Multan (a.m.) / Lahore (p.m.), Pakistan

  • Date
  • 4 January 2001
  • Lodging
  • Pearl Continental
  • Distance
  • 377 KM
  • Total
  • 137800 KM

Imagine driving on a non-maintained, tar two-lane highway built 20 years ago with cracks, bumps and potholes large enough to ruin leaf-springs and throw the front end out of line. Then add ancient buses and trucks, some traveling at 90 kilometers an hour and others at 20 kilometers per hour, carrying twice as much wheat, bales of cotton, sugar cane, people or animals, like Brahma bulls or goats, as permissible. Throw in motor-scooters with no rear view mirrors, bicycles steered by old, almost blind men and small, unskilled boys and tractors going about five kilometers per hour, stacked with wood or a trailer overloaded with 30 men, women and children. But there is more. Add passenger cars — some new and able to move quickly while others are aged, beaten and barely able to top 30 kilometers. And include the homemade wooden carts, piled with people, dirt and crops, pulled by swaggering donkeys and massive camels ringing music from the bells at their necks. Then there are men simply standing on the highway watching life as it unfolds and others walking on the highway with and against traffic. When a dual carriage way develops for a short, glorious few kilometers and the opportunity arises to make good time and overtake slow traffic, one faces cars driving in the wrong direction down her side of the dual carriage way. And when one toots at these fools, they look shocked that someone sees their dangerous driving as foolish. But there is more: the highways are built through villages, so life just keeps happening as though no road exists. Men park their donkey carts, sell produce and sit drinking tea in one of the lanes. Trucks overturn and head on collisions injure and kill too many. Driving is an art in Pakistan.