Tokmok – The Dungan

A Dungan family “Хуэйзу либянди щинфу” – Happiness Among the Dungan Hueimin Bo 26.01.2006 My first interaction with the Dungans was with its food. There is a busy, crowded, small restaurant near the Iranian embassy in Bishkek offering Dungan food. When I entered the underground room, I felt I was thrown again to China. It is Chinese, and only Chinese language, spoken among the cook and servants. The food also resembles Chinese food you eat in mainland China, with slight variation of Central Asia touch. That second I immediately decide: I want to know who the Dungans are. Tokmok is a little town 70 km east of Bishkek. This town is located nearby to Chuy River which now separates Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Tokmok is a kaleidoscope of ethnics: Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Uzbek, Russian, Uyghur, and Dungan traders stuff its busy Sunday bazaar. Tokmok is home of most Kyrgyzstan’s Dungan population. Not far from the bazaar there is a little Dungan mosque. Here, in Central Asia, as countries are split into ethnic-nation idea (e.g. Kyrgyzstan – the country of the Kyrgyz, Uzbekistan – the country of the Uzbeks, etc) even the mosques are now ethnic-based. The Dungans only go to their own [...]

November 26, 2006 // 1 Comment

Bahawalpur – The Christian Community

May 7, 2006 Father Nadeem Joseph That morning, 28 October 2001, just few minutes before 9, the Christian Protestant devotees were just finishing their weekly mass. The church was a Catholic curch, St Dominic Church, in the Model Town area, a well-to-do area in Bahawalpur. The Protestant were allowed to do mass here, with the concession with the Catholic fathers. They were given the morning shift, from 8 to 9. The mass has just almost finished, the pastor walked toward the gate, and the people following him, ready to receive blessing. Suddenly two strangers with machine guns came through the door, splashing the bullets from their weapons to all directions. The hungry bullets flew to the breasts, legs, chests, women, children, men, everybody. The casualties was not few, 16 people killed by the firing. This was the first in Pakistan history of brutality against Christian minority. But it was not the last. The church is a small building, very simply decorated, with only three rows of benches in both male and female quarters. Most of the spaces given to visitors were matrass. The devotees sat on their knee while delivering their prayers here. In Urdu, church is “girjah”, sounds quite [...]

May 7, 2006 // 0 Comments

Lahore – I See India Again

April 25, 2006 Across the border Yes, this is a trip to the Indian border for the famous ridiculous border ceremony of the two enemous brothers: India and Pakistan. Few months ago I attended the ceremony from the Indian side, hardly saw anything due to the huge crowds. Seeing from the different sides of the border is always interesting. It’s just a thin line on the map, some inches of line de jure, but it made the two completely different sides on right and left side. Travelling to the border from Lahore, was passing through dusty areas of uninhabited lands. The area was completely empty since the Partition, and just recently when the relation between India and Pakistan getting better, people started to inhabit the dusty land between Lahore and the border. Equally the same case for Amritsar (Indian city next to the border), but less dusty. It was hot, and dusty. The sweat mixed with the dust to form special ingredients on my wrong-seasoned garment of clothes. The border is exactly between the two cities: Lahore and Amritsar, splitted the distance of 60 kms into two 30 kilometer distances. I was on the public bus (12 Rs ticket for [...]

April 25, 2006 // 0 Comments

Noraseri – The Doctor Shahab Family

April 2, 2006 Doctor Shahab with my Indonesian cap The NGO camp was emptied already today. The scars of the tents left another scars in people in neighborhood. It was Doctor Shahab, born as Khani Zaman, among those who used to come at least one time in a day to our camp area. He was an old man in his sixties, and everybody called him as Mister Doctor, or Doctor Shahab. I believed he was a doctor, until Hafizah told me that he never been a doctor. It turned out to be that he was a pharmacist, and used to be a driver of an ambulance of Edhi Foundation. His work was not that far from doctor anyway. The first time I knew Doctor Shahab was the same date when the Hajji Shahab passed away. The two occasions still made me confusing the two names many of the times. Doctor Shahab was there in the funeral day of Hajji Shahab, claiming that he was a friend of President Soekarno in school time, and asked me to send a dozen of Indonesian caps. He was humorous, he was optimistic, and he was intelligent. He lost his wife in the earthquake, but [...]

April 2, 2006 // 0 Comments

Karimabad – Indian Connection

Indian influence is obvious here India is just a bordering country, but the history of hostility between India and Pakistan makes the relation between the two countries interesting. As we all probably know, the language of both countries, Urdu and Hindi, are 90% similar. Urdu has more Persian and Arabic originated words, and Hindi from Sanskrit. But both languages are mutually intelligble. Though, the scripts are different. The influence of India is very huge in Pakistan, this is unquestioned. Everybody can sing the gigle of Aashiq Banaya, the new popular Bollywood movie, even though that this new film may not reach the villages of Pakistan. “Mujh se Saati Karogi? (Will you Marry Me?)”, Salman Khan’s newest movie, is a famous sentence anywhere here in Pakistan. And it became a laughter when we use this sentence to tease the others. The people in Karimabad, far away from anywhere, stuck their satellite dish to Indian channels. And guess what, a very plain TV drama, Vuh Ranehwali Mehlon Ki (She is Native of Palace)- A story of a beautiful girl from rich family loving a handsome boy from a poor family, is so sticky that all people in my hotel can be stucked [...]

January 9, 2006 // 3 Comments

Lahore – Welcome to Pakistan

Regale Internet Inn 150 Rs/dorm Indian border guard across the Pakistan borderline. Being sick for so many days has given me the chance to read lots of books recently. Just read Salman Rushdie’s “Shame” about the ridiculous stories of Pakistan history, from uprising and downing of its political leaders, from the ridiculous political manouvers, and also the stories about the founding of the “Land of Pure” and it failures. The other good book I got is VS Naipaul’s “Among the Believers”. This book is about Islam in Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I have read the Indonesian part, and felt that the critics was quite well-said, even some parts I dont quite agree. The Pakistan part is quite interesting, how these Indian Muslims created this “Land of Pure” and how they tried to be the most purified Muslim on earth. But the struggle is full of failures, and Pakistan was a country of experiments. And today, I successfully crossed to Pakistan. The crossing was straightforward on both sides, except the Indian officers said that I should have crossed the border a day earlier as my visa expired today. But they let me pass anyway. There was no luggage check on [...]

December 13, 2005 // 0 Comments