Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Am trying to speak a little Urdu but don't know if my phrases are of much value. I can count to 10, say 'hello, goodbye and thanks', and say 'there are 3 (4, 5, 6...) people sitting on 1 motorcycle'. Not too handy in general conversation.
The phrase that I have found useful is (phonetically) 'Kea muscla hey?'. This means "What's your problem?" Which has turned out to be very useful when a group of men are staring at me - they look away really quickly!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Utilities are a problem over here. Power cuts are becoming more regular and for longer periods of time, and as summer starts these are bound to increase. All I can rely on having is 1 light bulb in some of the rooms - no other power, so no air conditioning, fridge power points, tv etc.

Last week it took 4 attempts 3 hours to do 1 load of washing. The first 2 attempts the power went off, the 3rd attempt the water was cut, the 4th successful attempt was because my guard went down the road to get me a bucket of water (once the power came back on) to finish the wash. So hand washing is the best way to do the laundry, but I hate this for sheets and towels!


Bahawalpur (Urdu, Saraiki: بہاولپور), is known for its famous palaces such as the Noor Mahal, Sadiq Ghar Palace, and Darbar Mahal, as well as the ancient fort of Derawar in the Cholistan Desert bordering India.

 I must have seen every mosque and shrine and they were all jaw dropping gorgeous. Yet my main memory will probably be how lush and well organised the farming appeared with lots of manicured crops of maize, wheat and others that I can’t name!

The wheat was being harvested by hand (usually by brightly clothed women) and then fed into a thresher. It was then transported into nearby cities via donkey, ox, camel, tractor or truck. So the roads, which were narrow and poorly maintained, were clogged by a variety of over laden vehicles that obeyed no road rules and were too stubborn (or manly) to give way. Travelling was slow and torturous, and in very high temperatures, thank goodness for air conditioning in the car. 

I also had another, short camel ride (around the impressive fort). During and after I said the same thing I say every time I am on a camel, “Never again”. This time I really mean it!

Also was escorted through a bazaar to a shrine to an ancestor of the Gilani family. The escort included an armed guard! had lunch at the Gilani residence, which was an honour usually reserved for heads of state. The current Prime Minister of Pakistan, under many legal battles due to corruption etc allegations, is a Gilani.

Sikh Temple

Had an amazing evening being escorted through the Gurudwara Dera Sahib Panjvin Patshahi -  Shrine of Guru Arjan Dev (1563- 1606 A.D )in  Lahore. It is a Sikh shrine that had 3000 visitors when I was there – they were part of a 14 day pilgrimage from India to the shrine.

This shrine has a highly gilded attractive dome and followers of Guru Arjan Singh believe that he miraculously disappeared in 1606 A.D. at the site in the waters of river Ravi.

It is a beautiful old temple and shrine and I was honoured to be given special permission to enter with all the people who were on pilgrimage. They spend 2 weeks at the temple living on site and offering up prayers on a 24 hour basis. The temple was run along similar lines to a marae with everyone pitching in and living in a communal way.

I was treated royally, (including being guided by the man who showed Prince Charles around!!) and found everyone to be calm, serene, and very gracious. Also loved the fact that most of the men wore orange or purple – very colourful.

Taxila (Urdu: ٹیکسلا) is situated about 32 km northwest of Islamabad. The city dates back from the 1st millennium BC to the 11th century AD and contains ruins of many religions including Islam, Hindu and Buddhist.

I loved the Buddhist temple which had a very calm peaceful air. It is believed to have had a large swimming pool that was filled with lotus flowers.

All the temples and shrines had amazing sculptures, unfortunately many had been defaced over time and all were beheaded. As well as religious artifacts many daily items have been found and displayed including kitchen utensils, jewelry, money etc.

It was a fascinating place and it’s easy to understand why it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Have been going on a few school trips with the students. We
take a bus and armed guards, usually one guard and gun per bus. I seem to be
the only person who feels uncomfortable with this routine.
The electricity power cuts are increasing in the length of
time. The amount of time when there is power available is becoming less and
less. Unfortunately it is not just shorter periods of electricity but also
erratic timings. In the morning power was on between 06:00 and 07:00, but now
it does not necessarily come on during this time. So I am showering, dressing,
eating etc with no lights, blow dryer, toaster, fridge etc. The other worry
about this is the weather is warming up quite dramatically and no power means
no fans or AC. So I’m dreading those days of 40 degrees plus with no means of
cooling down (nightmare).