After at last managing to bag some beers at the Holiday Inn of all places, today my mission was to visit the Pakistan Air Force Museum, an anorak indulgence which surprisingly also featured in the guidebook and with some reason. As I was to discover, its parkland setting was also a candidate for just about the nicest spot in the city, a haven of tranquility from the crowds, noise and pollution. After traipsing miles with incomplete directions, I finally plumped for an autorickshaw and was glad I did in the end. I couldnt make the driver understand where it was exactly that I wanted to go, I just had to keep a lookout and hope that it appeared. As it turned out it was self evident by the side of the busy highway but it was absolutely miles away, I could have walked all day before reaching it. In spite of there being a suitably mounted gate guardian Shenyang J-6 and a large sign proclaiming the museum, it was still a fair walk out to the actual entrance, in the process of which I got stopped by some guards at the gate of the neighbouring air base. Unbeknown to me they had somehow seen me taking pictures of the aforementioned plane and sign and here we were again, I was all set for getting arrested again. Well, I had a reputation to consider by now! They must have also seen me then promptly stand on some massive thorns and hop about in agony, a big 3cm jaggy had gone straight up into my foot through my now hole ridden shoes. They let me off with it in the end after the usual bullshit apologies. It was ridiculous that one J-6 was just like another and soon I would see half a dozen of them on similar public display, it was a type now retired from service anyway and indeed a line up of perhaps 30 of the things was now apparent right by us on the other side of a low fence. Into the museum and suitably spaced out in remarkably kempt conditions, there were such rare wonders as a Canberra fitted with nose radar, a shiny bare metal finished Vickers Viking which had flown Nehru around, and a MiG-23 and AN-26 which had been used to defect from Afghanistan. Pride of the exhibit though had to be the captured Indian Air Force Gnat which was predictably labelled as a war trophy, no love lost there then!
February 16th KARACHI
Taking the subtle hint from yesterdays debacle with a thorn bush, it took me a whole day of hoofing around to perversely finally invest in a new pair of shoes. Though there were shoe shops in abundance, they tended to all have an oft repeated range of open toed sandals in the main and it was a choice between only 2 more robust designs in the end, for which there is surely little demand. I plumped for ones with insufficient cushioning but it was the best of a bad lot, and said farewell to the now sadly shot soles which had seen me all the way from home.