My title? My favorite candy as a child and I still can't pass them up when I see them in the store!
After several years in the Foreign Service traveling the world, I retired on July 1, 2014. What I've seen, who I've met and where I've been have been nothing short of amazing. I'm sad to see this chapter of my life come to a close, but retirement so far has been a blast. I've tried to chronicle my travels, thoughts and experiences here.
Here in Pakistan, there’s an energy crisis. From my limited
understanding, no energy is imported.It
is all produced here in Pakistan.And
there is not enough.Let me introduce
you to a new word.Load shedding.You won’t find it in Webster’s.I had never heard of the term before coming
to Pakistan.Fortunately, we have very
large Cummins generators in all the homes. When the power goes off, there’s a
10 second pause and then that generator kicks in and with the roar of a diesel
truck, it spews black smoke, supplying our homes with power for air
conditioning, water and lights.
Imagine how it is in the summer when the temperature hoovers at
117 all day and might get down to 100 at night.
Then imagine all your electricity turned off for 12 out of 24 hours a
day. No wait…make that 20 out of 24 hours a day. Your water is delivered to you by an electric
pump so when you have no electricity, you have no water. Sleep is impossible and with no way to cool
off, people just do what they can.
Imagine trying to keep infants cool. Imagine the number of heat related
There is no quick fix. This
has been an issue for years here and the last government did nothing to improve
this. The newly elected officials have
said a fix is 1-2 years away.
There is a wonderful leather shop here in Lahore called Royal
Leather and we are all having leather things made... purses, wallets, jackets, backpacks and anything
made of leather from Qamber. Just give him a picture and he can copy it! Yesterday we talked about how this crisis is
affecting his business. He has a second
shop where the leather is received and processed, making it ready for his shop
to turn it in to beautiful products.
With the summer heat, the other shop, employing 500 people, can’t work
the hours needed to get the leather to Qamber.
So, as a result, he has to call his customers, like Ikea for one, and
tell them that instead of delivering products in June, it will be October. He didn't say for sure, but I got the
impression he’s lost some orders. One of
the things he makes is the leather cushions for the Poang (Poang Chair
Ikea) chairs that Ikea
sells. I had never seen one of these
chairs but I now have gorgeous distressed brown leather cushions for the chair
and ottoman and can’t wait to buy the chair when I get home.
Most supermarkets and other large businesses can afford the large
generators necessary to keep their registers working and the lights on during
these black outs. I was in the local
Hyperstar grocery store yesterday when all the lights went out and about 10
seconds later, they came back on.
Independent businesses like Qamber’s can’t afford the luxury of one of
those large generators, let alone the gas it takes to run it 20 hours a day.
I feel sorry for my guards. I have 4, 2 contract guards and 2
others who are retired police. They live in a small apartment-like room on the
3rd floor of my house. One of
each are on duty guarding my house and me around the clock.
Every morning, I give them a plastic bottle of frozen water and collect
the one from the day before. They put this bottle into a large jug filled with
water so they have cool water to drink.
We have an electric water cooler outside for them but…well, it’s only
cool a couple of hours a day and the reservoir only holds about 3 glasses of
cold water. Every home has a mobile
‘swamp cooler’ in the carport but it’s not that great and the air it puts out
is just slightly less than body temp.
The contract that the Consulate holds with the local guard company
clearly states what we can and can’t do for them. They are supposed to provide for the guards
but very little seems to be provided.
The other day, I took them all bowls of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice
cream. I couldn't understand a word they
were saying but they were all smiling.
My guard entering his post
Such is life in this third world country, unable or unwilling to
improve the quality of life for its citizens by solving an energy problem. With
all the heat here, you would think that someone would have gotten on board with
a solar energy program by now. Maybe
they have but things move very slowly here.
July is when the temperature begins to cool off. July will be when
people here get a good night’s sleep and children will not spend the night
covered in sweat.