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.

video

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!!!

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