Tag Archive for 'traveller'

Ticketless Traveler

Dhobi - Ticketless TravelerThe Shivaratri Festival in Kathmandu is the destination of pilgrims throughout North India. What better way to spend “Lord Shiva’s Night” than by blasting chillum after chillum in honor of the blue-throated god of the high Himalayans. Bom Shankar! Dhobi spent two days camped on the railway station platform in preparation for the trip.  A sign in the depot warned “Ticketless Travel is a Social Evil.”  Dhobi purchased a ticket and watched the comings and goings of travelers at the station.  He wanted to be extra sure of the procedure before striking out on his own.  Third Class Unreserved was in theory “first come first served.”  In actual practice, however, those who pushed hardest managed to get inside the railway car.  All others had to hang onto the outside.

When the express train pulled in, Dhobi was prepared.  As planned he was among the first to crowd into the car — but at what expense!  No sooner had he sat down when he realized something was missing–his wallet.  A thief had picked his pocket in the stampede to climb aboard.

What a dilemma!  If he left to get a new ticket, he’d lose his seat on the train.  If he stayed without a ticket, he’d risk eviction from the car.  Then Dhobi remembered, his money too was stolen.  That settled matters; there was no way to procure a ticket before the conductor came through the car.  Dhobi sat still and rehearsed his appeal as the miles clacked by.

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The Punjab Road Runners

In 1993 a trio of Bradford taxi drivers, Fazal, Patrick, and Azad, decide to buy three used Transit vans in Britain and drive them overland all the way to northern Pakistan. Their plan is to sell the vehicles on arrival at a nice profit, and then to celebrate the Eid muslim festival with their extended families. A quirky and often comical film, the “Punjab Road Runners”, charts their stumbling passage through western Europe, eastern Europe, and Asia (50 minutes).

Produced & Directed by David Hargreaves, who wrote: “In 1980 David Hargreaves hitch-hiked the Hippy Trail from Britain to India. At the Austria/Yugoslav border he came across three British Pakistanis from east London driving Transit vans to Pakistan. Glad to have a white face on board through the communist badlands of eastern Europe, they gave him a ride all the way to Istanbul. About six weeks later at the Iran/Pakistan border he ran into three more British Pakistanis, this time from Blackburn, also piloting Transit vans. He drove with them through the Baluch desert up to Quetta. By now he had become well acquainted with the practice of “Transit-to-Pakistan”, and had learnt that it was quite widespread amongst the British Pakistani community.

Twelve years later, by this time a film producer and director, David decided that the phenomenon could easily form the subject of an intriguing documentary. He spent an afternoon wandering the streets of east London, and finally managed to track down Selim, one of the original drivers he had travelled with, who confirmed that British Pakistanis were still making this trip. After speaking to local papers in towns with substantial Pakistani populations and encouraging them to write about his film plans, he was contacted by various characters who were thinking of doing the journey. He liked Fazal from Bradford the best and they agreed to co-operate. David hired a cameraman. The two film-makers then travelled with the group of drivers in the three Transit vans, not in a separate vehicle. The journey was in every respect a shared experience. “

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