I consider myself to be pretty outgoing, this typically results in conversations with all sorts of people as I travel through life. Today was no different.
This is Mehas Wakas, he is from Pakistan and works at the hotel gift shop where I am staying in Malaysia. Since I am flying to Hong Kong tomorrow I figured I would buy some small snacks for the trip. As usual I was very friendly when I entered the shop. I made a point to smile and say hello. I selected my items and went to the small desk where he sat.
The conversation started with him asking where I was from. I have learned that the easiest answer is "New York" so that is what I said. Then I asked him where he was from, Mehas quickly responded Pakistan with a big smile. Some how we ended up in a conversation mostly let by him. The first topic was the relations between Pakistan and America.
Mehas told me that Pakistanis think that all Americans are angry at them and that Americans are nervous that the Pakistanis are going to shoot them. I agreed on the American point of view.
Next Mehas went into a rant about how Malaysia was MORE dangerous than Pakistan. This caught my interest for sure. He quickly showed me a large scar on his hand and told me how he was robbed when he had only been here for 7 days. He said if I was in Kuala Lumpur City Center (the place I went the other day) and I saw dark skinned men that I should "go the other way very quickly". This from a man that clearly knows danger when he sees it.
Then he said that Pakistan was no more dangerous than Mexico. I agreed, but added that I didn't consider Mexico very safe since they regularly have RPG attacks in the streets. I suppose it is all relative to a man like Mehas.
Then he insisted that Pakistan was one of the most beautiful places in the world with much "natural beauty". I couldn't comment since I have never been there. We ended up chatting for 15 minutes or so before I asked if I could take his photo. He gave me a puzzled look so I explained that I write about my experiences and that I would like to write about him. He agreed to let me photograph him and he seemed to have a great amount of pride as I shot the photo.
I have to say it was really interesting to hear the point of view from someone who has seen some of the most dangerous places in the world. Put it this way... Mehas has been to Afghanistan on vacation. Let me say that again, VACATION in Afghanistan.