America’s relationship with Pakistan is less than perfect. Avid motorcyclist and organizer Moin Kahn of A Different Agenda, an awareness group, hopes to change that.
His documentary, “Rediscovering Pakistan—The Untold Tale,” will be screened on Saturday afternoon at the Art Theater of Long Beach, and all proceeds will go toward A Different Agenda and AJK, an elementary school promoting education for young girls in Pakistan.
The film follows eight Americans and one Malaysian for 14 days on their expedition from the capital city, Islamabad, to the Chinese border powered by motorcycles.
“Our media just sheds such a different light,” said Nicole Goode, a former California State University, Long Beach alumna and featured rider in the documentary.
Images of dry deserts adorned with crowded clay and brick vertical structures, the occasional rich-colored tarp flowing on wire breaking up the ocean of beige have been spoon fed to the states through fear-based media.
Pakistan is often broadcast through U.S. news with civilians draped from head to toe, living among terror groups.
Warnings from the Bureau of Consular Affairs from the U.S. Department of State continue to advise against all non-essential travel to Pakistan, according to travel.state.gov.
“Moin even said that when he would watch the news while going to school in the states, he would call his family to see if they were okay,” Goode said. “The news here even freaked him out.”
“Rediscovering” is Khan’s attempt to educate the western world of “the country [he] loves.”
How did you get involved with this documentary?
I got involved because my boyfriend Mike motorcycles, and he followed Moin Kahn of A Different Agenda. Moin is Pakistani, but he went to school in the states and is an avid motorcyclist. Once he graduated from school, he rode his bike all the way from San Francisco to Pakistan. He’s a nut.
What was it like, working with Moin Kahn?
I had no idea. I thought we were going to Pakistan to ride motorcycles around on little goat trails. I knew he was of A Different Agenda but I wasn’t super well-versed with everything they did. But we got over there, and he was like, “By the way, I got Brighto Paints to sponsor us.” It’s really rare for that Pakistani company to do that. It was like, “Surprise!” We did press conferences. We saw ourselves on Pakistani television on the news. It was amazing.
I read there were some ‘nasty spills.’ Was that you?
In the Vimeo, you see someone just eating it for no apparent reason—that’s me. And it was the first day out! The gentleman right in front of me hit somebody else’s tire. I fell behind him. He crashed, broke his collarbone andunfortunately had to sit in the crew truck for the rest of the trip. They were SUV’s; sometimes, I would ride in them because I knew it’d be treacherous.
Did you experience any culture shock?
In one city bigger than Islamabad, which is the capital city, it’s mixed. We’d go to dinner with a lot of his friends. They would have very traditional clothes on like the kurtas, and then we would have on cheap jeans and cheap blouses on. So we were cracking up. Then, we would go up into the smaller villages where [we’d] see a lot of people dressed very proper and conservative. The women covered their face and their hair to the point where [we] could only see their eyes. It varies depending on where [we] were, but I was kind of expecting that part.
Before you left, did you have any prejudgments yourself?
I kind of had judgments just based on our media, for sure. I thought it would all look like desert. There’s that notion of, “Oh, you’re going to Pakistan? Are you out of your mind? Don’t go there.” Our media just sheds such a different light. Moin even said that when he would watch the news while going to school in the states, and he would call his family to see if they were okay. The news here even freaked him out.
Since the trip, how has your perspective of Pakistan changed?
Courtesy of Natalie GoodeCourtesy of Natalie Goode
I think it’s totally changed. Before I had no idea that it was covered with spectacular scenery. I didn’t think that [the residents there] wouldn’t interact with us. I had no idea they were so gracious. The poorest person would invite you into their home and give you their last cup of tea. That doesn’t happen here. They treat guests with great courtesy. It’s an honor to have guests. The people were so warm and generous and lovely. I didn’t want to leave. It was a lesson for me. If I could, I would go back tomorrow.