Sunday, June 27, 2010

The First Week, or was it one long day?

I have been in Pakistan for a little over a week, it feels like several months. Islamabad is an interesting city. I don’t know what I expected, but it has certainly exceeded all expectations that I had. My office is like a beehive, a classified, chaotic, crazy beehive. Only instead of producing honey we produce……not honey. I have adjusted well, while many of the people that arrived around the same time as I, have gotten the Pakistan poops. I continue to order out regularly and try new things and have had no issues. Additionally, I got the two hour crash course of driving on the right side car on the left side of the road in a city where traffic laws are more of a suggestion then a rule.

Take the traffic circle for example. You go around in a clockwise fashion and you turn when you get to your street. Take a traffic circle with three lanes; you would think that it would be intuitive to use the outside lane to turn out of, not in Pakistan. Below is an illustration. I am the red line, trying to stay in my lane. The black lines are everyone else. Remember, we are going in a clockwise motion to get to our turns. Notice how the arrows go in every direction at once and nobody is driving in the 12-3 o'clock area. They take the most direct route which includes the inside lane directly out.

This particular traffic circle requires a special driving style. Close your eyes and punch the gas, hoping that you don’t get t-boned. Seriously, I left my eyes opened and I screamed. I had to recreate the "down with USA" Jersey Barrier because it is hard to drive and take pictures with my eyes closed. Of course the Simon-David is not the center of the circle, but I think it should be.

In addition crazy circles, there a ton of check points in the city which cause major jams, nothing like 5 lanes turning into one. Once again, common courtesy and traffic laws are optional at this point. Additionally, I find if particularly fun to have machine guns pointed at me while they search my trunk. Once the trunk is close it is time to go, but wait, you must look to the left and right because the motorcycles whip around. Take the following picture, when I scanned it and sent it to e-mail it sent black and white, but I think you get the point.

Nothing Like a family outing to the Dairy Queen.

They tell us to take a different route to and from work each day, varrying the times of arrival. This helps prevent setting patterns which make us easy to kill. While I think it is a great theory, I don't think it goes beyond that. Unfortunately I do not have my ODHSGPS because it is only compatible with left hand drive. Besides, I get lost so much no one could ever establish a pattern.

The nice thing about my job and the city is that you must keep moving, much like the lizard that lives inside my house. We made eye contact and then he ran up the wall and behind the curtain. I hope he eats some of the bugs that will potentially give me malaria. Not that I am concerned about malaria. No I am concerned about skin cancer since the medication I am to prevent malaria causes easy burning.

My next post will focus on my house and living conditions. Stay tuned.


  1. Brent
    It has been a long time since I was there but it sounds like nothing has changed at all. I spent a little time in Islamabad but the majority of my time was in Peshawar (you don't want to go there!). The traffic wasn't nearly as bad in Peshawar but then the population was a lot less. Be safe and enjoy the journey.
    Bill Beaman

  2. got a chuckle out of the "built in" take a different way to work approach. I guess I would end up in another country every morning.
    Pics make me grateful for my life here.
    Jessica Sears