Tag Archives: Pakistan

Bad News Be GONE!

Here it is Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:04…yeah, A.M.  Who the hell gets up at 6 A.M. on Saturday morning? I try to sleep until at least 7:30, otherwise I begin to wind down by 2 ish.

This past week has been plagued by one bad thing after another, a few of the highlights are the five bombings in Lahore, Pakistan where we have family, my ISBN Log (where I assign ISBN’s to our books and keep track of the titles and authors, cause each book and format has to have its own ISBN) got corrupted and ate all the info, and my Plantar Fasciitis is in full major pain mode (like I have time to soak my foot.)

But while these and a myriad of other things have been hell on my stress level, there have been some good things to mention.

  1. We have completed and are sending the adoption papers to INS. Yup, hubby and I are adopting a baby from Pakistan. We are certain he will grow up to be President of the world. I’m just sayin’.
  2. I got a person at Borders Corp. who is actually going to help me get the money Borders owes me for books. Woohoo!!!
  3. The snow is all melted here in Laurel, MD. Okay, it took a lot of rain to do it, but you can see the grass! Yeeha!!

If those things aren’t enough to make you smile, then here are a few links to get the ol’ happy juices flowing. I leave you with the good…

A Haiti adoption with a happy ending   *this is especially interesting to me since we are adoptig internationally. All children deserve happy and loving homes.

Alex on track with its first childhood development centre *being a former PreK teacher it warms my heart to see that South Africa is doing so much to help raise the next generation for success and happiness. Go South Africa!

Charming Prince gives monarchy a boost Down Under *This young man has so much of his mother in him. He will make her very proud.

Building free homes for wounded vets *I have nothing but love for those who give back. This man is more than a hero, he is a role model!

Have a HAPPY HAPPY Saturday!

 

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The Streets of Insanity

Happy Sunday. Yup, it is Sunday already. I know a lot of you have been waiting for the next installment of my adventures in Pakistan. Well, I cannot find any of the pieces I wrote, so I am going to wing it from memory.

Keep in mind that I got sick on day three, so a lot of it is a blur. But here goes.

My first week was actually pretty exciting. Since my luggage was lost we went out looking for clothes for me to wear until I got my own. Much to my annoyance, after visiting two different bazaars and about ten shops, we discovered that they don’t sell clothes for people my size. Now, let me tell you what. I used to be a size 24/26 close to 300 pounds. I am now wearing 16/18 and am only weighing in the 230’s (depends on which day of the week.) So to not be able to find any clothes large enough was really quite honestly pissing me off.

Add to this that I don’t understand a single word anyone is saying to me. My husband has even slipped back into his native tongue and I am feeling sorely left out. Now, as to my clothes. Okay, I’ve been in them for about 40 hours at this point and I probably smell bad, but I don’t think it is bad enough to cause everyone to stare at me. And everyone is staring at me. I later discovered it was because my clothes were too tight. Seems as though the Pakistanis don’t appreciate the snug fits of Americans or Europeans.

So after a few tears (mine of course) we make our way to a fabric store where I will choose the cloth for my new outfit. The fabrics are absolutely beautiful. Most of what we look at is embroidered. It is the big thing, and for good reason. After some haggling with my newly-met mother-in-law- and sister-in-law, they decide on a good color for me. I have grown to love them very much, but they are very influential when they choose to be.

I stopped in a few stores looking for books. I figured I would do lots of reading over there on my laptop, but electricity is something else there. Because of the lack of energy in Pakistan they are on a load sharing program. Every couple of hours the lights go out in different areas for an hour at a time. It is very weird to all of a sudden be sitting in the dark with no power. But alas, this has been going on for so long that the locals are used to it. Many have set up their own generators to compensate in those times. However, it does make it difficult to work on a laptop and to stay charged.

In the bookstores I stopped in, I could not find any fiction written in English. They have tons of textbooks and children’s readers, but none of the fun stuff. I was reading THE GILDED SEAL by James Twining and was nearing the end. I was getting very worried. What about my IPod and all the eReader programs I have loaded onto it? Seems as though when I switched computers and synched on the new one, I did not move the eBooks and so there were NONE loaded. I wanted to fall under a truck. Oh well.

Now, going back to the trips into the bazaars to shop, I have to mention the traffic in great details. There are NO traffic laws. Oh, they have been written and a few of them actually posted, but they are like Atlantis, gone, gone, gone. We get into the car and we head out. We are not even out of the driveway before a car coming down the side street is honking at us because we are not driving fast enough. Our next turn is onto another side road where there are around 30 bikes, maybe a dozen motorcycles, and a line of cars, actually two rows of cars, going the same way on a two-way street, unfortunately we have to go in the opposite direction of them. So the husband (who I never knew possessed the skills of aversion that he does) whips the little car out into the melee. Cars are coming at us. Cars are swerving around us going both directions from both sides. Cars are nearly brushing up against us…I swear one of the cab drivers had a sty in his eye and we were so close I could see the damn thing.

Now, we have to go out onto a main road. Holy CRAP. Now we have a two-lane road with four rows of traffic. No kidding. I am seeing motorcycles with three and four people on each one. Entire families ride on one little Kawasaki. But by God, they are smiling. The “cool” thing about Pakistan drivers is they never flip you off and they always smile just before they push the front fender of your car out of their way. Truly a friendly group of lunatic drivers.

My final observation for the day is the level of poverty I saw while in Pakistan. When you drive through the small towns, the buildings are barely standing, there have been little improvements on them since their initial placement, and some of them honestly look like they might fall down at any moment.

There are hundreds of people who literally live on the side of the road. Some are fortunate enough to have tarps that they stretch between trees or sticks they dig into the ground, but many simply have a cot that they set on the side of a road and tie their goat or donkey to. There are neighborhoods where the housing is so scarce that I wondered if they were actually populated, but when you get in, you notice that they are actually overpopulated.

Everywhere you look there are armed soldiers and police. They simply watch. The police blockades are frequent and in some places they write down every license plate that passes through their sector. It sounds very scary, but in all actuality, there was nothing scary about it. Once you realize how normal that is, it becomes sad.

Here is a culture that is one of the most creative and outgoing I’ve ever seen and they are relegated to poverty because their government refuses to organize and acknowledge their existence. How can that possibly be? I think they simply don’t care. They have their fancy houses and their bank accounts and they have the power to allow hundreds of people to die with nothing. And yet, the people living on the streets smile and nod as you pass. They greet each other with firm handshakes and warm hugs. It is incredible.

But now it is time for our weekly call to the family, so I will sign off so I can get the actual recipe for my sister-in-laws Chicken Corn Soup. It was heavenly.

Next time. Fast Food in Pakistan. Yup!

It all Started…

Okay, I wrote this post while on my trip but could not get good enough access to post it. So just prend that we have gone back in time and it is actually happening, though for obvious reasons I will NOT be traveling back with you.

 * * *

Well, here I am. I am sitting in the parlor of my husband’s parent’s house in Islamabad, Pakistan. We have been here since Sunday. For those of you wondering why we chose Pakistan, it is because of family. This is my husband’s birthplace and he comes every year to see his family. This is my first trip abroad and I am really enjoying it. Did I mention I am writing this in the dark? Load-sharing. Every two hours the lights go off for an hour. The family all gathers in one room and talks. It is amazing to see families talking. This is something sorely lacking in American culture. People don’t talk AT you here, they talk TO you.

Let’s start at the beginning.

We flew Delta and Emirates. The food on Emirates was better than most restaurant food I have had. I was in absolute heaven. The planes are really nice and I got to catch up on my movies a bit. I watched G.I. Joe, not bad. I enjoyed it, but I won’t need to buy it for rewatching.

The Proposal

Then I watched The Proposal with Sandra Bullock. Now, I must say that everyone out there better hope I NEVER become the kind of publisher that Sandra played in this movie. On the other hand, this was one of the funniest movies I have seen in a VERY long time. It was 3 am, everyone else was sleeping on the plane and I was laughing out loud. Hubby shooshed me several times. It was FABULOUS!!

I also watch UP. I really really enjoyed that one. Will definitely need to own both of the latter DVDs.

Okay, my actual visit.

Day 1: I arrived at Pakistan at 2 am. My luggage did NOT! It seems Emirates chose not to put 10 pieces of luggage on and 3 of them were mine.

Day 2: Still no luggage. I am wearing the same clothes I flew in because NO ONE in Pakistani is the same size as me. Went shopping for clothes to change into. Nothing. Mother-in-law and sister-in-law had some fabric so we took it to the tailor to have an outfit made for me. Will pick it up on Monday.

Day 3: Luggage finally arrived at noon. Shortly after picking up suit that was made too small. STILL wearing clothes I flew in.

Day 4: Woke up at 3 a.m. sick. Trying not to be a downer, and after lunch went shopping with MIL, SIL, husband and 14-y-o nephew. Still sick, but able to buy fabric for 5 more outfits. Never too sick to shop.

I am loving the food, though milk straight from (whatever animal) is giving me some issues. Did I mention the food is AWESOME?

Now let’s talk about the traffic and driving. Wrong side of the road…was prepared for that. But there do not appear to be any traffic signs, speed limits, or traffic lights that work. It is my observation that EVERYONE drives on the same side of the road–the MIDDLE–going both directions. I am not the squeamish type, but both trips out into traffic almost rendered me unconscious! No exaggeration.

Just found out that we are going to Lahore on Sunday and the following Sunday there will be a small gathering for us with just family, only 40 people. OY!

Well, that is it for today’s update. For those of you wondering what the publisher in me is doing while here. I am editing a manuscript, have been working on royalty statements (inserting data) and checking out the local bookstores. There are TONS of bookstores around here. How cool is that?

Until next time…

You can’t go home…

I recently read a series of posts on a Yahoo group that I found very sad. Not jus sad, but very sad. Several people spoke of their pasts and where they came from. The images evoked such dismay that I could not let it pass without comment.

Graceland, Memphis, TN

These poor people talked about how things had changed in the places and neighborhoods where they once lived. They told sad stories of vandalized homes and razor wire surrounding schools. Heartbreaking. I understand. I try not to go home because it is always such a disappointment to me to see how things have deteriorated. I also found great sadness during the few years I lived in Memphis. A city filled with such historical splendor and it is horribly abused and neglected. What could I do? Well, one thing I am doing is working on a story that celebrates some of Memphis’ fine history. Some day it will see publication and others will be able to enjoy the thrill I get each time I am there and I dig for the richness that once was.

In twelve days I will be traveling to Pakistan with my husband. That is the land of his birth and I know that every time he goes back, the changes affect him dramatically. But he has never lost site of what was and is still is mportant to him about home. I learn a lot from him.

With that in mind, I propose this.

As writers and publishers don’t you think we could make a change in all this? Every time I go home I feel lost. I admit it. But I just keep moving and try not to look back, like if I don’t pay attention it won’t really be there. It serves no good purpose.

What if as a collective a group of writers and publisher started a movement to rebuild our old communities and surroundings, one page at a time? We use words as our tools. We paint pictures with those words. We have the ability and the talent to bring those images of beauty and peace back to those areas and to those people who now inhabit them.

What if 1000 writers all took to their computers and wrote essays, articles, short stories, books, etc. painting the images that we so vividly recall?

I would think that with as many magazines as there are out there that a series of well-written articles with some beautifully nostalgic photos might bring about the stirrings of possible change. 

We can all hang out here and feel bad about it, but what if we each made one little effort and then went to one other person to make one little effort, and so on? Don’t you think that the power of the word has the ability to change? It can certainly change for the worse, why don’t we MAKE it change for the better?

These places are our heritage, our roots, doesn’t that make it our responsibility to breathe life back into them?

I’d love hear about where you are from.