Archive for June, 2013

Hasta la vista, Michael and Rick!

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

With Scott and Michael

My first year here in Pakistan has been so much fun, and much of that is due to my two best friends at work, Michael and Scott. Unfortunately for us, Michael is heading out soon and he will be sorely missed. Not only is Michael a great consular officer, he’s just a boatload of fun. He and Scott love nothing better than to tease and torment me, but they are also there for me when I’ve had a bad day. Michael and I first met when we were both first tour offices in Juarez together – you never know when you’re going to see a Foreign Service friend again! We went out to dinner Saturday night to say bye to Michael – I’ll have Scott around a little longer.

We also had to say bye to our very good friend Rick this week. We went to eat sushi with him before motor pool came to take him to the airport. I’m really going to miss running around and hanging out with him – but, John and I are already planning a visit at his onward post!

On top of having to say bye to such good friends, the week was full of ups and downs for us on the job front. We tried to link to an onward post in Central America, only to find out one of our jobs is no longer available. We quickly regrouped and have started working on another spot. It’s an emotional roller coaster but I’m confident something will work out for us.

Before we went to dinner with Rick, the three of us stopped by a lovely art exhibit sponsored by NatGeo. A group of Pakistani photographers had several workshops in Pakistan, then went to Washington for the final part of the workshop and an exhibit there. I worked on a lot of the visas to try to get them all to the U.S. in time for the exhibit, so it was especially gratifying to see their art. Click to see a slideshow of some of the photographs.

Early yesterday, John and I drove about 20 minutes to the outskirts of town to visit Metro, a store that’s sort of like a Walmart or Sam’s Club (but not really). We wanted to get a couple of big fans to help circulate air in the house. It was fun to be in a big store – the grocery stores here are more like a slightly-larger 7-11. The most interesting part was the area around the store. The store is big and new, yet across the road is a huge group of mud hovels, with tons of children playing in the dirt, etc. Very depressing. And, on the road we saw probably 20 camels, lots of them very young, presumably for sale. Most days, I don’t feel like I’m in that much of a foreign country, then something hits me in the face (like a bunch of camels) and reminds me that I’m very far from home! I wish I had had my camera…



Playing games

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Doing magic with his employees

John’s procurement team took us out to dinner Friday night, and John finally revealed his magician skills to them (Muslims aren’t big on magicians). They were thoroughly delighted. We had a nice time and they gave us a lovely teapot, sugar and creamer handmade from Multan. Sweet!

Before dinner we stopped by a going-away party for my good friend Michael. He and Scott are my “work husbands” and I’m sure going to miss him. He has another week to go.

Last Sunday we went to a fun cookout on Howie and Petit’s roof. It was a little different crowd and interesting to meet some new folks.

We were really sad to say bye to Jim and Kellee this week. They are heading off to learn German, then on to Vienna. We went to their house Tuesday night to pick up a grill they gave us. Wednesday was their last day in the office, and the usual suspects celebrated at lunch at the French Club. We were able to get the six of us from our A-100 class together for the photo below on the “jingle mule” at the Embassy. I’ve had so much fun shopping with Kellee and drinking on their rooftop overlooking Faisal Mosque and listening to the call to prayer. I look forward to meeting up with them in the future.


Rob, John, Joe, Me, Kellee and Carolyn










I worked yesterday, still trying to figure out the new system. Last night we hosted some of the folks John works with for another burger and brauts cookout – lots of fun. Lita has been John’s manager the past year, and they’ve hosted some great parties at their house.

Frank and Ma'am Lita










Today we started the day with massages. Afterward, I made a quick run to the Afghan Bakery. They have lovely bread and homemade crackers, plus fresh buffalo mozzarella, goat cheese and yogurt – yum! And I bought lovely bunch of sunflowers. Next we were off to a lovely brunch with a nice couple from the Embassy. Everything was homemade and delicious: yogurt, granola, bread, quiche, quinoa salad, and chocolate chip cookies. Excellent!

After brunch we came home to host a games afternoon. While the guys were playing Settlers of Catan, I had an in-home manicure/pedicure that was quite nice

In our spare time this week, we continued watching Season Three of “Game of Thrones” – fun!


You say goodbye

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

With Carolyn and Kellee

The summer transfer season means that we have to say goodbye to dear friends. We had a great get-together at our house last night with our friends Jim, Kellee and Rick, who’ll all be leaving this week or next. We really will miss them and we hope we”ll cross paths again soon! We had a burgers and brauts cookout last night with them, plus our friends Petit, Howie, Carolyn, Konstantin and Maegon – lots of fun! John did some card tricks, Konstantin was giving poker instructions, and then there was some sort of card-throwing competition that left 104 cards all over the floor! Good times!

Last Sunday we went to Konstantin and Carolyn’s for a sausage-n-biscuits brunch, then we went to a carpet sale at another friend’s house. We came home with several carpets to try out. I think we’ll end up keeping two of them – both rather pretty and unusual. A runner is from the 1960s with a pomegranate design, and the other is a light-colored silk kilim ( a woven rug with no nap). Lots of fun.

After the carpet party, we picked up Rick and Joe, who just arrived. We headed over to one of our favorite restaurants to eat Thai food.

This week was quite busy at the office. We made some personnel changes in my section and had several people out for various reasons, so I was on the run most of the week. John and I continue to discuss where we want to go next – hopefully we can start honing in on someplace soon. We’ve had some welcomed rain this week which has kept temperatures down a little – which also means the electricity stays on more. Luckily we have big generators so we can keep at least one air conditioner going and the lights and TV on. Our local staff isn’t as lucky, and the frequent power outages take a toll on them.

We’ve been watching season three of “Game of Thrones” – so fun! But I really think this season has gotten a lot more gory – anyone else agree with me? Anyway, it’s still fun!

This morning I had a nice massage and manicure, then went into the office to check on a new software upgrade – looks like it went quite well. It will ease my work life quite a bit, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting it!

Here are a couple more photos from last night’s party.

Three jokers!

Card tricks


Running around

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Truck art at stop light

There’s still a lot going on around here. The heat doesn’t make it very comfortable to be outside, but there’s not much to be done about it!

Last Sunday I went to a vendor sale at Ed and Catherine’s. They had a tailor there, so he took measurements to make me a couple of sleeveless shift dresses – I am anxiously awaiting them! I picked a nice lightweight fabric which should be cool. Then I swung by and picked up a friend, and we hit a few stores and tailor shops. By the time I got home, I was pooped! I settled into a chair and yakked on the phone with my good friend Cathy in Bangladesh – great to chat with her.

The early part of the week wasn’t that busy. Michael and I were actually able to sit on the patio for lunch on Monday, thanks to a good cloud cover that made the heat bearable. Wednesday I went after work for a massage and to have my nails done. Nice way to end a busy day!

One of my favorite co-workers in the visa section, Antonio, is leaving this weekend, so Thursday marked the beginning of goodbye parties for him. The local staff had a Pakistani lunch for him on Thursday. Friday he, Brett and I went to lunch “off campus.” And Saturday we had a bigger lunch at a local restaurant – lots of fun. It was a nice send-off but we’ll miss him! Here’s a photo.

With Brett and Antonio












Friday night after work, Carolyn and Kellee and I went to a fun art show at a woman’s home. The artist does neat pottery, including cool lamps, bowls, sculpture, etc. Afterward, we met the guys back at our house for drinks and pizza, with mango pie and ice cream for dessert. We had a blast!

Saturday before Antonio’s luncheon, I went to the office for a while to get some things done. After lunch, Rick and I ran around – he’s making his last visits to tailors to pick up suits and shirts before he leaves. Then the three of us picked up a new arrival, Joe, and we all went out for a nice Thai food dinner.

Flavie is enjoying the marble floors in the heat. We can’t run our air conditioners all the time (we have to run on generator power about half the day), so the house stays pretty hot, especially upstairs. We’ve started calling her “Flop-Down Flavie” because she sort of splays out on the cool marble – or she rolls over on her back. So cute!

Here are a couple of photos from the dinner party at Ed and Catherine’s last week.

With Barbara and Catherine

John with Venus, the Italian Greyhound



Saturday, June 1st, 2013

All the World is a Stage, with artist

This has been a busy week! One of the highlights was going to an art exhibit at our friend Rob’s house. A local employee at the Embassy had some lovely art for sale. This is Rehat with the painting that we purchased. It looks sort of African and sort of New Orleans jazzy. Many of her paintings are large calligraphy pieces with phrases from the Koran. We opted for something a little more secular.

There was more shopping to be had on Saturday with Kellee and Carolyn. After going to the office to check on visas, exercising, and a fruitless search for the kittens, I met the ladies for lunch at that little restaurant in the Indian lady’s house. We had a yummy lunch while watching a monkey explore the backyard.

Kellee was on a roll yesterday. She’s getting ready to leave, so she’s in a last minute shopping frenzy! Jewelry, furniture, mirrors – you name it! We had a blast and came home exhausted. I finally made it to the Afghan bakery where I bought lots of little goodies, including homemade crackers, biscotti, fresh goat cheese and buffalo mozzarella. And cherries are now in season so we pulled over on the the side of the road and bought boxes of them, too.

Last Sunday night we went to a very nice dinner party at Robert and Amanda’s – it was a going away party for Ed and Catherine. They cooked paella on the grill – it was delicious! Nice company, too. Robert and Amanda bought a villa on the Turkish coast that they rent out – it was fun to look at photos and dream about going there for a get-away sometime.

We were off for Memorial Day on Monday. After a massage and manicure, we had a couple of friends over who brought the dogs they are taking care of while their owners are out of town. I laughed so hard  watching them play and run around together! The guys played board games and a good time was had by all.

Tuesday night we went with a friend for sushi which is always good! Wednesday I went to a board meeting for the American international school. The Embassy always has two board members and I was asked to do it for fall 2013. I think it will be fun – it’s a lively group who seems like they have a good time. Embassy employees can’t bring children here anymore, but other embassies do, plus there are a lot of international NGOs here. It’ll be fun to branch out and meet other folks outside the Embassy.

Friday night, we went to a going away dinner for Joe and Winnie at Sandy’s house. It was a nice dinner party with good food and conversation. Sandy’s house is incredible! She has been collecting textiles for years, as well as furniture and art from around the world. Her collection is really amazing – you could spend all night just looking at things. Plus she is a wonderful photographer so she has a lot of gorgeous photographs on display. Very interesting place!

Here are a few photos I took around town yesterday. You seldom see women outside of their house, but men are everywhere.

Saturday afternoon

Shoe shines