Part of being in Pakistan during December is that you’ll make it in time for good weather, good food, and the annual wedding season; stay here long enough and you’re bound to get invited to one without any prior notice.

This is what happened to me today when I thought I had exhausted weddings in Pakistan at this point.

But I definitely didn’t expect to perform in a wedding where I didn’t know anyone:



First things first; we began our 24 hours in Karachi, where we woke up at 6am for our 8am flight to Lahore:



The Karachi Airport is flanked by multiple layers of security, with guards in AK-47 equipped bunkers every 20 meters. This expectedly causes a lot of traffic coming into the airport.



The air travel in Pakistan is similar to India’s: you might not need to show an ID with your ticket, but you better have all your carry-on bags (and even your camera if it has a strap!) tagged with the airline’s “carry-on tags” and STAMPED along with your ticket. If you don’t have a tag, a stamp, or both, they’ll send you right back outside security to do it all over again.

The 1 hour flight from Karachi to Lahore was otherwise quick, on time, and pleasant; the PIA flight sent us on an older aircraft, which meant the seats were ironically very very cushy!



We landed in Lahore at 9:30am:



After settling in Mariam’s parents’ old home in Township, we went to Liberty Market to go shopping:



If you find a staircase going into a basement here, try it out as it’ll lead you to a whole ‘nother world where you get to see how clothes — saris, kurtas, and silwar kameez — are made from the first thread.

There are mezzanine floors within a floor that have workers crouched down and working hard, visuals which remind me that of those magazine illustrations of buildings cut in half to show a a hive of people doing different things in different rooms and on different floors.



Watch your bags as it can get pretty crowded here:



After returning, I found out from Mariam’s parents we have been invited to another Mehndi (by now you should be experts which part of the wedding the Mehndi fits in).

And I’m not one to turn down an invitation!



Except for Mariam’s immediate family and cousins, I knew absolutely nobody here and nobody knew me . . . so I bet the crowd definitely didn’t expect a random Chinese American guy to get pulled onstage and perform to Amrit Saab’s “Sardar”:


Click on the photo and zoom in on the crowd's faces...they definitely did not see this coming


Well, I HAD thought I knew nobody here and nobody here knew me, but then I felt a tap on my shoulder and saw a guy who introduced himself as Ali — a guy I had met last year while giving a speech to CUNY Baruch’s AIESEC organization about traveling! What a small world!


He then told me when it would be the time for him to get married, he would invite to return to Pakistan. Holding you to that promise!

Then came the jam session. And we dance until midnight because the Lahore laws don’t apply here:




- At time of posting in Lahore Airport, it was 8 °C - Humidity: 93% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: nil significant cloud


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January 2014