Exotic Cities, Part Five: Quetta, Pakistan
May 3, 2009
You’ve already been to Bangkok. In fact, you’ve been seen too much there. They know what you are. Now you’ll have to find another place to fulfill your sick needs. Fortunately, I know of such a place: Quetta, Pakistan. You can get whatever you want there. It’s a Sinner’s Paradise! And it’s still in its early days, so prices are modest.
They love Westerners in Quetta — especially Americans. Just stroll around the bazaars and speak loudly with an American accent, and, like magic, bearded men will step out of the shadows and offer to take you for a long drive in the country, no charge. Now that’s hospitality!
This pro-Western attitude can be traced back to 1990, when former CIA Director Admiral Stansfield Turner took a side-trip to Quetta while on vacation. Walking around town looking for fun, he went into a karaoke bar, got rather drunk, and stood up and gave a spectacular rendition of Maybellene, by Chuck Berry. Quetta has never been the same since.
Because of my literary reputation as the funniest living writer in the English language, I was shown around the city by the Mayor, Maqbool Ahmed Lehri, who is the author of a short book, Approved Jokes For Muslims. Maqbool, as he prefers to be called, explained that since 2000, Quetta has been the “sister city” of Grand Island, Nebraska, which has a large Paki community and an identical climate to Quetta’s. Mayor Ken Gnadt of Grand Island, who was into multiculturalism, proposed the arrangement and made the trip to seal the deal. He and Maqbool got zonked on qat and ended up in the only good whorehouse at the time. “America should know about this place!” burbled Gnadt enthusiastically, and Maqbool decided then and there to develop Quetta as a place for decadent Westerners to have fun.
But what about strict Muslim standards, and sharia law, and all that repressive stuff? “That’s in Islamabad and some of the hick towns,” says Maqbool. “Quetta is modern. Sure, there are some radicals who scream about sin, but you get that in the West, too. Most people ignore them.”
I was lodged in a penthouse at the Hampton Inn & Suites, managed by Neville Ira-Gould, a former Israeli paratrooper, whose family controls a kitchen utensil conglomerate. A keen businessman himself, he made a fortune on the Karachi Stock Exchange on a company that processes sheep manure into biofuel. The Hampton may not be the biggest or most luxurious hotel in Quetta, but like all the Hampton hotels, you get excellent value, and the beds are sized for normal people, not ugly, dwarfish Asian minorities.
Mayor Maqbool drove me around in his limo and showed me Jinnah Road and the Shahrah-e-Zarghun, which are one big entertainment district, heavy on sex but well-lit, safe, and with a good crowd of well-dressed people. This is civilization!
But first, a few drinks to get primed. Noor’s Pub on Jinnah Road is a lively place. The drinks are strong, everyone smokes, and a satellite TV brings in English soccer games. Noor Muhammad is the owner — a congenial fellow who tells coarse jokes in several languages. He loves Jews and Americans.
The slot machine in Noor’s isn’t reliable, so go across the street to the Gaddha Casino, which is run by a Japanese expat named Makoto Hirata. “I was an accountant for a Tokyo bank, but I got bored, so I embezzled a lot of money and came to Quetta. They don’t extradite people in this country, so there’s a whole community of Japanese here who had some reason to get away,” he explains. The Pakis are still learning the casino games, so for now the clientele is mostly Western. Poker and slots take up most of the floor space. A Jap named Shuichi Mogi got very drunk and very lucky while we were there, but he was a friend of the owner, so it was okay.
Maqbool took me to Domenico’s, a pretty good Italian restaurant on the Shahrah-e-Zarghun, owned by Domenico Raccuglia. It’s a gathering place for Italian expats, the same as with the Japs, if you get my drift. (Maqbool wanted to take me to a Pashto joint where they served sheep brains, a favorite dish in Quetta, but I wasn’t brave enough for that.)
Next, it was on to the hookers at the notorious Nawab Club, run by Abdul Qadir Kasi (“Casey” to his friends), who claims to have absolutely any type of woman you want. Maqbool went off with a slutty Russian babe (“My god-daughter”), and I had an encounter with a tiny Indian girl whose parents had been eaten by a tiger in the picturesque village of Ludhiana, where nose flutes are made. The standard price in Quetta is $30, and you can’t even buy a carton of cigarettes in Canada for that.
We didn’t go into Quetta’s foremost gay club, but I’ll mention it because Quetta is very gay-friendly. It’s called Bottoms Up, and it’s run by el-Farouk Khaki, who is also a city health inspector.
The big event of the year in Quetta is the annual Erotic Film Festival, which runs for two weeks in September. This year’s guests will include Jenna Jameson, Asia Carrera, Jesse Jane, Stephanie Swift, Jessica Drake, Inari Vachs, and Shayla LaVeaux. Last year’s winner in the documentary category was Ron Mann’s Chinese Squid Women, a hard-core film about women having sex with squids (still banned in Canada). Ron Jeremy, who was one of last year’s presenters, arrived late because he couldn’t read his own handwriting and flew to Quito (Ecuador) instead of Quetta. One of this year’s presenters will be Al Gore. Several media events will take place at the Hampton Inn & Suites, as always.
Quetta’s porn shops are open all night. They’re all up and down the Shahrah-e-Zarghun on both sides, just like 42nd St. in the old days (but much cleaner). There are a lot of locally-produced DVD’s in Urdu and Pashto with no subtitles, and this is bizarre, extreme stuff that probably doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. I recognized a well-known TV evangelist from the U.S., and I won’t tell you who. Blow-up dolls of Hillary Clinton with gigantic tits are one of the hottest items on the street.
But there are also wholesome things to do and see in Quetta. There is the Pakistan Hockey Hall of Fame, which proudly displays a signed photo of Greg Neeld, who now manages a company called Hawkeye Gold, which is the worst piece of shit on the Canadian Venture Exchange (ticker symbol: HKO).
There is a theme park called Terror Land, where you can shoot paintball guns (Commandos Vs. Taliban), drive a go-cart through a simulated mine field, and blow up a bus full of people.
The Prophet Mohammed Racetrack was closed during my visit, because of some sort of horse disease, but it should be back in operation sometime this summer.
Nature lovers will want to spend an afternoon at Hanna Lake, not far from Quetta. It has a monster like the Loch Ness monster. I didn’t see it, but many people have. It was seen as recently as March of 2009 by Lindsay Lohan, who was on a photo shoot for Revlon. An elevated viewing platform also allows you to watch crocodiles feed on sacrificial goats thrown into the lake by devout Sufi mystics from the colony at Turbat.
The morning of my departure, Maqbool took me to a Jewish bagel place for breakfast and got me stoned on a poppy seed bagel. He thought it was a good joke. “Opium comes from poppies, right?” he explained. “Your poppy seeds in the West come from a different variety of poppy, so you don’t get stoned. Here we use the true opium poppy for the seeds, so the bagels give you a great high.” Wow, they are so way ahead of us in Pakistan!
As he dropped me off at the airport, Maqbool remembered I lived in Canada. “Do you know Ujjal Dosanjh?” he asked me. I said I didn’t know him personally. “Well, if you ever meet up with that miserable low-caste prick, you tell him that if he dares to set foot in Quetta again, I will personally kick his wog ass back to India, where he belongs!” Okay, whatever.
Recommended vaccinations: Schistosomiasis, Chagas disease, sheep and goat pox.
Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org