Destination: Pakistan

Pakistanis Don’t Approve of U.S., but They Love its Fast Food

The new Hardee’s in Islamabad is wildly popular. McDonald’s expanded to home-delivery. A sports bar serving chicken wings—though not beer—just opened. Nicolas Brulliard explains what’s going on:

Nowhere is Pakistanis’ love of American fast food more apparent these days than at the newest Hardee’s. A few days after a much-hyped opening attended by U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter and his wife, lines of customers still extended outside the doors. Nawaz Sadiq, manager for development and training at Hardee’s, said the outlet has served an average of 5,000 to 6,000 customers a day so far.

“The Pakistani market is very much brand-conscious,” Sadiq said. “Pakistani people are against America because of its policies, but at the same time, people want quality.”

Unlike in the United States, fast food here is among the more expensive eating-out options. At 390 Pakistani rupees, or about $4.50, a Big Mac is out of reach for most people. Consequently, many customers are part of Pakistan’s highly educated class and have spent time in the United States, or have at least more favorable opinions of the United States than most of their countrymen.

The Partridge Family Meets Ken Kesey on the Grand Trunk Road

The Partridge Family Meets Ken Kesey on the Grand Trunk Road Photo by *_*, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by *_*, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

James Parchman spent days on a Pakistani stretch of the fabled Grand Trunk Road, wowed by the ornate decorations he saw on so many passing vehicles. The “panorama of red, yellow and green, mixed with plastic whirligigs, polished mahogany doors and gleaming stainless steel cover plates,” he writes, is part pride of design, part advertising expense.

Durriya Kazi, an artist and teacher in Karachi, has long been a proponent of Pakistan’s folk art. She sees bus and truck decorating as an integral part of that tradition, noting the importance of distinguishing between sculpture as defined by the art gallery and the rich activity of actually making things that exists all over Pakistan.

In 2006, Ms. Kazi was instrumental in a program intended to spread Pakistan’s bus decoration skills to Melbourne, Australia, where a tram was transformed into a replica of a minibus used on Karachi’s W-11 route, resplendent in all its finery.

Another Pakistani with expertise in the subject is Prof. Jamal J. Elias of the University of Pennsylvania, the author of “On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan” (Oneworld, 2011). His book explores the tradition of Pakistani truck decoration, and looks into the “nature of response to religious imagery in popular Islamic culture.”

A terrific slideshow accompanies Parchman’s piece.

For another look at the Grand Trunk Road, check out Jeffrey Tayler’s five-part series, Cycling India’s Wildest Highway.

A Welcome Rooftop in the Heart of Pakistan

A Welcome Rooftop in the Heart of Pakistan Joshua Berman

Joshua Berman discovers a backpacker haven in Lahore where tales are spun, friends are made and plans are changed

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World Travel Watch: Flesh Fines in France, Medical Tourism Risks in South Asia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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American Fool in the Khyber Pass

To impress a girl, Les Braunstein bought a horse in Afghanistan and set out for Pakistan. It was 1971. He was sure he'd be OK.

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Interview With Greg Mortenson: One Traveler Changing Lives

David Frey asks the bestselling author about the "Three Cups of Tea" approach to travel and life

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Growing Up on the Grand Trunk Road

NPR has a compelling series about the young Pakistani and Indian men and women who live alongside one of Asia’s most famous roads. The stories are supported by a great multimedia package—interactive maps, graphics, slideshows and more. It’s worth a good browse.

Frequent World Hum contributor Jeffrey Tayler cycled the Grand Trunk Road last year; here’s his five-part series about the experience.

Photo You Must See: Models Strike a Pose in Karachi

Photo You Must See: Models Strike a Pose in Karachi REUTERS/Adrees Latif
REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Two fashion models pose together before hitting the catwalk during Karachi’s Fashion Pakistan Week.

Photo We Love: Beach Day in Karachi

Photo We Love: Beach Day in Karachi REUTERS/Athar Hussain
REUTERS/Athar Hussain

A man collects shells on Clifton Beach in Karachi, Pakistan.

Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan REUTERS/Athar Hussain

A man, his hair dyed with henna, sells mosquito nets on a side street in Karachi

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Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

A man walks down Karachi's Clifton Beach, offering rides on his camel

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Eight Great Stories of the Shrinking Planet

Eight Great Stories of the Shrinking Planet Photo by c a m i l o via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

To mark our eighth anniversary, we've collected stories from our archives that speak to ways people and cultures are mixing and colliding

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Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan REUTERS/Athar Hussain

A boy leads a camel while offering rides along Clifton beach in Karachi.

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Six Great Women Travelers in Asia


March is Women’s History Month, so this seems a good moment to call out a few of history’s great women travelers. Because so many 19th- and early 20th-century adventurers found themselves drawn to Asia, I’ve narrowed this list to women who made their mark on that continent, fording the Indus River or crossing the Tibetan Plateau, in defiance of social norms and often at great risk. These are the women I wish I’d been in another life. Herewith, my top-six list of the most intrepid Western female travelers to take Asia by foot, camel or donkey.

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Morning Links: City Bans Apostrophes, Russians in Goa and More

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