Destination: Journey 0 km
Starting early in the morning, I will travel 70 to 100 kilometers everyday staying at three to four places before selecting my night stay spot. I will move at leisure. My objective is not to cover a certain distance in a day or reach a decided point. In this voyage, the journey is the destination.
The starting and the end points, Jati Umra in Lahore and Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Larkana, are two axes that define politics in this country. Lights, cameras and all the action are much too focused at these ends. Wandering in between the two political poles, I will not meet leaders. Instead, I will talk to the people, interview them about the upcoming elections and listen to their experiences and expectations of Pakistani politics.
I will write from the field daily and post photographs here and on my Twitter (@TahirMehdiZ). As I plan to bring the discussions going on in deras, autaqs and dhabas into the cyberspace, why not attempt it vice versa. I would like my readers to post comments and pose questions. That will be the energy drink that will keep me going.
I will take lots of detours and try to reach the other end in four weeks or less. I have worked out a tentative route covering mostly Punjab and Sindh but I have kept ample room for any spontaneous changes.
I shall stay off the main roads and big urban centers; they all look the same. They offer you the same cold drinks and the same pack of chips that you buy from your neighborhood. This feel-at-home group of consumables denies you the local flavor.
The shops on most roads barricade the area they pass through. They play to the gallery and serve the needs of the people who pass through these. On the other hand, the travelers tend to judge that area through these businesses. I plan to travel on the unpretentious, and bumpy, village roads and experience some actual homesickness.
I will not be staying at hotels. Well, even if I wish to, I will not be able to as there are hardly any in the towns I plan to pass through. I will be an uninvited guest with political workers and activists and I know from my experience that they are always gracious enough to spare a charpoy and a plate of dinner.
April 13, 2013