Posted in Travelling

The Jitters.

Huz must travel to Tanzania for work, and I figure it’s about time I tagged along. After all, I’ve never been to the Dark Continent, whereas Huz has been to Ghana, Gambia, Togo, Senegal, Malawi, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, and I forget which other African countries, and I confess….I’m finally curious enough to want to go see for myself what all the fuss is about.

Amu and I have travelled with Huz, (to places like the Maldives and Lebanon..very exotic I know!) but only because the opportunities to do so happened to coincide with school holidays. This time though, it is different. This time we’re leaving Amu behind with my mother and going off on our own, bang in the middle of the school year….a hitherto unimaginable prospect!

The nitty-gritties have been taken care of, thanks to the support and help of a friend/neighbour who has most kindly agreed to pick and drop to the school bus, and my lovely mom who has volunteered to stay with Amu and Fuzzy while we’re gone.  It’s going to be very strange and worrying, but I’ve put up lists with instructions all over the house, so hopefully they’ll manage okay. Mumtaz will come and clean, and the cook will take care of the cooking. All Mom has to do is make sure Amu gets up and goes to school in the morning, and keep the front door locked….(okay I’m simplifying A LOT!) But I still can’t believe we’re actually going to be travelling together, just Huz and I, for the first time since we honeymooned in Turkey 15 years ago. It’s going to be weird, and I know I’m going to miss Amu quite a bit, but I think it’s important to do this. Amu needs to learn to get by without us, and what better time to do so than the year she turned 13?

The passports have been renewed, yellow fever vaccinations injected into our bloodstreams, and travel clothes have been decided on, the trickiest part about travelling for me. I have yet to start packing, but I have all of today to do it.

What’s important is, I got a haircut yesterday and am glad to report it has certainly added a bounce to my tresses, not to mention my step, very important when one is struck by wanderlust…

Though it’s exciting to be travelling to faraway lands, I can’t help feeling jittery about the usual stuff. I find myself thinking about how to deal in case of a plane crash mid-ocean. Will I remember to curl up into a foetal position when/if the plane crashes into the water? Will I get the chance to pull the string on the inflatable jacket thingy before I drown? If I’m yanked out of a jagged hole in the plane’s fuselage and get injured and bleed, how soon before the sharks get me? Will I manage to grab Huz’s hand as I make my way to the surface, or….(to give chivalry it’s due)…vice-versa…?

Apart from the probability of dying of untoward plane crashes, I still hate flying and wish there was a better way of getting from point A to point B. I hate being horribly sleepy yet unable to fall asleep. Airplane seats are most discomfiting and I’m usually fidgety and edgy until we’ve landed safely, wherever it is we’re going. I hope ‘The Diaries of Jane Somers’ keeps me happy as I resign myself to my situation.

But I’m looking forward to the trip, for what I’ll get to see, and smell, and taste once I get there….fresh stuff to blog about! It’ll be a good break from the bubble. I think it might even teach me to be less of a control freak, if I manage to stop worrying about how everyone’s faring at home and if I remembered to pack everything I could possibly need…

Though Huz has been to Tanzania before and talked about it and ‘tried’ to describe the people and the place, I’m clueless about what to expect. People tell me it’s lovely and quaint and beautiful, though Huz wasn’t too impressed. I think he’s a bit jaded from over exposure 😛 In his defense though, he IS looking forward to seeing my reaction to it all and MY take on things. And he does want me to have a good time!

As for me, I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes. Can’t wait to take lots of pictures. Can’t wait to put it all into words………..only then will it become real for me. And I can’t wait to come back and share it with you guys…..unless I manage to blog from our hotel room 🙂 Fingers crossed firmly!

Posted in Hopeless


my lovely companion 😦

I lost my cell phone yesterday. I can’t say it hasn’t happened before though. It has. Twice. The circumstances are different every time though the reactions are always the same. It goes from bafflement, at not feeling the familiar shape of it in my bag after several minutes of rummaging, moving on to panic. Then the creeping realisation of loss, followed by a heart-sinking sense of bereftness and melancholy, like a part of me got severed or something.

It is not a nice feeling. And it always makes me re-trace my steps in a futile attempt to turn back the clock to a point where I could have steered the course of events in such a way as to avoid what eventually happened. But now, all I’m left with is a feeling of ‘if only’……

My Nokia X-3 was running low on battery and I was trying to make up my mind whether to take it with me or not. I was getting ready to be picked up by a friend to attend a spring festival on the other side of town, and I had to decide whether to take my camera or use my phone to record a video of the event. Turned out the camera was completely uncharged, so instead of leaving my phone at home to get juiced, I opted to take it with me and wing a video with whatever little charge that was left in it.

To be honest, I was in two minds about going to the event at all, as it was to be outdoors and I knew it would be terribly sunny. But I went, partially because I knew my friend wanted company and I was feeling sporty. Plus there was an impromptu flash mob in the offing and around forty drummers would form a circle and play their hearts out. We couldn’t miss that!

So off we went, and it was a nice drive on a lazy Sunday without the usual frenetic traffic on the roads  and a feeling of adventurousness in two girls who would otherwise be lounging in comfy pajamas and t-shirts at home. We bought our tickets and some coupons for games, not really wanting to play but just to contribute towards the worthy cause of the SIUT, an organisation that works towards free treatment of kidney patients, including dialysis and transplantation. It was breezy and would be quite a pleasant afternoon if not for the summer sun making its presence felt. We bought a few ice lollies to cool us down and wandered around looking at options for entertainment, though it was apparent that this was more a carnival for children than 30-somethings 😛

A few more friends joined us, amongst them some of the musicians who had been rounded up to be a part of the ‘drum circle’, which I imagined would be something like this…

The plan was to watch the drum circle play and then skedaddle back home asap. The timing was delayed due to a no-show by about 35 of the 40 drummers, but after a bit of discussion around one of the large tables dotting the grass under the humungus tent, they decided to go ahead with the plan sans the missing drummers in a little while.  I pulled out my phone to check the time and to send a whimsical message to another friend to come join us there.

cavity in a cup

While the musicians drifted off in search of food, we walked over to a gola ganda stall to buy a styrofoam cup of what is essentially shaved ice smothered in colourful syrups and condensed milk, and shared it sitting under the shade of a huge cargo plane, one of the features on the lawns of the PAF museum where the festival had been arranged. It was really pleasant in the shade and we slurped our gola ganda and crunched the ice while chatting about this and that until it seemed the drummers were gathering to play nearby. We got up and walked over while I rummaged in my bag for my phone…..

Well, you know what happened next. Instead of watching the drum circle perform the event of the day, my friend and I spent the next fifteen minutes backtracking and searching for the phone. She used her phone to call mine only to be told by an automated voice that the device she was trying to reach was powered off…..a surefire sign of it having been picked up by someone with not very noble intentions.

We drove home feeling dejected and sunburnt. My friend couldn’t help feeling that it was somehow her fault for having asked me to come along with her to the spring festival in the first place. If we hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have lost my phone. But really, it was just my own carelessness. I had probably dropped it on the grass after getting up from the table, forgetting that the phone was in my lap rather than my bag. It could have been picked up by anyone, maybe a kid….perhaps one of the attendants who were busily cleaning up litter around the tables had spotted it on the ground and quietly pocketed it.

Dejection is not a natural state for me to be in and one of the ways I cope is to temporarily block it from my head, call it denial if you will. It had barely been a year since I lost my last phone, and the feeling of loss then was so intense and I missed it so much and was so outraged with myself for being careless I cried for a week thinking about it.

This time, however, I bore up with a touch more sang-froid than usual. It was unfortunate, yes, but after all unfortunate things DO happen. Okay, so I lost a phone worth 12000 rupees. It could have been worse.

But today I find myself feeling outraged not at myself but at the inevitability of a lost phone being stolen. Why does it always have to be this way? Why can’t there be any honest people with morals enough to return lost property to its rightful owners? What ever happened to decency and common courtesy…and doing the right thing? Is it natural to expect your lost cell phone to be sickeningly powered off EVERY time you have the misfortune of dropping it somewhere?? Doesn’t this god-fearing nation have any capacity for goodwill, and the most basic reward of satisfaction at helping someone find what belongs to them? Is it too much to expect an ounce of conscience?

Posted in Uncategorized

A transition…?

For those who are aware of my being maid-less for two months, there’s good news. I finally worked up the courage to ask the chowkidar to send me some maids needing extra work, something very convenient about living in an apartment complex, a place usually teeming with maids but which I didn’t avail of as it took me some time to mentally prepare myself for the invasion of a person other than Zahooran into my life and the inner precincts of my home. Either that or I’ve had it with doing all the work myself!

The first one that turned up at my doorstep was tightly wrapped in a black scarf and a svelte burqa and introduced herself as Shagufta. She worked at That Woman’s place… something that should have immediately disqualified her if I wasn’t desperate! She was young and giggly and seemed willing enough to take up the job offer, provided her ability to clean passed my exacting standards. 😛 That is, until she learnt about the existence of Fuzzy. Apparently, she’d had an ‘incident’ with a cat at someone’s house that caused her to break a considerable amount of crockery and ruin a carpet with spilt food, and that was enough to make her decide she wasn’t too keen on working in a house that housed a cat as well.

Farewell Shagufta.

Next was an older woman with a pathetically woeful expression on her face from whom in the course of a 10 minute conversation I learnt her name was Aisha, that she had five grown up daughters and a bit of debt that needed to be paid off. Her husband died after being electrocuted two years ago, and she was searching for work that would be close to her home (in Neelum Colony) which paid her a decent amount for a couple of hours of work a day, and didn’t exploit her. She had just had a tooth extracted, which added to her woebegone look, and she talked with a palm pressed against her cheek. I told her to come and work the next morning so I could assess her and gauge her level of annoyingness (as of course, ALL maids manage to grate on my nerves a bit, through perhaps no fault of their own, just an occupational hazard I suppose).

The same day, another maid showed up, a nymph-like pixie called Mumtaz. She heard through the chowkidar and Shagufta that I needed help so came to enquire. I have known Mumtaz since the early days of living here as she worked as a part-timer across the landing at a neighbour’s place as a laundry and dusting maid. She came to my rescue once when I had been abandoned by Shehnaz, Zahooran’s niece. Looking at her you can’t tell that she is a mother of four, but you can easily tell that she is far more knowledgeable about surviving in a rough city and wise beyond her years when it comes to the occult. Yes dear readers, she can detect the presence of evil spirits from a mile away and can easily interpret strange occurrences as signs from the supernatural world. But more on Mumtaz and her powers later. For now, suffice to say that she superceded the forlorn Aisha in my preference. Perhaps because Aisha didn’t turn up the next day like she was supposed to. Or maybe the mention of debt, a large brood and a dead husband meant potential for me getting sucked into a cycle of pity and sympathy that might be hard to extricate myself from a few months down the road, when she would have borrowed money and further increased her general indebtedness.

So Mumtaz it is, and I’m quite glad of it, as she has an unobtrusive presence in the house, does her work quickly and efficiently, and most importantly, saves me from my own ADD and OCD. The question is….do I keep her for the long run…or only until Zahooran comes back from the village as she professed she would? Do I stay loyal to Zahooran for her hard work and her honesty, or do I betray her for being an annoying cow…? I know she is worried about losing her job here for being away more than two months and I am completely justified in employing another maid without any obligations to her…..

Or am I…? Is there such a thing as fidelity to hired help?