During this car wash, which I was personally expecting to go wrong, as everything else had so far, there was only one moment where I thought the gig was up and they had worked out that that I was not indeed Pakistani. One of the workers cleaning the car came up to me as I sat and asked me for something, obviously not being able to understand, I looked at him in silence and then shot a glance to one of the men driving in the car with me, who promptly came over and asked the man what he wanted. It transpired that the man asking couldn’t reach some equipment he needed and as I happened to be the closest person to him, he had asked me to grab them for him. The guard who came over to help me quickly remedied the situation by passing him what he wanted, but the man was suddenly curious and began asking him questions about me. Meanwhile, in the background the other men from the garage worked on the car, scrubbing and washing, when suddenly another one of the guards accidentally tripped and fell to the ground landing on his gun. Everyone erupted in laughter and all of a sudden the mans attention had shifted from me to the man who had fallen. Luckily, it stayed that way as the guard who tripped had also torn part of the sole from his shoe on the grating from the floor when he fell. And maybe, in an attempt to keep their attention off me, made a big deal about it. Either that or he really was worried about it.
As they finished we made our way back into the car with everyone still laughing about the guard falling and moved onto getting me to Islamabad that night, we reached there that evening and I was directly checked into the nearest hotel and in the morning, put onto a bus to Lahore. Once in Lahore I was left to my own devices and found a hostel called Backpackers Hostel, where I stayed. I explained what had happened to the owner who suggested that I let him take me on an express tour of Lahore as I was to be leaving so soon. So we set about going around as he took me to different gurdwaras, mosques, markets and walled cities.
The next morning I was due to leave in the afternoon and the owner of the hostel found me again and asked if he could take me on another trip around Lahore on his motorbike, I agreed and we spent two hours getting breakfast and exploring the back streets, markets and some more ancient ruins of Lahore.
I organised a car later that morning and arrived to the border around 2pm. Eventually passed customs after yet another relatively irritating customs official. I was told that they thought my passport was fake and I had inserted my photo onto it, which to any sane person was obviously rubbish. After 45 minutes a man came to me and explained the situation. He asked me how I could prove that this was my passport and that it was indeed real. I immediately told him to call the British embassy, to verify my passport and he responded with “that is a very logical idea”, after which he left.
After an hour of just sitting around he finally returned and said I was free to go with no explanation. So not wanting to waste anymore time I took that as my cue and left, not looking back, but as I was leaving through the double doors I heard the man call my name one last time, “Mr Bhogal… And please do not come back” to which all I could do was smile and reassure them I wouldn’t be.
I got to the the Indian border where there were, compared to the Pakistan side, smiles all around. Apart from the people looking at me. As I got to customs I was asked where I was from and as I said I was British a man ran towards me laughing saying in English “why are you dressed like an Afghani? The people working here were worried”. I explained the situation and he helped me with my things through to customs. As I raced through customs and immigration, the mood was considerably lighter.
I found myself finally in India.
There seemed to be a few smiles from the taxi men waiting outside customs, who seemed desperate to take me somewhere but after I explained what I was doing, they seemed to be amused at my story and wished me luck.