Thursday, 31 January 2008

Port Qassim

Had a day trip to Port Qassim. Reason being to look at a damaged jetty. PQ is about 45 minutes east of Karachi and is set in the delta. Have just been to Keti Bandar only a week ago and this seems a similar trip. Difference is it has deep water hence the very successful port development. It handles about 35% of Pakistan sea imports. So impressive yes. Its got a lot of jetties and quays all spread out. We looked at a coal and steel unloading jetty then had a quick boat trip to view a couple of other jetties. Both in use. Good dayout from the office.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Getting closer to home

Up to now I've avoided making much comment on the politice here in Pakistan. But yesterday things related to the "War on terror' just got a little closer to home. There has been some violence in Karachi just like any other city but this event of yesterday makes me think things are getting closer. See newpaper article below.

Five terrorists, two cops killed in Karachi gun battle KARACHI, Jan 29 (APP): Five terrorists and two policemen including a DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) were killed in two gun battles in Landhi and Shah Latif Town on Tuesday evening. The terrorists, said to be members of the banned outfit Jindullah. The terrorists were killed in Landhi’s Sector 89, tried to escape during a police raid and a gun battle lasting more than five hours took place. They fled from Shah Latif Town in a car. A police alert was sent out and a Landhi Police Station police patrol headed by TPO Landhi Azad Khan intercepted the terrorists near a petrol pump in Sector-89. A gun battle ensued and three terrorists Junaid, Abdullah and Tayyab were killed while a fourth, Talha was seriously injured when a hand grenade exploded in his hands. He was stated to be in a precarious condition. Police impounded four SMGs, six magazines and a grenade from the site. DSP Asghar Dahri and Head Constable Raja Tahir were killed in the Landhi encounter while TPO Azad Khan and his guard Hanif suffered bullet injuries.(Posted @ 20:46 PST, Updated @ 23:20 PST. Source The dawn Newspaper http://www.dawn.com/

Monday, 28 January 2008

Misty morning

Today is cold. I got up and went to work with a real Monday morning feeling. Visiting the construction works I noticed a navy vessel leaving port. Photos of navy ships are not really allowed and if anything frowned upon. However in this case the picture is so poor I doubt it counts in any way as a security risk! What it does do, is show you, the morning sea mist and if you look closely at the photo you will see it is already 9.30 am. She just glided by as if on air. No noise and no waves just a pale gray bulk with no distinguishing features drifting by.
Wake up Alan, and get back to work...... It is after all still only Monday morning, you've got a whole week to go before the weekend.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Keti Bandar What? Who? Where?

Keti Bandar is a small fishing village situated about 150 kilometers east of Karachi. It is nestled in one of the many thousands of creeks, rivers and dykes which make up the mouth of the Indus River.
The area is low and sparse. Sparse in all ways, by which I mean little to no vegetation due to the saline waters, few people due to the simple fact there is nothing there to sustain them except fishing and flat like all delta regions. Even the drinking water is trucked in. There is also evidence of some power lines. Two lines, one had collapsed and a one was being built.
The only access to Keti Bandar is by road or of course fishing boat. We did also see evidence of a helicopter pad marked out on the road. We suspected this was for military purposes as we are only about 100 kilometers from the Indian Boarder.
Given what I have just said I was surprised to see an asphalted road at all, I had been preparing myself for a long haul over rough terrain, being bumped from side to side for what would surely have seemed like hours. In fact we took an hour getting out of Karachi (that’s 20 kilometers !) due to traffic and here in the delta we were batting along at 120 plus!
After what I’ve just told you the question must be …”Why visit”? Well very good question. Actually my Company is undertaking a study for some jetties and it included a site visit to Keti Bandar. A couple of Engineers had come over from UK, that's Simon and Scott, and together with our local Engineer Partner Ahmad Pathan (Yes Ahmad of fishing days) we made the trip. So I decided why not visit with them and have a day out of Karachi. Somewhere else in Pakistan to see.
Given my comments above it is all the more striking when you consider this is only 150 kilometers from Karachi.
Ahmads’ Farm(s) On the way back from Keti Bandar we stopped at Ahmad’s farms. At the fist stop he had laid on lunch for us. Everything was cooked over an open fire in one of the outhouses. Lunch was ready on arrival comprising fried fish, chicken curry and rice, and local salads. All was ready and cooked for our arrival. Smelled great. A far cry from Keti Bandar. We ate, relaxed then relaxed some more while sipping some local tea.
After relaxing we had a wander around. Ahmad keeps cows and oxen. The farm comprises a small dwelling and some outbuilding including the kitchen. The others were for storage of tools and bedrooms. He had a tractor and a few other bits of equipment. However whilst there we watched the boys go off in the ox cart to collect grass. On returning they cut it up into smaller sizes using a cutting wheel. To the grass were added sugar cane storks and banana stems for added bulk. Watching this all being done whilst sitting in the shade with yet another cup of tea made us all feel like gentlemen farmers. The good life!! The cows seemed to enjoy their food as well!
We even had time for a little shooting! Nothing came to sight so we let of a few rounds just for fun.
To cap it all off I went home armed with cauliflower, carrots and Italian Basil.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

3000 + hits Thanks please keep them coming

Thank you all very much for reading my Blog. I've reached 3000 hits. Well not really. Let me be honest. I started the counter on 1952 so even at that it is well over 1000. since last Feb. I've been going since 1st Feb 2007. So 360 days. 3 hits per day.
The Blog had initially been written to keep my Family, particularly my Dad, informed of bits of my life in and and around Karachi. Other friends have read it and also I've had a few emails from people who have stumbles upon it when looking for something related to Karachi. A couple of whom I have met and others I hope to meet in due course. I'll keep it going as I to enjoy doing it and now to know so do some others (that is unless my Dad is hitting on the Blog 3 times a day on his own? I can't believe he's that supportive of such a minor venture. But if true thanks Dad!)
Again thanks to all my readers for the interest. Please if you have any comments, suggestions or anything I should consider to add to the Blog please email me about it on lloydaw@gmail.com
Keep reading.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A weekend at home

No work this weekend and no going out. Religious festival. See todays news in The Dawn. Thats why I stay home.

Karachi police say avert bomb, cyanide disaster KARACHI, Jan 19 (Reuters) Pakistani police said Saturday they had averted a disaster with the arrests in Karachi late Friday of five militants planning to attack religious processions with cyanide and suicide bombs. “Their arrest has averted a big disaster ... but the threat of suicide attacks is still there,” provincial police chief Azhar Ali Farooqi told a news conference. The five militants belonged to different militant groups and were picked up in raids in different parts of the city, Farooqi said. “They planned to carry out suicide and grenade attacks on processions,” he said.Police seized 6 kg of explosives for use in suicide jackets, 2 kg ball bearings, one kg of nails, detonators, three hand grenades and two pistols. Police also seized 500 grams of cyanide that Farooqi said was going to be used to poison drinks handed out to people taking part in the processions. Separately, security forces arrested a suspected teenaged suicide bomber, Ismail Khan, in the northwestern city of Dera. Security officials said he was on his way to Karachi to attack religious processions. But senior security officials denied a report that the 15-year-old boy had confessed to being part of a five-member team that attacked and killed Benazir Bhutto on December 27. Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz said the report was a rumour.(Posted @ 16:48 PST) http://www.dawn.com/

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Wheelies

Just went down to the coast to get some mussels from the rocks. On the way down through the new Defence area there is a half completed dual carriageway. Packed out with street motor bikes. Loads of local lads out performing each other with wheelies running circles and all sorts of stunts. Make for some good watching.

Good watching indeed. Even stopped an old chap on his delipated bike. Had the whole falimy on board. Its a must see.

Sunday Shopping

I'm not one for shopping but the Defence Area near our house has a weekly Sunday and Tuesday Market. Whats for sale? Everything except meat and livestock. Even found someone selling secondhand laptops.
The main things for sale are fruit and vegetables and kitchen stuff and loads of cloth and garments. Not so different to the larger town markets of UK in places in Norwich etc. Well quite a difference really. Major difference being the people and the constant dust. The whole atmosphere surrounds and engulfs you with different sounds and sights. A whole new atmosphere which is so difficult to recount on paper. Its so much the smells and fragrances which seem to pass you by as you walk along. The people, well they are all so friendly and not in an aggressive 'selling stuff' type of way. Happy to chat and let you look at their goods knowing you will not buy. Along the tiny avenues between the stalls are the ladies in their black garb, the men doing the selling. There were a few foreigners around, some clearly European and some looked Asian, probably Chinese or Thai. In our walking around we did not see one lady, not one, doing any of the selling. Here this seems the norm with men in all the shops, markets and doing all the work. Even down to selling women's clothing. I saw one chap selling woolly tights! And women buying!!!! I did not take a picture.
Makes you wonder that if you are a women in Pakistan, and not married, especially without family, then how do you set about trying to earn a living. It must be next to impossible. Something I am going to find out a bit more about.
We had about an hour there. Bought some vegetables and fruits. Also torch batteries. All the time you are pestered by small boys carrying empty shopping bags offering to do your carrying of stuff. We kept saying 'No gulli' (no boy thanks), as I was perfectly capable of carrying a half kilo of veg and 6 grapefruit myself! If is got heavy Wanna was with me. Hope she does not read this! Exciting morning!!!!!!
No problem with it at all, it was fun. Got us out of the house and some fresh air. Now home for a big lunch, TV and a cold beer.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Byranai

Had a really good morning. Ahmad gave me a call and asked me to come round for a Byranai lunch. Great. He explained they had cooked 10 kilos of rice and 15 kilos of lamb plus all the usual extras including potatoes. Well it was fantastic. So good I had three helping. this was all washed down with 7up!!! All followed by some more rice. In Pakistan they make a very clever desert using rice cooked in sugar and other bits then add in coconut slices and various raisins and bits of coloured pumpkin etc. Again very good.
However you do need a very large cooking bowl to do this with 10 kilos of rice. When I got to Ahmad's they had three such bowls.....

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Already Wednesday

I've been back 4 days. Seems like I was never away. Time in flying by. Karachi is quiet and there are no signs of any unrest. Driving round things seem normal. No signs of burned cars, demolished homes or shops. Well only a few burned out shops. Nothing like when I was in Jakarta many years ago at the time of the deposing of Sutauto. It is only in talking to people and asking around that you realise many here are nervous of the 'possible' violence which may or may not occur. There is an overall clam but you sense there is fear and nervousness just under the surface. Might be me being over sensitive to it all. There have been several stories of gangs of political followers breaking into peoples homes and getting really quiet violent with the residents especially some districts where Benazir has large majority following. One story I heard was of an incident at a house not far from my work. 18 men burst in and were starting to get nasty with the owner and his family. The only thing that saved him and his family was the fact that their maid was from the same tribe as the intruders. She started shouting at them and they realised there was a feudal connection and they left. I don't have such connections here in Karachi and being part of the UK tribe does not instill much confidence in these circumstances. All a bit scary. Both the British Consulate and the Thai Consulate have been excellent keeping us informed of developments so we are not out on our own so to speak.

For us, Wanna and I, in our area where our Condo is situated all is quiet. The worst I can say about Karachi at this time is complain that it's cold and windy. Winter has arrived so I am told, and I believe them. It's about 22 Degree C here and windy. I find it not cool but cold so that tells you how long I've been away from the more temperate climates of Europe. There's no heating in the Condo so last night we went to bed with T Shirts and socks!!!! If we visit UK this year it will have to be in the summer.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Back in Big K

We got back this morning. Flight was on time and we got through Passport control very quickly. Then we waited for the baggage. And waited somemore. Well it did not arrive. Hopefully later today or tomorrow.
Driving from the airport to the Condo was a breeze, little traffic and somehow things looked calmer and cleaner that I ever expected. Will get the full lowdown tomorrow on political status etc. Suffice to say I spoke to Khalid who informs me that our works site was closed for 5 days during my absence. Elections are rescheduled for 18th Feb so between now and then I expect some fun and games.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Back to Karachi

Just a quick note. I've been following the news in Pakistan and Karachi in particular. All sounds a bit like a powder keg. Will be returning on Sunday and back to work on the Monday. So check this space. Either I'll be organising to go fishing or packing up to leave!!!!!!

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