Tag Archives: traffic

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…