Designers can create efficient, functional, organized spaces, but they cannot breath life into them.
It is the difference between a river and an irrigation ditch. Between a lake and a reservoir.
Islamabad was planned and built in the 1960s specifically for the purpose of being Pakistan’s capital. Even its buildings and monuments lack heart.
The Supreme Court, where we sat through a half hour of painfully pedantic proceedings, was a beautiful building. But it was just a façade, with its scales of justice slightly askew, for a dingy, disheveled interior.
Sometimes you just have to throw a good old-fashioned tantrum. This little girl's shoe had come untied and nothing was going to make her happy -- at the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
Michael Clapp / OPB
The stunning Faisal Mosque, designed by a Turkish architect to be shaped like a desert Bedouin’s tent, was magnificent from afar, beautiful as you walked its stairs and courtyards, but hollow, lifeless once you were inside.
No one was allowed to enter except at prayer times and the worn blue carpet made even colder the chilly marble interior.
We escaped the bubble and the bus, the security guard and the guide and wandered in the dark, in a park, with the square lines of city lights stretched out below us.
Akri Chai - My last cup of chai in Pakistan.
Michael Clapp / OPB
After many pictures at the overlook we drove to a hillside village and sat outside and drank chai on a chilly February night.
We laughed, we joked, we listened to the gentle melodies of a flute and drum duo. I learned some new words of Urdu and even got to show off my one soccer move to some kids playing in the parking lot as we returned to our cars.
It was the most blissfully normal hours I’d spent in two weeks. Friends, music, laughter, freedom, chai.
I returned to the hotel and had a wonderful night’s sleep feeling I’d finally found a happiness in Pakistan.
OPB photographer and web editor Michael Clapp recently returned from a two-week trip to Pakistan with six other American journalists as part of an exchange program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists. This is the fourth of five travelogues he will be writing about the trip for OPBNews.org.