Friday, July 24, 2009

To hug or not to hug?

So I had an awkward "meeting" today :p. The time and place was arranged by the moms since we didn't want to do the traditional chai at home and at 6:30 we arrived at a popular club near the sea...

The cafe was pretty crowded and we were meeting the prospects for the first time, so it took a while to figure out who they were (thank God for cellphones!). They'd sent us a picture, but I doubt anyone actually looks like their prospect pic in real life :p We found a quiet corner and made small talk for a good 15 minutes while aunties and uncles seated at nearby tables gave us knowing smiles. Ana embarrassed jiddan!

I determinedly gazed at my hands while the prospective aunty gave me a once-over. The small talk continued and I remained the silent, nice girl :p. Half-way through, it started drizzling so we all got up and moved to another table. When we got up to leave, I experienced a bit of a dilemma... to hug aunty goodbye or not to hug? I didn't want to appear too effusive/clingy since we were meeting for the first time and in all likelihood, I probably wouldn't see them again... At the same time, I didn't want to appear rude/stuck-up... In the end, I just sort of smiled and did the air-hug (hugging without actually touching).


Thursday, July 23, 2009


I've been feeling la for the last few days; too lazy to do anything productive, yet sad because I've been sitting in one place like a lump. I did manage to clean out my cupboards if that counts as being productive :P And I discovered a wet tissue from Boots that was lying in one of my purses for the last 10 years... I opened it, the tissue was dry but the fragrance was still intact :P.

I miss being around intellectual people who can talk about subjects other than clothes, tailors, electricity and family issues... I've been entertaining myself with Samantha (my sister named her :p).

Some of my friends took a trip to India. I want to be there right now, *sigh*.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bun Kabab

Wikipedia describes the bun kabab as an "authentic South Asian sandwich" consisting of a spicy patty, onions, chutney or raita in a hamburger or hot dog bun warmed on a karhai.

I had one today after a really really long time. I usually avoid street-food on short visits but this time I'm here for a while so I decided the risk was worth it (the risk of food-poisoning/gastroenteritis/typhoid due to the dodgy hygiene conditions :p).

Boy, was it worth it :) My mom and I tracked down the old bun kabab-wala since he'd moved to another area and ordered four bun kababs. He served them fresh and hot and we devoured them hungrily, reliving days gone by when we'd stop by the bun kabab-vendor on the way home from school and have bun kababs for lunch.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

KESC Torments Poor Civilians

Electricity... hurrah! after 4 days (= 96 hours). The last four days have been straight out of a bad horror movie (ok, it could've been worse if everything happened to me but I did get a lot of feedback from other Karachiites).

After the epic rainfall breaking a 30-year record, the people of Karachi are grumpy, bone-weary and resigned. Several roads remain submerged, cars are stranded due to water entering the exhaust pipes, residents are still mopping up the water that flooded their homes and shopkeepers/businessmen are rioting in the streets and burning up KESC (Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation) complaint centers (which is self-defeating but they're too desperate to care).

One of my friends spent Saturday evening hammering holes in the wall of his roof with a screwdriver so the water could escape because the puny drainage pipe got clogged with muck. Another stole bricks from a nearby construction site and propped up her bed while the water levels steadily rose around her. My uncle drove his new car into a ditch because he couldn't see the road and someone nearly electrocuted himself trying to start the generator...

Food rotted away in the fridge, the UPS died and I couldn't check my email for three days straight! (gasp!)... I felt rather primitive, hand-washing my clothes and hanging them out to dry, cooking on the gas stove by candle-light and using my wind-up alarm clock instead of the cell-phone alarm (because the charge had run out). I whiled away the time with some light reading and tried to stay out of everyone's way because people were getting on each others nerves without fans/airconditioning, sweating it out in the hot, humid weather.

So, why did I leave my comfortable lifestyle in Abu Dhabi and come back to Pakistan again?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Rain in Karachi...

Monsoon season is finally here and Karachi is clean and green in the aftermath of the heavy downpours. The new drains installed last year seem to be working... so far. At least we haven't had to wade through knee-deep water yet!

Early in the morning I drove to Sea View (all by myself :) yayyy!). There's a lot of ugly construction going on but I could just glimpse the waves through the gaps in the wall. A couple of men in suits had stopped by the beach to enjoy the weather before heading to work on a Saturday morning.

Now I'm sitting outside in our little garden patch, reading Nadia's song and raindrops are spattering the pages. I can hear the water sloshing in the drains. Earth worms revel in the puddles outside.
Guess I spoke too soon :p Went to the mall in the afternoon (and of course every other person in Karachi decided to do the same :P) so we got stuck in traffic. The drains got blocked so there were a number of cars partially submerged on the roads and people did end up wading through inundated roads...

Rain is nice when you're snug at home gazing out the window with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a book to keep you company. It sounds like a waterfall outside!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Aunty Parties

Yesterday was my mom's friend H's birthday and so, her friends decided to throw a surprise party for her. Aunty H's daughter was told to bring her mom to Pizza Hut at 1:30pm and the other aunties got there early bearing gifts and flowers. To add to the ambiance, the waiters put up Pizza Hut balloons and streamers around our table and when a little kid came along eager to claim the balloons for himself, Aunty F told him, "Beta, hamari party hai" (son, it's our party). The little guy's face fell and he scooted away :P.

Aunty H finally arrived around 2:30pm but I'm guessing she'd guessed something was up because she was beautifully coiffed and dressed :) The aunties ate, drank and made merry (they now have flavors like Showarma Pizza and Karahi Chicken Pizza and appetizers like Seekh Kebab Rolls to cater to Pakistani tastes). Finally Aunty R left the table and came back 5 minutes later with a secret smile on her face.

After everyone was done eating, the waiters came along bearing a cake with candles and proceeded to belt out "Happy Birthday to You" in off-key voices. They made noise enough so that every other table in the restaurant was watching ours. Aunty R blushed at the attention and cut her cake... At 3:30, she got a call from Neelo's salon asking her to confirm her appointment at 5:00 for a blow-dry, pedicure and lifting facial (this was her daughter's birthday gift... awwww).

Once lunch was over, the aunties wanted chai so they decided to go to a dhaaba (a roadside cafe) and drink dhaaba wali chai... Ofcourse, aunties are too hygiene-conscious/sophisticated to drink in the dhaaba cups, so they asked for the chai to be put in disposable plastic cups and sipped away. So ended Aunty R's birthday party :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Week 2

I can't believe I've been home for a week already! I went out for a drive today and got samosas :-) and jalebis. Only in Pakistan will you find fresh samosas for Rs. 6 ($0.07). Ana saeedah!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I realized I have a hard time letting go and moving on... My homepage is still set to 0-O

In other news, I was scanning the "Careers" section of Dawn and applied for a couple of part-time positions for the summer.

And here are some matrimonial advertisements from the newspaper... Be amused :p

"Anmol rishtay: All kinds of proposals are available: Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, professional degree holders, pretty girls and boys, USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Holland and UAE. "

"Daughter 27, MS plus chartered accountant, good looking and good cooking!"

"A well-off young Urdu Speaking businessman living in posh area needs pretty bride from a compatible business family. High class proposals including problem cases available. "

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Semi-Happy Post

I realized that my thoughts are becoming progressively sadder day by day... Today was interesting. I met some friends after a reallllly long time and we had fun catching up. There's something about old buddies, people I knew as awkward teenagers who've grown up to become successful men and women that always gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside :) (of course, I was an awkward teenager too :p).

Later, we went for dinner at Arizona Grill... It was packed since it was the weekend and we had to wait for a table... When we were leaving, a little boy (around 6 or 7 years old) came up to me and said, "Baji, don't break my heart baji, please buy a flower for 10 rupees " in perfect English and started handing me flowers... I bought a few and handed them out but he followed us all the way back to the car along with his younger siblings. At the stoplight, a swarm of little boys literally ambushed us with their windshield wipers... When the traffic light turns red, these little boys come up to the cars and start wiping the windshields, then expect to be paid... it really breaks my heart... :-(

“In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.”


If a guy you've known and liked (as a friend) since O'Levels (high school) announced out of the blue that he was interested in "taking things further" (getting engaged-----> getting married). What would you do?

He graduated this year and is starting med school in the fall (with a hundred thousand dollars in student loans)... Isn't med school tough enough without having a girl to worry about? Are 22 year old guys mature? What are the chances that a long-distance relationship would work out over a four year period?

P.S. The girl has a job, he doesn't... wouldn't he suffer from inferiority complex?

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Bagel display in Central Park (NYC). People do funny things in Central Park... (and I miss bagels)

A corner of my garden at home :)

My friend S has two of the cutest puppies: Bianca and Brownie... We've known each other since fourth grade (S and I)... and now she's moving to the US *sigh*

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I'm enjoying succulent, juicy mangoes in Karachi... I had a chat with the fruitwalla today and he said that fruit is ripe for harvesting in the Swat/Chitral region but no one's there to pick and process it... This is the area where the Pakistani military is battling the Taliban and the people who lived there have been forced to abandon their homes and orchards and are currently living in makeshift tent camps in other parts of the country... it's a sad situation and no one seems to care.

I've slowly been adjusting to life in Karachi... For a start, I went to the salon to get "cleaned up". There was a ten-year old boy in the reception (he'd come with his mom) and I amused myself, observing his facial expressions. By turns he looked fascinated/horrified/bored out of his mind as his mom got her hair dyed, brows and face waxed and threaded and her skin polished. Then, I went to Aashiana (a shopping center that sells loose cloth) to buy material for shalwar kameezes since mine are hopelessly outdated. After shrinking the material by soaking it in water, I'll go to the tailor to get the outfits made.

I hope I find something productive to do soon, otherwise I'll end up socializing my summer away at frivolous aunty-parties and friends' weddings. And I'm surprised at the fickeleness (if that's a word) of my attachments because I don't miss Abu Dhabi at all... is that weird?

Currently reading: The Adventures of the Wishing Chair (Enid Blyton).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tis Warm in Karachi

After yet another "adventure" I arrived safe and sound in my beautiful home city :) I'd decided to keep all of Saturday free to say goodbye to everyone since my flight was booked for Sunday evening and I'd have all of Sunday morning to pack, clean and wrap up things (or so I thought). Al came over from Dubai and we hung out at IKEA. I was planning to meet some people for dinner later that evening.

At 4:30 pm, my mom called to say hello and confirm my travel plans. She told me to make sure the flight was for the 5th and I assured her it was confirmed but she told me to check again just to make sure... (mom's intuition). I didn't have my ticket on me so I went up to the Etihad kiosk and asked for a confirmation receipt. The person at the counter said I wasn't listed... (Gaia has mini panic attack). He ran another check and informed me that I was booked on the flight leaving tonight (Saturday evening at 11:00 pm)... major major panic attack!!!!

After some deep, abdominal breathing, I called my friends and asked them to meet me earlier (at 6:30 pm) and after a quick farewell, I sped back to the villas... We got stuck in traffic and it was 7:30 pm by the time I arrived at the villas (time to check-in = 1 hr 30 mins).

I did laundry, dried and folded my sheets and towels, took out the trash, finished packing and weighing my luggage and cleaned the kitchen in 1 hr 30 mins. I also ended up giving away 50% of my things including my favorite Pton t-shirt :'(. Coming down the stairs with my over-stuffed suitcase, I managed to fracture a bone in my right hand (I heard a slight crack) and the hand swelled up and turned purple.

Thanks to Zubair (our awesome driver), I made it to the airport just in time (huge sigh of relief) and made it to Karachi where the temperature is around 42 degrees Celcius and there's been no electricity for the past two hours (which means, no airconditioning/tv/fun).

But I'm happy to be home :) and our cat is expecting again and my hand is back to its normal size...

Friday, July 3, 2009

I'm tearing up... :'(

Il and M got me a cushion and a cookie:

Thursday, July 2, 2009


The people at work threw me a farewell today... I feel all warm and fuzzy inside :) We had Arabic food and set up chairs in the lobby. Almost everyone showed up (mostly for the free food :p)!

It's a bittersweet feeling- I'm happy to be going home but at the same time, sad. I filled out the exit clearance form and turned in my work laptop, house keys and i.d. card (sniff), cleaned out my desk, recycled all the paper and took my name tag off... It's been a rewarding experience and I did learn a lot during the course of the year. I'm going to miss some people a lot, others, not so much. I gave Il my wall calendar and mousepad to remember me by and got small gifts for the girls. We did the three-way hug/kiss and exchanged emails and phone numbers but I didn't cry... In fact, I couldn't stop smiling (is that weird?).

I also received my "good conduct certificate" from the Abu Dhabi Police today (200 Dhs!!).

Final steps: do laundry, empty fridge and cupboards, dust and mop house, make cake for security guards...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009