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Children… Future May 5, 2006

Posted by KG in Food, Islamabad, Pakistan.
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A couple of nights ago a colleague invited us to a sneak preview of a new restaurant his Filipina cook and her sister were opening.  It was all the way out in F11, which in DC terms is inviting people who live in Dupont out to eat in Nebraska.  Not in terms of distance, mind you, but in terms of urbanization.  At an abrupt point in Islamabad (see the blue line in the figure below), clear development ceases to exist and what was a planned grid starts looking more like "the willage." 

The drive out wasn't that bad (see yellow line figure below — staring point noted in the lower right in the Diplomatic Enclave), at least in the Pakistan sense of driving not being bad.  Two or three swerves to avoid motorcycles, one inexplicable traffic pattern correctly navigated, four or five one legged beggars waved away.  But man, was it far.  A more literal minded direction-giver could have said "drive southwest, and at the end of civilization turn right."

When we got there, we walked in to see that it wasn't a restaurant — it was a preview party in the woman's house. We sat around eating her food in her living room on her couches — all 10 or so of us. Her daughter and various siblings/relatives filtered through the house while we enjoyed a delicious repast of glass noodles, lumpia, spring rolls, and melon juice.  Then started the karaoke.  

Karaoke in a fully lit room with strangers, half acquaintances, coworkers, and anonymous Filipinos isn't like it sounds: its even more uncomfortable.  But a few brave souls stood up to sing various tunes.  The highlight was diminutive cousin/friend of the hostess (I had no idea there were so many Filipinos in Pakistan) named Rosie singing "The Greatest Love of All."  It was an impressive rendition — the auto-scorer on the Karaoke machine gave her a 92.

All of us left for home around 9, starting our long drives back to the known world.  I elected to take a different route than I had come in on (for varieties sake), the northeast-bound road on the upper edge of the city incorrectly referred to as Margalla (real name: Khayaban-e-Iqbal).  Before the civilization mark (see blue line in figure) there were no full strength street lights.  There were, however, numerous jingle trucks plodding along, obeying the "headlights optional" rule that everyone here got the memo about except me.  Oh, and also the usual menagerie of small and rickety vehicles one sees on the road here, half completed apartment buildings reflecting ambient light, and motorcyclists following the universal motorcyclist rule of "make your own lane and go".  It wasn't anything I hadn't seen before, so navigating the unforseen hazards wasn't particularly difficult.  Until a mysterious brown-black blob (see brown blob on figure) lumbered slowly onto the road.  I wasn't going too fast (this is Pakistan and the pothole factor makes me drive way slower than usual) but definitely fast enough to have hit the blob and caused damage to it.  It turned out to be a cow, and by pure luck driving prowess I managed to honk my horn and swerve enough to get the cow out of the way and keep maintain my car's structural integrity.  The rest of the drive was uneventful and mercifully easy. 

To recap: ending up at some stranger's far off house to eat dinner on their couch.  Karaoke with random Filipinos and Whitney Houston (unmentioned: Judy Garland, Los Lobos, Van Morrison).  Near collision with cattle, for the first time ever.  Funny that that occured here in the IRP, as opposed to other places where road-cattle are far, far more numerous.  At the end, just another day, as surreal as any other here in the Land of the Pure. 

The I'Bad

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Comments»

1. Audrey - May 7, 2006

Man, one more “see red squiggle in figure below” and I would have died laughing. All hail the use of visual aids.

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