I landed in Islamabad early this morning on the 13th of October, and at ease. This was the first time I flew into a different city in Pakistan, directly from the US, that I am not too familiar with, by myself, and without family to greet me. So granted, there were apprehensions coming in and apprehensions throughout the first day in Islamabad, but frequent travels allow one to adjust, and by midday today, despite on jet lag, the thrill of being in Pakistan again, especially in a different environment than usual, was evident.
It was a beautiful gorgeous first day in Islamabad. Wonderful to be back again to Pakistan’s Nation capital and to have the opportunity to be residing within the “Red Zone.” My driver happened to be from the same company I used last December when I visited Islamabad, and he was the same person who took me and my father on an adventure of a lifetime. I call him Majid Bhai. He was wonderful. He gets lost in the city sometimes and it took some time to find some places to purchase a phone SIM, but there is already a level of trust built there between me and majid bhai, and having a driver, as my father says, is another form of security. It is also very important to be patient, and relying on a local driver to take you places teaches you a lot of patience.
Everyone is very nice and hospitable to me and respectful. Regardless of my brown skin and traditional clothing, people know that I am not from around here. Some have already made fun of my Urdu.
There was definitely an immediate sense of familiarity with the city and the people. Islamabad is certainly much more livable than other places in Pakistan too. The familiarity was something I didn’t have when I came in December of 2017. This is perhaps why an exploratory assessment or pilot study is essential and always valuable. Even as I already had familiarity with my previous travels around Pakistan prior to the pilot trip, I now have a sense today and I will have more sense as the days continue, that the exploratory trip was essential, and needed, in order to make the adjustment period for this more in-depth assessment, easier. I also am happy to have “reunited with the Balti.” As I noted in this earlier post, the Balti was a symbol as well as a practical aspect of my immersion in Pakistan in my last pilot trip.
More to come in the coming days. I have a big meeting immediately after this weekend, Monday morning, so I hope to rest well and be ready to begin my exciting journey in Islamabad and the Naya Pakistan. It will interesting to absorb the changes first hand and in the field site as the new government takes shape, especially while I am immersing in the heart of it all.
“Compromise for your dream, but never compromise on your dream.” – Prime Minister Imran Khan