Logic is Variable

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Krakoram Express

Spanking new Krakoram Express (42 Down) running between Lahore and Karachi is already old and no more a rarity in Pakistan. When i traveled, all the original fittings like coat hooks, locks, handles and seat covers were in place. No more.

Six passengers have a compartment to themselves. No streams of persistent vendors. No one can have the pleasure of hanging from an open train door as they are locked stop to stop. Like Lahore-Islamabad motorway the train is for many a symbol of modernity and progress.
Most of my journeys begin from the hinterland and on foot with very little provisions on back. But this one began on the train. This time suitcases were packed instead of backpack days in advance and phone calls were put through to friends and relatives en route to alert them to our arrival. My starting point, the Lahore Railway Station, fourteenth gateway of Lahore, is sturdy and imposing. It is an interesting place to hang around in any time of day or night. At the Station there are bookstores stocked with spiritual tracts, Internet guides, archetypal books of love poetry and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Other shops sell everything from souvenir (crude) clay ware to artificial jewellery, not to mention a fast food chain outlet and countless tea shops. The platform is always clogged with goods going and coming to and from up and down the country. There is a grumble of departing passengers’ trains and the maddeningly frequent station announcements and attacks of red shirt porters (called cullies) and cab drivers on every passenger. Every porter has per trip rate written on the shirt but none charges that. Every one asks for more. In all this, behind one barricade of luggage on the floor of the station slept a family with their belonging tucked under their heads. This is because the utility of waiting rooms has been excessively marginalized over the years. In the holy month of Ramadan, the station becomes a huge eating joins. Every tea stall is shrouded in curtains. And, if you have seen one railway station, you have seen all.
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