Our latest foreign guest, Johanna Michel who is a French girl and heard about Pakistan from her roommates when she was 18 and living in London. Curious as ever and after a lot of research on the places she can visit while she is here, she finally got the chance to visit Pakistan for a span of two weeks.
Johanna explains she entered Pakistan by crossing the Wagha Border. On crossing, she was questioned by the guards and was happy to give all the details of her visit. We really appreciate her thinking for not believing the negative remarks everyone hears on the TV and news and coming to see herself how the culture and people here are. She found everyone around her really hospitable and kind despite what she had heard prior to her coming that a foreign woman won’t be safe in a Pakistani environment. Even strangers she met offered her “chai” and assured her she will have the best trip here.
Her first visit was to the inner city of Lahore, a perfect choice if one really wants to study our rich heritage and culture. With beautiful mosques like the Wazir Khan Masjid, the grand architecture of Androon Lahore speaks for itself. Her friends in Pakistan made sure she visited the well-known places and of course had “chai” – the drink every lahori devours.
Her other friend, Ahmed who is from LUMS and whom she met online was really helpful towards her throughout this entire journey. He took her to visit LUMS where she found a very vast cultural diversity and said she could imagine herself studying there as well. Her friend took her to the famous food street and made her try all sorts of desi foods. Johanna found the taste amazing and not so spicy as she was dreading. She also says the taste of Pakistani food abroad is nothing compared to the flavors she tasted here. Along with the food, she also enjoyed listening to Pakistani music especially her favorite “Jal” Band.
Johanna is, surprisingly for us, very much into Sufism and Sufi music which she heard on her way to Islamabad while enjoying the scenic beauty of landscapes and mountains. Her favorite sufi singer is Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. She even bought along some Rumi books to understand the concept. She says,
“Sufism, in both its poetic and musical expressions, makes me feel connected to the country.”
In Islamabad, she organized a horse riding surprise for her friend at the “Orrick Horseback Riding Islamabad” and became friends with the owner and her husband. Her visit to Faisal Mosque was thoroughly enjoyed and she found it very different from the other two mosques she had visited in Lahore.
During her research, Johanna had found many news regarding bombings in Pakistan, kidnapping and the country not being safe for foreigners but she claims her experience here was quite the opposite. She has not come across such generosity anywhere else in the world and she says to have travelled around quite a bit. She also encourages everyone to visit Pakistan.
We are ever so glad she found the experience amazing and wonderful. For surely the experience was made great thanks to the lovely people she had around her. Au Revoir Johanna! We hope to have you with us again with your friends. You and everyone else will always be welcomed here.
24 Sep 2018
24 Jul 2018