Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lahore Restaurant Review: Malee's Cafe

My husband and I were certainly divided over this one. I gave it a 3 out of 10, while he gave it a 7. I wouldn't go back; he wants to go back and try to expensive gelato.

Read the Review of Malee's Cafe here

Have you been to Malee's Cafe? What were your thoughts?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pakistan: Land of Lipton

One thing that has disappointed me in Pakistan is the tea. Pakistanis drink tons of tea (called chai in the local languages), but there is not the exciting variety that you find south of the border in India. In fact, almost everywhere you go you find Lipton tea! There are no special varieties of Paksitani tea like you have Assam tea and Darjeeling tea in India. When we go to Delhi, I always make sure to pick up something more interesting flavors.

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

One Thing After Another

For those who do read the blog normally, I feel I owe an explanation for why I haven't been blogging much lately. For a few weeks, I was really struggling to get my hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) under control. I realized that a lot of the food I was eating was sending my blood sugar levels into extreme up and down spikes, and so I spent a lot of time doing research about what kinds of food I can eat to keep the levels steady during the day and avoid the headaches and fatigue that accompany a hypoglycemic crash.

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

National Poetry Month on Associated Content

In honor of National Poetry Month, Associated Content has been challenging its writers to do daily "challenges" of different types of poetry. So far, all of my challenge entries have been inspired by Pakistan, so I thought I'd share them here:

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

Boxes on the Way

Now all of our boxes of books are on the way to the U.S., despite the fact that I didn't leave Duarte with enough money to pay when I dropped him off at the post office. Sending packages is no small affair, as you may have read in my previous posts, so although I made sure to bring the detailed inventories, the passport copies, the customs forms, the tape, the plastic wrap, the scissors, and the permanent markers, I failed to leave him enough money to pay for all the packages! He was 15 rupees short (19 cents), couldn't pay the package man who sewed up and readied the packages, and had to walk about half an hour in 109 degree heat since he didn't have money for a rickshaw.

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

Financial Times Says What about Defence?

I just read an article on the Financial Times about Defence Housing Authority in Lahore. I live in Defence Phase IV, and I have been living in Defence for about 3 years. I've also lived in Phase III. Some of these points may be the official policy, but they are not enforced.

"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 Think I'm Turning Japanese...

This week I went to the post office in Defence, Lahore to mail a box of books back to the US. I insisted on the 'sab se saste' (cheapest) rate, and the postman told me that he could give me a cheap rate but he had no idea when the package would arrive. I told him I had more time than money, so then I started a one hour process to get my package sewn up in little white bag, bound with melted wax and labeled. When I went to label the package, the packagewala asked me, "Where it going? Japan?"

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.