Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Islamabad - Week Twenty-Four

More shopping! Okay, I didn't actually buy anything, but there a so many rugs from which to choose, I know I'll buy something eventually.

The very kind and very knowledgeable owners of Chobi Carpets.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Islamabad - Week Twenty-Three

R and I had a rare opportunity to travel outside of Islamabad on Saturday and visit the Khewra Salt Mine, courtesy of the embassy's Community Liaison Office. The "CLO" organizes a lot of trips, but they are so popular and there are so many people at the embassy that want to go, that they've set up a lottery system. It works out that an employee may be able to go on two CLO trips in a year (three if they are really lucky). We jumped at the chance to travel three hours south and visit the second largest salt mine in the world.

Reminds me of Wyoming!

Through bulletproof glass - just walking along, leading a camel.

Again, in a moving vehicle - I have no idea what these are. Perhaps for making charcoal?

School children always make me smile.

Selfie! But in my defense, they approached me first. :)

There is a light behind this wall - the differing colors of the salt bricks are dependent on the content of various minerals.

A mini-mosque, made of salt!

So glittery! It looks like some nebula in the night sky to me.

Okay, THIS one looks like the night sky. :)

A salt seller.

Probably preventing spitting, but it looks cute. Poor camel.

Salt lamps! Trendy in the US (Himalayan Salt!), but pretty cheap here.

There's a goat in that window!


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Islamabad - Week Twenty-Two

R and I went to dinner at the Marriott Hotel with friends over the weekend - really good Thai food and fun company. I had to skip the opportunity to see the new Avengers movie (because it didn't start until 9 p.m. and I tend to wilt around then), but we did make a point of having a cocktail in the "speakeasy" that's in the hotel. There are no signs, and you have to go down some sketchy steps to a sports-themed bar, but it's a bar nonetheless! (I was disappointed that I didn't have to know a special series of knocks and passwords - that would have been fun.)

Oooooh, 80s neon!
And on Sunday the 29th, R and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary. Coincidentally, the DCM was hosting a shindig at his residence that day, so we took advantage of the opportunity to take a photo in their pretty yard - if it appears we are glowing, it's because we love each other! Oh, and because it was nearly 100 degrees out. Welcome to a Pakistan spring!

My one and only!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Islamabad - Week Twenty-One

It seems my posts are entirely of markets and what I find there. To be fair, we really can't travel to any historical/cultural/natural places to explore Pakistan, so I find myself in markets with some regularity. R and I go at least once a week to stock up on fruits and vegetables, and I'm tempted into shops nearly every time we go. Often, I have fun just looking and admiring the gorgeous handiwork.

Cashmere from Kashmir.

Pottery from Multan.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Islamabad - Week Twenty

Just waiting for the motor pool vehicle at the market. Today we bought a few potatoes, a few onions, some radishes, three tomatoes, a green pepper, a red pepper, a bunch of carrots, and a red cabbage - all for under $4.

But Haagen Dazs is over $12 a pint. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Islamabad - Week Nineteen

No photos this week, the embassy is on lock down.

I remember a scene from the movie, The Green Mile. You probably remember it, too.

John Coffey: Mostly, I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head, all the time.

Every day another headline, and it seems like it's on the increase. The ugliness that is terrorism and racism, and all the other isms you care to name. Diplomats feel it, even though we're living outside of the country. We are especially attuned to the way the U.S. is perceived overseas, because we encounter those perceptions every day. Every damn day. We're not in an echo chamber of our own countrymen agreeing that America and its ideals are worthy and worth fighting for. We hear counter-arguments, whether directly or not.

The embassy's on lock down because of a terrible accident. A U.S. diplomat here in Islamabad ran a red light on Saturday (or appeared to, you just never know for sure with the digital age), and he hit a motorcycle with two people on it, killing one and seriously injuring the other. It was a traffic accident. He was careless, but of course he didn't mean to do it. In the U.S. he would be held accountable, but it wouldn't turn in to an international incident. It's different here. Things can spiral and living/working here can become just a little more dangerous.

When danger looms, I question whether it's worth it. I question whether I am making a difference, whether the work is important. And so far, I'm honestly able to answer yes. I'm not going to get all philosophical, but I do believe in leading by example. If I live (and can model) American ideals, it may just be the spark to help another believe that they can strive for that freedom, too. I can only hope so.

I know the driver of the vehicle will relive that moment for the rest of his life, that he'll mourn the life he accidentally took, and the injury he caused. I can't imagine that it will do anything but haunt him, that he'll forever wish he could relive those few seconds and do things differently. I can't imagine the anguish he's going through, or the suffering of the motorcyclist's family.

I had met the driver about a month ago, and he seemed like a level-headed, dedicated professional. I liked him. My heart goes out to him, but it goes out to the motorcyclist's family, too. There are no winners here.

So, while I post photos of the market and of events and of every day life, I don't want to give the impression that living and working in Islamabad is anything but serious business.

But you have to take joy where you can find it.