Carrot Juice
PESHAWAR, Pakistan
December 22, 2010

The streetlife feels a lot rawer in Peshawar. The sweet scent of hash wafting from somewhere nearby is common throughout the central part of the city. More people have been approaching to beg for money than did in the other Pakistani cities I've passed through. There are far more Afghan refugees around. Young boys about 10-or-so years old assist in menial jobs, such as bringing tea and nan through the streets.

Last night, I had a more vivid flashback to how things are just the other side of the border. We walked past a boy sitting along the curb between two pushcarts. (His features were fair and his hair sandy-blond, so I assumed he was from Afghanistan.) All he had to offer in front of him was a flat spring scale. A few rupees to know your weight. I remember seeing dozens of such scales around the streets of Kabul when passing through several years ago.

Irina Bargains
for Penknife
Irina and I took the Daewoo bus here from Lahore yesterday. While the rough level of existence may be more apparent here, so is the hospitality. As foreigners we've been welcomed with big smiles--sometimes more. Our first stop after arriving into Peshawar was one of the ubiquitous juice bars. Whole fruit is pulped with hand-cranked presses into glasses of juice. Irina ordered a glass of grapefruit juice; I opted for pomegranate. (At this time of year, not much else is in season.) When we were done our change was delivered with the booming words, "Welcome to Peshawar!" along with an extra chocolate bar, gratis.

We'll probably spend a few days visiting the city. As part of her research, Irina is looking to begin instruction in Pashto. We picked up some flashcards and an alphabet primer today at a local bookstore, Saeed Book Bank. I started teaching her how to read the Urdu alphabet. The basics of both scripts are similar, but Pashto has modified some of the letters in a way I'm not familiar with. Strangely, all the signs and books I've seen around town seem to be in Urdu. How is it people learn to read Pashto, without anything printed in that language?

We'll see what resources we can find for learning Pashto when visiting the university campus, tomorrow.