FOOD AND DRINK
: Pakistani cuisine is based on
curry or masala (hot and spicy) sauces accompanying chicken, lamb,
shrimps and a wide choice of vegetables. Specialities include brain
masala, biryani (seasoned rice with mutton, chicken and yoghurt),
pilao (similar but less spicy) and sag gosht (spinach and lamb curry).
Lahore is the centre for Mogul-style cuisine known as moghlai.
Specialities include chicken tandoori, shish kebabs (charcoal-grilled
meat on skewers), shami-kebabs (patties of chopped meat fried in ghee
or butter), tikka-kebabs (grilled lamb or beef seasoned and spiced)
and chicken tikka (highly seasoned chicken quarters,
charcoal-grilled). Desserts include pastries, shahi tukray (slices of
fried bread cooked in milk or cream, sweetened with syrup and topped
with nuts and saffron), halwa (sweetmeat made with eggs, carrots,
maize cream, sooji and nuts) and firni (similar to vanilla custard).
Western and Chinese foods are also widely available.
The national drink is tea, drunk strong with milk and often very
sweet. Alcohol may be bought at major hotels by visitors who have been
issued a Liquor Permit from the Excise and Taxation Office. Wine is
expensive and only available in upscale restaurants. Pakistani-brewed
beer is widely available, as are canned carbonated drinks. There are
no bars since there are strict laws concerning alcohol, and it is
illegal to drink in public. Waiter service is provided in the larger
hotels and restaurants. Visitors should avoid drinking water from the
tap; bottled water is available everywhere, but it is necessary to
make sure it comes in properly sealed plastic bottles.
Top hotels have bars and dancing but there is
little Western-style nightlife. Cinemas in the large cities show
international as well as Pakistani films. There are plenty of cultural
events featuring traditional music and dance organised by the
Pakistani Arts Academy throughout the year. Festivals and annual
celebrations are colourful and lively.
Special purchases include carved wooden tables,
trays, screens, silver trinkets, pottery, camel-skin lamps, bamboo
decorations, brassware, cane items, conch-shell ornaments, glass
bangles, gold ornaments, hand-embroidered shawls, rugs and carpets,
silks, cashmere shawls and saleem shahi shoes with upturned toes.
While some of the major towns have craft centres where handicrafts
from different regions are sold, bazaars often provide the most
interesting shopping. It is expected that the customer should bargain
for goods. SHOPPING HOURS : Sat-Thurs 0930-1300 and 1500-1830.
Bazaars stay open longer.
SPECIAL EVENTS :
The following is a list of some of the special
events taking place in Pakistan during 2003: Feb Sibi Festival
(sport, handicrafts, folk music and dances), Sibi (Balochistan); Sindh
Horse and Cattle Show, Jacobabad (Sindh). Mar Mela Chiraghan
(Festival of Lamps), Lahore. May Joshi or Chilimjusht (spring
welcoming), Chitral. Jul Utchal (harvest festival celebrated by
the Kalash people), Chitral. Aug 14 Independence Day
(processions and rallies), countrywide. Oct Lok Mela (folk
festival), Islamabad. Nov National Horse and Cattle Show,
The right hand is used both for shaking hands
(the usual form of greeting) and for passing or receiving thngs.
Mutual hospitality and courtesy are of great importance at all levels,
whatever the social standing of the host. Visitors must remember that
most Pakistanis are Muslim and should respect their customs and
beliefs. Smoking is prohibited in some public places and it is polite
to ask permission before lighting a cigarette. It is common for
visiting business people to be entertained in hotels and restaurants.
If invited to a private home, a gift or national souvenir is welcome.
Informal dress is acceptable for most occasions. Women should avoid
wearing tight clothing and should ensure that their arms and legs are
covered. Pakistani society is divided into classes and within each
group there is a subtle social grading. The Koran is the law for
Muslims and it influences every aspect of daily life. See the World of
Islam appendix for more information. TIPPING : Most high-class
hotels and restaurants add a ten per cent service charge. Other
tipping is discretionary.