Around Rakaposhi: Life among Muslims in northern Pakistan by Brian H. Jones

Around Rakaposhi: Life among Muslims in northern Pakistan by Brian H. Jones

By Brian H. Jones

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When Marie asked him if he did not lose out by doing this, he replied, ‘No, people always come back to pay’. The downside of low prices and low wages was poor workmanship and poor quality of goods. The reason was simple: South-east Asia is a huge and lucrative market, but mainly for mass-produced goods that can be sold at the prices and at the quality that the mass of customers, with their low incomes, can afford.

Come to think of it – how does one get money when the banks are closed for such a long time? Fortunately we had quite a lot of cash with us when the curfew started and, if we ran out, Marie could IOU the money that she had collected for school fees. However, a lot of people must have been caught without much money. And now that prices had shot up, even doubled in some cases, they could be caught really short of cash. When we arrived home, Muntaz said that while we were away, the police came to the gate to check if all was well.

On at least three occasions, I got stomach upsets in Islamabad after eating at restaurants in four- and five-star hotels, which are supposed to train their staff to international standards. Marie also had a number of stomach upsets, of which the most serious came from eating a small pastry at an affluent home in Karachi, where she picked up a severe dose of amoebic dysentery that laid her low for more than a month and reduced her weight by about 7 kilograms. At home, we washed all our fruit and vegetables in a solution of potassium permanganate and only drank, and cleaned our teeth, in bottled water, while we cooked in thrice-filtered water.

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