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Himalaya

Day 23: Islamabad

Michael Palin - HimalayaUnlike the locked and barred Gulbar at the hotel in Peshawar, there is a place in the bowels of the Marriott where non-Muslims can enjoy an alcoholic beverage. It's called The Bassment, which may or may not be a spelling mistake, and we agree to meet down there after work. I'm the first to arrive. Disapproval, in the forbidding shape of an unsmiling hotel bouncer in a suit, begins at the top of the stairs. He stands, arms folded, legs apart, resolutely avoiding eye contact, guarding the heavy door that opens onto a dank stairwell whose walls give off a pervasive odour of tobacco smoke, long-since exhaled. At the bottom two swing doors open onto a long, apparently empty chamber sunk in Stygian gloom, pierced only by tiny disco lights sunk into the ceiling. Concrete walls increase the atmosphere of being in a bunker. At the bar is a Norwegian. We exchange a wary grunt of greeting, like two people who've come together to commit the same crime.

I order a beer. They have no international brands, only beer brewed in Pakistan.

Which is how I begin my acquaintance with the life-saving products of the Murree Brewery.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 23: Islamabad
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Islamabad
  • Book page no: 49

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