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Woke up, Got out of Bed April 15, 2006

Posted by KG in FS Life, Pakistan.
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"Hip Hop Hooray" was on the radio. 20 minutes earlier, I was reading support letters for a man former employers (and former colleagues) described as a savant in gardenology.  I took their praise to heart and hired him to tend to my front yard three times a week.  For the equivalent, roughly, of $32 a month.  It was a little on the low side, frankly, and a mental note was made to judge the gentleman's work for a month and then give him a raise.  He was very nice, and despite claiming he had no knowledge of English we shared enough vocab to come to a sensical agreement. Before starting my car (and consequently, turning on the radio) I handed my chokidaar 100 rupees, compensation for washing it.  He was quite good at it, though it was slightly annoying that I never asked for the service.  Initiative isn't necessarily a bad thing, but unbidden carwashing struck me as a little odd. I pulled out of my driveway and quickly dodged a speeding taxi.  While listening to a song that at one point made all your high school friends wave their arms in the air, I decided on which specific route I would take to the office.  Nazim-ud-din Road seemed like a good idea, since it was the weekend.  I drove around some potholes and a man leading two goats to parts unknown.  Were they to be shorn, or milked, or slaughtered?  They were headed towards a house extravagantly adorned with garlands and lights… perhaps tonight was someone's shaadi, and they were the main course. As predicted, Nazim-ud-din was Mehran and Jingle Truck free.  I turned left onto Jinnah, err,  Khayaban Qaid-i-Azam and headed for the Diplomatic Enclave.  To my right were the more Western commercial outlets of Islamabad's Blue Area, your Sonys, Bennetons, and the like, as well as the ubiquitous trying-to-be-Western local businesses.  To my left were Islamabad's tallest buildings, evenly spaced, emphasizing the artificiality of the city.  Salwar kameez clad workmen struggled in the median's dirt, trying to mount a massive picture of Shaukat Aziz, Islamabad's Prime Minister, onto a stand.  Clearly there was a VIP visiting, though I didn't know who.   In about ten minutes, I would pull into the US Embassy's pothole-filled outer parking lot, coming in to peruse some shops and check my email.  Before pulling in, I would have to turn my car off and open my hood and trunk so the local security staff could check them.  A gentleman whose name I did not know but whose whiskers made him Redbeard in my mind would circle my gray Honda with a mirror attached to a long pole, checking the undercarriage.  I would be cleared in about five minutes and waved into the lot, my car thankfully bomb free. As I drove closer to the Secretariat, I saw the faces of the King and Prince of Saudi Arabia, flanked by oversized images of a Western suit-clad Pervez Musharraf and, again, the smiling and clean shaven Shaukat Aziz.  Huge posters, mounted on the fence separating the Presidential Palace from the rest of Islamabad.  The Pakistani government loved visitors and clearly showed the city's residents who would be gracing their presence at any given time.  A few days ago, it was either the Yemeni President or Prime Minister (I never checked).  A few weeks prior, it was Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka.  More images of King Abdallah and Prince Sultan were in the median as I turned onto Constitution Ave, these offset by pictures of the sights of Pakistan.  No doubt every other flag a few meters away, on Zhou-en-Lai and across from the Serena, was Saudi, yet another show of the Pakistani's hospitality.  I sped up a little.  The radio changed from Naughty by Nature to Public Enemy's "He Got Game," with its soft Buffalo Springfield sample in the background.  I turned the radio up, rolled down a window, and drove on into the Diplomatic Enclave. It was a beautiful day in Pakistan.

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