Well, our gallivanting across America and Canada is finally over and we are on our way back to the hot, dusty, noisy and chaotic land of the Pak and the Pure, where justice and the rule of law is just a joke .

Our last week in the US was also hectic, but enjoyable, watching the spectacular fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July in the Roland Regan Park in Temecula, which had been packed to capacity, with over 1,00,000 people, young and old, who had come from the various towns near Temecula to watch the fireworks and the festivities.

There was a R&R band to entertain the crowd, numerous fast food stalls and street vendors, selling American flags and assorted knickknacks. At exactly 10 pm, an announcement was made that the lights in the park were about to be turned off and the fireworks would begin. 

There was a large cheer from the excited crowd as the first rocket burst with a loud bang and lit up the sky and showered the crowd with multiple colored stars. US patriotic songs echoed through the park and for the next 30 minutes, we were all spellbound as one multicolored rocket followed another and the sky was lit up with all the colors of the rainbow.

Though the crowd was large, it was manageable and their was no misbehavior or rowdiness like the one we witness in our cities on such occasions and everybody was there with their families, just to have a good time. Even the traffic was disciplined and there was no hooting or breaking the long lines of vehicles to get ahead and waited patiently in que.

We had planned to go across to Houston and Dallas, to spend some time with my sister and friends, but a sudden situation in Karachi forced us to change our travel plans and instead, we caught the 1.30 am Cathay Pacific flight from LAX airport to Karachi, via Hong Kong on Thursday. The kids were of course disappointed at our sudden departure, but it was unavoidable and as they say, man proposes, but God disposes. 

So, with nostalgic hugs and good byes and a lump in our throats, we loaded our luggage into the limo and were on our way to LAX airport. The two-hour drive was uneventful and we reached the airport at 10.30 pm, checked in and were soon wheeled through customs and taken to the well-stocked Business Class lounge of Cathy Pacific.  After a leisurely dinner, washed down with an assortment of beverages, we waited for our departure. The flight left on time and we were soon comfortably strapped down into our individual capsules like Captain Kirk.

We familiarized ourselves with the various knobs and buttons that controlled our seats and the entertainment programs that were available to us and were soon stretched out in our seats, ready for the thirteen-hour flight.

After take off, I pulled out my computer and was comfortably settled, listening to cool jazz, sipping an excellent Merlot and writing this ST article, as we streak across the night sky over the Pacific Ocean, on our way to HK, where we have a 10 hour lay over.

We had tried to take a more convenient flight, but unfortunately, all CP flights to Karachi from LA, have a long lay over at HK. However, if you manage to sleep well on the flight, then the long stop is not a problem, as the CP Business Club lounge at HK airport is very comfortable and offers passengers a wide variety of food and beverages.

The long drive to LA, the good food and the Merlot are making me drowsy and I keep dozing off, think, I will take a nap and continue this article when we reach HK. So till then, adieu.

The long flight was, as always, comfortable and enjoyable and I was able to watch Safe House, one of my favorite actors. I soon dozed off and was woken up at 5 am by a smiling hostess for breakfast and after my usual cornflakes, toast and a hot cup of coffee, I was ready to face a new day. We reached HK as per schedule and we were soon wheeled into the CP lounge and prepared ourselves for the long wait.

HK airport, like all major international airports, was a hustle and bustle even in the early morning hours, with passengers rushing through the long corridors to catch their flights. The airport also  has the same problem like other airports, in handling the heavy air traffic that it handles every day. As such, there were constant announcements about delays in arrivals and departures and change of gates and apologies for the usual ‘inconvenience caused’. 

So expecting the same scenario with our flight, I found a comfortable sofa and am once again at my computer, munching cheese and biscuits, sipping a cold San Miguel and continuing with my ST article, hoping to finish it in time.

Mercifully, our five-hour flight to Karachi left on time and we reached the land of the Pak and the Pure by 11 pm and home, sweet home by midnight. And though I enjoy the few months I spend in the US and while travelling, somehow, I always enjoy coming back to this city of blackouts and violence. As they say, there is no place like home.

And the good news for once from home is, that our dear friend, Jst. ® Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim has been appointed Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan. This is indeed ‘Breaking news’ and one can only hope and pray the ‘Fakhru Bhai’ will be allowed to perform his duty in letter and in spirit, without interference and any political pressure.

And the bad news is, that in its attempt to promote democracy, protect the independence of the judiciary and the rights of the citizens, the PPP government is trying to amend the Contempt of Court laws, in order to protect the president, the PM and all senior government ministers from accountability and the rule of law. Such is the tragedy of this nation.    

And thankfully, I have been able to finish the article for publication in the Nation on Sunday. I hope you have enjoyed my travel log as much as I have writing about it.

 Hamid Maker

(email: trust@helplinetrust.org).