Monday, November 22, 2004

Roadtrip Reminesces

Just returned from a whirlwind weekend at Hemlock's house in Lahore. As usual she was a wonderful hostess inspite of her crazy class schedual at Uni. She catered to our every whim, drove us around town, feted and entertained us. We met several bloggers there and had a great time. But let's back up this happy scene to the beginning of our trip.

Saturday afternoon, we were about 1 1/2 hours late starting out. This was the first road trip in our new-used Replacment Car. We had just hit the motorway and had hoped to make up for lost time, but RC (replacement car) had other plans. RC started to shake and shimmy when we hit 100 kpm.
We had to do the entire trip at a leisurely 99 kpm or it felt like a jet awaiting take off, engines revving, body shaking, going nowhere fast. We were passed by busses and trucks and once, even by one of those 25 year old black taxis that have been battered and bashed so much that their bodies are all lumpy. We call them, "body-by-Bondo." Bondo is the putty you use to fix car body dents and dings. How embarrassing!

This was our first road trip with just me and deZiztahs in about 5 years, but we quickly fell into old habits. We had just gone about 30 kms when Abez whined, "Momma, Owlie bit me." She was serious too. Oh boy, I thought. Here we go again. Just like the old days. "Don't make me have to stop this car!"

Then we argued over the choice of music tapes, tried 3 or 4 least offensive to the majority and finally settled into a group songfest. We sang, hummed and fumbled our way through our old favorite roadtrip tape, long since dead from over use, a collection of folk songs from the '60's. Each of us knew some of the words and we all just jumped in or hummed our way through, often making up words till we got to the chorus. We even figured out a 2 part harmony on a Christy Minstral's song, "I'll Never Find Another You." I was sorry I didn't have my harmonica along. All very reminiscent of the many roadtrips of just me and the kids on the 6 hour long drive my G-ma's house in Indiana.

Also very reminicent of past road trips, we somehow couldn't coordinate our need for bathroom breaks, so it seemed like we hit every "service" stop on the way coming and going. When you travel with girls, you cannot tour the nation without touring all the restrooms in the nation.

Our traverse of the Salt Range allowed me to teach my daughters a lesson they never got in Indiana, how to use the gears to control the car when driving on steep inclines. We mid-Westerners are such flat-landers that I never got a chance to teach them this important techinque.

The last few miles on the motorway were stressful. When I realized we were really LOW on fuel, there were no more service stations. Hemi had advised us the follow a Daewoo bus into the city and call her from the station, so 10 kms from Lahore, we found a bus and tried to follow it, but it was traveling much faster than my shaking and shimmying car could go. We lost it on the crowded and dark highway.

We made our way to the first Lahore exit and then hit the first gas station we saw, grateful that we had made it so far on gas fumes. After we gassed up, our luck was with us as another Daewoo passed the gas station. We peeled out to follow it. In Lahore traffic, it had no speed advantage over us, but it was like trying to follow a charging rhino. He pushed, bullied and bluffed his way thought the heavy traffic. I used our small size and maneuverability (and a few tricks I learned as a taxi driver's wife) to keep up with him as he roared through town.

I'll let deZistahs tell you about the acutal events in Lahore.

Two fast and furious days later, we awoke at 6 a.m. to hit the highway and head home. Hemi awoke to guide us to Canal road before she headed off for exams. Her advice to "Just stay on Canal Road and it will lead you back to the motorway" was waaaay oversimplifying things. Canal road may sound like a sure thing (Hey, there's a big canal running down the middle of it) but it was like most roads in Pakistan, hit and miss, poorly marked, with supersize detours, and unexplained and unexpected turns. We finally made it after a crazy, unmarked detour around Punjab University.

We were excited to find a Shell station with a Dunkin Donuts shop open and just before the motorway entrance. Hemi's brother had told us that DD's don't open till 10:30 and we had dismayed at not getting donuts for Zaman and friend and fellow blogger Crayon. Upon sighting the DD's we went in and promptly bought out the entire stock (okay, there were only 18 [seriously stale] donuts in the whole place, but now I can brag and say "I've bought out an entire DD.") A bottle of diet Coke, bags of chips and popcorn, and two chickenish-pepper sandwiches completed our roadtrip stash of junk food. Two minutes later, we were on the motorway and flying along at 90 kmp's.

One of the things that the girls enjoyed very much about the motorway was the strange, misspelled and improperly punctuated road signs. There was; "Speed Thirls, but Kills" "Retire the dead tyre" (weird, but techinically not a true misspelling since British spelling is the norm here.) There were bizarre pictographs of turtle, rat, armadillo (or porpucine, we can't tell which), and greyhound crossing signs. Apparently Punjabi villagers aren't an endangered species, so they merit no warning signs. There should have been lota crossing signs, because we sighted about 6 roadkilled lotas on the return trip.

The sign that caused the most chaos in the car was: NO. U. TURN. Which the girls read as No, You turn, because of the punctuation. And then started a shoving and shouting match, "You turn!" "No. You turn!" " No, You. "...... What can I tell you?! (interrobang) It was like driving around with Abbot and Costello, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, and the cast of Monty Python all at the same time. As you can guess, this sign occured often and I never knew when the shouting and shoving would begin all over again.

Our trip home was slower, as the car shook even more so we tried to stay under 90 kpm. It also seemed soooo much quicker. I think it's a wonderful gift from God that returning home always seems easier than leaving. We remembered to buy gas BEFORE we were burning fumes and had passed the last chance station.

It felt like we were home when we spotted Isloo's cookie cutter houses, all neatly lined up on straight streets. What Islamabad lacks in character, it makes up for in convenience.

As always, it was good to be home. The first thing I did was open the fridge (empty AND dirty, but mine-oh-mine), feed and pet the dog, wake up (at 4 p.m.) and hug the boy. The girlies hit the computer and phone to tell Hemi we were home safe and friends we were back in town. I then made lunch and did three day's worth of crossword puzzles to unwind. My little girlies are fed, showered and napping, (ohhh, they are soooo cute when they are asleep) so it's my turn to blog.

Later Hubby came home and got all smooched up.

Roadtrips are good, but its great to be home.


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