Journal Highlights: Roads I Have Traveled ... Excerpt #2 November, 1995

Uzbekistan and Pakistan: November, 1995: In Andijon Ted and Annette’s house had no shower and no running hot water. But on the backside of the courtyard in the other back corner opposite from the outdoor john was a two-room configuration that was attached to the winter kitchen room. The entry room contained the small hand-operated agitator clothes washer and pertinent supplies and paraphernalia. The entry room also doubled as a room where I would remove my clothes before entering the next room. The next room reminded me a lot of a sauna setup. There was a gas-fired, square-mud, box-type stove in one corner. On top of the stove were two large pots of water. Add all those elements, and I had a wonderful opportunity to create a bath for myself.

I took some of the hot water from the pots, mixed it with cold water sitting in buckets on the floor, scooped a panful of the mixed warm water, and poured it over my head. Next I took my shampoo and worked up a lather my barber would have been proud of, took another panful of warm water, and tried to rinse out the lather with one hand while I poured with the other. The hot water was almost gone, and I needed to finish my shower.

I thought about the procedure off and on that day and figured I had it pretty well mapped out. But the second morning experience threw a curve at me because during the night the town gas pressure dipped low enough for the fire to go out in the mud stove, and all the water was cold. I promised God that I would thank him twice for my wonderful shower when I got back to Evergreen.

Saturday, December 2

On Saturday I was up early. Ted and I walked to a main street in Andijon and caught a taxi out to the airport for my trip on to Islamabad, Pakistan. On that flight I had a window seat and a great view as we flew south over Tajikistan and Afghanistan into Islamabad.

Sunday, December 3

Sunday morning I dressed and went down to breakfast at the hotel. The Marriott in Islamabad is really nice. My mind kept making the comparison between the Andijon bathhouse procedure and the nice warm shower at the Islamabad Marriott. I went to the US embassy, checked in, and told them why I was there and where I could be reached for any messages or emergencies.

One scene I do remember very well, as I headed back out to the airport was that of the recently bombed-out Egyptian embassy located just a few blocks from the US embassy in Islamabad. Some terrorists had run a small truck totally loaded with explosives into the Egyptian embassy just a few days earlier. The only thing that was left was a crater in the ground where the embassy had stood. I don’t remember how many people were killed in the explosion. I thought, Some of these foreign places, like Pakistan, are getting almost as violent and uncontrolled as terrorist America.

On the plane I had a whole row to myself, so I was free to slide over and get a view out the window for the flight. Quetta is west and somewhat north of Islamabad. There are nothing but bleak, barren, and dry mountain ranges and desert valleys in that part of Pakistan. Why, for centuries, people had fought for this territory was beyond me. The entire borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan appear to be equally as desolate. We flew between two brown mountain ranges to where the rocky valley widened out, and behold … there was the city of Quetta. It is a city with a population of several million, including some of the nearby region, and even from the air as we landed, I could see that it consists, to a great extent, of military bases and ammunition bunkers and vehicles. That certainly confirmed all I had heard about it being a strategic military border town. The military staff college is located there, so all military staff eventually make their way to Quetta to be trained. In the past, Quetta hospitals and clinics had to take care of many war casualties from the border war in Afghanistan.

Inside the airport terminal I was met by a doctor even before my luggage had cleared through. He was very friendly and escorted me out to where a driver and car were waiting to take me to the Serena Hotel. We had a short time to get acquainted from the airport to the hotel. He came into the hotel and waited to make sure I got checked in all right. Then he left me in my room and said he would be back at 1:30 for a meeting.

At 1:30 p.m. Dr. Abdul Malik Kasi came back and brought with him Dr. Shafi Mohammed Zehri, the medical superintendent of the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. They came into the room, and we talked for about an hour. When they left, they said they would return for dinner in the evening. They informed me that there was a big meeting at the hospital planned for 10:00 a.m., and that Dr. Zehri would have someone pick me up about 9:45.

Monday, December 4

Dr. Zehri himself came with his driver to escort me to the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. The meeting was held in Dr. Zehri’s office, and there were five doctors who met with me, plus several others who slipped in and out during the meeting. They wanted to know all about Project C.U.R.E. and me, so I decided to give them both barrels. I told them my story about business, writing my book What’cha Gonna Do with What’Cha Got?, doing economic consulting, beginning to ship medical goods into Brazil, and so forth. I also told them that I promised God I wanted to do business the rest of my life that would help other people who were in need rather than becoming richer myself. I explained where we were presently shipping and how much we had shipped just this year. I told them that I considered the entire endeavor a miracle, and that I was the happiest man alive because I had been given the opportunity to be a part of helping people around the world.

Wednesday, December 6

The next morning the Serena Hotel was swarming with military ruffians. It was still raining, and the front parking courtyard was jammed with military vehicles loaded with soaking-wet tents and army gear. The troops seemed to be some kind of special-forces group, all of them wearing red-and-white-checkered and black-and-white-checkered head wear like Yasser Arafat. Some had camouflage pants and shirts, but most were dressed in long white tunics. 

I was the only one who even slightly resembled European descent in the whole restaurant. My guess is that they were high mucky-mucks who had just returned from some raid mission with the Taliban forces up in Afghanistan. Needless to say, I was quite respectful and careful that I didn’t do anything that might irritate them—like singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Next Week: A Unique Meeting with a World Muslim Leader

© Dr. James W. Jackson   

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