As I venture fourth in a motorcycle rickshaw my headscarf flapping free in the chaos of the flooded Lahore streets, I am oddly bouncing away. Not due the absent shocks of the rickshaw or the fact that we are going about 90MPH zigzagging inches from every vehicle we approach but bouncing to the beat of the Beastie Boys screaming rap songs into my headphones. For some reason, I really enjoy listening to the Beastie Boys rapping on full volume while wearing a headscarf going ninety MPH in the back of a motorcycle rickshaw through the flooded streets of Lahore, Pakistan...who knew?
The monsoon has arrived since I arrived the first time in Lahore six days ago by bicycle. I return now by public transport with new visas in hand for Indian, Pakistan and Iran. The streets are full of floating debris, sewer run off and knee deep fresh monsoon rain puddles. The driver is barefoot due to the fact that he has been walking around in knee deep street phlegm for most of the afternoon.
The sun is setting ending another day of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. The people on the streets are finally indulging in the day’s first water and fresh fruit. Goats nibble freely from topless tables that have been fashioned into eating troughs. Food is being prepared as people huddle together in the last drop of the day’s sunshine to eat, adding urgency to the thick smell of urbanization.
As I wiz by, the chaos of this alluring Asian city unfolds before me. The noise of it all deafened by my new friends the Beasty Boys, an appropriate musical choice for a country so visually heavy on the testosterone side of life. Women too often at home behind closed curtains or seen faceless in public bundled in layers of secretive fabric, leaving the men to an overwhelming majority out on the streets.
The sight of the traditional mans dress, the salwar kameez in a haze of pastel colors dart by me as we venture alley after alley in search of my guest house. Often in the midst of a flooded out street we come across men embracing. Hand intermingled with hand crossing puddles, a familiar display of affection not to be misconstrued as romantic and is commonly seen in Asia as a gesture of friendship between men. Interestingly enough, a similar affectionate holding of hands can be seen between star crossed mixed couples in the west.
As the screaming, rapping, Beastie Boys come to a end I can hear the siren echoing throughout the streets and the loud speakers of nearby mosques singing the day’s final prayer. It is the official end of the days fast. We pull up to the alley Guest House; I straighten my headscarf, and thank my rickshaw driver for a fine speedy delivery amongst the chaotic streets of Lahore. I dart inside to find some electricity to recharge my headset so the Beasties, my headscarf and I will be ready to set off by bicycle for Kashmir and the Indian Himalaya the day after next.