I visited Pakistan last fall and managed to get the first visa-on-arrival for a U.S. citizen in 28 years — or so I was told by the immigration supervisor who finally gave in to my pleas after two hours of waiting. I hung out around town for a couple of days before heading back to Hong Kong and beyond.
Here are a few more memories from the trip.
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Happy Hour in Karachi
Arriving from Hong Kong
the immigration notice reads:
"Welcome to Pakistan
Drug users will be punished by death."
Three a.m. arrival
and all of South Asia is awake.
In the markets the next day
"My friend! My brother!"
In Karachi, I have hundreds of friends
and dozens of brothers.
I'm offered the last price, the best price,
the Thursday price —
no matter the day.
I jump in a taxi and return
to the sanctuary of the privileged traveler.
It's Happy Hour at the Sheraton
Fruit juice for everyone, on the house!
Contractors from America, Britain,
discuss home, country, and exchange rates
while eating peanuts.
At the front desk
one can sign a statement
promising to be non-Muslim,
and thus free to imbibe —
but this seems like a lot of trouble.
Better to ride the wave of fruit juice
A glass of pineapple, please.
And may I have some peanuts?
Nellie Furtado plays in the background:
"I'm like a bird, I'll only fly away.
I don't know where my soul is.
I don't know where my home is."
At the gym
separate hours for male and female guests:
men in the evenings,
women during the day.
The parking lot has been converted
into a jogging track
of five laps per kilometer
I run fifty laps.
Shower and head back to the bar
where Happy Hour has ended
pineapple juice back to regular price:
$3 a glass and no more free nuts.
Travel rule of thumb:
wherever you are in the world
at some point in the evening
you'll hear the United Nations anthem"
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Thanks again to Powell's for having me as their guest this week! I'll be live in the Burnside store on Thursday, December 16th.
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Chris Guillebeau is the author of the new book The $100 Startup, which provides a blueprint for freedom by building a business with a small amount of money and no special skills. The book is based on the stories of 70 ordinary people like Michael and Sarah, who both live and work in Portland. You can also read his free blog at ChrisGuillebeau.com.
Books mentioned in this post
Chris Guillebeau is the author of The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future