Sitting on the plane on my way to Islamabad, I am finally beginning to realize that I really am going to be in Pakistan soon. It wasn’t until I reached Toronto that the white faces in waiting lounges began to grow scarcer, and very soon I found myself almost alone amongst Pakistanis traveling back as well. And I, the out of place white face, finally felt oddly at home again. All around me, Urdu has replaced the usual sounds of English, and with the flavourful taste of chicken curry and rice for supper on my flight, I know I’m getting closer. I’m getting warmer.
A flight attendant talks to me, asking where I’m going. Soon I find out he has studied in the same hills as I have, and even visited my school at times for sports matches. Another tells me that her family is originally from the Murree area as well. We talk about the beauty of the hills and the mountains, and how wonderful the weather is there. Definitely getting warmer.
I feel myself aging when I fly. When I was younger, the twenty hours or so of transit were easily filled, movie after movie, as I made my way through the available options. I can even remember watching a single movie two or three times in a row. This time I haven’t even touched my tv. In fact, on my last flight I found myself trying to turn down the lighting on the screen, just so it wouldn’t bother me as I closed my eyes and drifted into intermittent sleep.
Sleep. The one thing I hope to reap out of this trip. I know that the instant I set foot on Pakistani soil, sleep will become precious but fleeting commodity, so I hope to get as much of it as I can beforehand. With so little time and so many people to talk to, I’m not sure that shut-eye will be very high on the priority list. I still remember the days before my own high school graduation, as I talked late into the night with the other guys in my class. It’s not the nights you slept that you’ll remember, I told myself. It’s the ones that you didn’t sleep that make the best memories. And looking back, I think I can agree with that. It’s certainly not a principle I would hold to every day, but at the special times in life, its good to keep in mind what’s really important. I just take comfort in knowing that if all these late nights kill me, at least I’ll die happy.