You can just about see the lake through the smogScammed by the children - I spent twenty rupees on a decoration and they wouldn't even give it to me! Fayzal, pictured below, was the guilty party.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Whoever is to blame, their wrath is brutal and has once again instilled fear in our team.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Some of my fellow team members do not have the strong stomach that I can boast of. Unfortunately, this means that our cook largely ignores my requests for local dishes such as dhal and biryani. He prefers to make pizza and pasta for their delicate tummies. In any case it doesn’t make much difference as the water still affects them. What the French affectionately term “la chiasse” is a regular occurrence that is passed around the group every week, with expat after expat falling ill at their turn. I cannot help thinking that a little of the local food may strengthen their bellies in the long run.
It will come as no surprise to my closer friends, but I have managed to find myself quite a buzzing social life outside of my work (a big Shukria to my new Pakistani friends!) even if the MSF old-timers would choose to keep everyone inside the vacuum. We do not have the right to a private life within MSF. For those who have spent twenty years hopping from mission to mission, they are quick to frown upon those who break away from the circle. They are here on short-term contracts, and do not have the same level of personal investment as those who are here for the long haul. I personally cannot express in words the marvellous feeling it is to make local friends, enhancing my understanding of their culture. It isn’t always easy to get away. Sometimes we are up to fifteen expatriates at a time in the one house, with only one car between us. Organising lifts can be a very frustrating game to play, as each individual fights for their chance to escape from the MSF organism. But I persevere and consider myself very lucky to have found my new friends. Zabardast!
Sunday, 25 October 2009
In pursuit of respite, and to receive some objectivity from outside of my organisation, I have been making friends who are outside of our vacuum. I have been lucky to meet some nice people, both Pakistani and foreign. One circle I have been mingling in is that of the diplomats. Friends of friends have kindly approved my membership to the British High Commission club, which means I now have access to fish and chips, an enormous swimming pool and of course, liquor to stave off the dryness.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Friday, 23 October 2009
Evidently it is forbidden for us to visit the bazaars...
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Monday, 19 October 2009
I hope that when the head of mission returns from Lahore today, he will have the signed papers in his hand and it will be full speed ahead for our project. Inshallah...
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Friday, 16 October 2009
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
Sunday, 11 October 2009
It is quite a pretty garment, despite being designed to conceal our feminine curves and can come adorned with all sorts of beads and decorative embellishments. It has the added benefit of being comfortable and I do not have any problems wearing it…
…Aside from the technical problems it can cause. The scarf, usually several metres long, can be quite a tricky obstacle to manoeuvre in and I find myself constantly flicking it back over my shoulder or head from where it has slipped. I have had to learn how to perform a range of daily functions while wearing it. Not only have I almost strangled myself by getting it caught underneath the wheeled chair at my desk, or trapping it in the door of a moving car, it also very easy to trip over just while walking. Not to mention the challenge of avoiding dipping it in the toilet bowl every day!
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
The town of Islamabad has an older sister called Rawalpindi that is what I would consider as much more authentic, only a few kilometres away. Going there is forbidden for us and this makes us even more curious to visit but sometimes we do get to see the traffic headed in that direction from the Margalla hills.
Tonight on our way home, we passed a donkey driven cart doing just that. With a family of seven on the cart travelling somewhere with what looked like almost all of their wordly possessions, it made me aware of where I was. A small but pleasant reminder that I am in South Asia after all and that not everything has been lost to modernism!
Monday, 5 October 2009
The first, in Peshawar, led to the loss of one of our drivers who was off-duty that day and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I need not write much about the huge dent in the morale of the team, and his wife left with two children to feed.
The third in Islamabad occurred today in my neighbourhood, all too close for comfort. We felt the blast through our upstairs windows and heard the sirens wailing past at full speed. It was the first time that I knew of something that wasn't yet on the BBC website, and our team crowded round the radio operator's desk to watch footage and listen to the local news.
Never before have I felt so close to danger than today, despite my being safe and not in much personal danger at all. During the rest of the afternoon I had difficulty concentrating, and my heart did beat a little faster than usual. The strikes continue, we expect explosions at any moment, but thankfully we are not considered a target.
However, business as usual for our team, while keeping our heads down we avoid taking any additional risk, and continue in our work as always.