Thursday, 27 December 2007
BBC front page:----Last Updated: Thursday, 27 December 2007, 16:34 GMT
Benazir Bhutto assassinated
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is killed in a suicide attack at an election rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Yes its sad. Anyone for anyone to be blown up and killed that way is very sad. However for Ms Bhutto to some extend to goes with the job. Remember a few months ago on her return to Karachi there were bombs going off. She survived but others died. She had been Prime Minister of Pakistan 2 times already. So maybe time for a change but not this way. She was also under investigation for corruption and various 'questionable' business deals etc. So there were a lot of people who wanted a change but not including her in the equation. Unfortunately everyone says violence does not work. Well it does. Current President as an example as he took over in a 'coup' and Bhutto is dead. So lets watch things develop. All very sad for such a Country trying to improve and there are indeed thousands, no, I'm wrong there are millions of ordinary Pakistanis out there trying to make it better for their families, their country and their future generations. My prayers go out to all of you in Pakistan.
Friday, 21 December 2007
I bought fishing hooks, big lures for game fishing, some outboard engine impellers ! Also a Sander, electric planer, drill and a car radio. I know what you are thinking why buy that sort of stuff? All for other people. I'll sell the items on the island for a profit which will pay our stay!! See I'm not so stupid as I first seemed.
Last but not least was a quick trip to the jewellers. Stuff for Wanna and Sarah and Vivi. That was my day gone!!
Wishing you all a very Holy Happy Christmas from here in Karachi. No doubt I will be adding more from La Digue.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
By James Macintyre
Published: 19 December 2007
An express train packed with holidaymakers derailed in southern Pakistan early this morning killing at least 50 people and injuring many more, officials said.
The train was said to be travelling from Karachi to Lahore when 12 of its 16 carriages came off the rails near Mehrabpur, about 250 miles north of Karachi, said Anwar Kazmi, a spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, a charity that dispatched ambulances to the scene of the accident.......
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Friday, 14 December 2007
Had an early meal and then packed a few bits. Remembered the passports, money and something to wear. Even organised a bag of cold beers to consume on the train on the way up there. Then the phone went. Khalid called to inform us that the train will be late getting into Lahore due to bad weather. So instead of arriving at 11.am we might get there by 5pm. Way to late to get to see the closing of the boarder ceremony which was to be the high light of the trip. So big decision. Cancel trip. We'll go another time. Not sure therefor what I'll be writing about this weekend.
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Friday, 7 December 2007
Finally we dragged Aldo away and we went to the very well know Restaurant http://www.lalqila.com/ on Shisa Faisal. Its styled on an open air Fort with towers and moats etc. Beautifully lit with backdrops etc.
The whole place is set up as a buffet with a wide assortment of Pakistan food obviously from all the regions. There was whole section devoted to Bar B Q chicken, mutton, steaks etc. Then a separate deep frying area for prawns, fish and again areas for curries, Dal's and salads. And last but not least were the sweets. Whole range of European goodies and fantastic local ice cream.. Khalid did explain how it was made but to be honest I was too busy eating it to listen closely!!
As a finale Khalid had ordered a cake which he had presented to Aldo. It arrived with the waiters (all dressed up in medieval type costume in keeping with the 'Fort' ambiance). Great idea.
The evening closed out with hot coffee. It was very cold evening so after freezing on the outside followed by cold ice cream the coffee was very welcome.
On our way out we had some "Pann". Its a local mixture of spices and dried bits rolled in a fresh leaf. About teaspoon full in size. You eat it and it gives a very very good mouth cleansing taste and feeling. Really finishes off a good evening with friends. Obvious really good 'cause after that you can kiss everyone goodbye with good breath!!!!
Thursday, 6 December 2007
The evening started at 7.30 pm and consisted of meeting other people and having an excellent buffet of Thai and Pakistan cuisine. Interesting mixture. The whole thing wrapped up about 9.30 and after the departure of the 'foreign guests' the Thai contingent sang a couple of songs to the King. Unfortunately I did not get it on film. A good evening was had by all.
Monday, 3 December 2007
Saturday, 1 December 2007
Its historical routes are linked with Alexander the Great, who stayed here with his army for a few days on his way back from India, in 400 BC. One of his generals "Ormoz" died here and the present day Ormara was named after him. (source Wikipedia)
That's interesting but what has it got to do with this Blog I hear you ask. Well the Jinnah naval base of Pakistan Navy is located at Ormara. And I had been invited to view a new reclaimed site for a proposed Submarine Rebuild Centre. Its a long trip for a 30 minute site inspection but the journey itself makes the whole day worth while.
We left Karachi at 5.30 am and were out of town before anyone had woken up. Takes about 4-5 hours on a really good highway, part hugging the coast line and some up through some terrific barren mountains. It was really amazing to depart a crowded city and enter what is some of the most stunning rock formations. More stunning when you realize they are not granite or hard rock but a type of clay/mud. The eiry shapes are all wind formed and spectacular. One in particular is called the Princess of Hope.
The problem I had was trying to capture the immense scale of it all on a camera. There were no trees or features which could be used to compare depth so the size could not be captured. I tried with a couple of shots to catch trucks making their way along the winding roads. They carry bitumen and diesel from the boarder with Iran to Karachi. Why? Well its come from across the Iran boarder so no duty just a few police 'charges' along the way. This fuel is apparently sold at about 50% of Karachi pump prices. So as you can imaging there are quite a few over laden trucks taking this route!! All fun and games.
Arriving at Omera there is a Navy base and photos are strictly forbidden.
Friday, 30 November 2007
For most people arriving from UK it can be best described as sensory overload. But as I say you just get used to it.
So it was interesting on the way into work this morning that I actually registered the fact that I had passed a couple of trucks waiting outside out works gates. They were so colourful and looked more like exhibition than working trucks. Well worth a photo just to remind how much I had absorbed and was now taking as the norm and indeed for granted.
I need to take a reality check and make sure I open my eyes and make sure I take it all in. Just spend a few minutes looking at the truck photos. The workmanship and time that has gone into them. Perhaps the owners do not have enough work and just spend all their days painting. But you know I've never during the 10 months I've been here seen anyone painting a truck and clearly a lot of people do!!! There must be a special "Truckers paint area' in or around Karachi. I wonder if they have truck painting competitions? Would make for some fantastic photography.
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Wanna has been busy with the Thai contingent and last night came home with Pakistan chicken curry which she had been taught to make. Not bad either!!!
We had a lazy day on Sunday. No fishing. Went to work and then a drive round Karachi. Even ended up in Dunkin' Donuts for coffee and quassions. Very good.
Next few weeks social side will involve Thai Kings Birthday singing, Christmas Carols, shopping for Christmas and a bit of work thrown in.
I'm off to a place called Olmara on Saturday. Its West of Karachi about half way along the Pakistan coast towards Iran. About 350 kilometers away. I'm off to look at a submarine base where we might soon be having some work. Its a round trip of about 14 hours and I might be able to include an hours fly fishing. Will let you know. From the Ariel photo the place looks pretty barren to me.
Friday, 23 November 2007
The King of Thailand is who I am referring to. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It is his 80th Birthday on 5th December and Wanna having met several Thai ladies (see earlier posting) has been invited to the celebrations at the Thai Consulate. But as part of the deal she got roped into a practice singing session in readiness of the big event. Its great as she now has contacts in Karachi and meeting lots of new people. All bodes well for the future.
I do find it strange seeing Thai ladies in Pakistan dress styles. But leaving that aside they are all so welcoming and I can for see some good times ahead. Probably starting with the Celebrations next week.
After that there are more events leading up to Christmas. That's at the British High Commission on 11th December.
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
The service stations look like any other till you take a closer look. Different dress but everyone very relaxed.
Trains. Well planning an over night trip up to Lahore in a few weeks time. Told it is a very civilized way to travel. Will tell you all about it.
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Saturday, 17 November 2007
Off we went to Mubarak Village. Its situated about 35 Kilometers outside of Karachi along the coast road going West. Beautiful drive through the hills, seeing the village women carrying water on pots on their heads, camels eating and the fish bus services coughing and chocking its way along. With early morning mist every where and visibility about 200 yards max it made of a lovely trip. We rolled down the windows and enjoyed the cool breeze. Relax, just breath in the cold fresh air and let life pass by on both sides, what's the rush? Well none. The fish will be waiting for us. The slow start at the apartment was forgotten, if anything, just a faint memory.
Got to Mubarak Beach. All the fishermen, not just ours, were waiting for us and ready to go. As were all the kids, they were waiting for other reasons, for a few rupees and some sweets. Full on excitement. Great day ahead. We did the usual male macho stuff of comparing rods (fishing rods only!!!!) and decided we were all, all of us, set to go.
Then things started to go against the plan. After the macho bit, Ahmad put his spare fishing bag next to ours in the boot of his car, and closed the boot for safety. Safety for sure as his keys were locked along with his fishing gear in the boot as well.!!! What to do? Well we decided to go fishing anyway using what we available. You know stuff we had not managed to lock up safely!!!! And with a fraction of a second discussion it was left to the driver of the spare car (doesn't everyone have a spare car when going fishing?...) to go back to Karachi and get the spare key. We watched him disappear in a cloud of dust into the rising haze and the hot morning sun back to Karachi, as we trekked off down the beach to our awaiting boats in search to the ever elusive super sized fish.
So off we went all excited and convinced even with a depleted set of gear we were going to lever sea levels as a result of the mammoth catch we were destined to get. Well,,,, 3 -4 hours later at about12.30pm, having been sitting and developed very sore backsides, still nothing!! We had tried trawling, bottom casting, spinning and watching all the other boats. Nothing was working.
THEN....along came my baby. A 7 kilo mackerel decided to try my bait and got itself caught up. In it came. Great fight. Lovely. Now we were in action....
Then...again Wanna got lucky and brough in a Barracuda. What a day it was turning out to be. We, Wanna and I were happy, but poor 'Mac' our companion did not get a sniff, not even a faintest nibble from anything below the surface. Sure ncxt time he'll do well.
Great day. On the way back Ahmad told me that we had early morning passed an Ambulance on the way to Mubarak. It was carrying a dead person. He had not tell me at the time but was there and then in the morning of the feeling we were not going to have a lucky day. Well I'm glad he told me afterwards on the way home as we got 2 good fish. Interestingly he caught nothing. Wonder if there really is a connection or is it simple superstition?
Needless to say dinner comprised fresh fish soup and a super stirred fryed Thai fish dish.
Friday, 16 November 2007
So off to Makro, new store just opened in Karachi. Same as we have in UK. Big warehouse type place and as you can imagine all stuff packed high to the roof tops. Well I bough a cold box and a water cooler. That should do for the days out. (for days out read fishing!). My thoughts were I’ll get the rest of the household stuff nearer home.
Wanna arrived late about 11.00pm Wednesday evening. Had a quiet evening in on Thursday.
Then today, Friday called in at the Thai Consulate. I had called them yesterday to ask about information on other Thai people living in Karachi. They were unable to pass on this information for privacy reasons. Quite correct.
So on arrival they invited us in and we met the Consul. Very helpful. By the time we left we had received a formal invitation to the Kings 80th Birthday celebrations scheduled for 5th December. Wanna had signed up for National Voting (Scheduled for next month) sounds a sort of familiar thing elections under a Military Government. Think it was the Thia one she was signed up for. Never know these days!!!!
And while at the Consuilate they bhada put her through on the 'dog and bone' to two Thai ladies already living in Karachi.
Great visit infact quite a success. So time for a celebration lunch, off we went for a blow out Chinese Buffet at a local hotel. Only after we were both about 5 kilos heavier and just were trying to ease our way from the table, difficult with so much extra weight, did Wanna’s phone start ringing. It was uncanny almost on queue!!!!! You need to understand it’s a brand new phone I gave her with a new pay as you go number, only installed on the way to the Consulate. Amazing who would know her number CIA?... Thai Security Services?….. All a bit worrying. She answered “Sawadee Crap”.
‘Le piece de resistance’ (cannot be right spelling) it was another Thai lady who was phoning. 'Thai radio bamboo' is clearly faster that CIA or Thai Security!!!! The Thai lady rang explaining she had just been told Wanna was a new girl in Karachi and was ringing to invite us to join them at the opening of a new Thai Restaurant. That’s tonight!!! Did not think anything moved that fast in big K.
Big problem with such an invite. Where am I going to stack another 5 kilos of good Green Curry and rice on top a full Chinese lunch is anyone’s guess…... Will not be a pretty sight that's for sure. So no photos of this evenings bash thats for sure.
Monday, 12 November 2007
The Boat club is in a wonderful setting built in 1881 and still going. It is situated near Karachi Port on what was years ago an open area having since become somewhat crowded and confined. However the membership in fact is possibly now stronger that ever. It apparently has over 950 members all from the elite and business communities of Karachi. I'm told over 750 are active. Well in so far as eating and drinking are concerned I was given to understand that a few beers etc in the evening are quite accepted and normal behavior. A plus for sure when considering most Karachi eateries!!!!
We were shown round the dining rooms where there are pictures of rowing races and actives dating back to 1908. Well before my time. The atmosphere is very Colonial and reminiscent of several Clubs I have visited in various Countries over the years. It was great fun,
To see the pictures which had been preserved over all these years spoke volumes not only for the early members but the current ones who appreciate the historical significance and for maintaining and keeping things going so well. Like it or not he Colonial past is part of it. I felt really privileged to be there today.
We were also shown other parts of of the Club before we went for lunch so we had had a good look round adn viewed omst ofh te facilities. The gyms could wait!!. Yes not one but two!!! Also racked up were some fabulous lookoing rowing boats, sculls, 4's and 8's. All brand new. Fiberglass jobs! Beautiful swimming pool etc, I did read on the notice boards that the ladies had different swimming times that the men. Pity!!!
Lunch was quite amazing. I had just left our offices located in one of the most busy, dustiest, polluted and crowded port areas to end up sitting only 10 minutes away eating Lobster Thermardor. (only caught this morning fresh in the waters of Pakistan). We of course discussed the lobster and fishing in general. Organised some fly fishing for next Saturday. Inshallah.
The lunch was great and the company even better. No mention of Politics. What politics? Surely the Country can run itself while we have a quick lunch. When we left the place was still working, taxis plyings, shops open etc! I know all wasOK as I checked on the Internet when back at the office. "State of Emergency" whatever that meant to the Karachi Boat Club I'm unsure as the place was still in place. And indeed I am sure it will weather whatever else it thrown at it.
Friday, 9 November 2007
What this got to do with my Blog I hear you ask. Well Public Holiday equates to a non working day for me. Yes you guessed. Fishing. But not your usual off the sea wall stuff you read about earlier. This time we rented 2 smallish local fishing boats from a place called Mubarak. A small fishing village which seems to cater for us Karachi dwellers. Its about 35 kilometers west of Karachi.
We had a great day trolling and bottom fishing. Caught several 5 kilo + on the line and small stuff on the hand lines. Below I have a photo of the 'Captain' and one of the lads concentrating on getting the reel ready for trawling while the remaining one shows one of the fish. See it really is quite big........
Started at 06.15 this morning and now its 7.20 pm. So short entry, I'm off to bed.
However if you are wondering about Allama Iqbal check out the link below.
Saturday, 3 November 2007
Saturday 03 November 2007, 16:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Musharraf imposes emergency rule
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf declares emergency rule, as police surround the Supreme Court confining the judges to the building.
Profile: Pervez Musharraf
Emergency rule: Your views
Soldiers on streets
Thursday, 1 November 2007
We both had a cup of tea and discussed my adventure and mutually agreed it was not meant to be, and, that, well that was the end of it!! He, like me, put it down to an 'Act of God', "Gods wish" if you like. Divine intervention the reasoning of which we both assused ourselves will become apparent at some future time. Simple philosophy.
So what have I been up to apart, of course, from work. Not much but planning this weekend to go to the Sunday Defence area Market and pick up a few bargains. The weekend is sure to be hot, sunny and dusty like every other day this week so I'll make hte most of it cause when it rains every road is blocked and we all complain.
Great excitment as we have a chap coming out from UK on Tuesday for some work asignments. He is bring me my fishing rods, so, yes some more fishing stories coming up. Talking of which there is a very active Pakistan Game Fishing Association which is holding its annual sea fishing competition this weekend but I am not geared up for the trawling etc. Pity. Think I'll opt out this time.
Actually what I have been looking for to put on this Blog is a video of a camel pulling a cart. What you ask? Donkeys and carts are very common and I'm sure you can all visualise them but a camel. Well that's quite a different thing. I've seen three lots of them this week, each time when I was without a camera!!! '#$%^'. Tomorrow/Saturday that will change. I will, whatever it takes post a short camel and cart video. So watch out for Oscars 'al la Karachi' Coming shortly to a movie house near you!!!
Sunday, 28 October 2007
But look on the bright side. Friday evening and a chance to have a night out at the British club the Rose and Crown. Got ropes into the UKAP United Kingdom Association of Pakistan. It is an associates club/group connected historically to the BHC. It was set up to help other UK expats. be good for me to meet a few more people in the neighbourhood.
Went to work yesterday only to be told there was a body of a woman floating by the side of the quay side. Apparently this poor woman had decided enough was enough and commited suicide. She jumped from a local bridge just up from our works. Sadly she not only took her own life but also took her 11 year old son with her. So that was Saturday!!!!
Today was a much happier occasion. Had a morning with Shehzad my sailing friend who wanted to see where I work. Then a lazy afternoon doing nothing. Great! That's it for now as I must update my sailing blog.
Friday, 26 October 2007
Well after hundreds (say realistically 10) calls to the service provider each with no joy I've sent my driver off to get it all sorted. He was sent of with the following simple instruction "go forth and get it sorted...." Hopefully a positive result by close of play today.
Later in the morning I was in meeting with some colleagues. Told them of my dilemma.. "Frustrations?..... In Pakistan? .... Surely not! Try finding out the real history of Pakistan".
They put me onto http://www.understandingpakistan.com/ . There's more to Pakistan than my Blog. Just think I might spend the whole weekend in the office reading that link if I don't get my cable TV back later today!!! Then I will really know frustration on Pakistan...... Have a good weekend.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Got back to Khon Kaen same evening about 10.00 pm. Just in time for a cold beer and settle down to the rugby. Started at 2.00am but the sports channel was rugby rugby rugby till then. What a disappointment. Anyway that’s life, someone had to win, but why the other side ?? #$%^&
Sunday saw us going down to Bangkok as I had set up a meeting with my friend and financial advisor ‘Khun’ Roger the following morning. Small world, we shared an apartment in Sai Gon for about 6 months, that was over 6 years ago. Then during our chatting he tells me Jessica was over there as well (Hi Jess!!). Anyway he had some good news for me that my investments were not doing badly. In fact he said they were doing quite well. But, and as you well know there’s always a but, he stressed the need for me to keep on working. As if I needed to be reminded….
The other really good part of the trip to Thailand was that I missed out on all the violence in Karachi. I’d left Wednesday evening and Ms Bhutto arrived the following lunchtime. Seems two suicide bombs went off and over 135 people got killed with Lord knows how many injured. Sad day indeed. I was concerned for my safety in coming back here and made it a point to find out all I could about events. My source being Khalid. He did assure me things were OK. ‘All seemed to have calmed down again’ is what he told me in a most unconcerned tone. Well let’s wait till the next time!
I had while away not had much chance to do any writing on the computer and today I had given it only a passing thought as work took over and time flew by. When I was in the car on the way home I could think of little of interest to jot down but what do you know? Just as you think there is nothing of interest to write about we nearly drove up the back of an old taxi. Ouch!!! It was full, I mean full to the brim, bursting with people. So full they had to put the kids in the boot!!! I counted two people in the front plus the driver and 4 rather well build ladies in the back (I assume they were ladies under all the black cloth!!). Add in a couple of kids and, yes, put them in the boot or walk!!!
Seeing this I knew I was back in Karachi. I had a smile to myself as I realized I did have something to jot down after all. Then having settled in at home for the evening my phone rang. Shehzad. “How are you? How was the trip?” I explained a little about the fact we had no wind and not enough fuel. He seemed to understand my disappointment and sounded as sad about it all as me !! Its all (will be) on my Sail Blog. Just give me a few days.
Will catch up with him later in the week and give him the full story. So till next time.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
It was good to be back but I missed the boat and the sailing etc in Seychelles. Still something to look forward to on my next trip. Today I had a chance to see Karachi with new eyes, I had been following the news of Benazir Bhutto (Spelling!) She is due back tomorrow. Then there will be fun and games and plenty to talk about. Interestingly last week a Pakistani national was arrested in Seychelles in possession of 4 Kilos of Heroin. Small world as I was also these 'sans' Le Heroin.
Tonight I left for the airport at 7.00pm to catch a midnight flight such is the excitement of Benazir arriving the streets are full, roads blocked. Her photo is everywhere. All welcoming her back. The police are using shipping containers to block the roads. Not pretty but very effective. Would help if they told you a few hundred meters in advance instead of being stuck in yet on more jam!!! She does not arrive till midday tomorrow so I'm glad to be getting out of it. We half expect a lot of our staff will not make it in tomorrow due to traffic congestion. Well I'm off to enjoy the last few days of my leave. Bye ....
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Should be back in Karachi tomorrow about 4.30 am. And will start catching up on the news. All I read about Pakistan over the last week seems to centre around the politics. So should be some interesting stories to follow up on. Wanna is currently in Thailand and did not sound in a rush to get back. Will update you all tomorrow.
Friday, 5 October 2007
I'm off to Seychelles tomorrow via Dubai. Planning on sailing back to Karachi during the next week. The sailing will take 10-12 days so please do not forget me and come back to this spot. If you want to follow our exploits read http://www.sailblogs.com/member/lloyd/ Hope to be back soon.
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
This I had to see. So picked up Wanna and rushed round to Khalid's house to collect him and off we went. Main Karachi stadium is in the middle of Karachi. Nice, big, plenty of open areas and very few spectators. Seating was easy after Khalid sweet talked our way in for nothing.
We stayed for a few (10-12) overs and thoroughly enjoyed it. Back today at the office I was busy editing the photos and getting ready for this upload when over my left shoulder I heard a voice 'that's Mohammad Hafiz doing the bowling'. How Islah my draftsman knows that, I cannot tell, and the guy Mohammad was over 150 meters away. You can be the judge.....is it him?
Saturday, 29 September 2007
Also the same for a car stereo. Near the port is a large electronic market selling all sorts of new and used gear, and I can get an in car DVD player with screen (new) for another US$ 80. Got home and told Wanna. Now she wants one for our truck. Think they are a good deal. Wondering round was great fun I ended up seeing parts of Karachi that I doubt most tourists could not ever imagine. Even watched a small 'confrontation' as two bus drivers in the middle of the afternoon heat could not quite see eye to eye. It was a tame sort of road rage but it was clear to me that there was a lot of self control being exercised otherwise I could envisage a blood bath. Being the middle of Ramadan must make it even harder to remain calm. We scurried off out of the way.
But I've kept the best till last. I went back to my fishing shop and met up with Abdul. He is a real cool guy. Sorted me out with a couple of new rods. And he also fixed my broken rod. I am sure and he assured me also however that these new ones will bring more luck!! Inshallah. Done deal. Went home.
An hour later my mobile rings. 'What now?!!!! #$%^&*' I'm thinking can't they at work see it is gone 5.00pm, work has finished.
"hello is that Mr Alan?",
"good, this is Abdul from the fishing shop. You left your Visa Card behind. I've put it in the draw for you to collect."
"Thank you, thank you, see you Monday".
What a good end to the week and to have my limited faith in human nature moved up a notch or three. Thank you Abdul.
Having an evening at home tonight, watch Wales beat Fiji and afterwards intend to get all my planning organised for the trip from Seychelles to Karachi.