Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pastels and Pakistan

The semester is winding down and finals are coming up in a couple of weeks. (Actually the Italian oral final is a week from today!) But, in the midst of that, I was determined to make it to my pastel workshop last Saturday, and the little stone house below is the result. I kept it really loose and though I used a photo as reference, it looks more how Northern Pakistan looks in my memory. (click to enlarge)

pastel and watercolor underpainting on Wallace paper

My parents moved to Islamabad on business at the end of 1995 and my sister and I were able to go over in the fall of '97. With all the talk of Pakistan lately it brings up a lot of memories, although the Pakistan on television is familiar at times, it isn't like the experience I had of this fascinating and often incredibly beautiful country.

One weekend we headed northwest toward the Kaghan Pass at the foot of the Himalayas and the Karakorams. If you can see the narrowness of the road below, try to imagine when trucks and Land Rovers are passing each other. It seems impossible but they do it and it is terrifying! There were times when the drop off was 1,000 to 2,000 feet down to the river bed below. You'd look out the window and the tires would be just inches from the edge. Oy.

Beautiful Pakistan, fall 1997

We stopped at a shed in one of these little villages we passed through for tea. I am not so sure it was a great idea considering that the next day I had some ... stomach issues and had to stay in the room most of the day.

I'll have to print up some slides from the place where we stayed. I remember ordering a chicken dish in the restaurant and seeing someone walk by outside with a live chicken a couple minutes later.

I also remember my sister and I stuffing towels at the base of the hotel room door that went to the outside. There was a two inch space at the base, where the door should meet the ground, and where the coming of winter was blowing off the mountains and right into our room. It was freezing. However, we did have a very old, dangerous looking, electric space heater that we prayed wouldn't catch our sleeping bags on fire. I just kept thinking of the crazy climbers that sleep on K2!

Anyway, it was awesome. I love an adventure!

Our guide was so sweet and had the greatest smile. (He has my extra shirt and my sister's extra sweater tied around him.) I think his name was Bashir which was also the name of my Mom's driver. As a foreigner you have to have a driver.

The following year in 1998 my Dad got a call from the U.S. ambassador saying my parents needed to get on a plane and get out of Pakistan. As they took off, President Clinton was dropping bombs on an Al Qaeda camp across the border in Afghanistan. My parents never went back.

I am going to scan more pictures to show you of our adventures in Pakistan. I was there for three amazing weeks and when I got on the airplane to leave, I started crying. Somehow I knew I would probably never make it back to that amazing country and I would never again see the face of the sweet Razak, who cooked for my parents and who would stand on the front stoop and begin to cry whenever my Mom would leave town. I guess he knew that someday it would be for good. I knew I would never again see any of them and sometimes it sucks to be right.

I am just so glad I got to experience it and I can't wait to show you more!

Hope you are all doing great and I will be around to see you soon!

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
To keep our faces toward change
and behave like free spirits
in the presence of fate
is strength undefeatable.

~Helen Keller


Joyce said...

A wonderful experience you and your family had. I'm glad everyone got out safe. xo

Cinthia said...

I like these imagines....good! Good morning, Cy

donna baker said...

Lucinda, you are pretty amazing. Italian as in language? Love the pastel and your stories about Pakistan. I've known Pakistanies but they were more Americanized than the tribal ones they show on TV. I didn't remember that Clinton ever bombed in Afghanistan. What an adventure it must have been to have visited there.

Cobalt Violet said...

Thanks for the comments!

And Donna, I think it happened after the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in East Africa.

Cobalt Violet said...

Oh, and YES! Italian language! :)

Craftsman of light said...

Your stories has always has a place for humanity,

Your belief in it.... holding on to the beautiful in it is what should touch our sclerosed thoughts.

i think, with a vision like yours we could probably get beyond the prejudices and segregations we have created amoungst us.

Some, in the name of religion, ideology and other needs to impose and to subjugate depriving one another of a respect that goes with freedom.
i loved the souvenirs you evoke...and the painting is meaningful and beautiful too!

PoetessWug said...

What an experience! Thanks for sharing your words...and your pictures. It's an area of the world most of us will never see, or ever really know about, except through the personal experience of people who've been YOU.

A Brush with Color said...

What a story, Lucinda! I'm so glad you captured images and shared them. That photo of your guide is like a National Geographic shot. He has such a fascinating face, doesn't he?! More!

A Brush with Color said...

I forgot to ask, Lucinda: what did your parents DO that they were in Pakistan!? I often think that that part of the world looks like it has so much natural beauty, but unfortunately, has been so involved in wars that most will never see it...sad.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

What beautiful pictures of such a troubled place. I was lucky to go to Morocco before 9/11 and feel blessed that I went with innocent eyes. I love adventures like this as well...your post was very touching.

jane minter said...

incredible pastel from memory lucinda

Tammie Lee said...

that is an amazing experience you and your family had. A time of memories and a time of leaving the country in the nick of time. I wish I could live on earth in a time of no wars.

Your pastel is gorgeous, dreamy wonderful!

Cobalt Violet said...

Thanks for the comments!
Jane I should have been more specific (i'll fix it).
I did use a photo reference but It looks more how it does in my memory. :)

Turid said...

What a stunning place. What a unique opportunity!

Luzia said...

What a interesting journey and a nice pastell! Hugs from Luzia.

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