Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Bizarre Week

My brother called yesterday from Lahore to tell me that he woke up in the middle of the night when his bed started shaking so he grabbed his wallet, keys, cell and laptop before trying to find his way outside :P Honestly!

It gets a little chilly in the mornings (that's still around 22 degrees Celcius, but hey, we look forward to winters in Karachi and putting on our shawls and sweaters). The people at work got me a huge chocolate mousse cake for my birthday :). I was red in the face because I get embarrassed by things like these but I guess everyone else was happy to take a break and eat cake :P. Karachi was on red alert on Friday so when the delivery-guy came with the cake, he had to wait outside for 20 minutes because he didn't have an ID. Paranoia reigns supreme...

I really like my colleagues but I'm slightly in awe of my immediate supervisor. He's originally from Lahore but went to the HKS in Boston and then came back to "save Pakistan"... He says things like, "Okay, jee"... lol.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Enforced Normalcy

So I'm going about my daily routine, getting ready for work, driving to the office, lunching with my colleagues and going home when I'm done to have dinner with my family and get some rest. But it feels strangely unreal... I'm finding it increasingly difficult to ignore what's happening all around me and continue living my selfish lifestyle. My 12-year old sister's joking about her classmates making faces at the newly installed security cameras in their school and the security personnel surrounding the area makes it look like a war zone.

I found a couple of great articles here and here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One-Year Anniversary

I know I'm a few days late but Yayyyyy! one year blogoversary :) Thanks for stopping by whoever you are and have a lovely day!


Neelum Valley

Aaaah... Work has taken over my life :( I had to come in to work on a SATURDAY!! Bechari Gaia... sad...

Anyway, the good part is that I really love what I'm doing (so far) and the team is great! Most of the people are the "Pakistanis who went abroad to study but decided to move back to Pakistan-types." I'm the only girl though which makes things slightly awkward at times (like when the guys are laughing at slightly x-rated jokes and then one of them realizes, "Larki hai yaar" ("There's a girl present") and there's a sudden silence :P).

Everyone's really committed and I think I'll have a steep learning curve. I'm learning about the PPIB and NEPRA and Pakistani energy sector jargon. I'm sometimes embarrassed by how little I know about my own country! I had no idea where places like Bhikki and the Neelum Valley were and the last time I read about Tharparkar was for my O'Level Pakistan Studies final :P. I really really want to visit Kashmir at some point!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A phase "blew" in a our last night and since then most parts of the house have been without electricity... Strangely enough, the ac in my brother's bedroom is working, the lights in my room are on and the fridge and freezer are still running (thank God!). I just hope no one trips over the extension cords in the dark :P.

On a completely different note, when I first started college in the US, a friend very kindly explained to me what the term "Catholic schoolgirl" meant. Basically, a Catholic schoolgirl is a ho. She wears a tightly buttoned white blouse with a short skirt and fishnet stockings.

Recently, I saw a woman wearing a sari with a really tiny blouse so that much of her tummy was exposed. In an attempt at (modesty?!), she'd covered the exposed part of her tummy with a fishnet... Fashion faux pas?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2nd First Day at Work

I got up bright and early and got ready in plenty of time, had a proper breakfast (for the first time in 3 months!) and drove my dad's old Suzuki to work in the morning sunshine. My office is by the sea in a building shaped like a yacht and I have a lovely view of camels on the beach :)

I arrived at 8:55 am... and no one else was there except for the security guard who smiled and said, "Welcome on board". People started trickling in around 9:40 am so I read the textbook that I'd brought along to "look busy". It's an interesting and varied group of people... (more on them later).

My cubicle is bang in the center of the office, which is great because I get to see lots of people but I had a pebble in my shoe today and I couldn't take off my shoe and shake it out because it would've been too embarrassingly conspicuous :P. I couldn't even log on to facebook because everyone can look at my screen :P. I also realized I'm taller than 80% of the men that work there (and I was only wearing 2 inch heels!). I think guys find that intimidating :S.

What's really ironic is that I'm working on a coal mining/power project which is the complete antithesis of Masdar. I do feel a little guilty but if it will alleviate Pakistan's chronic power crisis, it will be totally worth it (and no, we can't afford carbon sequestration and all the remedial measures).

The project is based here:

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's one of those things about being back in Pakistan; you're always surrounded by family and friends or just random people ringing the doorbell (the maasi (maid), the maali (gardener), the chowkidar (guy who opens the main gate and lets people in), the line man or your great aunt's cousin whom you haven't met in years). It's a great feeling most of the time (alhamdulilah) but I miss the times when I could just shut myself away from the world, take solitary walks by the Corniche whenever I felt like it or blast music to my heart's content without having to worry about the neighbors' afternoon nap...

Mum's leaving for a short trip next week and *I'm* in charge :O. Just last week, I went shopping and very conveniently slammed the car door shut with the key still in the ignition... oops! So, I called my dad on his cell and asked him to bring me the spare key (without telling my mum of course, otherwise I'd be banned from driving alone ever again :P). Thank God for indulgent fathers :). I hope nothing untoward happens, otherwise "ana sa-ashuru bil khajl jiddan jiddan"

And here's a story that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside:

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Allama Iqbal:

"Khudi ko kar buland itna
Ke har taqdeer se pehlay
Khuda bandey se yeh poochay
Bataa, teri raza kya hai"

Ralph Russell's translation:

Exalt yourself so high that,
Before issuing each decree of
will Himself ask you, (His servant),
'Tell me, what is your wish ?'

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In the end...

... it doesn't even matter

So, I was probably the second geekiest kid in my school. I had a non-existent social life in the last two years of high-school and I got into a prestigious Ivy League university where I spent the best four years of my life. But, now that I'm looking for jobs back in Pakistan, I will end up with the same remuneration package as someone who went to Preston University. I guess I should've just bunked classes and bought a fake degree or married a rich businessguy at eighteen :(

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

But.... you're a "lady"!

So I had my first job interview today. First, they gave me an IQ test with a hundred pattern recognition questions... I think I bombed it :S. By the time I got to question 35, my brain was all fuzzy... This was followed by a verbal and math section along the lines of the GRE (I think this part was ok). Then came the personal interview. The HR person interviewing me was probably in his mid-fifties with a beard and pot-belly :). Clearly, he hadn't looked at my resume before because when I walked in, he went, "Lekin aap to lady hain!" ("But you're a lady!"). For the record, my real name is completely feminine. Completely nonplussed here :S

Friday, October 2, 2009


Yesterday evening, I received an email:

Dear Ms. Gaia,

"You applied for entry clearance to the United Kingdom under Tier 4 (General) Student of the Points Based System. Your application failed to meet the qualifying criteria and was refused on 00/00/ 2009. Your request for Administrative Review was received on 00/00/ 2009.

I have reviewed your application and I am pleased to confirm that you have met the qualifying criteria.

The ECO did not award you any points under this category. I have reviewed your application and I am satisfied that the ECO overlooked additional documents.

Your application therefore meets the requirements of the Immigration Rules and I am satisfied that you should be awarded points in this category. The decision is hereby, overturned."

Ummmm... hurrah! Classes start on Monday and there is no way I'm going to get a visa in time :P. I'm not mad, not even sad, in fact, I'm rather numb...

My sister got me this to cheer me up:

It worked :)

But, for other applicants out there still waiting for a decision, don't lose hope...