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?",
"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.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Evening Fishing

You've had the day fishing and night fishing and no fish. I know about time we caught something. Well this evening we did well.

Before hand of course there was the preplanning like buying some squid as bait etc. For that I went to the local Karachi fish market. That was unbelievable. It will be covered under a separate Blog in next few days

We set off and went to Defence area sea walls. The usual place. Having bought the fresh squid I thought we might get lucky. Only one of us was destined to get lucky and it was not me. Wanna picked up a couple of nice small ones and I got one bite (really it did!).

This time we also have the fish to prove it. Check attached photo. We had a couple of hours with Wanna fishing and catching fish and me throwing in the line in a never ending series of loosing casts. Enough said about my fishing. Wanna's catch is on film for prosperity.

Actually it was a really good and interesting evening. A Japanese chap turned up. (Without a camera...strange I know?). How do you know his is Japanese without a camera?..... Enough. Anyway we chatted that's how I knew he was Japanese. We were about to depart and go watch the World Cup Cricket final when he informed us his car was stuck in the sand. Needless to say we helped him. Took one hour to try and get him out of the sand till we finally realised he was well stuck. He would have to sort it out tomorrow. We lost a few (lots) minutes only getting back home in time to see the last 6 overs. Poor Pakistan.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Night Fishing

Lazy Saturday afternoon and the phone rings. My friend Shehzad. "Want to come night fishing this evening?". Want too... Silly question!!!!!!... Answer "Of course!!!!". "Good, See you at the Marina 10.30pm."

Well what to do. Get the rods ready. I made up some extra hooks and weighs in anticipation of needing more due to the 'one that got away'...

10.30pm arrived. Met up at the marina club Shehzad, Afnan and a few friends. Off we went. About 500 meters out we had to play with the outboard engine. Sounded as if the plugs were misfiring. Closer inspection did not reveal anything significant but she just would not start. Even closer inspection revealed the problem. "Always remember to connect the fuel line to the fuel tank!'. Corrected that minor point and off we went down the creek and stopping on the way out to catch a few.. Moved on to try again... then moved on again to try again.... We caught one eel between us. Did not get one single fish bite. Amazing as they were jumping all round us. (Well Wanna was the lucky one, she got about 1000 bites, but those were all mosquitoes!! hee.... hee....)

We had some fried prawns which Afnan prepared. Good stuff. Then headed home. We got back about 04.00am. Shattered and having had a great evening. A few fish would have made it even more special. Next time.

We had actually left the Marina, got out into the creek and down a second creek towards Port Qasim. Along the way were hundreds of small wooden fishing boats moored up all over the place. Amazing their source of light was wax candles/wick lights not sure exactly but seemed to be a bit like you can buy for using in the garden at Bar B Q time, they give off a flame and only minimal light. Looked a bit precarious to me. But being night time and no camera with us I cannot shed any more light on this !!!! (joke ?...)"

On the way home we were surprised just how many people were about. Think it is to do with Ramadan with people being up at night and taking it easy in the day time. Fantastic evening. Thanks Shehzad!

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Abdul at Magiheer's fishing shop. What a man!

I mentioned last post that I had broken my fishing rod. Well I went back Abdul this morning all set to discuss a repair and hear something like " well you buy a cheap rod you cannot expect yo much". No such comment. He just handed me a new one. I asked how much extra. "no charge!!!" Got need now to catch some fish. Chat later.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Fishing and Cymru (Boys in Red)

What a mixture.

Thursday was special. Why? Because I got home early. It was to be our 4th wedding anniversary tomorrow so I had done the obligatory shopping !!!! Decided to get out there and catch a few fish. Tide was in so fishing off the rocks was made much easier. Did not do a lot to help me. I broke my rod on about the 10th cast. Tip came off. And no fish!!! Not even bite. Will take it back to the shop tomorrow but do not really expect a rebate on a 20US$ rod that was subjected to heavy work.

Evening came and great be able to sit at home watch the game. Forget fishing this was Wales verses Japan. I'd finally got Sports Channel 1 beamed from South Africa which is almost 24 hours continuous rugby and cricket only!!! Fantastic.

Wanna and I sat ourselves down in front of the big screen. I mean big as in our home projector big!

11.50 pm. All set. Drinks ready, Cheese and olives on the tray etc. 10 minutes of listening to warm up tit bits with the pundits and then the National anthems. Wham!!!!.... blank screen. Waited 2.35 minutes of it all to get back together....Could not believe it. I know it was 2.35 minutes as the game timer told me so when it all came back on.

Watched the first half and again at half time no signal. 20 minutes into the second half before it came back on for the second time. I had also during this time called the cable service engineer. He assured me it was a cable fault and all would be OK.

Good result but I could not help thinking there was no Welsh team. It was as if there were 15 players together for an afternoon get together. No real game plan and control/support behind the ruck at times was none existent. That said several clever moves but again all I saw were 15 players and no team.

The Jap long try was impressive. I can see Fiji doing that next week and causing a lot of damage. Not to often I hope, but it will be a much tougher game.

Then going on to facing SA....that's really moving up a league. Can the boys do it? I hope so but I have a big nagging doubt!!

Now the excitement of the game is over I went back to the fishing shop. Closed Fridays for Ramadan. talk about having to learn to relax."£$%^&"

Monday, 17 September 2007

Back to basics at the fishing site

Went back today to check out the spot where we found all the mussels. Well the tide was up and the mussels covered up. So they will live to fight another day. Met and chatted with a local Pakistan chap. Seemed like a really nice chap. That was till he started talking about security and how we as foreigners and Christians to boot should take care especially in Ramadan.

He then went on to explain he to was a Christian in fact a a fully fledged catholic which somehow made us Brothers!!! Harold as we discovered was his name explained he was in the Security forces. He showed us his card. Very useful to me as it was all in Urdu.!!! Anyway we agreed to meet up again tomorrow for some fishing. If this is my last post then you know I was duped.

Anyway it did make me think that in future we should be a bit more careful where we go and not to go to the same place day after day at the same time. That is except for work where we all have little choice right!!! Attached are a couple of photos of the shore line where we met Harold!!!!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

The start of fishing

Got down to Mahigeer's shop on East Wharf. Great little place run by a chap called Abdul (I know Original!!!!!) but really that's his real name.

Tells me he has been in the business for ages following on from his Father and Grandfather. Shops been open 40 years. Some of the tackle for sale, the bits in the corners looks like original stock but some is really up to date top of the range new gear. Rods vary in price from about 20US$ for a baby river rod to to 1,500US$ for a trawling sports rod. He has reels to match from unheard of again baby's to the 'mother of all reels' in the Penn range. Enormous. You're talking Kilos in reels let alone the size of the fish it should catch.

We got kitted up with some low budget fairly light weight beach casting rods and spinning reels. After receiving some useful tips from my new mate and future long term fishing buddy, Abdul, we left and shot off to the Defence Area shore line. We were in such a rush we did not even stop at 'go' to pick up our £200. (Monopoly!)

Me with the new gear and Wanna with her fly fishing gear. She was set up in minutes. But me. I had to sort out hooks and weights etc. You know how it is as a semi-pro you need to get all the gear ready and prepared for all eventualities. Straight rod, strong lines, correct hooks etc. Only then in my enthusiasm did I realize I did not have any bait!! Stupid or what.

To compound it after realizing there was no chance I was going to catch a fish on an empty hook, and Wanna was getting her 'fly' caught in the rocks we decided to collect some mussels which were everywhere, unbelievable. It took about 5 minutes, yes only 5 minutes to collect about 5 kilos. Took them home cleaned them up and steamed them. They were not only large but really tasty. In fact I can say they were some of the best mussels I've ever eaten.

We had a few of them steamed and washed down with a cold beer. We had enough for quite a few meals. It was then sitting eating such good food that I realise 'of course they are also bait. S%$t was one word that came to mind. I really felt stupid now knowing I had had bait all the time.

We'll see how we fare tonight. This Ramadan is looking as if it is going to be an enjoyable period for me.

Friday, 14 September 2007

First day into Ramadan

Well we got off to a good start. Wanna arrived from Bangkok last night on time. There was a bomb went off in town on my way to the airport but it was some way off so no real worries there. Got home and had a small refreshment then bed, with reality again this morning. Work Ugh. Not really. Had a quick trip up the quay side to look at a drilling rig where we are doing some soil investigation works. (Why is the photo blue? Good question answer:) wrong camera setting dumb or what!!!)

Today went to work and it is as if nothing has changed. All smiles and my tea kept arriving. But only me!!! Everyone has been fine. It might have a bit to do with the fact that working hours have changed to 8am to only. Not bad. In fact very good for me as I am going fishing this afternoon. Might have some interesting story and photos for next posting.

Tight lines!!!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

No booze... What? No *&#@$#*@ way

Just remembers while sitting here in the office waiting for my transport. If tomorrow is Ramadan then the beer shops are closed..... Yes, really they are closed till end of the fasting period.

Possible major drama to be played out here. I will have to get my driver organised this evening to make sure I'm stocked up. You see living in Karachi requires forward planning that you can only begin to imagine about. Must rush. See you!

Lunch in sunny Karachi

Tomorrow is possibly the start of Ramadan in Pakistan. No one knows for sure till the powers that be see the moon so maybe tomorrow if not at the latest Friday. So today seemed a safe option to take everyone in the office for lunch. After today it will be stressful for the next month or so.

I asked all the staff to join in a buffet lunch and we decided to go to the revolving restaurant in the middle of town. Buffets are good for these occasions as everyone can eat what they want and as much as they want. Well in our case we got value for money!! Eat we did. It was a good spread of local food stuffs. Curries, Channa's nan breads, rice etc followed of course by sweets and cakes etc. All washed down with a few cola's.

We chose the restaurant mainly for the view which is spectacular. Sights as Jinnah's mausoleum, blocked highways and generally looking into gardens and parks. We could see the port container cranes in distance which is where our offices are located. I'm stuffed. Normally a simple lunch does me but today was fun and very satisfying. A good time was head by all.
Another aspect of the lunch. We had a fantastic choice of food as I stated above and a view to boot. There were 20 persons and buffet including soft drinks came to PKR 5831. That's US$ 95. Not each but the lot. So US$ 4.75 each. Fantastic value by any standards. (included Valet parking for 3 vehicles as well!!!)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007


Don't know if any of you have been reading the Pakistan news recently but yesterday was fun. The ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ousted by incumbent President in a coup came back yesterday from exile in UK only to be bumped on to a waiting plane to Saudi Arabia... All good fun and drama to follow through the day but with an underlying seriousness. BBC seem to be covering it well as are the local DAWN newspaper.

We have Ramadan starting on Friday/Saturday and I have no idea how that affects peoples temperaments here but we are in for an interesting few months ahead.

Will let you know how it effects life for expats, not much I suspect unless it gets violent then I will have something to write about!!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

French Beach

Finished work early and decided to take a trip to French Beach which is just to the west of Karachi. About 20 kilometers but what a road. Broken cars, buses and trucks so it took us about an hour to get there. French Beach is a strange section of coastline which has been enclosed by a low level wall and contains lots of beach huts which are used by the more wealthy Karachians (is that correct?)

Seems they go there for weekends to relax and party. It is right off the beaten path and so understandably makes for a really good break. However during our visit there were only guards and the place was deserted. Have a very strange feel to it. You kept looking round hoping to find a group having a party or some activity. But only empty huts and some boats pulled up the beach.

Might go back one day with a bunch of Friends for a Bar B Q.
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Thursday, 6 September 2007

Art on wheels.

Went for a factory trip yesterday and as usual got caught up in the rush hour traffic. But the interesting thing as usual was the busses. If you just sit back and watch them. Its a never ending display of kelidoscope colours and designs to look at. After a short while you forget the traffic jam and relax. Zzzzzzz........................................!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Karachi bridge is falling down falling down....

Big event in town last week. One of the new bridges fell down. Yes just fell down. Bang. Fortunately I don't thing anyone was hurt. Which is a blessing. Added to which it collapsed due to engineering reasons not the interference of the Taliban or other opositions to the Government.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Sunday Fishing

Up and out by 6.00am and off to the ferry port to get on a boat and go off fishing. We finally left after first returning home to get my passport !! No identification then no way out of the port. Even in a Sunday morning. Anyway off we finally went. Weather as not to hot in the low 30's. Waves about half a meter so all in all very pleasant.

The team were all new to me expect Ahmad who introduced me to everyone. Right ready ?... Off we go. 4 large trolling rods were set up. Two quick strikes. Great start but on winding them in all we got were plastic bags...

Then one of the team was feeling deciding queasy to say the least. It was decided to head for home.

I had earlier been asked by Seehzad if I wanted to go sailing but after a morning without fish I decided I had had enough of the sea for one day.

Better luck next time.
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The secret to "Success" ..... is never, never, give up trying.