Lahore, Pakistan – April, 29, 2015
Disclaimer – before viewing the photographs in this blog, please understand that the clicking shutter was in a vehicle traveling at up to 80 miles per hour. Please forgive the less than sharp images.
Today I had a business trip to Lahore, Pakistan. Several chimneys along the side of the road caught my eye. I guess their height averaged 100 feet. Some very dark black smoke spewed out of several of the chimneys. They appeared to be a key component in the manufacturing, by hand, of bricks. The farther south we traveled, the more apparent it became that brick construction was the norm.
The drive was very scenic, especially on the approach to the Salt Range Mountains. The pass over the Salt Range was spectacular. The downhill side of the pass toward Lahore had a seven percent grade complete with numerous “Emergency Climb” areas. Emergency Climb is the local lingo for a runaway truck ramp. Instead of sand, the slopes had a filling of roughly fist-sized rocks.
The road was similar to roads in the U.S. There were several truck weigh-stations along the route. A unique feature was the signs on virtually every overpass. Each sign trumpeted a safety slogan such as:
- Reduce Speed in Fog and Rain Slow down, Life is Precious Check Gauges Frequently Check Tyre Pressure
- Better Late than Never
- Fatigue Causes Accident – Take Rest
- Replace Worn Out Tyre to Avoid Fatal Accident
It probably would do no harm to have similar signs posted along the highways in the U.S.
For roughly two-thirds of the trip, either side of the road had acres and acres of wheat; there must have been hundreds of thousands of acres of grain. The amazing part was the number of people in the fields harvesting the wheat by hand. We only saw four or five combines, but other than those, the wheat harvest was a manual effort. I am sure the work was not only backbreaking but also fatiguing. The temperature was right around 100 degrees Fahrenheit during most of our trip. It reminded me of a live-action van Gogh painting.
In comparison to the wheat harvest to the U.S., it is odd that the harvest in Pakistan was well underway in April. The harvest in the U.S. usually does not begin until about June. That may indicate there are two crops per year in Pakistan; I am just not sure.
It is difficult to describe the number of motorcycles on the road in Lahore, but there must be tens of thousands. They dart around the other vehicles like flies. In addition to bikes, there are numerous three-wheeled carts. I know them as tuk-tuks. Those vehicles are popular in India too. The number of them in Lahore is probably due in part to the fact that the India border is only about 29 kilometers (18 miles) from Lahore.
We passed Canal Bank Road. It gets its name from the canal in the middle of this major thoroughfare. Our driver referred to the channel as the “poor mans’ swimming pool.” We did see several people swimming in the muddy water as we drove by the canal.
Lahore has much more of the hustle and bustle feeling than Islamabad. That is no doubt due to the population being about five times that of Islamabad. Lahore’s population is somewhere around 10,000,000 people.
When we left, there was considerably more northbound traffic than what we encountered on the trip to Lahore. Many of the jingle trucks hauled cattle in the bed of the vehicle. Some entrepreneurs rigged makeshift beds above the livestock for human passengers. In addition to the jingle trucks, the smaller vehicles with a rear cargo bed had people mixed with either goats or sheep. I hope their rides were short.
On the return trip, while crossing the Salt Range Mountains, we encountered a rainstorm. With the combination of rain and altitude, the thermometer plummeted to 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit), down from 39 (102 degrees Fahrenheit). Unfortunately, once we were off the pass, the temperature jumped back up.