq and on the right is Naveed, a Christian. On the second or third afternoon of riding towards Islamabad, my leaky asshole was getting the best of me and I pulled into the hotel where these guys worked, hoping to get a room for the night where I could rehydrate, rest and recover. Much to my disappointment, there’d been a “no foreigners” policy at that hotel (and many others along the way as well) and they were unable to give me what I so badly longed for. Nevertheless, they could see how shitty I was doing and gave me a big lunch, a bottle of water, a bundle of bananas and allowed me to take a nap down in the employee lounge in the basement. When I awoke the sun was setting and, to help me out, Naveed told me he’d contacted the owner of a different hotel down the road that would, although not legally, accept foreigners. So I rode on over there and walked into the tight little smoke-filled lobby where the fat chain-smoking owner sat in shalwar-kameez. I forget his name, but he spoke perfect English with a strong New York accent through which he informed me that he’d driven a cab there for almost twenty years. And his buddy sitting next to him, a big tall bearded burly dude, chimed in with a much less American-sounding English, “And I used to work for Trump. For many years I was the manager of security at his casino in New Jersey.”
The security guards who kept an eye on my bike while I napped at the hotel where Naveed and Atiq work
Beggar in the middle of the highway I encountered on what turned out to be my last day on the bicycle. I offered him some rupees in exchange for a photograph and…
…when this woman saw, she came hobbling over from the side of the road sticking her hands out as if to say, “Where’s MY money?” I offered her the same deal.
Here they are together, the woman having never put her aggressive begging hand down.
Pakistani truck drivers spend a lot of what they make pimping out their rides with colorful paint jobs and accessories
Don’t know what this building is but thought it looked cool as I rode past it, so here ya go
Beekeeper whom I snuck up on and took by surprise
After he noticed me, he gestured me over to one of the hives. Using the smoker to calm the bees, he stooped down and…
…pulled out one of these frames to show me.
Here’s where it was decided that my bike ride was officially over. With the midday temperature reaching up around 105 degrees and at least ten diarrheas dropped on the side of the road, I felt like I was gonna die. Seeking respite from the sun, I pulled into this abandoned gas station, went straight towards the pumps, laid down on that cardboard box there and passed out. I didn’t know that the abandoned gas station had served as someone’s home and that the box I was laying on had been someone else’s bed, but after a while the two old men and the boy pictured here emerged from the Pic N Sav with the broken windows in the background and brought over two chairs and a two-liter of pop they wanted to share with me. Although I felt temporarily comfortable in the presence of others, I knew I sooner or later was gonna hafta get to a hospital. After an hour-long break, I got back on the bike and rode to the nearest toll booth where I found an English-speaking soldier whom I asked to help me find a spot on a bus to Islamabad.
The transit van on the far right of the photo was the vehicle I ended up in. My bicycle was strapped to the roof and I climbed into the back hatch, over the back seat and squeezed in between a man on my left and a family of four on my right whereupon I clenched my butt cheeks together as tightly as I could, trying not to diarrhea on everyone around me. About halfway to Islamabad, as we were entering some town I don’t know the name of, the guy in the front passenger seat (the guy in charge of collecting everyone’s money) made an announcement that pissed all the passengers off. The guy to my left happened to be an educated businessman and I turned to ask him why everyone in the van had started yelling. He said, “They say they will not take us to Islamabad like they promised. They are going to leave us in this town and we’ll have to take a different bus the rest of the way.” So we pull over in this town and things just keep escalating between the money collection guy and the indignant passengers until a handful of ’em had had enough and started shoving him around and hitting him. While this was going on, I gathered my belongings from the van and hopped into a full-sized bus that took me the rest of the way to the capital city.
Islamabad Capital Territory
1USD ≈ 105 rupees
Although I spent a week in Islamabad, I didn’t do anything but lay in bed, go to the hospital, go to the pharmacy and lay in bed some more. And the worst thing is that none of the antibiotics they gave me – both intravenously at the hospital as well as the ones in pill form afterwards – could stop my mysteriously spouting asshole. Here’s a poster I saw on the wall while on a block-long walk from my hotel to the pharmacy.
Yep, that’s an old picture of Britney Spears on that there skin whitening product
Taste the ‘stache
She was cute…
…but instead of inviting her over for real I just self-sabotaged with insensitive immature motherfuckery like I always do. But, unless she had a diarrhea fetish, it was for the best because she undoubtedly would’ve had a crappy time. Literally.
While I was in Islamabad, I hired a driver to take me on an 8-day trip up into to Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkwa province along the Afghan border, figuring that that would be enough time for the medicine to do it’s thing and I could get back on the bike afterwards and continue on along the Karakoram Highway and up into China as planned. But as I mentioned, the medicine I was given didn’t end up working out for me and I didn’t get better until eventually cancelling the rest of my trip, returning to Chicago and taking a 10-day course of Metronidazole at the recommendation of my pharmacist friend April who had some left over from a recent trip she’d gone on. Nevertheless, seen here is the Swat River. Hard to make out, but those dots in the water are people trying to wade across it with their horses.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is home to more than 30 million Pashtuns. Since the third century, another word to describe this group of people has been the Persian word “Afghan.” A recent estimate suggests that of the 33 million people in Afghanistan, only about 38% are ethnically Afghan. So, oddly enough, there are more “Afghans” living in Pakistan than in the country that was named after them.
In addition to advertising their sale of diesel and petrol, a lot of gas stations in Pakistan also had mosques in ’em for worshipers on the go
Am I a total gay-ass or…
…does the writing on this sign look exactly like a penis?
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, or KPK as it’s abbreviated, there were military checkpoints out the ass. During my week or so in the area, I had to resister with the police and give them copies of my passport at least 30 different times. Here’s a group of hard-looking men I saw in the back of a truck while registering at my first checkpoint of the trip.
Leaving the flat land behind and starting to enter some rugged mountain terrain
The serene landscapes of Swat are misleading. Within the last decade, this beautiful valley has seen many a bloody battle between the Pakistani government and Taliban insurgents who wished to impose Sharia Law on the population.
Swat Valley had once upon a time been referred to as “the Switzerland of the east” by Queen Elizabeth II. In spite of the abounding natural splendor of the region, tourism never took off due to political instability. The empty shells of now defunct resorts scattered all around KPK serve as a wistful reminder of what could’ve been.
I love how this guy keeps one token black sheep so he can claim to be an equal opportunity shepherd
To go deeper and deeper into Swat Valley, all you gotta do is head north along the banks of the mighty Swat River. Much of the area along the river was destroyed during the floods of 2010 that caused an estimated $43 billion worth of damages nationwide.
Because winters in Swat are especially brutal, many families pack up all their shit and migrate south to pass the season in the more temperate climates of Punjab or Balochistan, returning in May once the majority of the snow has melted away.
Livestock in the back, kids and grandma up top. Driving behind these top-heavy trucks on poor-quality mountain roads and watching them tilt from one side to the other on the verge of falling over made me sick with anxiety.
A man being transported across the Swat River in a basket suspended from cables
The dudes running the cable basket transport system who wanted absolutely nothing to do with me
Shepherds tending to their flock
Couple more dudes just sitting around watching their animals eat grass all day
The Pashtun people live a traditional lifestyle following an unwritten code of ethics known as the Pashtunwali that guides both individual and communal conduct. The main principles of the Pashtunwali are outlined as hospitality, forgiveness/asylum, justice/revenge, bravery, loyalty, righteousness, faith, respect/pride/courage, protection of women, honor and protection of Pashtun land.
Although under the federal jurisdiction of Pakistan, the law tends to take a back seat in these remote mountain areas where the Pashtunwali reigns supreme. Any grievances between individuals or blood feuds that have spanned generations are not brought before the Pakistani police and settled in a court of law which could take months or years, but are instead brought before tribal elders and speedily settled among a traditional decision-making assembly known as a “jirga.” Jirgas can and often do sentence people – mainly women who have brought shame on their families for decisions made regarding love and marriage – to death for not adhering to the Pashtunwali. If you care to read more about jirgas and honor killings, here’s a link to a news story covering one of the most controversial incidents in recent years… https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-pakistan-five-girls-were-killed-for-having-fun-then-the-story-took-an-even-darker-twist/2016/12/16/f2adbd5e-c13a-11e6-92e8-c07f4f671da4_story.html?utm_term=.7bab78f60cf3
A Pashtun-style car wash in a town where I saw a jirga taking place later that afternoon when we were driving past. Everyone in the community had been sitting in a large circle along the river perhaps, I don’t know, deciding whether or not some young couple who married for love deserves to be stoned to death.
Rumor has it that legendary musician Bob Dylan wrote the lyrics to “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” after sitting in on a tribal jirga in KPK circa 1966
Many long distance truck drivers in Pakistan ride with an assistant. Here, the assistant has gotten out of the heavily decorated truck to clear the road of fallen rocks as he guides the driver past our vehicle on the narrow mountain pathway. My driver, Tanveer, informed me that handsome young boys are usually chosen to be the driver’s assistants because when they aren’t behind the wheel, drivers like to have fun up top where there’s a bed in that blue structure above the driver and passenger seats.
While we’re on the subject of “having fun” which had been his euphemism of choice, my driver Tanveer had also informed me that Pashtun men like to have fun with little boys. Because rural Pashtun culture remains heavily male-dominated and misogynistic due to its deeply-ingrained Islamic values, boys have become the objects of desire for many a Pashtun man. The practice is known as “bacha bazi” and among the perpetrators is not seen as something wrong or homosexual – which is considered a great offense in traditional Islamic societies – but as something that is more virtuous than defiling a woman. As the saying there goes, “Women are for child bearing, boys are for pleasure.” And so they don’t file some sort of jirga lawsuit against me for libel, it should be noted that just because I’ve selected their photo to illustrate the “type” perpetrating all this kiddie diddling in Pashtunistan, I am in no way indicating that Afghan Kenny Rogers or the beardo on the left have partaken in any known acts of pedophilia.
From the side
I thought these two mountains and the snow between them kinda looked like the underside of someone’s buttcheeks who’s wearing a white thong. Am I right or am I right?
Place where we parked the jeep to go for a little hike. Notice the primitive stone and log cabin huts on the right side of the photo there
Think I saw that house on MTV Cribs
The two Pashtun guys shown here prancing through the field of flowers in this Sound of Music-esque setting are local guides. We’d picked them up back in the same town where I saw the “car wash” and the jirga take place. They didn’t speak English and had bad B.O. but my driver hired them to lead us on this hike.
The flowers giving that field its lovely pink shade
Guides up close
Man I saw while hiking who ended up living in the stone houses next to where we’d parked
I was told by my driver not to take photos of Pashtun women because it could cause them dishonor and could get me in a bunch of trouble. So, this discreet long-distance shot is the best I could do. Here are some local women carrying the wood they’d gathered back to the small stone houses.
Me, relaxing on a bridge
Glad I didn’t fall. That water was so fucking cold.
As we moved deeper into the valley, the younger of the two guides had been casually walking along when he instinctively – with the speed and accuracy of The Sundance Kid – cocked back and fired a stone at something I didn’t even see on some rocks 50 feet away. He turned to me and pointed, indicating I go look. Where the stone had just hit was this smashed-ass amphibian writhing its last moments away. The guy then asked my driver something in Urdu before turning back to me once again. “Poison,” he said. “Poison.”
Taking a rest at the furthest point in the valley to which we’d ventured
Heading back out the same way we came in
Guy in the middle getting ready to throw a stone at the car
Rocky-ass cricket pitch
Swat to Chitral via Lowari Pass
Many cars with NCP (Non-Custom Paid) plates are smuggled across the border from Afghanistan and sold for much cheaper than the same makes and models would be sold for straight out the showroom in Pakistan. Not sure if this is the case every time or just on rare occasions, but my driver told me that before being brought over the border, these cars are completely disassembled and put on the backs of camels and carried through the mountains into the tribal areas of Pakistan where they’re rebuilt and sold. I’m not sure exactly which authoritative entity dishes out these plates or why given that the cars they’re being put on are illegal, but earlier this year the government made a real effort to register all these NCP cars in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because they’d often been used in terrorist attacks, leaving no one to be held accountable.
Making our way through Lower Dir District en route to Chitral
Think I’d get funny looks if I imported one of these decked out trucks and started driving it around Chicago?
Saw this sticker on quite a few cars
Upper Dir District
Wooden hillside homes typical of Upper Dir
That’s a really funny way to sit on a vehicle while driving through the mountains. I imagine that driver hitting a big bump and that guy being thrown off the front onto the ground and then subsequently ran over as the driver just kinda shrugs about it and continues on his way
Yes, waterfalls ARE part of the road
A new bridge being built just before Lowari Pass so drivers would no longer have to traverse the waterfall in the photo previous
Just watching this guy trudge through that snow with his bike in mid-May made me kind of thankful that I’d gotten sick and had been unable to carry on with my original plan of bicycling this ridiculous road
Would you sit on top of a van while going over…
Lowari Pass divides Upper Dir District and Chitral
Crappy photo of a man taking an ax to the snow/ice, loading the chunks into his truck and bringing ’em down to nearby towns to sell
From Chitral town, the capital of the Chitral District, it was about a two-hour ride – mostly on an unpaved one-lane mountain road – to the Kalash Valleys. The Kalash Valleys are home to the non-Muslim Kalash people, the smallest religious and ethnic minority in Pakistan. Every May, for a handful of days, a spring festival takes place in these valleys where all the Kalash people dress up and dance and it was my intention to bear witness to these festivities.
After making the trek there and having been stopped and questioned at three different security checkpoints along the way, I got to the final barricade just outside the festival and there was denied entry. I was told that it was too dangerous for me to be there without first having registered with the police in Chitral and letting them know I was going to be visiting the festival. So for my safety, they told me I’d have to make the two-hour drive back to Chitral on that same narrow shitty winding road, scribble my name in a book at the police station and then make the journey again. Here’s a photo of my driver Tanveer trying to let these men know how backwards their logic is.
Convenient store we were parked next to when Tanveer had been bickering with the police.
At least I got to see some of the spring festival garb before heading back to Chitral
Since I was too pissed off about getting denied from the festival to wanna go all the way back there, around sunset my driver and I went to go see if we could spot an animal native to the region known as markhor descending from the mountains to drink from the river
This guy too had been camped out waiting with his binoculars
As prophesized, the markhor did make their descent
Passing through a nondescript Chitrali town as we begin our journey back to Islamabad
Same deal, different pic
“I’m telling you bros, we really should make our own Pashtun version of Lemon Party!”
You guys, like, ya know, ever get bored sometimes hanging out in the mountains all day with a bunch of sheep, without books or the internet or anything to keep your mind occupied?
The first time I ever saw this pissing position that men in South Asia get into before letting ‘er rip had been in Bangladesh back in February of 2013. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be discreet or if it’s a more humble way of pissing in public than doing it standing up, but I think it is so god damn stupid. And everybody does it! I just don’t get it.
Everyone knows what you guys are doing!
Here we are beginning the climb back up Lowari Pass. The road was steep and slippery. Everybody got stuck.
In the back of the photo, you can see the side of Tanveer’s little gray sedan peeking out behind that white truck. We were stuck for about half an hour. Tanveer would be in the car flooring it and I’d be behind pushing it as his spinning tires shot gravel back at scary high speeds. I was just hoping that none of it would hit my shins. As it turns out, I was not man enough to provide the automobile the push it needed to get us up over this very treacherous stretch of the pass. It wasn’t until three other guys who’d been stuck and standing there saw me struggling and came over to help me push that the car had gotten enough momentum to make it up that first switchback, the top of which I ran to chasing after Tanveer’s car, feeling diarrhea bouncing in my belly every step of the way.
Pashtun men like squatting in the snow and eating watermelon
Back into Upper Dir
It was really strange for me to see these girls’ faces, because…
…a lot of the women in the area looked like this.
Right on! You go, girls! Keep that honorability intact! Booyah!