Sunday, 29 July 2007

Sunday Sailing

Went to work again on a Sunday as Wanna had left for Thailand yesterday evening. Phone went about 3.30pm. My friend Shahzad asking me out for a sail on his friends boat. Another MacGregor. Lovely vessel. We had a few hours around the creek and came in. Lovely way to close out the day. Shahzad's friend Zia did the steering and much to my enjoyment we relaxed and watched the world go by. We also passed a few fishermen out catching their evening meal.
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A Bloody side to work on a site

I started this blog telling you all I would not write about work. Well here's an exception. On Saturday we were set to drive our first quayside pile. Great excitement. How to honour the occasion and bring good luck. Simply make a sacrifice. Three goats were brought to site and slaughtered. Not a pretty sight but clearly for all concerned the way to go. Seems for both Chinese and Pakistanies this is quite a tradition. First to go was the Chinese Project Manager followed by yours truly. When all the blood letting was over the pile driving commenced. Went very well so maybe the Gods were smiling on us. Time will tell. For those interested, the goats were eaten so nothing was wasted. My next posting will be on a happier note.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Saturday Night in...

Night life is not one of Karachi's strong points. Socializing tends to focus on restaurants or going round to peoples houses and even that not so often. But there are several compensations including having friends round for a few drinks and dinner.

Last night therefore was fun. Ian and Aldo come round and we ordered in. Local Bar B Q tonight does a free delivery and its really quite amazing just how much they can load onto one motor bike!!!

We are four, get this only four persons. We ordered accordingly or at least that was the idea. On arrival the delivery boy was fully laden down. We had 8 massive nan breads massive rack of lamb, giant prawns, rice, kebabs, salads, sauces and more Turkish salad and homos.

We got stuck in and for about 3 hours just sat around the table eating and telling stories and more eating. Had a few beers to wash it all down. However after 3 hours we had hardly made a dent in it all. The remains filled the fridge. All in all a very good night.
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Friday, 20 July 2007

Daylight Bomb in Karachi

Just a quick one to let you know that yesterdys bombs around Karachi did not have any direct affect on me or on our job site. Bit of a concern through as the bombs were targeted at the Chinese and we have about 100 on site. The really sad thing is that whilst it did not affect me directly someone lost a mother or father and the poor child will probably never understand why. Doubt if anyone really does. Sad thought for the day.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Old graves and mosques and stuff

Been advised to spend our Sunday on a trip to see a few of the sights on the outskirts of Karachi. There are so we are told simply thousands upon thousands of important graves that have to be seen. And of course lakes and mosques and sights of life along the way.

With Qassir our Driver, Wanna and I set off about 9 am and picked up Ian to join us on our magical mystery tour. I say that it was magical as we only know the names of places where we were going but no idea where they were. In fact having been there we still don't know!!! All in all about a 200 kilometer trip.

First stop was just out side of town. Place called Chucandia where they have an old grave yard with fabulous tombs intricately carved. All seemed to be made of sandstone but somehow I think it was a harder stone given that it had survived the ages so well. Each tomb reflected the wealth of the person placed below. This was measured by the size of the tomb. Several were impressive. But just the art work was good. We were asked by the custodian Ali Doni to fill in the guest book. Surprise, only 2 days earlier there have been a Thai visitor. So Wanna entered some comments in Thai. Never did get an explanation of what exactly she wrote.

From there we left Karachi proper and headed out in a North East direction. It was a hot day 34Deg C and seemed to be getting hotter. Thank God for Air conditioning.

We travelled to Bambhore. It has a small museum filled with old artifacts found locally. Seems there was a big Dig around 1958. Not really much to see and the whole area had an air of the 1950's. We wondered about and took a few shots but really not much to see. Just seemed to get hotter and hotter. Several other visitors kept coming up to us and asking "where are you from?". I said UK and pointed to Ian said his real name is David Beckham. They left us alone after that and concentrated on Ian!

From there we moved on to Hilji Lake. A lovely spot with a huge lake. About 15 kilometers perimeter. Few people about but some were fishing, others selling fish and hustling for our rupees. A few kids wanted to spend the afternoon staring at us so again a quick photo. Looked at some caged Marsh Crocodiles and then left. Not much to hold your interest to be fair. So off again.

Stopping on the road side for tea. Some of the trucks passing by were carrying enormous loads. Think the cargo was grass but so wide and so tall. Quite a sight. I expected to see them fall over at any
moment. On the way passed several herds of Buffalo.
Malki graveyards was something else. Full of snake charmers and some fantastic buildings, again tombs, left in honour of past Kings and Prime Ministers. (Don't ask which ones!). Took loads of photos and really enjoyed.

On the way back we saw tomorrows dinner being trucked into Karachi.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Impress Market Karachi

Finished work early on Saturday and decided together with Wanna to visit the Impress Market. Sells everything or so we were told. To get there is easy, (take your driver!!!). Seriously just go to Saddar Market and there it is.

Set in old colonial buildings and outer squares it really has a beautiful setting. Looking round it is easy to imagine how it must have been all those years ago. Now it is all somewhat faded and in a state of decay but don't take anything away from it, for it has a fabulous atmosphere.

Having driven from work to the market we had to pass through street after street of shops full of traders all plying their wears. It was a bustle of activity with sellers, buyers, bystanders and onlookers everywhere. Dust and plastic bags seemed to follow them all the way. Thus on arriving in Impress Market it was like hitting an oasis. Great.

No sooner do you step out of the car then you realise you are in a different world. Stalls selling nuts, fruits, vegetables and all sorts of cooking utensils. Not only selling but all beautifully laid out so you become immediately attracted in each direction you look. Which path to take? Yet more decisions when all we wanted was a relaxing trip out for half an hour or so.

First stop on the way in was at a small stall where a chap was grinding coconuts for oil. No electrical machine for him. He had the mortar and pestle our and it was attached to his waist. He then walked round the pestle grinding the coconuts to make oil. Amazing. And he was so happy to have his picture taken. Of course we bought some coconut oil....

We ambled along from stall to stall, through alleyway to alleyway. No hassle, in fact no one was interested in us at all. And we did not get lost. I suppose really it is not that big a market just that the first time you are always a bit concerned as to where exactly you entered and just where you are going to exit!!

We had to buy something else so it seemed appropriate I bought some nuts!!! Interestingly 1 kilo of pistachio were 440 rupees. Last time I bought some near a local shop they were 700 rupees. Makes for another to like Impress Market.

We carried on wandering through the market and the range of products was great with such a wide variety of colours and smells. Colours were all bright and dazzling. The smells, well they covered the whole range of spices and fresh fruit and veg. Could not even name more that a handful of the spices.

But most noticeable were the flies. Everywhere they seemed to be in the way but no one seemed to notice or care. Everybody going about their business in a very calm and relaxed manner. I did not see anyone rushing. Shopping was made so easy. No supermarket trolleys but lots of people offering to carry your product and follow you from stall to stall and back to the car!!!!

We stayed for a while and decided we could easily come again and sit down taking in the atmosphere. I made a mental note to come back and find a quiet corner where I could sit take photos. Surely I will be able to capture come the vibrant colours to let you feel the sense the life and soul of Impress Market.

It was only on the drive home stuck in traffic that we felt we were of any interest to passers by. Stopped in traffic where a 'Tuk Tuk' driver was stationary and just stared at us. Not sure he even blinked. So we got a snap shot of him for the Blog as well.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Snake Charmer

Sometimes you have to wonder about life. At lunch time I went with Khalid for a really good Byrannii. (Spelling?...) Outside the restaurant there were snake charmers. I decided I would come back on Saturday and show Wanna. So got home and having a beer on the veranda we looked down. Would you believe it a snake charmer. Stop the beer and jump into the lift. Down we rushed to the ground floor to take a few photos. The snake guy seemed really relaxed and even more surprising was the kid with him. After the 2 minute show the little kid just picked up the snake and played with him like a puppy.

Good to see and unbelievable that at only lunch time I was thinking of the same thing and it turns up on your front door.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Life outside karachi

For those of you who read this. Yes there is life outside of Karachi!

Ian a colleague and I went to Nooribad yesterday. It was a work trip but we stopped and took a few photos etc. Good trip. It/s about 1 1/2 hours north of Karachi by car. Mainly in a flat arid area with clear signs that there are annual floods and not much else.

Did not get to take any good pictures, only those shown here. But you can get the general idea. There were also a couple (thousands) of mosques along the way and we stopped to again take photos. Not my day. Seemed I pressed all the wrong buttons and they came out black and white!!

Ian managed to get some good shots. I'll have to try harder.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Weekend away in Bangkok

Decided to have a day off work and got to visit Wanna in Bangkok. I left Karachi on the 2.30 am flight. Horrible time to fly as you seem to be waiting for the time to board so you can get on the plane and sleep.

Arrived in Suvarnambumi airport. Met by Wanna and Phuk. Straight to Bangkok to check the condos. They are about 30 percent build. No rush for completion as I am not sure how we are going to pay when its ready!!!

Then to lunch just across the road with our very good friend Khun Prathan. Had our usual fried rice and cold tea. It was good to catch up and hear the news. After that we needed to go to the Pakistan Embassy to get Wanna's visa. By now I'm getting tired. Sort of jet lag of lack of sleep. So get the visa and then off to do some quick shopping. We bought some 'crocs' shoes. Sort of plastic clogs. Verrrry comfortable. About 20 pounds a pair.

Then down to Pattaya for the weekend. Only down side was that on Beach road 'crocs' well copies of 'crocs' are only 3 pounds!!

Sunday arrived too quickly and it is back to reality and sunny Karachi. Yes sunny which is great. The rains seem to have gone away.

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