The Millennium Trip – Letter #3

Salam all!

Phew! After passing through the literal, internet and alcohol deserts of Iran and Baluchistan, have finally arrived here, in Quetta, South Western Pakistan (map).

Ruins of Darius’ Palace
Persepolis, Southern Iran

The bus trip from Taftan, at the Irani border, to here is worthy of a

page on its own. Suffice to say that the 622km journey took 22 hours,

including 5 punctures, 10 Army check points at which the driver had to

bribe the relevant official – but only after he had searched the bus & stuck knives into various pieces of luggage to make his point. Leg-room fit for a midget, a family of five sitting in the two chairs next to mine, no water, no food, non-existent air con, shocks hors de combat and temperatures of up to 38.7°C!

Am traveling with a group of four others at the moment. After crossing the border we had the obligatory burning of robes and head-scarves. We had thought of dancing round the fire singing “Down with Khomeini” or something like that, but the heat got the better of us. And besides, we do like to pretend like we’re adults, even if we don’t have jobs

or houses to go back to.

Despite eating at recommended restaurants and drinking only bottled water – the latter in 2 litre bottles, sealed, purified and certified BACTERIA FREE – a few of us, myself included, have been suffering stomach cramps since arriving in Pakistan. So now we suspect that

we have been reading the label wrong all along and that really it is the water which costs 20 Rupees and the bacteria you get for free.

Two and a half weeks into my trip and I still haven’t had the guts to wash my bum with my left hand and water like you are supposed to with these Asian squat loos. So far I have been adopting a Bring-My-Own attitude with regards to loo paper, which is all well and good, but the problem is…well, one of them anyway (the other being cramp) is that there is nowhere to leave the loo paper when I have finished.

I don’t suppose it would matter much if these were shitty (sorry) loos-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden, but almost without exception they have been spotless, tiled, colour coordinated and scrupulously attended loos. With nowhere to leave your paper!

So, what I have been doing is waiting until I am about to leave a place, e.g. a bus station before going to the loo. Then, when I have finished the business, leaving the loo paper in a corner – all neatly folded with the crap on the inside, mind – and then making my exit as quickly as possible, hopefully boarding the bus before they start searching for the phantom loo-paper crapper, or worse, before someone comes trotting after me, loo paper in hand, shouting; “Hey Meester! Meester you forgot this!”

Bam Citadel
Bam, South Eastern Iran

Thanks for all the e-mails, everyone. Please, where ever possible, refrain from sending attachments, as we pay between US$5-10 per hour of Internet use and down-loading anything larger than a byte takes about…well, let’s just say it leaves us enough time for chai (Tea Captain, but not as we know it) and a chat about the cricket.

That’s all from me for now, I leave for Pindi on the train tomorrow. So far it looks like the Indian border is still open, even if only just.