Saturday, June 09, 2012

Lifestyle Change in a Big Way

View from inside my front door
Change is always good. We become so accustomed to our lives that sometimes it’s a good thing to dramatically change things up. That’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve left the comfort, beauty and safety of Muscat, Oman and am now in Lahore, Pakistan for the  next 2 years.

I knew I was going to experience some pretty drastic changes in my lifestyle and so far, I've been, as they say, spot on. The only similarity is the weather, with 7-8 months of hot/hot and the rest of the time very pleasant. And that’s where the similarity ends.

I already miss my walks on the beautiful white beaches in Muscat. No beaches here in Lahore. I am driven to and from work and thank goodness for that! The streets of Lahore can only be described as insane with hundreds of motor bikes and bicycles intermingled with cars, all lobbying for the same lane and most of the time, creating their own lanes. Families of 5-7 all ride on one small motorbike. Donkeys pulling carts are frequent sights as well as non-functioning traffic lights, making for chaos at some intersections. It’s every man for himself. And come to think of it, I haven’t seen a female driver.

Naturally there is increased security for me here because, after all…I’m in Pakistan. I have multiple guards, 24 hours a day, at my house. I think I have 4 from dusk to dawn and then 2 during daylight hours. They are all armed. I live in a large 2 story home that was made into 2 residences, one downstairs (mine) and one upstairs. When I got here, I had 2 couches, 3 loveseats, 2 overstuffed chairs, 2 straight back chairs, 4 bookshelves, a desk and chair and 5 tables all in my living room. Yes, my living room is huge! I have since moved things around, putting a loveseat in my bedroom, moving the dining table back into the dining room and creating a den where the dining table once was. To summarize it…I have huge living spaces! As soon as all my personal belongings get here, I hope to make this large space more like home because right now, it feels like an auditorium. And I have not escaped highly polished tile floors!

There are frequent power failures here and I have a very large, VW size generator in my front yard. I had this same issue in Honduras and you get used to things going off and on. One thing I will have difficulty getting used to is closed drapes. There are houses on both sides of me and by virtue of where I am, I really don’t want people looking in my windows. Perhaps I’ll get over this but for now, both drapes and black out drapes behind them remain closed.

On the bright side, I really like the people I’m working with in the Consulate. I think it’s a great team and I look forward to 2 years of good times. For my third and final tour with the State Department, I am once again in the Regional Security Office but believe me, things are totally different from the previous 2 posts. Being in Pakistan, I will be learning a whole new level of security procedures that I never had the need to know before.

In spite of the negatives, I’m certain my time in Lahore will be positive for me and will result in an interesting and memorable 2 years. Stay tuned…