Difference between revisions of "Pakistan"
Revision as of 06:28, 5 July 2005
Pakistan, formerly known as West Pakistan, is a country in Southern Asia. It has an Arabian Sea coastline in the south and lies between India to the east, Iran to the southwest, Afghanistan to the west and northwest and China in the northeast. It controls access to the Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass, the traditional overland routes between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.
Some important Pakistani cities are:
Mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north. Flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)
Flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest; Balochistan plateau in west. Experiences frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe, especially in north and west.
Prior to the second world war, the British controlled Pakistan as part of the Indian Raj.
The separation, in 1947, of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with two sections West and East) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved. A third war between these countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan seceding and becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. A dispute over the state of Kashmir is ongoing.
In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998.
Like India, Pakistan has strong cultural ties with the United Kingdom, with many expatriate Pakistanis living in the UK. The English sport of cricket has become a national passion and the national cricket team's success around the world is keenly followed. Sadly, tours of Pakistan by other national cricket teams have recently been marred by violence and, more recently, terrorism incidents. Visiting teams have now become reluctant to tour without intensive security measures.
karachi is the main gateway to pakistan by air besides lahore and islamabad.karachi is served by many airlines like british airways.
in the past getting around was a very hectic task but nowadays its very easy because of the advent of motorways and many private airlines.
you can buy almost anything in pakistan.karach and lahore have many western style shopping centres stocked with anything imaginable.
Pakistani food mainly consists of various kinds of curry eaten with either flatbread or rice. Food tends to be very spicy so if you are intolerant of spice, notify your server repeatedly. In general, most of the same food you can find in the highest quality restaurants/hotels there is available commonly in the markets (but European-style food is generally reserved for the former).
The types of flatbread (collectively referred to as roti) are:
You can ask for a roti and get this. It is a very thin, round thing made of flour and water.
A softer, thicker version of the roti that has risen a little, which makes it more like bread. Better for picking up the liquid part of curries. Recognize it by its larger, white exterior.
An extremely oily version of the roti. Usually excellent if you're going out to eat, but beware of health concerns; often it is literally dripping with oil because it is meant to be part of a rich meal.
This is a slightly sweetened, lightly oiled roti that has waffle-like squares punched in it. It is often considered the most desireable roti and is a delicacy to most people. Often paired with the nihari curry.
Much like the sheer mal but with a puffed-up ring around it. This is generally jsut as good as the sheer mal but easier to eat liquidy curry with.
As you might have noticed, roti is usually used to pick up curry. Utensils are not commonly used during meals in Pakistan except to serve dishes (unless someone is eating rice and would like to be polite or is unpracticed eating it by hand). Attempting to cut a roti with a knife and drink curry with a spoon may elicit some amusement around you. Watching others may help.
There are too many curries to enumerate. However, you should know of the most common ones.
Some curries (known as salan):
Yellow(plain) or brown(slightly sour) lentil "soup". Usually unspiced. Common to all economic classes.
Potatoes and cauliflour. Cooked so that both are soft and breakable with finger pressure.
Can be bitter...
A vegetarian mixture with 'X' as the main ingredient
Chunks of potato and goat meat in gravy. Levels of spice vary. One example of a generic dish that includes most things + Gosht(meat).
Beef simmered for several hours. A delicacy often eaten with Nan, Sheer Mal, or Taftan. Few people will have this available without spice. Eat with lemon, fried onion and caution: it is one of the spiciest curries.
Very, very wet salan, often served in a bowl or similar dish. Eat by dipping pieces of roti in it, maybe finishing with a spoon. Hard to eat.
Baked or roasted chicken with a spicy exterior. Looks like a huge, red chicken leg and thigh. For all meat lovers. Is available most anywhere.
Thick souplike mix of tiny chunks of meat, lentils and wheat grains.
Tap water is not fit for drinking unless you have lived there and drunk it for a long time. Ask for bottled water wherever possible, and avoid anything cold that might have water in it. See Stay Healthy for details.
In the warmer southern region, sweet drinks are readily available throughout the day. Look for street vendors that have fruits (real or decorations) hanging from their roofs. Also, some milk/yoghurt shops serve lassi. Ask for meethi lassi for a sweet yoghurt drink.
Outside the cities and some regions of each city, travel in groups that include locals. In the unwesternized parts of each city (the posh, westernized parts are obvious: they have better roads and larger homes), travel in groups and dress conservatively. Stay with locals who like you.
Don't let safety factors stop you from visiting Pakistan. It's much safer than you hear, and the people are much more welcoming and honest than in other, more heavily touristed countries in the region.
Avoid tap water! Take every precaution to drink only boiled, filtered or bottled water. Tap water is known to contain many impurities. Also beware when drinking milk--don't drink it fresh from the milk carrier very often; boil and cool it. Non-pasteurized dairy can spread tuberculosis.
Avoid foods with a lot of spice! Always notify your host, cook or waiter if you are intolerant of spice.
Tuberculosis is common in some regions. Be very careful, very careful around people with a hacking cough.
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