We live in a world where the international media's portrayal of Pakistan has tainted it's image globally. Our nation is known the world over for being a country rife with crime and terrorism. But for those of us who call it home, and for a particular Australian biker, Pakistan is more than what meets the eye.
Adamant on changing preconceived notions about Pakistan, an Australian biker who goes by the name Dutchie, penned a blog in which he narrates his journey through Pakistan in the most humourous way.
"By all the unglamorous artworks the armchair experts of the world were painting of Pakistan, I was in line for a beheading, a bombing or a kidnapping. It’s dangerous they said. Avoid travelling Pakistan they said. Sure, the driving here is total rubbish and you’d be lucky not to be sideswiped or rear ended at least once every five minutes, but that’s about as dangerous as it feels for me personally thus far," reads one of the excerpts from Dutchie's blog.
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Reading the blog had us wanting for a deeper insight into Dutchie's experience. So, when The Express Tribune got in touch with him, he was more than happy to talk us through his eventful journey in Pakistan.
The idea of visiting Pakistan came to Dutchie while sipping on a beer in Morocco. "In short, I didn't really plan ... I didn't know anybody in Pakistan. However, I have discovered that when you decide that yes, I am going to go on an adventure, it's almost as if the world conspires to help you," he said about his travel plans. "As it so happened, I had the fortune of crossing paths with Kabir in Istanbul. He was the creator of a wonderful butterfly effect."
Kabir encouraged Dutchie to visit Pakistan, insisting he would have a great time. "Taking his enthusiasm onboard, I arrived in Pakistan a few months later. Enter Lahore - where I met some very special people (you guys know who you are!) who greased the wheels of my stay without me even asking. All because I had taken the time to speak to one bloke who happened to be passionate about his country!"
Travelling to Pakistan doesn't come without its reservations, of course. "Virtually everyone said I was crazy. People were actually trying to convince me to avoid visiting!" Dutchie said. "To be honest, I was feeling a little anxious before entering because 95% of people were so adamant about me not going. I levelled out my anxiety by remembering that everyone who was telling me not visit hadn't even been to Pakistan! Listening to a bunch of people that had no firsthand experience about the country itself seemed like a very close-minded and stupid idea."
On the contrary, he said, "everyone who had been through Pakistan told me that I'd regret not visiting. Who in their right mind wants to live out their days in regret? Seems mental if you ask me," Dutchie said.
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Dutchie's primary mode of travel in Pakistan was with his beloved bike 'Trumpet'. They crossed Balochistan from Taftan to Quetta, moving to Sukkur and then up to Lahore. "From Lahore, it was directly to Islamabad and finally into the northern areas, where I was lucky enough to spend two weeks on one of the most beautiful highways in the world," Dutchie said.
When asked about the most memorable moment from his eventful journey, he said, "I think I'd have to say the most memorable moment was each and every friendship I made on the road. It's due to those people that befriended me that turned the entire ride thus far, into one huge memorable moment."
We asked Dutchie what he thinks of the people of Pakistan, to which he responded, "Hah. I'll quote what I wrote last week: 'They are the pistachios to my kulfi and the sugar in my chai'. I think that clearly expresses my sentiments about the people of Pakistan," Dutchie said in words that could not have been put better.
Just as many foreigners fall in love with Pakistan, its culture and its hospitable people, Dutchie was no exception. "Even though I had a very limited to non-existent idea of what to expect, I really wasn't prepared for some of the most memorable moments of this ride to date! Pakistan clocked me for six and tore the armchair experts of the world to shreds. Picasso couldn't have painted a better picture of my experience in Pakistan if he tried."
Pakistan, as we know, has its share of issues. However, it goes without saying that "this special corner of the world still remains an unquestionably unique place to visit. Whatever the country lacks in some areas, it grossly makes up for in others." Dutchie believes that media giants need to adjust their agendas and show the world what truly makes Pakistan shine.
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As a note to everyone reading, Dutchie said, "I don't feel there is a need to clarify to Pakistanis reading this article how or why their country is such a wonderful place. I believe they are already well aware that they carefully nurture a culture of warmth, kindness and love. It's high time the rest of the world discovered that amazing culture for themselves too. Whether I choose to linger longer or depart sooner, there will always be a part of my heart tattooed in green and white."