Fashion Show

Today’s picture of the day explains in part why I haven’t been posting any pictures of the day lately. All my energies were a little wrapped up working on the event in the photo, which went well. Who says fashion shows can’t come to Islamabad?? Check out the U.S. ambassador in the front row. I’m hiding right behind the model and her abundant hair. The event showcased 25 women-owned businesses who underwent a months-long training program to get their products ready for the international export market. 14 international buyers attended the show to place orders and bring these fabulous clothes to the U.S. Look for them to appear soon! […] Read More

Book Reading

People sometimes complain that there isn’t anything to do in Islamabad (no bars obviously, no movie theater, not a ton of restaurants or shopping, and not nearly the night-life of Lahore or Karachi). But this week I did something that felt so normal and fun, and also reminded me of college. A book-reading!My friend is writing and editing “God’s Goldfish,” a collection of short stories about Muslims by Muslims. The reading was at the hippest coffee house in town, with free cookies and coffee cake for all. Everyone lounged around by the tealights for the reading of two stories, one about the wedding between a London-raised Pakistani girl and her village husband, and the other about an office romance. Yes, the stories were about Muslim experiences, but so easy to identify with. Maybe that is the point. Other than the carrot cake having raisins in it, the reading was a perfect way to spend the evening. I look forward to reading the rest, S! […] Read More

A Little Game for Ya

Today’s photo is more like a puzzle, called “What is this?” Free samosas for the first person who guesses right. […] Read More

Gup Shup

Everyone says that Islamabad is a sleepy, quiet little town. Compared to Karachi and Lahore, that’s true. But compared to say, Whittier, California or Brighton, Massachusetts, it isn’t. This is because every single night of the week you will find people up late, eating dinner, having shisha, and of course chatting. Another way to say this here is “gup shup,” a Punjabi term that means something like chit-chat, but encompasses more than that. Gup shup is friendly, open, relaxed conversation and hanging out, and Pakistanis excel at it. It is one of the reasons I feel very at home here: what is better than staying up late at night, eating yummy food and chatting? Today’s photo is of one of the many places you can go for some good old fashioned gup shup in Islamabad. And also, as it turns out, stroganoff pasta, which was the special of the day. I ate dinner there at 10:00 pm (I know, Oprah recommends no eating after six, but I haven’t started my detox yet). My friend had grape shisha and a cappuccino, and a lovely time was had by all. […] Read More

Loaded Down

Yesterday I spent the day driving back and forth from Islamabad to Lahore, which is like driving back and forth from Boston to New York City (4 1/2 hours each way). I could probably post all 40 photos I took en route on Pakistan’s major highway as they were all so interesting, but the rule is one photo a day so I will comply!As much as this photo says something compelling about the state of highway regulations in Pakistan, the upper limit of engineering and physics, and most of all, the question of WHAT is in those bags, it is also impossible for me to post a photo like this without drawing some metaphor out of it. As the truck rolled by, laden with as many goods as I have ever seen on a truck, I happened to be reading a book called “Clean” about doing a three-week detox. The author of “Clean” was making a persuasive case that the continual and repeated onslaught of toxins we ingest through our food, water, and environment loads your body down, becoming a burden that makes you tired, cranky, and miserable. His evidence and argument really made me want to do the detox, despite the fact that I will be eating quinoa for breakfast and something called a “Green Drink” for dinner. Watching this truck roll by just in the middle of this dramatic passage really reinforced the message. Anyone else feeling loaded down? Want to do the detox with me? I could use the moral support. And someone with whom I could compare the finer points of green drink dinners. […] Read More


It is lychee season in Pakistan so they are everywhere. They are one of the things I remember most about first moving here a year ago…everyone in our temporary office used to walk around, peeling and eating them, while we made start-up decisions and tackled the work issues involved in launching a new project. Sometimes we would be too busy to eat lunch right away, so we would subsist on lychees for a few hours instead.Lychees are a very sweet little fruit, a clear-ish white color inside once you peel off the thin scaly skin, with a pretty big seed. So not a lot of fruit for your effort. But they are delicious once you get there. Also just now noticing the fingerprints in the thick layer of dust in the fruit bowl. Try not to judge the housekeeping. […] Read More

Bird Flu

Now we know that Pakistan is prepared! Today’s photo is from the avian influenza lab at Pakistan’s National Agricultural Research Council in Islamabad. We got the full tour of the lab, saw lots of complicated machines that spin DNA and so forth, and heard about how the lab is working to prevent outbreaks of bird flu. It was pretty impressive. The colorful display of chicken fetuses and bacteria in the hallway outside the lab was pretty impressive too, just in a gross way. […] Read More


Lately I’ve been using chapatis in place of the flour tortillas that you can’t get here. They’re along the same lines: round, floury, good to make quesadillas with. Perhaps every culture has its version? Anyway, chapatis come freshly made right from the bakery, only cost about 10 rupees each (12 cents) and come wrapped in the newspaper of the day, offering a little leisure reading while you eat. I have to admit that I don’t read the newspaper here very often, but it’s nice to catch the headlines when you unwrap your bread. The headline peeking out from under the chapati–“Who killed BB?”–refers to Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan who was assassinated in December 2007 right before she ran for re-election. The investigation into her death, which occurred during a rally in Rawalpindi, Islamabad’s sister city that’s about half an hour away, is Pakistan’s version of the “who killed Kennedy” conspiracy. Although here, of course, the crime scene was hosed down immediately after the shooting. So, there’s that wrinkle. […] Read More

Working from Home

The terrace is my favorite part of my house. It has a nice breeze, a great view of the mountains, big scary birds circling around and landing on the railing every so often to keep things interesting, and occasionally the sight of monkeys climbing around the balcony next door. The cot is called a charpai, very popular in Pakistan but especially in the villages for lounging and sleeping. I love it. The Punjabi (dialect) word for this small cot is manji (sounds like “mungee”), but when I say this word my guard and driver laugh. I think it is funny for them to hear random Punjabi words coming from a foreigner. It has also occurred to me that I am accidentally saying something like “I enjoy kissing horses.” You never know. You will notice the ashtray on the second shelf of the little table. It’s not for me: I don’t smoke, but you have to have one for visitors. You will also see an empty smoothie glass. The terrace is the best place to enjoy smoothies. All of this helps when you are working 12-hour days. […] Read More

Boredom is Universal

On my commute home from work, I saw this commute home from work. Isn’t it great how they have to stop at the red light too? […] Read More

A Photo Every Day

I’m back! My trip to the U.S. was exhausting and invigorating all at the same time, and now I’m officially back in Pakistan for Year 2. In honor of the new start, I would like to announce a new change to the blog. I like to call it, “Quantity, not Quality.” Just kidding. Hopefully we can do both. Every day, I will be posting one photo of my life in Islamabad so you can see what it’s really like for me to live here. If you’re like most people around the world, all the photos you have probably ever seen of Pakistan involve heads of states/terrorism/war. I haven’t seen any of those things here firsthand, happily, so I’ll be able to show you a different side. I hope you enjoy! Today’s photo is of my vegetable garden. You can grow food here year-round, because the climate is amazing and the soil so fertile you/your gardener can basically just throw seeds in the ground and huge bushes will appear a few weeks later. The lettuce, cabbage, radishes, and peas are all gone now, and have given way to eggplants, tomatoes (still green but coming), and lots and lots of basil. I’m planning to make vats of pesto as soon as I have a chance. Pakistan friends: should we have a pesto-themed dinner party?   […] Read More