Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
When it comes to life expectancy, Pakistan comes in at number 136 out of 191 countries in the world. The average life span in Pakistan is 64.9 years according to the CIA World Factbook 2009 Estimates. There are numerous reasons for this, including poverty, infant mortality, lack of clean drinking water, poor sanitation, not having access to medical care, etc., but dying younger is not limited to only the poor.
I have met many middle class and upper class Pakistanis who suffer from health problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure as early as in their 20s. A nurse friend of mine living in Pakistan was convinced that the Pakistani diet factors into the low life expectancy, and I could see why!
If you are accustomed to eating a typical “Desi Diet,” here are some tips to help you eat and live a healthier, longer life.
If you are accustomed to eating a typical “Desi Diet,” here are some tips to help you eat and live a healthier, longer life.
Tip for Healthier Eating #1 – Say No to Ghee and Use Less Oil
Tip for Healthier Eating #1 – Say No to Ghee and Use Less Oil
You may love your sweets, treats and meats swimming in ghee (animal fat), but the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to stop cooking with ghee altogether. My husband and I always found it shocking, and a bit sickening, how much cooking oil is on sale at the supermarket. Do your regular cooking with olive oil, and cut down the amount of oil that you use significantly. A few tablespoons of oil are enough for most dish. Olive oil is more expensive, but the health benefits are worth it.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The Wagha/Attari border is the only place you can officially cross from Pakistan into India, and travelers usually make the trip between the Punjab’s two major cities: Lahore in Pakistan and Amritsar in India.
In order to cross the border from into India from Pakistan, you need to have valid visas for both countries. If you are planning to return to Pakistan, make sure that you have another entry left on your visa before you leave the country, unless you are planning to apply for a new Pakistan visa in New Delhi.
There are often buses that go straight from Lahore to New Delhi, and sometimes there is a train service operating across the border, but these services are vulnerable to the state of government relations between the neighboring countries. Not only that, services that join the two countries directly are seen as symbols of friendship and cooperation, and these services are accompanied by heavy police escorts due to the fact that not everyone thinks friendship and cooperation are the best policies to pursue. It’s safer and faster to stick with local transportation on each side of the border rather than to use a special service that operates between the two countries.
Monday, July 20, 2009
|From Camp Brookwoods & Deer Run|
Monday, June 29, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
From Lahore to Abu Dhabi on Etihad, we sat next to an old Pakistani man who didn´t speak any English and was deaf. It seemed it was his first flight, as he had no idea how to buckle the seat belt and seemed totally intrigued by the food. When he got to the butter packet, he opened it and started eating it with a spoon!
From London to Boston on American Airlines we had a South Indian couple across the aisle from us. I have no idea how they made it to London. They were trying to put their buckles on backwards, and the man was standing up and trying to talk on the phone as the plane was getting ready to take off. The stewardesses could not communicate with them at all, so I tried talking to them in Hindi. Turns out they only spoke Tamil, but they could at least understand more Hindi than English. Either that or my hand motions were enough! Thankfully the man had the same model of phone as I do, so I was able to turn it off before getting him and wife properly buckled in. The stewardesses gave us drinks on the house for the translation help!
Sunday, May 31, 2009
"There is a cash handling fee," he replied.
I was thinking (but didn't say), "What? A fee for handling cash? Isn't that what a bank does?"
I read the account opening forms thoroughly, and I don't remember it saying anything about a cash handling fee for foreign currency accounts.
If I'm going to lose money every time I make a deposit, then why should I keep an account there? Maybe this 'cash handling fee' is normal in Pakistan, but if I put in dollars into a dollar account, I don't understand why there should be any fee. Banks here don't do currency exchange, you have to go to Western Union or other money changers to do that, and there you lose a bit of value when you exchange currency. If you open a dollar account at Askari Bank, you will lose some money when you exchange your money into dollars, and then you'll lose more money when you pay the cash handling fee.
If the 'cash handling fee' is normal for foreign currency accounts, the bank employees should at least tell you before you open the account.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
One of the things that drives me crazy is people I call "beepers." Beepers are too lazy to get out of their cars themselves and ring a doorbell or open a gate. They drive up a house and immediately start beeping. "Beep beep beep beeeeeeep!" Two seconds later (not near enough time for anyone to actually get out of the house and open the gate), "BEEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEP!"
These beepers have no concept of disturbing the peace. At least once every day I am woken up by a beeper. At four in the morning, when even most Pakistanis are sleeping, they seem to beep longer and louder than they do during the day. What a nice alarm clock. "Beep beep beeeep! Beep be beep beep beeeeeeeep!"
They beep in the morning. They beep in the evening. They beep when I am enjoying my dinner .They beep when I am sleeping. They beep when I'm talking on the phone. They beep so loud I can barely hear myself think. This is not a nice little 'honk honk,' but a laying on of the horn as if the driver is constantly in an aggravated state.
If you are a Pakistani who gets out of the car to open to your own door, I respect you. Thank you for being considerate and thinking about the sanity and peace of others. Even if you give a missed call to someone, but stay in your car, this is still much appreciated. Beeping is not necessary for doors to open and shut. My gate seems to open just fine without a password of "Beep beep beep beeeep!"
If you are a beeper, you may not think your beeping bothers anyone, but I'm sure you have woken someone up at some point with your incessant honking. If you ever move to a country where disturbing the peace is a crime, you will be faced with steep fines and a lot of angry neighbors. Beeping on the road at dangerous drivers is fine; but beeping in quiet residential neighborhoods is just plain rude.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I saw another funny billboard for the new Media institute opening in Defence:
Excited Career Opportunities!
Of course it should have read "Exciting Career Opportunities!" By using 'excited,' it makes it seem as if the career opportunities are excited about something. In this way, the 'opportunities' are personified and have their own personality.
Why do people spend so much money on advertising and paste it all over town without getting it checked over?
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Check it out:
My Three-Year Love Affair with Lahore
Friday, May 08, 2009
"But miss, I wrote those other poems."
"I don't care if you wrote some of the poems, although I don't believe you did because I didn't see you write them in the class. Look, here underlined in red, 'any instance of plagiarism will result in a zero.' Zero. That's what you are getting."
"Miss, miss, can I resubmit? I will email it to you."
"No. I told you clearly that you must write the poems yourself, and that if you did not, you'd get a zero. If you email me I will not read it."
You think by now the girl would have some dignity and either confess or give up. She stayed around for 20 minutes begging me to let her re-do the assignment. Two former plagiarizers who had changed their way were also there to witness the scene. They had learned their lessons and handed in excellent work. One of them even earned 97% on her assignment.
I was adamant with the newest plagiarizer.
"Look, would you take verses from your Holy Qur'an, and put your name on them? Would you say that you had written them? This is exactly what you've done. You can not steal other people's work and lie and say that it is yours. This is not acceptable."
Finally, she gave up. The sad thing is that she'll surely try it again with other teachers.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
"All items submitted must be 100% original and written by you. Your instructor will search the Internet if the items do not match your writing style or level. Any instance of plagiarism will result in a zero for this assignment and a warning from the department."
Now, we did all the writing in the class, and this girl used to sit blankly without writing much in her notebook. I must admit that her English level is quite low, particularly writing skills, and she should have had to pass some prerequisite in order to take my course: Teaching Creative Writing.
I suggested she withdraw from the class and take it later once her English skills were stronger, but she stayed on.
When she handed in her poetry portfolio, it was by far the most decorated project. Any teacher knows that at the university level, this is a red flag! Unfortunately for her, this was not an art collage, but it was supposed to represent a semester of poetry writing. I don't believe she wrote any of the poems in her portfolio. She included the famous limerick attributed to an anonymous author:
"There was a young lady from Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And a smile on the face of the tiger."
She then went on to plagiarize the apostle Paul by using the famous
love passage from 1 Corinthians 13, as quoted from this website.
You'd think if someone was going to steal another person's work and
put her name on it,that she'd at least avoid plagiarizing the
Sunday, May 03, 2009
March 21, 2009
A thirty-year-old woman, named Lubna, was killed by her brother after she allegedly had an extra marital affair. In Bahawalpur, a man stoned his sixteen-year-old daughter and her 'paramour' to death with bricks after finding them in a 'compromising position.' A 'compromising position' could be as innocent as holding hands or sitting together on a park bench. Girls have been killed by their own families for less.
Continue reading this article here:
Shocking Non Events of Local Pakistani News
I was getting exciting looking into grad school and thinking about getting back to studies, and then I started reading about the problem of PhD overproduction.
Wanted: Really Smart Suckers
This opened up a whole can of worms and has consumed the better part of my Sunday. I've been reading about the problem of PhD over-production and about how tenure-track professor positions are decreasing by the year. I feel a bit stuck now, wondering if 8-10 years on a PhD (plus the thousands of dollars in loans and living on a shoe-string, delaying having children) is really all it's cracked up to be if the job competition is so fierce. One blogger, a PhD herself, said she didn't feel it was ethically right to encourage students to pursue PhD's, knowing that it was such a high risk path.
Check out the article and let me know your thoughts.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Read the Review of Malee's Cafe here
Have you been to Malee's Cafe? What were your thoughts?
Friday, April 24, 2009
It's too bad Pakistanis import their tea. How much do they import? See this interesting article to find out how many dollards worth of tea are imported to Pakistan yearly.
How Much Tea Does Pakistan Drink?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Now I know I need to focus on eating protein rich foods and complex carbohydrates in 6 - 7 smaller meals during the day. I need to avoid foods that turn into sugar in my bloodstream quickly like sweets, white rice, pasta, processed foods, juices and soft drinks (cold drinks). I also need to avoid fats and caffeine as much as possible. This type of diet does not go well at all with the local culture in Pakistan, and I feel a bit like I'm always the party-pooper when I have to refuse the oily (yet tasty) foods on offer and literally have to hold my hand over my glass to prevent being poured endless servings of Coca Cola. Many Pakistani friends are telling me the solution to "being weak" is to eat more! It's been quite frustrating to have to be so negative all the time, but it's just unhealthy (and even dangerous) for me to eat huge heaping plates of spicy, oily food followed by "mitai" (traditional Pakistani sweets that are VERY sweet, I can barely stomach them anyway).
There are some Pakistani foods I can still enjoy, such as a small helping of chicken handi with a whole wheat roti, but the amount that I eat is about 1/5 of what a typical Pakistani would eat the same meal, so it's still hard for me to be understood. I can also enjoy BBQ meats such as chicken malai boti (one of my favorites) or chicken tikka.
As soon as I got my diet under control and started feeling healthier, I came down with a killer cold that caused me to stay up all night coughing and blowing my nose. I eventually lost my voice and had to teach Monday's lecture in a whisper. My students were amazingly accomodating and listened closely to my barely there voice.
Yesterday I was starting to get my voice back and only wake up a few times during the night, but this morning I woke up to a case of mild food poisoning! Needless to say I have spent most of today in bed as well. Thank God we have had electricity for the last two days, becuase last week when my nose was all stuffy it was torture to not be able to breathe in the hot, sticky air. Then they were turning off the power every other hour. I felt I was going to suffocate just in the thick, hot air. Blah.
To top it off the maid has been 'sick' as well, and also had an extra day off for attending a wedding. Our kitchen is atrocious and I have no energy to wash the mountain of dishes that have accumalated.
Hopefully when I recover from the food poisoning I will not get sick with anything else or be forced to eat Pakistani sweet dishes until I swoon and pass out on the floor!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Bustling Bazaars of Lahore: A List Poem
Buttery Cinquain: Summer in Lahore
View from Fairy Meadows: A Haiku Trio
The poetry challenges have been fun, and before this I didn't know how to write cinquains! I like poetry that has syllable patterns, but I'm not too good with rhyme and meter. Hence I didn't do the ghazal or the quatrain. Enjoy!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Thankfully, the post office man and the package wala trusted that we'd bring the money to pay them later. How cool is that? I was so thankful that they were gracious with Duarte. I was on the other side of town when I found out about my money mishap, so I told Duarte to duck into the nearest McDonald's (air conditioned at all times) and wait for me. He really deserved the Big Mac he got after spending three hours at the post office to send our packages! After the Big Mac, we sped back to the post office to pay the missing 15 rupees and the money for sewing up all the packages (600 rupees- $7.40). It may not seem like a lot in dollars, but 600 rupees is quite a lot. Consider that my maid makes 2500 rupees per month for working 15 hours/week at my house.
Let's hope our books and clothes make it to the US. We just heard today that Sergio (the formerly stranded Italian traveler)'s van has been delayed in Africa. Maybe the captain is trying to avoid Somali pirates.
Friday, April 10, 2009
"In addition to physical security, local administrators take great care in applying municipal bylaws. Rules, such as forcing residents to equip power generators with sound-proof canopies or forcing parties to turn loud music off by a cut-off time of midnight, are applied rigorously. In fact, on one recent evening, Defence’s guards appeared 10 minutes after midnight to force an end to an event at the home of a prominent politician, who was shocked when told that his electricity would be turned off if he did not comply. In Pakistan, where influential individuals routinely break the law, such incidents are rare. “In DHA, rules are enforced strictly,” says Shafqat Mahmood, a respected political commentator who lives in the area. 'Unlike other places in Pakistan, the biggest attraction of this neighbourhood is that you can’t break the law.'"
Financial Times article
I wish generators in my neighborhood had sound-proof canopies. I've been kept up by loud wedding parties several times, and they did not stop at midnight. My husband and I discussed the idea of "disturbance of the peace" with some friends who live in Lahore, and they said that there are rules about this, but they are not enforced. That said, Defence is quieter than other areas of Lahore, but the supposed rules about noise are not "vigorously enforced."
Saturday, April 04, 2009
I was a bit confused as to why my package would go to Japan. Do I look Japanese? Anyway, I told him it was going to the US and explained that I was a teacher here in Pakistan. Then I had to jaunt off to find a photocopier that was open in the morning (it was already 11:30am) to get a copy of my passport. Just in case I send a bomb in the box, they'll know who did it. Photocopiers were all closed so I went all the way home, scanned a copy, printed it and went all the way back to the post office. It cost me 2835 rupees ($35) to send a 12.8 kg box. Not too bad. Let's hope it makes it.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I live in an extremely quite neighborhood, by Pakistani standards, but any little thing can wake me up. Some nights I move from room to room trying to escape on noise or the other, only to be awakened by something else in the next location. I'll move from the bedroom to the guestroom because my husband is just moving a little bit and waking me up. Once I get to the guestroom, the power will go out and the neighbor's generator will turn on. I'll try the couch, but it's not comfortable enough to fall asleep, so finally I'll move back to the bedroom and sleep on the floor. Then I'll be prematurely awakened at 5:00am because of call to prayer blaring over ancient loudspeakers from the nearby mosque. No matter what time I end up falling asleep, my body clock wakes me up around 7:00am.
If I don't get enough sleep at night, I try to take a nap during the day. My whole day evades me too, because I feel too tired to focus on anything and not tired enough to crash. When I try to take a nap, more often than not I'm unsuccessful. I can't get my body and my mind to rest at the time. A beggar will come and pound on the door. The maid will uncharacteristically come an hour early without any warning. My husband will merely walk from one side of the house to the other. The landlord's family will come to bring snacks or discuss something. The neighbor's door will continually slam shut as servants go in and out while arguing with each other. The internet man will come to collect the money for the monthly bill. A gutter cleaner will drive by on his bicycle loudly proclaiming his services, or the 'security man' will bike past blowing on his high pitched whistle. The sound of the whistle is supposed to let me know that everything is safe. I would much rather have silence when things are safe and whistles when I actually need to get woken up.
Today's culprit was the call to prayer at 5:00am. I'm hoping I can find an hour of peace to catch up on sleep during the afternoon...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The packing will many times look exactly like the original, except for a minor spelling mistake or two. Check all of your hygiene products to see if the spelling and labels are up to international standards. There are two products that have plagued me during my time in Pakistan, fake hair products and knock off deodorant. At least two out of three 'name brand' hair products that I have bought have been vastly ineffective. As I've used the same products with success in the U.S. and elsewhere, I know how the product should look, feel, smell, and work. There is no way to know if a product is real until you buy it and try it.
Many deodorant products in Pakistan serve only as body spray/deodorant and not as anti-perspirent. Make sure you read labels carefully. Even if the label looks good, the product might not work. When I run out of deodorant, I always end up going to at least five stores looking for a legitimate product. It can be quite embarrassing when you use a fake product that doesn't work, especially in 120-degree heat!
Places that have real products in Lahore include: Europe - Defence Market, HKB - Y Block DHA, Pot Purri - Y Block DHA, Pace - Y Block DHA. Be warned that while some products on their shelves are real, some are fake. It's easier to fake liquid roll-ons than solid stick deoderant, so if you want to be safe buy a solid stick brand.
In other news, I found out that the allergy medication I usually take, Zyrtec, will no longer be available in Pakistan. He sold me the last 9 pills that he had. Here, people usually buy medication in small amounts, often cutting up the original packets to sell smaller numbers.I was bummed because a month's supply of it over here costs me 120 rupees ($1.5), where the same amount can cost upwards of $75/month in the U.S. The pharmacist owner was quite helpful and gave me a different, locally available brand to try.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Pakistanis are celebrating, as they believe that this decision is a watershed that will lead to greater freedom and more transparency in the government. Many are hoping that once Iftikhar Chaudry takes his post on March 21st, he will immediately open up the cases against President Asif Zardari (known as Mr. 10% for allegedly funneling state money into his own bank accounts) and former president Pervaiz Musharraf.
Today the mood was celebratory, as children flew kites in for the annual Basant spring festival. Everyone is excited that the people of Pakistan were able to force the government to comply with their demands for justice.
What will happen next? I suspect that this decision may be a big step towards the departure of President Zardari, and that the political drama will continue.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Police are fruitlessly trying to hold back the throngs of supporters by throwing rocks and using tear gas. They are severely outnumbered and there seems to be no law and order. The convoy has so far made its way through Model Town, along Ferozepur Road to Kalma Chowk and to Muslim Town. They plan to arrive in Islamabad tomorrow in order to stage a sit in. Protesters have turned to rioters as they retaliate against police attempts to hold them back. Both sides can be seen throwing rocks. A barricade of city buses was set up to block passage of Kalma Chowk, and rioters smashed out windows of buses and tried to push them over. Sharif's convoy eventually made it through the block and continued on Ferozepur Road.
There are also riots at the Lahore High Court, and surely there will be more continuing throughout the day. I must admit that although I champion the security of Lahore, today is not a good day to go outside the house. The protesters are mostly men, and although their agression is being directed towards the police, you wouldn't want to get caught up in the fray. The only women seen at the scene of the riots have been journalists, whereas during yesterday's peaceful demonstration in Lahore more women were present.
Read more here:
Riots Paralyze Lahore an Protesters March Onward
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Driving along Mall Road around 9:00pm there was little to let the passerby know about the current political crisis. Some banners were strung up in support of President Zardari, and others featured Imran Khan and his "Insaf" (Justice) party message. "Free the judiciary! Free the nation!" was written in Urdu. The streets of central and Old Lahore were busy as usual, and the only sign of the clash of ideologies occuring were a few riot police hanging out near the Press Club.
We went out and enjoyed steamed chicken and biryani at Tabaq near Lakhshmi Chowk. The only unnerving event was going to and from the car while being stared at by men on motorbikes. I'll admit I was a little more tense than usual, hoping that we wouldn't run across some foreigner-hating fanatic at an intersection. Our drive through Old Lahore and central Lahore was without incident, and there were many other families out enjoying a meal together or shopping.
Imagine, your phone is ringing so you pick it up and say a greeting.
Mystery caller: Salaam alaikum. (Traditional Muslim greeting)
You: Alaikum salaam. (Muslim greeting response)
Mystery caller: Aap kaun bol rahe hai? (Who is this talking?)
(You're thinking, hello, you called ME buddy. Why should I say who I am?)
You: Aap kaun hai? (who are you?)
Mystery caller: Aap kaun hai? (who are you?)
You realized that the caller has dialed a wrong number, likely on purpose to try and get a female recipient, and that now for the next two weeks your mobile will be ringing off the hook as he tries to get in touch with you.
Seriously, these guys calls at 6am, midnight, all day and anytime that you're busy and don't want to get up and answer the phone. On my phone, I can only screen 10 numbers at a time. It's a nice feature, because once I screen a number that phone doesn't ring when the number calls me. Unfortunately, 10 numbers is just not enough!
I need to learn how to say "Get a life!" in Punjabi.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In Pakistan, as a foreign woman you will find many perks such as this type of service at the bank. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it's nice to not have to stand in line and to get my work done more quickly. On the other hand, I find it embarrassing that my work should be considered more important than what others are doing simply because of who I am. I don't mind standing in line, and I think that if the men are civilly standing in line and waiting their turns they also deserve my respect. In many places in Pakistan, there's no concept of a line and everyone is just pushing and shoving to get to the front. When people do stand in line, I appreciate their restraint.
Pakistan is certainly a male-dominated society, but then sometimes you'll see Pakistani men showing a lot of respect and concern for the women around them. Many times I've been ushered to the front of the line or to the best seat because I'm a lady. I've heard the bank manager ask the men to step aside for the ladies (myself and local ladies) so that we didn't have to wait in the line with men for too long. Part of me wants to stay in the line, but then am I disrespecting their efforts to show me respect? It's a tough call!
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Enough about gunmen and grenades. One of the things I love about Pakistan is the ingenuity of the people. I still need to take some time and do a photo shoot of all the things they manage to transport by bicycle or donkey cart, because if you don't live in the subcontinent it will just blow your mind. The other day while driving to a friend's house, I saw this guy, the Bicycle Fish Salesman! I couldn't get the best photo because there was just a ton of stuff going on in this scene, but look at the way he's made his bicycle into a traveling goldfish store! You can't see it in this photo, but on the back there's even a large fish bowl with two 8" fish in it.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
When things happen in Lahore, I can usually comfort people with, "Oh that was on the other side of the city. People don't protest in my area."
Well today I don't have any excuses, as the sophisticated attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team happened just a mile from where I work. Twelve highly organized gunmen came at the cricket team from four different directions as they moved towards Qaddafi Stadium. The stadium is in central Lahore, and one of the entrances is on Ferozepur Road. It's a place I've gone several times for different events, and the stadium's location near the Daewoo bus station makes it somewhere that we often find ourselves driving past. Qaddafi stadium is smack in the middle of busy areas of Lahore; it is not located in some out of the way place. At least five policemen were killed in the attack and several players were injured. Two players from Sri Lanka are in the hospital, and the rest were evacuated by military helicopter from Qaddafi Stadium.
Continue reading here:
Gunmen Attack Sri Lanka Cricket Team in Lahore
Friday, February 27, 2009
We don't use gas heaters so our usage of gas and water doesn't really change much through the seasons. The gas bill for February 2009 is 1175 rupees ($14) and the water bill is 650 rupees ($8). In local currency, the water bill has doubled and the gas bill has almost quadrupled. Electricity prices have also been raised significantly in the past year. Our weekly food budget has just about doubled with the price of foodstuffs going up and the rupee losing value.
If you're reading from the US, you may think these prices are low. The cost of living in Pakistan is low compared to many other countries, but the pay scales are a lot lower as well.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
For any ladies in Lahore, I've just heard about a book club starting up on Saturdays.
The book club will be run by an American friend of mine living in Cantonment. She loves to read and is looking forward to meeting some other ladies in Lahore who like to read.
The group will meet Saturdays in the afternoon or early evening, depending on when members are available. If you're interested to practice your English and meet some new friends, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
My maid pretends to be ignorant of many things, but she's quite smart when it comes to shirking her duties! Today I wondered how she got done with her work so fast. I was busy with work so I just let her go and didn't check to see if she'd done everything she was supposed to. Just a few minutes later, I went outside to check on the clothes, and I realized that the majority of the clothes hanging on the line were completely dry. She left them up so that she didn't have to wash that many clothes, due to lack of space of course. In doing so, she successfully avoiding all the ironing and putting away the clothes. She must really dislike washing clothes, because one of her other favorite tricks is to leave soaking wet clothes on the line so that they don't dry for two or three days. Because they take so long to dry, she claims she can't wash the other clothes because there's no space. Leaving dry clothes to fill the space is a new technique.
Here's a pic of our maid, although her eyes are closed cause she was staring into the sun and a bit confused about how the camera worked. It makes her look blind in the picture, which my husband sometimes thinks is true when he sees how she washes dishes and cleans, but she's not. I couldn't get a bigger picture because she was a bit embarrassed to have it taken. It's too bad, because even though she drives me crazy she does have a friendly smile!
Why do I have so many posts about the maid? Most Pakistani ladies spend hours complaining about their domestic help. I guess I need to vent somehow!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
What was Mr. Taylor doing in Waziristan? His story is that he had four wives, and that they all died, so he was on his way to Wana to marry a tribal woman. At least, this is what he shared with the local police at Tank station.
Quite honestly, that story strikes me as a bit odd, but it would be ever stranger if he made up a story like that as a cover. It's not like foreigners marry tribal women on the Afghan border every day, and I've never met another foreigner who converted to Islam and had four wives to prove it. This way of living used to be quite popular in the days of the British Raj, but foreign men and their harems were based mainly in cities in the Punjab, not remote areas like Waziristan. With the rise of evangelical Christian missions in the subcontinent and the end of the Mughal reign, these culturally assimilated men became hard to find. Besides that, for a foreigner, traveling or living in Waziristan nowadays stops just short of suicidal.
Continue reading article here:
New Zealand Man Arrested in South Waziristan is Suspected of Links to Al-Qaeda
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
After three weeks of not sleeping properly due to this drama, we're ready for a break. It seems we've been running on empty since before I went to Bangkok. May there be a miracle at the port so that van can get sea borne, Sergio can get air borne, and we can all rest in peace!
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
The only place you have a chance of selling it is where you can sell it ilegally without customs duties, such as in the Northern Areas or to some tribesmen who are a law unto themselves. If you meet them, they'd be more likely to relieve you of your vehicle, and possibly your life, without giving you any money.
Please, if you are considering driving across Pakistan, now is not the time. Quetta and its environs are not safe for independent travelers. Even well-traveled Pakistanis are avoiding going there nowadays. If you do need to drive through Pakistan, choose a less conspicuous and more practical vehicle.
Any guesses why a pink-shirted boy with an electric rotary saw was doing at our house? It certainly wasn't a fashion shoot, although you might wonder with the choice of clothing and shades.
Well, first he plugged the saw into the socket in the typical Pakistani fashion as shown above. You must picture that this extension cord is sitting on wet ground that he maid has just hosed down. Then he proceeded to cut the giant metal tool box off of Sergio, the stranded Italian's, camper van so that the van could be loaded into a Bedford carrier truck. Sergio's van broken down three weeks ago on the way over the border from Attari to Lahore, and he's been stuck since trying to figure out how to get back. The truck was fixed, but when he started to really think about driving from Quetta to Iran and talking to the local authorities about it he realized it would be akin to a suicide wish. Balochi separatists and Tabelban back from Afghanistan are ruling the roads these days, and just two days ago an American UN worker was kidnapped in Quetta. A very white Italian man in a camper van coming down the road is like saying, "Here I am! Kidnap me for some ransom!" It's much safer to go by public transport in Balochistan these days than by private transport where you're alone and more vulnerable. Anyway, there goes the tool box. Now, they're trying to load his van on a Bedford carrier that will drive it to the port in Karachi. Bedfords are slow moving, so it will take about three days to reach there.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
The power cuts are generally on the hour and go out for 60 minutes. Each neighborhood has a different schedule that changes after a few weeks. The schedule always seem to get out of whack when it rains for some reason. For the last week, the loadshedding schedule in Phase IV Defence has been as follows during the day:
6am - 7am Electricity
7am - 8am Electricity
8am - 9am Loadshedding
9am - 10am Electricity
10am - 11am Loadshedding
11am - 12pm Electricity
12pm - 1pm Loadshedding
1pm - 2pm Electricity
2pm - 3pm Loadshedding
3pm - 4pm Electricity
4pm - 5pm Loadshedding
5pm - 6pm Electricity
6pm - 7pm Loadshedding
Then a real treat, from 7pm to 1am (5 whole hours) there is electricity! Between 1am and 6am I'm not sure what the schedule is as I'm usually sleeping. I go to sleep around 9 or 10, so having such a long stretch of electricity so late at night doesn't do much good for me on weekdays. In a few weeks the schedule will change and we'll adjust our schedules all over again!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
In other news, we still haven't been able to apply for the authorization code for Sergio's visa, as he doesn't have any internet banking or credit cards and American accounts can't be used due to the sanctions on Iran. We've been trying for three days just to pay the fee to get the code. For anyone thinking of traveling to Iran, start the visa process early! Give yourself at least one month to get the code and visa, and make sure you have access to a non-American credit card or debit card.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I'm bit concerned as other customers were telling me it's impossible to clear customs without agent. I have no idea what they could charge me for my half-used toiletries and dirty clothes, but I'm sure they'll find a way to get some money out of me and certainly a LOT of time. There goes my day tomorrow...Remind me NEVER to ship anything by cargo to Pakistan, or any developing nation, ever again in my life. This is ridiculous!
Monday, January 19, 2009
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Sunday, January 18, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
On top of that, he's trying to cross the border into Iran and doesn't yet have his visa authorization code. To get a visa to Iran, you need to first apply for an authorization code via private company, like Persian Voyages, and then wait a few weeks to get the code. When you apply, you tell them where you want to pick up the visa and then you can get it stamped in your passport at that location. If you don't have a code, it seems it can take quite a long time to get it from an Iranian embassy or consulate.
Traveling is always an adventure, especially in this part of the world!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
|From Grand Palace|
|From Mall Madness|
|From Buddhist Temples (Wats) in Bangkok|
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Quite honestly, I was a bit bored after staring at the Taj waiting for the sun to come up for over an hour. At the Grand Palace, there are so many buildings and little details in the decor and architecture. It could keep you busy for hours. Not to mention there are numerous museums housed inside the palace complex.
I was a bit wary to pay the 350 baht to get in, but after reading about the extensive reconstruction efforts that take place every 50 years, and seeing all the exquisite stone work and mosaics, I didn't regret paying the admission fee!
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
|From Thai Cooking with May Kaidee|
Today I learned how to make 10 Thai dishes at the May Kaidee cooking school. It was lots of fun and I really learned a lot. One of the dishes we made was green papaya salad. See more photos by clicking on the link below the picture.
|From Thai Cooking with May Kaidee|
|From Tourist Boat Views in Bangkok, Thailand|
|From Tourist Boat Views in Bangkok, Thailand|
|From Chinatown, Bangkok|
Everywhere in Bangkok it smells of fresh food being cooked. You can hear the sound of stir frying and noodles sloshing in hot pans as you walk down the street. Since arriving here in Thailand, I've seen street food within walking distance of every neighborhood. It seems that many Thais prefer to bring food home than to cook, and many times it's much cheaper to do this than to prepare it yourself. Near the guest house I'm staying at, every morning I see vendors setting up their shops and start cooking up tasty treats. They have sausages, meats, seafood, noodle dishes, rice, soups, and all sorts of fresh vegetables ready to cook. Most have one or two stools and small metal or plastic tables, but the majority of buyers take the food in plastic bags with them and bring them home or to their offices.
The top is a picture of seafood ready to buy for cooking, and the bottom is a picture of "take away" food in plastic bags. Both of these photos were taken in Chinatown, but you'll see similar scenes all over the city.
|From Chinatown, Bangkok|
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Monday, January 05, 2009
Despite being a bit lost, I was able to find a lot of things I was looking for. I trekked back to my guest house with three large bags filled to the max. In Pakistan, it can be very expensive to buy Western clothes. Aside from the cost, most styles available in women's clothing are only suitable for teenagers or going out to a club. In Bangkok, you can find everything for a fraction of the cost it would be in the United States. While looking for suits, I realized that many Thai school girls wear skirts, blouses and sometimes jackets to class. There were entire stores filled with every size and style of black, gray, navy and brown skirts. Short, medium, long, A-line, pleated, pencil, mini, whatever in any size that a Thai girl may be. I had to go for the medium sizes, but by buying a few items at the uniform shops, I was able to get those things cheaper than getting them made to order at a regular tailor.
Phew! I'm exhausted and I only did the 3rd floor, the food court and the ground floor. I didn't even get to the other five floors. Can you believe there are several other big malls and shopping centers just a stone's throw from MBK?
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Today I met up with another Associated Content producer and teacher, Fabletoo, and she helped me navigate Chatuchuk weekend market. It was incredible! There was just so many things to buy in so many colors and sizes. Shopkeepers weren't pushy and nobody was noisily hawking his wares. Sellers offered discounts from the marked prices before we even asked for a deal. It was a very pleasant and relaxing experience! I did not feel uncomfortable or pressured at all while shopping. In Pakistan and India, I'm always tense because people stand two inches away from trying to "assist" me. This makes me feel SO uncomfortable that I generally make a beeline for the exit and don't buy anything. Thais certainly give more personal space while shopping.
Chatuchuk Market is something you must see if you visit Thailand. It's just overwhelming how much stuff is for sale, and the quality and presentation of everything just makes you want to buy more and more! Aside from all the clothing, accessories, and household wares, there a pervading aroma of street food being cooked up all around. Those of you who know me, know that I'm not much of a shopper, but I was so excited to see so many cool things I just didn't know what to do with myself!
Saturday, January 03, 2009
You may not get excited about that, but I haven't used a washing machine to do my normal washing since June of 2007. I'll have to use it just for fun.