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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thread 4

Adventurous stories from Agustinus Wibowo, a backpacker who travel around Asia, which share on www.kompas.com I posted this amazing travel into thread series. I have to translate from Indonesian to English and hope still remain the originality. Happy Reading.
Searching Identity - Pakistan

"Bhai jan, Am I look Pakistani people ? Is it good? "Asked the English man to rickshaw driver, he wore shalwar kamiz that recently obtained from the sewer at 1000 Rupee. He not only asked the rickshaw driver, but also the people who he found In Pakistan - fitter selling bananas, inn keeper, drug store, driver taxi, bus driver assistance.
His name was Al-Malik, the descendants of citizens of the UK - Pakistan. His aged about thirty, but still not married. His body was fat with mustache and short beard over his face. His brown sharp eyes were beautiful. I first met her in the Sufi night show, where he was stunned by mystical moment, qawwali music make he felt that he has been reached his journey as his goal.
In the past, Al-Malik has been going to four Muslim countries - Turkey, Syria, Iran, and right now in Pakistan. "Syria, aha, that country is free. Tehran is very modern. But even here, in Pakistan, I find what I find the innovative Islamic modern art!" He said in English with a thick British dialect.
According to Al-Malik’s said, he was a observer of Muslim art. He visited Muslim countries to explore contemporary arts of Islam, modern, that it will be fancied by European art. Yesterday Al-Malik invited me to a painting gallery in Lahore. "Excellent! Excellent! I have been looking for this for ages!" said him again and again.
I stunned by the color, shape, and feel in line calligraphy painting which displayed. Verses of Qur'an in such a way described and drew as like boat, moon, stars, ocean, sunny evening, and the fire burn. Does not he find one like this in Iran, Islamic republic neighboring country that is also famous Persian civilization itself ?. "There is no like this! No one can compare with this!" His face shone as like the person who just found a worthy treasure after long searched in the desert.
From his travel styled, his motivation, and the budget itself, I am sure Al-Malik was not a backpacker. But how can he narrowly lost in the inn where ten poorly tourist sleep in small one room like this?. That was part of the query. Based on the book that he read as guidance, there was an inn where we could stay, a great place to exchange information about the show of qawwali and night of Sufi. But he wasn’t comfort "No, I never lived in poor place like this".
In the middle of his suffered, Al-Malik was still looked for a little fun and luxury. He asked me to go to sizzler restaurant, the first Western food I ever eat lifetime. This restaurant was for luxury class in Lahore, he said that to me. The light atmosphere was poor. The customers mostly from high class, women wore sparkling dressed with their loose hair. Truly contrast with view of Lahore ; dirty house, roaring rickshaw as like bajaj in Jakarta, the dirty clothes of fruit staler on the street, and the chaos from the street.
On the other hand, Al-Malik was a humble person. He didn’t feel reluctant to talk to rickshaw drivers, guards at roadside stalls, banana traders, security, kid juice seller, while he practiced his Urdu language. He asked to the people the same question, whether his shirt and shalwar-kamiz was made him exactly as a Pakistani, how he used the cap, the blanket surrounded his shoulder which made him no difference with the native poeple.
“Accha. Bohut accha hai .. Great “ praised rickshaw drive, "Bhai jan, Musliman men hun. Brother, I am Muslim. I am Pakistani people"Al-Malik very proud to continue the discussion. “ Mashallah. My God, " said rickshaw driver with endless to praise.
Al-Malik was born and grew up in England. He came from rich family, have luxury house in Europe and America. However in his blood has descendant Pakistan, Al-Malik can’t read words in Urdu and Arab. On previous, when someone asked about his identity he always said ‘my nationality is English Man and I have descendant Pakistani’. But today, everything has changed with proud he will answer ‘ I am a Pakistani’ and ‘I am a Muslim’.
Later he was enthusiast to learn more about Islam, his own religion, his parents and his brother relative religion also. It was like people who just find themselves again, which is hidden under the sheet-piles of personality. While in Pakistan he pursued himself diligently reading books, including children's book about the history of the prophets. Al-Malik didn’t know at all reading the prayer in Arabic. When the worship, he just sat in the chair, bow, even I wonder what language he used.
"English, of course" answered him, "people do not need to be in Arabic to be Muslim". One day he shared to me his secret “Do not tell anybody okay, I am actually ‘the Ismaili’ ”. Maybe people here not like much to Ismaili line, in my eyes Sunni, Syiah, or Ismaili was not important. The most important was that all Muslim.
Because he shared me his secret, I asked him to go to Hunza, a valley in the Karakoram mountain range, where the Ismaili people stayed and lived Pakistan. Al-Malik felt bound to find more pieces for the sake of self that he looked for. I also need to get there, yellow ball in my eye were cure with the fresh natural mountain snow.
Originally he was in doubt. "Is it difficult to reach that place? Is it tough journey ? Is it comfortable in there? ". I convinced him about Pakistan that have not compare and will help him to find himself as the Ismaili. I succeeded to convince him and brought him as an English Man from high class to ride a bus which filled with many people to the mountain in the north just for searching his truly identity.


  1. I am Ismaili, which is what brought me to this page. The mention of the Ismaili rickshaw driver who was convinced into journeying to the Karakorum mountains to delve into the history of his identity is such a beautiful story, I can't wait to hear more about the story! Thank you for translating and sharing this tale.

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