Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pakistan Monument

This is one of the first places we visited after arriving in Pakistan. I'm just blogging in the wrong order, ha!

According to a Lonely Planet review,

Shakarparian is.........the site of the impressive reddish-brown granite Pakistan Monument, conceived to represent Pakistan's diverse culture and national unity. Flanked by well-tended gardens and shaped like an unfurling flower, the four main 'petals' represent the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), with the three smaller 'petals' depicting other regions, including Kashmir.

A museum showcases post-independence memorabilia.





 It's amazing how green the surrounding grounds are, considering this is the peak of the summer heat wave in Islamabad.



And you can see a rather hazy view of Islamabad and the Margalla Hills from the monument's viewpoint. The white building in the left of the picture is the beautiful Faisal Mosque.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A few more sights around the city

Truck art. Yes, they pretty much all are that colorful!


Street performers. I wonder how much money they make daily?


A police car. It reminds me more of a hot wheels car!

Nice way to transport a bundle of sticks? And then he has to fit himself on the bike eventually too!


Rush hour? Nope, it's actually always this busy on the roads!

A view of the Rawal Dam from the Lakeside Park. Pardon the quality of the photo, the smog and dust seems to have that effect on the atmosphere!


And we are in a country where English is obviously a second language, as evident from these next two pics. Goy?


Leveing?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's wrong about this picture?

Let's see, I can think of several things.

First of all, what's right? The motor cyclist is wearing a helmet. Thinking about safety, that's a good thing.

Wrong?

1. There is a family of four riding a motorbike.
2. There is a girl (don't get confused about the shaved head) riding on the fuel tank of said motorbike.
3. And the adult passenger
  • a. Is not wearing a helmet
  • b. Is not straddling the bike, rather riding with both legs swung to the left of the bike (apparently it is considered unladylike to ride the normal way!)
  • c. Is carrying another baby girl (yup, another shaved head) in her lap, as she is perched ever so daintily on the motorcycle.
What's worse? Chances are that this motorbike passed through several police check posts en route to the place they are visiting (Lakeside Park at the Rawal Dam). And nobody stopped them!!!

Why didn't they get stopped? Probably because the driver is wearing a helmet, duh! He's not breaking the law!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lazy days.......

It's pretty evident, I haven't blogged in several days. We have been mostly lying around, since it's too hot to go out much. We've had a couple of rain showers that temporarily cooled down the weather, but then the humidity becomes a problem. Safa and I hit a few local boutiques and have bought some outfits to wear, but I think we won't really do a lot until Zakir is here, later this week. I don't drive in Pakistan (Zakir does; he grew up driving here), so we are at the mercy of the driver to take us where we want to go, and it's something I am having a hard time getting used to. A chauffeur, whoa!

Another excuse for not posting on the blog is that I got sick a couple of nights back. Like, really sick. Some nasty stomach bug. It took me a couple of days to get over it and today is actually the first day that I feel like myself. No more feeling weak and wanting to sleep all the time, no more fever, and my appetite is back to normal. Such a blessing that the kids haven't caught it, and I'm hoping that it stays that way. We have to be very cautious about the water we drink, at home the drinking water gets filtered and boiled to get rid of infectious organisms, or we drink bottled water. Diseases such as Giardia and other parasites are endemic.

My dear cousin Tahira spent a week with us in Islamabad. She is my cousin, but she is actually the sister I never had. We are very close, and lived in the same house for about 8 years while we were growing up. She brought her younger two kids with her to visit; Rehan is 9 an Aamna is 14. Even with a bit of a language barrier the kids got along very well. It was sad to see them leave, but we have resolved to talk on the phone as often as possible.


The cousins with Tahira:

Zakir should be leaving Birmingham Tuesday morning. And with about 36 hours from door to door (that includes layovers), and the ten hour time difference, he should arrive here about 3am on Thursday morning. Farah is also visiting Pakistan; she is staying with her in-laws in Lahore right now. So they plan to be here tomorrow. It will be so much fun with all the kids in the house; a fifteen year old, a twelve year old,a four year old, two year old, one year old and a baby 17 days old. I have a feeling that we won't get a chance to be together with the grandparents very often. Can't wait to see my favorite little nephews Mobeen and Mohsin again!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Speechless

The picture says it all!

Whew!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What I love about Pakistan

There is color everywhere! The clothes, the pottery, the culture in general. There is just so much color!

We went to a cultural festival/ exhibition, where there were artisans from all over the country, demonstrating their skills and selling their products. And between the booths there were traditional dancers and singers representing different regions of Pakistan.

These dishes have hand etched patterns on them:


And the artist that made these:


 Wood handiwork:

And artwork created by the same artists that paint entire trucks. Hopefully we'll be able to snap a picture of one actually driving on the road, and share it:


I loved these hand painted oil lamps, I actually bought one:


Purses, wall hangings, bedspreads and a variety of other traditional products:


And a dancer demonstrated some Sindhi folk dancing and singing. It was great to watch:


Another singer. See the detailed mirror work on his jacket?

I'll have more to share soon!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jet-lagged

Seriously? Still?! I thought a couple of nights would straighten things out after arriving in Islamabad, but there we are, all four of us, sitting up at 4 in the morning every day, waiting for the rest of the world (at least on this side of the world) to wake up. We have tried to go to bed early, we have tried to go to bed late. But nobody is sleeping past 4 am. So to compensate for the lack of sleep I have tried to get the kids down for a short nap after lunch. Yesterday and today I tried to wake Bilal up at four in the afternoon. After all, there are still some times when he might nap until 4 even when he's at home. But waking him up is like pulling teeth. He moans, and he groans, thrashes around, cries some, sits up and lies back down again. The whole process took an extra hour on both days. Finally I managed to get him out of bed with a combination of threats and bribes, but by then it was closer to five in the evening. And Safa didn't even realize that I had tried to awaken her about four times before I managed to get her up at 6:15pm. I didn't take a nap this afternoon, because I am soooo ready to allow my body to adjust to the ten hour time difference. But if the kids are up at four am again tomorrow I'm sure I'll regret it. Actually, the only problem is when Bilal wakes up. The others can lie in bed quietly and at least try to sleep, but Bilal will make noises, bug his brother, announce that he's either hungry or thirsty until he's made sure that I'm wide awake.

Yesterday we went to the Pakistan Monument in Islamabad. Pictures soon to follow. Today we were thinking of going somewhere; a park, the zoo, or something similar, but we ended up not doing any of those things. When it's triple digits by 10 am we prefer to stay at home. Even the kids were fine with that. Although I hear it's also been close to that temperature in Alabama since we left. It also seems strange to not have Zakir here, we're so used to visiting Pakistan together. Maybe we'll actually do some sightseeing after he's here. Another 12 or so days to go! Overall the kids are still enjoying the time they are spending with their uncle, aunt, and grandparents, even if it's mostly at home.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

En Route

So our journey to Pakistan has begun. Two flights down and one more to go. We took a flight from Birmingham to Chicago, then after a long layover and a trip to downtown Chicago (just for the heck of it) we boarded air Airbus 340 that brought us to Abu Dhabi. Almost 14 hours on the plane was quite tiring. Who knew that sitting in one place for so long could wear you out so much?! Thankfully the kids rested some (since it was technically a red eye flight for us), and I kinda sorta dozed off and on while Bilal slept with his feet in my lap. Watched a ton of movies though! Hats off to the nice personal in-flight entertainment systems on Etihad Airways, even on economy class. It helped the time pass a little easier. And the flight attendants kept us stocked up with water and snacks.


The kids at Birmingham Airport with Baba, right before we said our goodbyes

Safa getting a head start on her required summer reading. Yes, it's true. Homework already!

In Chicago, at the airport:



And Bilal's travel buddy, Blackie. It's a pillow, it's a pet!

Very useful in the plane, and Blackie was also perfect for him to carry his blankie and his special stuffed toy elephant, Fuzzy, around.

And now, waiting at the gate for our next flight out. Tired, but glad to be nearly done with our journey.


We are so excited that the kids will get to meet their brand new baby cousin in Islamabad. Leena is only a couple of days old!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Packed

We almost have all our suitcases packed for our trip with a day to spare, yay! That means I'll be able to spend most of tomorrow tying up loose ends around the house, finishing what's left of the laundry, and a little bit of cleaning. I don't expect Zakir to make much of a mess during his two weeks at home by himself, but I also don't expect him to do much cleaning while we're gone, ha!

We have a little over a nine hour layover in Chicago on Monday (the next connection would have barely left an hour between flights, a little too close for comfort). So as I type this Safa is checking the weather forecast there. Apparently today has been wrought with thunderstorms and hail. Monday has a 40% chance of thunderstorms. Well, I suppose if we are facing rain and storms we might just spend the entire nine hours inside the airport, instead of heading downtown. Boring, but at least we'll be dry!

And since I'm so behind in blogging the details of our crazy busy life I am finally sharing the photos from our Georgia Aquarium trip with Bilal, Nana and Nani, the day that we dropped them off at the airport.

Outside the aquarium:

 And inside:


Some amazing sea creatures:



And I love the beluga whales, they're so graceful!





 Love that cheeky grin!

 And a bit of the Atlanta skyline in the background:

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