Pakistan 1976

The bearded stranger was not happy in the hotel room we shared close to the bazaar in Peshawar. In those days there were a lot of young travellers reaching Pakistan, stopping in Peshawar after the bus through the Khyber Pass. We met near the bus station and decided to save funds by finding a room to share; 4 rupees a night.  I went out on the first evening to do my business. After that I had work to do and didn’t go out much, while the stranger spent some time as a tourist, and more time waiting at the bus station to check whether his sister had managed to leave Kabul to join him.

He spent a lot of time wandering the Qissa Khawani Bazaar where they specialised in leather and copper – with a strong side-line in lizards. He enjoyed the old British cantonment, where the houses had gardens, and the imposing walls of the fort. The museum seemed to be a place to enjoy the air-conditioning rather than study the history of Buddhism in the area.

There was certainly no air-conditioning in our room: we dragged our beds out onto the roof. The room was very bare and basic, and right next to an open-air cinema. By the second night we could both sing along with the music which blared out, four times an evening, until close to midnight. 

Actually I don’t know whether his sister arrived, and that was why he moved out, or whether he moved to a different room. He certainly wasn’t happy with the cinema music, but did he really have reason to be unhappy with me? After buying on the first evening, I just spent most of my time hollowing out the soles of my trainers so I could hide my hash oil and smuggle it home to Italy.