Thursday, 27 December 2007

A sad day for Pakistan

Just logged on to read the news on BBC before going off to bed. Benazer Bhutto blown up. Along with 15-20 other sad souls.


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.
International reaction
Your comments
Latest report

My comment.

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

Karachi airport

Leaving Karachi for the Christmas break. On the way to Seychelles for a holiday. Strange mixed feelings as I had and still have so much to do at work and Wanna has started to make quite a few friends. To go or not to go?.... But the travelling has meant that I had to buy a few presents etc for friends and family. So had a very interesting afternoon running round Karachi. Its great when you need to buy something. Makes you visit shopping areas which you would never see otherwise. Karachi has nearly everything. One thing is does not have is petrol grass cutter. nowhere could Ii find one. (Not much grass in Karachi and what they have is cut with a manual machine as labour is so cheap).

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

At least 50 killed after express train derails in southern Pakistan

Found this in The Independent. I checked. Same train I was suppopsed to be on last Friday!!!! Someone up there is looking after me very well.


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.......
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article3263746.ece

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Town planning

Town planning Karachi style... worth the wait for it to upload


Friday, 14 December 2007

Lahore

We were due to go to Lahore last night. Were due to take the overnight train from Karachi to Lahore. Even had a complimentary pair of tickets. And beautiful tickets they were too!!
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

Chilling out on a Saturday

Had a lazy Saturday. Went to work for the morning and fortunately Wanna dragged me out at about 3.00pm. Good thing as otherwise I would have been there forever. We then went off to visit a Thai friend, Her husband is a fanatical model plane flyer. I say models these things are 2 meters long!! And he's got hundreds of them. I'm been invited to join him at the flying club when I get back from Seychelles. Should be fun. Getting to their house took about 45 minutes as they are out near the National Stadium. I know, where's that anyway!! I could not find it on my own either. Anyway interesting trip through the traffic. Entering the compound (under construction) I could not help but notice the pick axe stuck in the desk. Check out the photo. Odd or what? Someone does not like office work!!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Dinner at LalQila

We had a really great evening with Khalid and his wife, joined by Ian and Aldo. We started out by all meeting up at Khalid's house. Sat ourselves down and started chatting away. Before long Aldo and Khalids son had got the guitars out and were starting a jamming session.
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 King and I

Very good evening at the pearl Continental Hotel to Celebrate the King of Thailand's 80th Birthday. Probably over 300 people there mainly foreign Embassy and Consulate types but quite a few business people as well. Obviously on this occasion also the Thai community residing in Karachi. And there seem to be a lot of them.

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

A bit of a me, me and me syndrome

I had been taken by Khalid to Makro a big new warehouse type store similar to ones in UK.

Had a look round and bought a cold box and water cooler. Followed by a relaxing coffee in Dunkin Donuts!! Thats it!!!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Ormara day trip.

Ormara is an old coastal port town (25° 16' 29N 64° 35' 10E) located in the coastal region of the Balochistan province. It is located 350 km west of Karachi

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.
We managed to find the local fish shop where we bought some mackrel and lobsters. Being so far away from Karachi prices were much more competative.

Next trip I'll be more confident and do some subtle stuff. The sea was incredible, blue, clear and teaming with fish. Sure they knew our rods were safely back in Karachi....

Friday, 30 November 2007

Unnoticed on the streets....

You know after a while, without realising it you get used to the hustle and bustle of Karachi. The dust, noise, smells, teaming humanity and constant movement, even the 'only in Karachi' specially acquired local driving skills!!!!
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

Lazy days and holidays to come

Life's been quiet this last few weeks. Not sure that means no activity or to many different things on the go. Christmas is only about 30 days away. Between now and then we need to do some shopping and get organised for events!!


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 Kings 80th Birthday..? Who...Elvis?...

What am I talking about? The King? Elvis, but he's dead ? And Pakistan has a President and given the current political situation I of all people should be aware of that. So just who am I talking about.


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

Typical Karachi

With all the news on the political front I thought it useful to explain that for most people life just goes on as normal. Going out and about the petrol stations are open for business and the trains are still running.

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

Fly Fishing

Great day out last Sunday at Kalari Lake with friends.

That's enough fishing stories for a few posting!!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Mubarak Beach

Well we got up on time. 06.00 am found us sitting outside the apartment waiting on Ahmad. Beautiful cool morning with alight breeze. Sun slowly rising. Its going to be a great day. Ahmad was 25 minutes late picking us up. No worries there. Seems he was delayed by others.

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.

Dinner Thai Style in Karachi

We made it. Would you believe it took 45 minutes for me with one hand on the steering wheel and the other stuck to my left ear with a mobile phone in it to just find the place. Well worth it. We had a great evening, good company and met some very interesting people. There are over 20 Thai Ladies in Karachi most married to local Pakistan men from Karachi. Some have been here over 30 years and appear to love it. (As Michael Caine would say "not many people know that...").

For me the best part was seeing Wanna have a chance to meet other Thai people who were here and I am sure it can only help to make her stay more enjoyable.

From her excitement in the car afterwards on the way home I understood Karachi was begining to look good. Seems cards and whiskey are on the menu for next week!!! Oh yes and dinner was excellent. We'll be going back!!!!
Early night was supposed to be the plan. Fishing 06.00 tomorrow morning... Well its 11.45pm here and still to put the line on the new reel... Off to bed.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Wanna arrived Wednesday evening

Time to clean up the place and get a few bits of food in. Fridge has plenty of beer but not much else. Looks good from a bachelor view point but that’s about it.

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

Amazing and only 10 minutes from my office...

Karachi is a really complex, contrasting place with numerous levels of society. So it was with great interest that I and Khalid, accepted an invitation to the Karachi Boat Club for lunch today. I've refrained from talking about work in my Blog but obviously it is a place where I meet most of my contacts. Well today I was pleased to accept an invitation by Mr Ansari and his son for lunch at his club. His company is undertaking all the shore based concrete piling works at our works site and a good job he is doing to. (And no I did not need to say that!!).

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.

And it was not till 1963 that Pakistani's were allowed access as club members. I'm sure they were allowed in earlier for supplying support services!! Amazing but that is how it was in those days and indeed it is very difficult to understand how it all worked, and more difficult to apply our current standards to those of our forefathers. Makes for interesting discussiosns!!!!

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.
Whats for lunch tomorrow.... Man I'm struggling in Karachi...... Not such a bad life or what?

Friday, 9 November 2007

Allama Iqbal..... Who and whats he got to do with me?

Allama Iqbal was a famous Pakistan Poet who has today's public Holiday named and created in recognition of his services to the Country and Humanity.

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.

http://www.storyofpakistan.com/person.asp?perid=P007

Saturday, 3 November 2007

State of Emergency and Camels

I got home planning on writing a short Blog input to say at last, I got a few photos of camels!!

But while sitting here I was also flicking through the TV channels. Just watched Arsenal and Man U. Other channels were not working properly so I decided to call the provider. But and this is strange I first checked BBC on the Web. No real reason. Front news 'State of Emergency in Pakistan' and all foreign TV channels are off. Well Mr BBC you are wring I;m watching it now. But we'll see how it pans out. All quiet in Karachi. But tomorrow will be the time to find out what it is all about.
_________________________
BBC News
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
So there you have it. We'll see tomorrow.
_________________________
Now back to the Camel.... Qassir my driver is credited with the photos. As you can see they are lumbering beasts taking on the same role as the donkeys. They are everywhere on the main streets in and around the port. I am possibly the only one who takes any notice of them. I also asked Qassir what happens to the donkeys and camels when they get old or become incapacitated? Answer was not forthcoming but sadly my conclusion was that they work till they drop!!! I intend to ask a few more people to see if they can provide a clearer somewhat more specific answer. I'll let you what I find out but I suspect people in Karachi are to busy just surviving to worry about the retirement of donkeys and camels.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Hallowe'en

First of November already. (only 54 day till Christmas). I've been back in Karachi 10 days and it seems like yesterday that I was drinking a long cold Singha beer in Thailand. Good dream!!! It is only after 10 days, i.e. today that I got to go round to seeing Captain Farouqui (my shipping agent) and explain to him why I had not made it up to Karachi in my sailing boat.

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

Back on line

Its amazing how without the Internet at home you feel so out of touch. Well finally I'm back on line. Seems the cable from the roof top to my Condo was cut/damaged. No worries now fixed. Next problem was when I got home Friday evening the power went off. Someone is trying to tell me something...

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

Frustration..

I've been back 5 days and still no cable TV or Internet connection at home. Feel cut off from the world. Can't complete my sailing Blog nor write much on this one etc.

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

I’m back. Well till Christmas at least!!!!

I told you in my last posting I was off to Thailand for a few days. Well I got back last night. Great trip. Caught up with Wanna and managed to get up to Khon Kaen and see her family etc. We were at a loose end on Saturday so decided to go to Laos. Yes pop over the boarded for a look. Well it was all a bit like a cross channel trip for duty free really. We all got sorted out, me bring a non Asean country had to organize a visa. However that was easy as the folks up there have it well sorted. So a 3 hour trip to Laos. Crossed the mighty Mekong River. Did not get the T shirt but got a stamp in my Passport!!!

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.


http://www.sailblogs.com/member/lloyd/

Will catch up with him later in the week and give him the full story. So till next time.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Back in Karachi. Initial thoughs

Got back at 06.00am this morning. Desperately needed some sleep. Which I got. Then up and in the office by 10.00am All go.

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

I'm back

Well almost. I'm in transit in Dubai. Have had my 8 days in Seychelles on the boat. Many thanks to some many people for being so helpful. In particular MF, Phil, Peter, Patrick to name just a few.

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

Blog delays

Hi readers,

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

The Cricket Season is upon us

Ramadan has been plodding along with the work rate dropping daily. Mine included, and I'm still drinking the same amounts of tea each day! So when I learnt that South Africa were to start a 5 day International test match against Pakistan yesterday I was a bit surprised to say the least.

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

Karachi Sometimes people just really surprise you

Went to work as usual but being Saturday in Ramadan there was not to much going on and with Wanna here its a good excuse to go home early. Well that's exactly what I did but decided to stop off at some shops on the way. For any of you reading this Blog you will know that I am planning on bringing my boat to Karachi till the end of my contract. Well it is finally looking like it will happen. To assist I need to do some purchases including a small generator and car stereo etc. So off to generator street, thousands of them for sale. A 750 watt petrol made in China will set you back about US$ 85. Uses 0.5 litres of fuel an hour. Idea for a spare source of power on the boat. So that's a purchasing job for my driver Qassir on Monday. He can shave a few more rupees off than me!!

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?",
"yes".
"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.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Yesterdays mussels are todays crabs?

Went fishing again today. Not a success. This time it was Wanna's turn to break a rod. So decided it was not going to be a good day for fishing. Best left well alone for another day. What next ??? When wondering this and there in front of me as a lovely crab hiding in the rocks. You know the size 'dinner size'. Well no holding Wanna back. Caught and in the plastic bag ready to go home. Now home it is cooking time again. Seems a non stop occupation in Karachi.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Mussels and Mussels a-live a-live oh!!!!

Just been down to the Defence area again. 4.43pm was low tide. And the mussels were out all exposed and ready for the picking. Fantastic. Cannot understand why no one else eats them. Several local lads who were fishing near by just watched us with very limited interest as we collected about 20 kilos of mussels and about 5 oysters. Fantastic taste to the mussels, they are without doubt the best I've ever had. Just so pleased that no one else wants them.

Well Wanna has been in the last few pictures and as this one involves only us I decided to add my photo this time. The mussels are growing quite happily on the rocks. Did you know that mussels can grow over/on top of each other to a depth of about 20 centimeters. Any thicker than that is no sustainable. That's a scientific fact which I learnt about when designing cooling water intakes in warm climates. Useful Blog this for off the wall information!! Now to add my photos!!!!

Being Ramadan we cannot buy any beer or wine to wash down the oysters. Still a squeeze of lemon should do it. I intend to enjoy these before sitting down to watch the Bourne Ultimation. Hope it lives up to its expectations..... However good it turns out to be it can't be more thrilling than going to catch your own mussels.

The secret to "Success" ..... is never, never, give up trying.