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Day Trip to Thatta

sunny

I had a late lazy start today but redeemed myself by making the effort of tracking down a bus to Thatta, a small town some 3 hours distant from the city. Half of that time was required just to fight your way out of the urban frenzy and it was on the way out that I got a small compensation in passing right by the Jinnah mausoleum. The impetus to come out here was the presence of the large, beautiful and ancient Shah Jahan Mosque and nearby shrines at Mikli, together constituting a World UNESCO site. One hot bone rattling bus ride later and I was unsure as to where to get off, after unexciting landscapes punctured by industrial plants I simply waited for Thatta to materialise and kept my eyes peeled, remarkably it was a strategy which worked. Typically, the mosque was empty apart from the odd janitor and curious local, perhaps with good reason as it was now blazing hot here with not a cold drink to be had. Heading back the way I had come towards the town centre, I started to attract an unusual amount of attention from excited boys and just as excited men with many shouts of "Hello mister". A couple of characters in turn were adamant that I had to give them my mobile number, the answer that I didnt have one not seemingly being an acceptable reply. One of them who had particular difficulty understanding professed to be the local English teacher, which didnt explain why his English was next to non existent. Even the guy from whom I bought my badly needed 7UP didnt want to accept the money, he much rather wanted to sort me out with a rickshaw instead for the trek out to Mikli. Preferring to hoof it, another boy was determined I had to meet his German resident brother, he was back in Thatta for just a few days. I tactfully explained I didnt have time for such indulgences but as luck would have it I subsequently bumped into them anyway. Though born here, the guy from Bremen was considered German by the locals and had come here to set up his mates marriage with his sister, scratch one more residence permit for Euroland. From here the shrine complex at Mikli could now be seen 3Ks hence and after a very hot friendly walk back along the road I scrambled up a hillside to find myself staring at a series of excellent domes and mausoleum platforms. The surrounding cemetery allegedly was 3 kilometres square, dotted with grave markers of all descriptions, there had even been a few tombs dotted around Thatta town itself. A little later on I was approached by a guy proferring tickets and asking for 200 Rupees, an exhorbitant amount. Whilst well accustomed by now to the dual pricing apartheid tourist rip-off policy I had no idea whether this guy was legit, there wasnt even a fence around the site after all. Whether he understood the word apartheid or not I baulked at the expense anyway, it was just about all I had on me and told him as much. He still wanted me to fill in his visitors book even though I made it plain I wouldnt nae couldnt pay, after the friendliness of the town it had come as a bit of a shock. I saw that the only recent visitor had been a guy from Thailand, it must have been very expensive for him for sure. I had already seen the bulk of the site in any case before he caught up with me, I wouldnt get to see inside the tombs as he pointed out but I wasnt too fussed about that, it wasnt something I had even considered. I wondered if I was selling myself short but was in more of a mood to stand up for the principle instead, I turned to leave towards the only now evident entrance gate. A short while later I was approached by another anonymous guy in shalwar kameez on a scooter professing to be the police, I resisted the temptation to say "so effin what" and just explained abruptly that I didnt have 200 Rupees so I was leaving. Hit me with your best shot, Sherlock.

Across the road it was a long sweaty wait for the bus back to Karachi, during which I had to endure more police meddling. Waiting outside the police station for the bus to materialise, one boy approached me and directed me into the station. Here we go, I thought. It was just another curious rabble though who had obviously been discussing the unusual foreigner standing outside and wanted to know more, strange that they werent more used to them being directly opposite the gate to a UNESCO site! They invited me to sit down but I had to point out the obvious, that I would surely miss the bus sitting around with them. Another bone jarring 3 hours and I was back in Karachi, a very successful if somewhat colourful day!

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Pakistan

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