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I Knew a Crooked Man April 3, 2006

Posted by KG in Pakistan.

The trials and tribulations of driving in Islamabad have been well recorded elsewhere on this blog, but this Sunday I reached a personal pinnacle of driving achievement that deserves recounting.

Islamabad is bordered to the north by the beautiful Margala Hills, the double-A affiliate of The Pakistan Himalayas.  The Hills feature picturesque hikes, as well as a running path that the Ambassador here frequents when he has time (sidenote: that dude is in some crazy good shape).  There are also several roads up the mountain, leading to amazing views, the Northwest Frontier Province, Azad Kashmir, or often all three.  So, bored on a Sunday, I decided to take a little drive to one of the very first viewpoints.  It was a Sunday afternoon, so I figured it wouldn't be crowded.

Blood relatives who read this blog will recall the road to Gangtok, where we visited back in 2004.  Mountain switchbacks with crazy South Asian drivers and no guardrails whatsoever.  Well guess what guys: this was just like that, but NARROWER.  Granted one would only plummet 30-40 feet if one made a poor decision instead of the 100-200 feet when we were in Sikkim, but still: scary.  And by scary I mean completely and utterly bowel clenchingly terrifying.  And, to boot, the road was not empty.  Oh no, it was very crowded — it seems most of the population of sector F8 was keen on a little drive. 

If I were driving in a larger vehicle, with a better view of the road in question, I suspect I would have been less petrified of making the drive to Daman-e-Koh.  And it would have helped if I had planned the drive, or asked others who had done it, or at the very least put some forethought into my little foray.  Instead I decided to be a cowboy and just do it.  Of course, once I was on the road there was no turning back, as U turns on switch backs are generally not recommended activities.  So, gritting my teeth, my little Honda (you can get some great Hondas here in Pakistan, people) was subject to me driving like an old lady the entire way.  To all the honking Pakistanis I upset on my way up the hill: thanks very much, yes I did make it alive, how are you?

The Kicker

On making it to the Daman-e-Koh viewpoint, I realized I was in my culturally offensive, extremely sweaty gym clothes.  And that the parking lot, which featured trees growing in front of marked spots, was virtually unnavigable.  Suddenly shy, blood pressure higher than a man mainlining olive juice, I turned around… and drove back down.  With no pictures. 

But don't you forget, Hill Road, I've beaten you once.  Don't think I won't try to do it again.  Next time! (shakes fist in air)



1. suzanne - April 4, 2006

THANK YOU for making me laugh out loud (end of paragraph 4). I needed that. That one ranks right up there with the classic “Is he God? No. But he’s God’s personal party planner.” More to come soon, I PROMISE.

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