Peshawar, Pakistan 1988- The city of Peshawar was a volatile brew of gun dealers, drug dealers, spies, mercenaries, missionaries, revolutionaries and a broad spectrum of eccentrics and fanatics who defied classification. No day was boring. Each week was punctuated by bomb blasts, assassinations and kidnappings. "Secrets" were divulged and rumors were rampant. History was everywhere and the air was thick with suspicion and intrigue. In a town where rickshaw drivers would give you hashish and a bottle of whiskey cost $50.00, the very phrase "rule of law" invited scorn, derision and laughter. It seemed as natural as the monsoon clouds, pregnant with rain, unleashing torrents, washing out roads and killing pilgrims. It was the rhythm of life in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. And if you had the right attitude, it was a blast!

I put myself there with bells on. I was young, pumped and I believed that a good journey is one "that goes through you as well as you through it". I ate the food, drank the water, and immersed myself in Peshawar. Even then, one had to know that Peshawar would not always welcome Americans one day. It was a privileged glimpse of a violent dreamworld.

copyright 2005©David Dienstag
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