Wednesday, January 25, 2006

First Three Days in Lahore

We’ve spent three full days in Lahore and it seems like we’ve been here for months. I could fill a novel with everything we’ve learned in these first few days, but instead of spending the next six months doing that I’ll just give a quick overview before heading out into the fascinating streets of Lahore once again.

Wednesday – Day 1 – We slept in late and enjoyed fried eggs for breakfast, cooked by Hassan (aka Cha-Cha meaning “uncle”). The family we’re living with has several servants. Cha-Cha has been with the family for fifty years and is the head cook. He’s about seventy and so cute! He moves around quite slowly and likes to sit by the fireplace at night to warm up. Jeera is the maid who cleans the house every day and does the laundry. She’s also been with the family for years and is a sweet old woman with a beautiful smile. She usually wears gray shalwar kameez and a pink and purple shawl over her head. Mansha is the driver but he basically does everything. Helps cook, makes the tea, supervises the mason and the other servants who are outside. He rides his bike about two hours every day to get here. The other male servants live in the servants’ quarters which are next to the house. Mansha is a slender man with a full head of hair a big smile. He’s been the best one to practice Urdu with and speaks clearly so I can understand. The last one is Shaqil who is the teenage boy that thinks he looks like a movie star. He’s been on leave but he’s coming back to today. The family usually calls him “bacche” which means “boy.” He’s been calling every day to say hi and inshallah (God willing!) he’s coming back tonight. He serves the tea at night and helps out with things around the house.

After breakfast we got ready and went out to take care of our foreigners’ registration. In Pakistan you have to register at the local police office and let the authorities know your intentions. Alhumdullah ( praise God), one of Seema’s relatives works in Islamabad with this department and so she took care of everything for us. We just wrote up these little papers, signed them, and then sat in the car while Seema and Mansha brought them in and talked to whoever had the authority to accept them. It’s amazing that they were able to do that for, we’d have been there all day standing in different lines and going from office to office trying to figure out who we really needed to talk to…kind of like at UMass!

We spent some time walking around at a park which had a big old library from the British times. People in Pakistan are quite fond of parks. We spent some time talking to a retired army man on the way out of the park. He told us all about the different kinds of trees and the history of the park. The conversation started because there was one tree called the “Devil’s tree” (Shaitan!) and I was curious why it was called by such a peculiar name. It was said to be used to cure ailments, which is the opposite of what I thought a Shaitan tree would do.

Then we stopped by Lahore College for Women, which is where Seema works. We met all the girls who work in the office and got to stop into the TESOL class. Seema suggested that I teach one of the modules for the MA program, Speaking & Listening. I’ll be borrowing some books for her to come up with a syllabus and inshallah (God willing) it will work out that I can teach the girls! It was just a huge room of smiles when I was introducing myself. Some of the girls were wearing their scarves, others just had them draped around their necks. They were all dressed in colorful shalwar kameez, which of course had matching pants, tops, scarves, and shoes. Pakistani women LOVE to have matching outfits. It’s very strange to buy “separates.” They also like to wear thong sandals, even in the winter.

On the way back we stopped at Shezan, a famous bakery chain, to pick up some snacks for tea. The evening was just laid back; reading in the living room and chatting with the family.

Thursday – Day 2 – I woke up early to go for an interview at the Australian Cultural Centre. Mansha and I got a little lost on the way since I was the one who had the directions and I’m not quite sure yet how Lahore is laid out. The office is located in the neighboring section of town, Defence. It’s the “posh” area of town where all the ex-pats and people with new money live. The hippest shops, cafes, and restaurants can be found in Defence. The Cultural Centre is a cozy place with two classrooms set up for teaching, a lounge and an office. The guard who works there has one of the sweetest smiles I’ve ever seen, really everyone here in Pakistan is SO friendly and welcoming! He’s from a village and doesn’t speak any English, but the director, Sonia, has told him to speak Urdu to me so I can practice. The Centre (notice British spelling) just opened up in April and so they’re getting started and only have one full time teacher at the moment. He’s a guy named Summer (pronounced like Summa’ cause in Australia they drop their r’s….Galina this is for you!) who has been in 64 countries and also works as a journalist. Before coming here to Lahore he was living in Thailand for a few years. Sonia is also Australian and married to Rizwan, a Pakistani. They have four extremely cute kids, two girls and two boys. The oldest is 13 and the youngest is only 3. I really clicked with everyone at the centre and decided that I’d love to work with them during my stay here. Since they’ve just opened in the last year there’s so much room for creativity. I’ll be designing some of my own courses, the first one starting in February after Duiii heads home. A few rock band singers have been wanting someone to help them with their pronunciation while singing so they can sound more like native speakers, so I’ll be booking private lessons for that starting in the next few weeks. Maybe one of these rocks bands needs a bassist. Just kiddng!

I returned home for lunch and we spent the afternoon chilling out in the garden. When it got dark we came in and I got to hear about how Adam and Eve found out they were naked after they ate from the tree because they had to go to the bathroom. Did you know that Cain killed Abel because they both had to marry their sisters and Abel was going to get the pretty one? Cain was apparently jealous since he was getting the ugly one, so he killed Abel. Whatever happened to the two sisters? I’m not so sure. After hearing about this version of the fall and the two brothers, Grandma and I spent some time reading the first few chapters of Genesis together. She has trouble with reading so I had to read it aloud so she could follow along. She tells me she has studied the Jewish holy books and the Christian holy books, but we had to interrupt our Genesis study when the call to prayer came.

After dinner we met up with Sonia to check out an Indian classical dance class at Chitrkar, one of the only arts centers here in Lahore. We observed the class, very slow and disciplined. Not the kind of dancing for me! Then we sat and talked to the tabla instructor. Tabla is an Indian drum which has a really cool sound. There are two tables, a small one and a big one, and the small one makes most of the notes. The big one is used for bass. He told us he was offering a class on Saturday at 3:00pm, so we said we’d try to come back for it.

We stopped in at the English class located closer to central Lahore and got to meet all the students. They were all really sweet and one of the girls already invited me to come see her village. Another one the girls does fashion design and was wearing a really cute outfit with a short kameez and trousers (as opposed to the poofy shalwar). Maybe I should have her design some of my clothes for me!

No comments: