“Pakistan indeed is really dangerous”, that’s what I felt after watching movie Zero Dark Thirty, a movie depicts how CIA hunted down Osama Bin Laden, if I would have watched this movie before, I probably wouldn’t go to Pakistan last year and visit Peshawar for four days, where is the gateway to Afghanistan and tribal territories.
Looking at the old town scene of Peshawar in the movie brought back a lot of fond memories. In this oldest Indo-Pakistani trading town, people were busy buying and selling in narrow lanes amongst historical buildings, young boys in salwar kameez were busy commuting between tea shops and customers, delivering small pots of tea. In the air was a mix of burning charcoal, dry spices, and blood from street side slaughter houses, and there was the aroma from food stalls too.
I followed the aroma into a small place where 5 food stalls were so busy dishing out food to hungry men sitting on little stools so low as if they’re squad supporters. I sat down in front of a huge frying pan and ordered myself a plate of stir-fried mutton offal in tomato curry and nan, a very common working class meal. The nan was fresh and hot and the curry was flavorful.
An Asian man in Peshwar is a rare sight, sitting amongst them eating the way they do arouse their curiosity. The owner of the stir-fry introduced an old man to me, a kind face with white beard, wore a traditional round felt hat, that’s his father, and his two brothers were all running food stalls right next to each other. The man sitting next to me, short hair and shaved clean, this was not very common in here. We exchanged a few conversations, I suggested to take a picture together, he kindly refused, which is uncommon because people here tend to love camera, but one thing he was in common was being incredibly hospitable, before he left, he paid my food.
I told my couch surfing host Qaisar about this, he told me the reason that man refused to have his picture taken was very likely because he’s an Afghan, here in Pakistan, policemen are lousy, if anyone whose neck fits the collar, then he’s the suspect, so if anything would happen to me, an Afghan could be the first suspect.
“Anything would happen to me” suggests danger, but I think sometimes it’s all psychological, the friendliness and hospitality I felt was physical. Just before I finished my stir-fired, the owner bought me a pot of tea, oh yes, their hospitality was competitive too.