Delightful Afternoon in "Pakistan"
July 15, 2018
I had the most delightful afternoon at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. I attended the “Pakistan Single Country Exhibition.”
My goal was to obtain tourist information. I had heard excellent stories from a group of German motorcyclists who I met last year in Tashkurgan, Xinjiang Province, China near the Pakistan border. I had traveled from Kashgar through some spectacular mountain scenery. Apparently, to the west, the Karakorum Highway in Pakistan is even more spectacular.
At the exhibit today, I did find a few brochures about the mountain and lake regions of Pakistan. But the convention center had exhibitors from a variety of other businesses: Rock Salt Products, Marble and Onyx, Wooden Furniture, Rugs, Gems and Jewelry, Garments and Textiles, Agro Foods, Brass Artifacts, Cutlery, Surgical Instruments, Sports Goods, Leather, Fishery, Pipe and Steel, Handicrafts, and of course, a Food Court.
I learned for instance that Pakistan exports large amounts of fish and seafood to Thailand and other countries in Asia. The rock salt and onyx and marble creations are unusual and colorful. I had a lovely conversation with a tall and elegant Pakistani man selling handmade solid brass ornaments.
I lingered for quite a long time with a rug merchant who seemed to know exactly the type of rug I prefer. My favorite was a blue and rose wool rug that would be perfect in my apartment. But I have no more floor space for such an item. (When did that stop me before?) Anyway, he has a shop nearby in Bangkok, so one day ….?
I was most impressed with the steel products. Pakistan manufactures a full line of stainless steel dental and surgical instruments. I had a brief conversation with one of the exhibitors about his products.
I had the longest and most informative conversation with a group of representatives from International Steels Limited, the largest steel company in Pakistan. Pakistan produces thousands of tons of industrial pipe and steel. Their motto is “Shaping Tomorrow.” When I disclosed I was an American, the topic diverged into the issue of tariffs and the resulting effects on prices. Our conversation was so animated and so friendly that the reps insisted I take a photo with them. They also gave me a canvas gift bag that included a steel key ring, a leather wallet and a pen.
Even though it was clear that I was not a customer at most of the exhibits, all the people I met were warm and welcoming. They were happy to meet me and discuss their respective businesses. And since I showed some interest in their products, the rug merchant and the brass merchant used the “soft sell” approach. “Handmade, solid brass.” “Iran design, woven in Pakistan, would be beautiful in your apartment.”
So, after a snack at the food court, I circled back to the brass merchant. I had my eye on a pair of small, slim brass pitchers. (12 in. - 30 cm.) After a brief bit of negotiation (I held firm to my price, so the merchant swore me to secrecy), I came home with a souvenir.
What a delightful afternoon!
And as for a journey to Pakistan? As they say here in Thailand, “Who can know the future?”