Taking one last look around the room to see if nothing was left behind, we stepped out of the room with our luggage, everyone else was waiting down in the lobby for the bus to arrive which would then escort us to Shangri-la Hotel in Chilas.
A team of foreign cyclists were sitting in the lobby probably waiting to settle into their rooms, rooms that we had just checked out from, after all Hill Top Hotel is one of the busiest of the hotels on the slope and also one of the finest ones in terms of service and food and ofcourse the spectacular view of Rakaposhi and other mountain ranges from its breakfast area (Visit http://www.hilltophunza.com for more details)
The foreign cyclists had traveled in from various parts of the world, US, Australia, Germany and Denmark. A conversation was struck and we started asking about their cycling mission, well guess what that mid 50’s lot had travelled across the northern span of Pakistan on bicycles and here we were, with bodies still unable to recover from the previous day’s Ultar Basecamp Trek…. what a shame for us!
The American lady, Anna started talking about her experience and asked us where we were from, when she suddenly noticed my T- SHIRT and inquired what was embossed on it’s front. It read “I Am Karachi” with the mausoleum of Quaid graphically designed on it. Anna found the shirt and it’s design very interesting and made a strange offer – TO SWAP SHIRTS WITH HER – well, no one had ever asked me to do that before, but she asked so sweetly and I understood that she wanted to take this shirt as a memoir from Pakistan, something she would always remember and relish in times to come and I being someone who also likes to gather stuff for memories sake, agreed to this swap.
She took me upstairs to her room where her suitcase had just been settled, and showed me some of her Tee’s to select from, the one I picked depicted the NYC skyline, her birth city, happened to be her most favourite Tee but since she was taking something from me that showed my city, it was an equal exchange.
So we exchanged and swapped our tee’s, wore them and took snaps.
She took the photos from her phone and took my email to send them over to me but unfortunately they never landed in my Inbox. Sighs. She probably lost the ID.
But anyway, now I wear that T-shirt to bed and every now and then the whole incident reels though my mind and I wonder how this American Tee became so Pakistani all of a sudden, born and bred in the US now working and bathing in Pakistani waters. Not sure if it feels promoted or otherwise, but mine is certainly enjoying western nationality somewhere 😀
I think this swapping was a great idea, it’s a way to leave a piece of yourself with someone for life to come, keeps them alive in your thoughts and always brings a smile on your face. I’m sure Ann smiles and remembers me too
From then on I try doing the same everywhere I go, leave pieces of myself with people, in short I leave stories for them to relay.
After all it’s not just the people who travel, their belongings take a journey too and they have a lot to say.