The Hen Experiment

It has begun. I’ve lived in Pakistan for almost two years: a country so full of chickens that you couldn’t walk into a village without stumbling into a squawking pack of hens. A country so full of chickens that even my house guards can tell me about the three most common breeds of hens in the country and a proper feeding schedule. And yet every week I have eaten pale, perfect, sterile-looking huge eggs in a styrofoam package from the expat grocery store that I’m sure are flown in from Dubai or someplace equally ridiculous. I’m also sure the word for a group of hens is not a “pack,” but this is exactly my point: I don’t know these things and haven’t taken the trouble to learn. (Flock? Clutch? Let the education begin.) For two years I have paid the price of my ignorance with tasteless, watery and rather expensive eggs. I said as much at work the other day, and a woman on my team turned around immediately and said, “Well, how many hens would you like?” I was headed more towards the where-can-I-get-local-organic-eggs? question, but apparently that was the wrong question. The right question was where-can-I-get-local-organic-chickens-to-lay-eggs-for-me? and now I have my answer. My first two hens were deposited yesterday, much to the wired, intense interest of Marlo and Kima who looked at first like it was Christmas (chickens arrive) and then like I had cancelled Christmas (dogs are told that the chickens should under no circumstances be played with or eaten). Two more hens are coming later in the week to make a merry little band of four. Today my throat felt a […] Read More

Real World Islamabad

I finally found a place to live. After hours of driving around Islamabad’s various sectors, tramping up lots of stairs, and poking in corners of countless empty houses, I have found a spot to call home. It’s totally unfurnished, which is crazy because this means I have to buy everything, including such luxuries as a refrigerator and heaters. But it was either this or live in a cramped apartment with furnishings that resemble brothel decor or rejects from a seedy motel in Reno. I just couldn’t do it. This does mean I may be sleeping on the floor for a little while. As I imagine a near future that doesn’t include me living in a hotel room surrounded by 739 pounds of my personal effects in cardboard boxes, let’s take a moment to look back and reflect on the guest house that has been my home for two months. After all, this is the place I have spent the vast majority of my hours upon moving to Pakistan: living upstairs, working downstairs, and trying not to eat anywhere due to my deep suspicions about the sanitary conditions of the kitchen. We’ve all made the joke a million times: “This is the true story…of seven strangers…picked to live in a house in Islamabad, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting┬áReal.” Other than the “taped” part (well, I got what I could on my little Flip camera), that’s scarily accurate. And we’ve managed to have some fun along the way. In addition to putting a roof over my head, this guest house has been […] Read More