Right now where I live, in Islamabad, the wide, clean streets are dry as a bone, the air is clear, and the sky is sunny. In the rest of Pakistan, massive and continuing floods are threatening to take over the whole country. It’s been raining a lot here in town over the last few weeks too, but Islamabad is in a secure little spot nestled right at the foot of the Himalayas so we’re on high ground. The most flood-related inconvenience I’ve had to endure was stepping in heels over a 4-inch deep puddle in the driveway of my office, which disappeared pretty quickly. Does everyone around the world know how bad the flood disaster in Pakistan is? It has already affected more people than Haiti’s earthquake and the Asian tsunami combined, but maybe because it is a slower disaster, it’s a less exciting story for the media. There isn’t one, dramatic moment of destruction where the buildings fall or the wave hits the shore. Just hour after hour of unrelenting monsoon rain, water inching up slowly and then faster to cover people’s homes, possessions, and millions of acres of crops. The death toll will climb more slowly as well. The first case of cholera was reported today, and children are already dying for that slow, very undramatic reason of lack of clean drinking water. The aid pledged for Haiti and the tsunami victims was in the billions; here the total pledged is about 209 million so far. It certainly doesn’t seem fair that Pakistan has to face this, as if natural disaster ever is fair. (Although how “natural” is this, or the Russian heat […] Read More


I finally figured out why I am having such a hard time putting up a post lately. It isn’t the new puppies, or the fact that I’ve been sick pretty much the whole month, or the oppressively hot weather that makes me want to lay around like a vegetable, or the news of catastrophic floods all throughout Pakistan that is just more and more depressing each day. No, it’s because I’ve been here too long. I don’t mean that I want to leave or that I don’t like it anymore. What I mean is that I’ve been here too long to give snapshots of what life is like in exotic Pakistan. Pakistan isn’t exotic to me anymore. It feels, in a lot of the ways that count, like home. Here is a list of things that I am totally and completely used to: machine guns, mosques, fancy Pakistani clothes, women carrying large loads of things on their heads. At one point all of these things seemed the height of exotic and cool. After living here for one and half years, I have even caught myself saying “we” and “our” and “us” on occasion when referring to Pakistan. This is the kind of stuff that gives the US government nightmares and is the reason they insist that their diplomats go back home on a regular basis to connect with America. Because of this adopted ownership and my appreciation for the real Pakistan, I now also feel like I have the right to voice complaints about “my” real Pakistan too. But I really don’t. At the end of the day it isn’t actually my country. So here […] Read More