“Oh shit” RUN!!!! I hear my two friends say as we stand midst a joyous crowd of thousands of dancing, singing, honking and smiling people. I am short in a crowd, actually I am short even not in a crowd. However, regardless of my vertically challenged position, I cannot see that the riot police have just pulled a AK-47 on the crowd. As the crowd turns toward me with childlike playful smiles, the seas of running Pakistani men engulf me like a bore tide on a full moon.
Where I come from, it is what you call a stampede. I get separated from my friends and after running 100 feet like the lunatics among me, I find myself beached to a standstill, amongst the crowd, giggling, thinking WTF am I doing? After all, doesn’t every travel advisor on the planet right now warn against non essential travel to Pakistan and issues a strict warning to avoid all public gatherings, especially of the nationalistic kind. But this is so much fun and the crowds of folks are so happy to see foreigners that we are welcomed as guests by drum circles and dancing. It is hard to say it is unsafe and much easier to say it is the best party I have been too in quite some time.
As I look up amongst the shoulders and backs I see a riot policeman high on a horse laughing at me as I stand alone giggling in the mess of happy crazed people. He motions me towards him and from his horse tall view can see my friends and reunites me with my two crowd loving friends, an Ozzie woman who is a English teacher in China and British hitchhiker from Oxford University. Amidst the parting of the rioting sea of lunatics, we were scattered in opposite directions.
We are two wooden barricades, and only ¼ kilometer from the Independence Day Celebration at the Pakistan/India border at Wagagh. However, thousands of people and a general atmosphere of compete joyful insanity quickly ends our scurry to go see whatever is up ahead. For, the journey had clearly replaced the destination, on this Independence Day celebrating Pakistan’s separation from India, for 3 travelers from across the globe.
(all photos in this post are courtesy of Lune Staar, Ozzie woman who is a English teacher in China)