Archive for November, 2012

Across ten time zones

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Fall leaves

We made the trek back to the United States last weekend. The driver came to pick us up a little before 1 AM. The airport was a zoo in Islamabad, but the expediter finally got us through the hoards of people. We transited through Abu Dhabi at sunrise, then got on our 15-hour flight to Chicago. Luckily, John had the foresight to book us business class, so we had comfortable lie-flat seats – although after 15 hours, any seat on an airplane is tedious! Our shining moment came in Chicago when we managed to get on an immediate flight to Little Rock, rather than waiting for six hours! Even our luggage made it, and by 8 PM, we were at Mom’s in Hot Springs.

We took it easy the first few days at home – a few doctors’ appointments, naps to help with jet lag, etc. Wednesday night Pete and Ginger came down and we all went to KJ’s for a steak dinner.

The next morning, the four of us drove down to Carthage, Texas, for Thanksgiving with John’s relatives. This year we went to Brad and Marcia’s house. It was a fun day – we got to see Roberta, the Harwells and Mitch and Laurie. The leaves were still turning down south, making for a pretty drive.

Thanksgiving in Texas









Friday, we had Aunt Bonnie, David, Alison, James and Mary Beth over for a BBQ lunch. It was great to see everyone! David has retired and is living back in Hot Springs now.

With cousins David, Alison, MaryBeth and James










Saturday John and I drove up to Mountain Home, and Philip, Michele, Alise and Andrew drove over from Springdale. The kids are in 8th grade now and all grown up! The guys spent most of the day putting Pete’s electric truck on a flatbed to be hauled back to Philip’s for repair. Pete and Ginger treated us to a steak dinner at Hopper’s last night.



Out shopping

Saturday, November 17th, 2012


Time here is flying by – one reason is that we’ve met some really nice folks!

Last weekend was a welcome three-day weekend. John and I did some shopping on Saturday for groceries and gifts – it was fun to get out because we rarely do. Saleem has us spoiled by grocery shopping for us, and any other items we need we just pick up at the commissary at work. But it’s fun to poke around in the little shops. When I say we went shopping for groceries, picture a two-story 7-11 that is cram-packed with random items. One thing I really miss is fresh milk and cream. We don’t use it that much except for coffee, but a latte just isn’t the same with the long-life shelf milk that is prevalent here. Otherwise, though, we can find pretty much whatever we need.

Monday we hosted a brunch. We started at 11AM and the last four people left at 5PM, so we think it was a success! Lots of mimosas and Bloody Mary’s were consumed, as well as some great food. Guests included our neighbor Sarah, Susan who is visiting from DC, Mike, Fred, and Mike and Carla.

Thursday night, John, Rick and I went to Des Pardes Restaurant in Said Pur Village. It’s just across from the Polo Lounge. We sat in an elaborate outdoor private tent, with day beds with pillows for seats. The food is more traditional Pakistani-Indian and was really good. They made an exception for us and let us bring our wine, but they insisted on serving it in a teapot with tea cups, so the other patrons wouldn’t know we were drinking – pretty funny.

Friday night we headed up to Rick’s office after work with Mike and Carla for a private happy hour – lots of fun and a good way to unwind after a busy week.

Today we’ve been busy around the house, getting ready for our R&R – plus we went to work for a while this morning to clear off our desks and take care of last-minute things. This afternoon we picked up Rick from the Embassy and went by a shopping exhibition in someone’s yard (pretty common here – vendors set up in a host’s yard and it’s a shopping/social event), then we headed over to Mike’s house to watch some beer pong – don’t ask! Afterward, we went over to F-7 to do a little more last-minute shopping and walked around some of the shops. Saturday night is the night when it seems that everyone is out on the road and at the shopping centers – it seemed like the social thing to do and was fun!


Happy birthday, John!

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

With Rick at the Polo Lounge

We celebrated John’s birthday this week! Last Sunday night, we went with our friend Rick to a neat restaurant called Polo Lounge. It’s partially an outdoor restaurant – it was a beautiful evening out, and we enjoyed a nice bottle of red wine with our steaks (being a Muslim country, restaurants can’t serve alcohol, but some places let you bring your own). We got tickled on our way out – a family, dressed up for a nice night out – stopped to ask to have their picture taken with me. Is it because I’m western or taller than average or sort of blonde or …? It makes me giggle.

Monday was John’s actual birthday and his staff brought in his favorite pizza for lunch. They’re a cute bunch, especially the girls who like to laugh and tease. So, I think he had a good birthday overall!

The rest of the week was pretty low-key. John took me to lunch at the French Club on Thursday, and we ate outside the other days this week at the American Club.

My partner in crime Scott has been in Thailand all week, and my other “work husband” Michael was gone Thursday and Friday, so my office hasn’t been nearly as much fun without them. I am so lucky to work with both of them. Michael is head of the Fraud Prevention Unit and Scott is the American Citizens Services chief. We see eye-to-eye on pretty much everything, and we share a sense of humor – they really make going to work fun and I sure will miss them when they leave next summer!

Speaking of friends, Rick had been away for a three week R&R and just arrived home last Sunday. We’ve missed having him around as well and it was good to catch up with him. We all sat down in John’s office Thursday after work and had a mini happy hour together. Friends are a good thing!

There are several of us here in Islamabad who worked together in Juarez (Michael included), and we found out during our meet -and-greet with our new Ambassador that his first tour was also Juarez, back in the 80s. He came down to tour the consular operations this week – he seems very personable and down to earth.

Yesterday John and I got out to do some shopping, which we rarely do. It was fun to  get out and poke around some stores.


Marine Ball 2012

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012


At the Marine Ball










Last night was the Marine Ball to celebrate the founding of the Marines – it’s a tradition at embassies all over the world. There is a nice ceremony with the presentation of the colors, cutting of the cake with the sword, the Ambassador speaks and there is a keynote speaker (this year an entertaining Army general). Mostly it’s fun to see everyone all dressed up! The Marines set up a huge tent in our quad, complete with oriental rugs and dance floor. We had a lot of fun! Here’s a photo of me with three of the NIV officers I work with – aren’t they handsome?

Antonio, Philip and Brandon










Click for more photos from the Ball.

Last Monday was the last day of the Eid celebration. John and I got a lot done around the house, moving furniture, decluttering, unpacking, etc. The house is looking great and feels very comfortable.

I hosted the Consular section heads and senior local staff last Friday for a day-long offsite meeting. We had a long agenda of items to discuss, and it was so nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of the office so we could concentrate and brainstorm.

Our A-100 classmate Joe arrived at Post this week, so we had him over for dinner Friday night. It’s fun to see familiar faces here! We now have five of us from our class. Here’s our photo from the Ball last night.

With our A-100 classmates at the Marine Ball








Our new ambassador arrived this week, and he held a town hall meeting to greet everyone. It will be interesting to see how or if the personality of the Embassy changes with his arrival.