How do you celebrate an anniversary with a country? It certainly feels like a serious relationship that I am currently in with Pakistan, so reaching our one-year mark felt like something to acknowledge with a nice dinner. The answer was to go to the Treehouse, a new-ish Italian restaurant up on the hill overlooking all of Islamabad. I went with a group of close friends; we ordered fancy pasta dishes, molten chocolate cake, and two different shisha pipes to enjoy after dessert (double apple and strawberry mint). In the cool breeze, with all the twinkling lights, in the company of good friends and good food, it was hard to look down at the city below with anything but a feeling of peace. It was hard in that moment to remember all the different stressful high points of the last twelve months: the crazy work environment, a steady stream of people leaving or getting fired, projects shutting down, going to the hospital for dehydration, my first bomb blast experience in Kabul, lizards on the walls and roaches on the floor, no salad for six months, etc. That’s what anniversaries are all about, I suppose. Remembering the good stuff, skipping lightly over the bad, and eating cake. I’m looking forward to Year #2, Pakistan. If I make it to our next anniversary, I want champagne. […] Read More

Better Homes & Gardens

The pursuit of domesticity continues! Having installed curtains, a new bathroom, and scary gas heaters that would be illegal in the United States in every room, I turn our attention now to the garden, and my desire for fresh vegetables and herbs that I can pick and eat just outside the front door. Am I allowed to call it “my” garden when it is actually my gardener who gets the seeds, plants the seeds, waters the seeds, weeds everything, and all but hands me local, seasonal eating on a silver platter? I’m going to anyway. And I do often insist on doing the fun part myself: skipping out into the garden with a colander and a knife to harvest what I need for the dinner salad. The gardener thinks I’m weird for doing this, and everyone seems vaguely uncomfortable that I’m not having staff cut lettuce and pull radishes for me. But this is the beauty of being a gentleman farmer, right? Someone else does all the work and you get to walk around and enjoy the fruits of their labor? Speaking of fruit, I never found my orange thief from last winter, but the tree is in blossom now and smells amazing every time I walk out the door, reminding me to forgive and forget, and also to tell the guard to be on the lookout for citrus felons. Who are we kidding, it was definitely the guard who ate them. Also speaking of fruit, it is strawberry season again, like it was when I first arrived here last spring, and it is heaven. Strawberries in Pakistan are delicious red little jewels, and they […] Read More