New Year’s day walk to Chiltan Hill, Quetta – Ceri’s story. Diary entry 3 January. The people at the PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation have all been very nice and helpful to us. We go there every day, have tea and talk and generally disrupt the smooth flow of business, although i don’t think they’re rushed off their feet at any time.
Quetta isn’t really a massive tourist trap. In some ways that’s nice, in others not so good. We’re continually gawped at on the street, in cafes, anywhere we go virtually.
We ate some shami kebabs for lunch one day in a small stall in the bazaar and had plenty of people either pass by 2 or 3 times to look in again, or else stop altogether and outrightly stare. It can be quite disconcerting. Part of the trouble, I think, is that we break some societal rules. Many cafes for instance, have separate areas for men and women / families. In the Dawn Cafe, opposite the hotel, where we often go for tea, we go in together into the male domain, which causes heads to turn. Even buses and trains are segregated.
On Tuesday, Jan 1st we went to View Point on Chiltan Hill, and since it’s 4 or 5 miles off, had to go on the local bus. I had to ride in the front section which was curtained off for ladies, and Bob in the back. Giggling girls, peering out from under their veils and chattering hysterically when I smiled at them. The bus driver spent more time looking in his rear view mirror at me than he did watching the road, and went so far as to tap me on the knee and offer me a cigarette. There seems to be an idea among Pakistani men that Western women all smoke !
The ride was an interesting one, going through some very poor areas. People living in mud houses and hovels, yet some have new cars parked outside ! Even more amazing to me, tho’ on a different track, is how many people wear no socks, or indeed go barefoot in weather so cold as this [temp hovered between -3 and -11C during our stay in Quetta – BobC]. The chldren especially seem very scantily clad for the temperatures. Some haven’t even got a jumper on, or shoes, or any kind of warm wrapping. maybe it’s not so cold to them as it is to me. Hardy people.
To get from the bus stop, the last on the route, up to View point entailed walking uphill. A winding jeepable road went up but it was quicker to walk up the hillside. Hard work, tho’ and I quickly became breathless. Partly because the air was so cold to breathe. Once there, however, there was a wide view over Quetta and to the surrounding mountains. Out of the wind, the sun was really warm, but it was still pretty cold much of the time and we only stayed an hour or so up there before going back to get a bus – on which we had a free ride back to Jinnah Rd.
Ceri’s actual diary pages