Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Final Days in Lahore

Today is my last full day in Lahore as I will be leaving in the early hours of the morning.  I am going out to lunch with friends today, tie up a few loose ends, attend a meeting and then finish packing so this will probably be my last blog from Pakistan.  I'm not particularly looking forward to the long flight home but if it gets me there-it's worth it!  

Yesterday was the last day with my students and it was memorable on a number of counts.  The students did a great job and I am sure going to miss them. As ready as I am to see my family, I feel like I will be leaving some special friends here. Consequently, I leave with very mixed emotions (and a lot of papers to grade).
Rohma and Ayesha
We had a little soiree that sweet Salima hosted at her house for students and faculty.  There was picture taking, Sari lessons (as in how you keep them from falling off ), an art presentation, student work, dinner, a birthday cake (for me!) and presents. Doesn't get much better than that!  The hard part is saying goodbye but I am going to pull a Scarlett O' Hara, and think about that tomorrow.
Cutting the Mango Birthday Cake. It was really good!  L-R:  Samia Humera, Saima, Zahra

L-R: Jia, Shafaq, Madiha

L-R: Saima, Rohma, Tahira

I also had a very pleasant surprise today.  My friend Tina Blackaby who works for Beaconhouse in Dubai, happened to come into town and we had a nice visit.  I haven't see her since the conference in November so this was a nice end to the trip. I am almost packed (well sort of), ready to take my meds and try to clear up the some more  of this congestion before the flight.

L-R:  Zoona, Nazia, one of the studio teachers, Zahra and Nadia
L-R: Asad and Salima

L-R:  Samia, Saima, Tahira, Humera, Shafaq, Mahvish, Naima, Sumaira

Naureen, Samia, Sumaira, Saima, Humer, Naima

I also got some sad news today. Our 12 year old dog, Wilson (a fabulously original name that my daughter, Shelby came up with) passed away gently in his sleep.  He was a sweet dog, a loyal companion and I am sad to lose him.

Aitchison College Visit

Aitchison College-A very small part of one of the main buildings.  Love this cross of architecture!

This is a 400 year old Banyan Tree.  Pretty unique story.  It predates the college and is also a shrine. There are two graves there and the college was built around the tree. No one seems to know who was buried there but it is treated with great respect.  The students decorate the side where the graves are,
Yesterday, I went on a tour of Aitchison College, one of the most prestigious prep schools in Lahore (or in South Asia).  I had read about it, passed it every day and was most curious. This place is like something out of a movie (in fact, it should be in a movie).  I felt like I should be sitting in an Ivory Merchant period piece.  It costs about 20,000 rupees per month to attend which translates to about $235 per month. Unbelievable!

One of the really fabulous buildings on the Aitchison Campus

My friend Naazish Ataullah knows the principal, arranged and took me for the visit.  My  hosts on my tour of Aitchison College were Komail Aijazuddin (an up and coming Pakistani artist), his little  niece Reya, and for tea, his sister, Momina,  and his mother,  Shahnaz. Very nice family and I appreciated their generous hospitality.
My tour guides, Komail and Reya.  Both were a delight. Komail is preparing for a show in Karachi and is an accomplished artist.

All of the original buildings were built in the British Colonial Style.  The newer buildings use the same materials but differing styles depending on when they were built. The color scheme stays the same and effort has been made to keep a fairly uniform appearance.  Really, a beautiful campus.

The school was built in 1886 to educate the sons of the very wealthy maharajahs to inculcate them into British values.  Today it is a modern campus, still stressing an upper crust schooling but with a South Asian slant.  It  sits on  143 acres and houses about 2500 boys from ages 6-18.  Most Lahori never see this campus as it is behind huge walls built in the 1950s and is heavily guarded.  Most schools here have guards.  The school where we had classes this summer has barricades and you enter through a security screen behind a locked door.
The level of detail in the architectural elements was really outstanding.  The grounds are immaculate and although there are few students on campus for the summer, there was still a lot of people running here and there doing work.

 The campus also has  two Olympic size pools, horse stable for 80 horses, and a number of  dormitories.  The stables were amazing.  Below is just a small portion of the stable area.

The newest addition to the stable born less than a year ago.

There are several mosques and temples, (Muslim, Sikh and Hindu) although right now only the Muslim mosque is used. It also has an outdoor amphitheater that is capable of seating the entire campus. 

Obviously I didn't take this picture-took it off the web site as mine didn't do it justice.  Shades of Quidditch Matches and Harry Potter!

This is their debate hall. Yep, debate hall.

Campus Mosque         
High Tea-Just fits here.  The other thing that is kind of unique here.  On the table usually sits a box of kleenex to be used as napkins. This way, if it becomes soiled you just grab another tissue.  Such a nice experience to see this and provides a completely different context to other schools I have seen in the area.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Odds and Ends

Our last group shot-bittersweet!

This blog is full of random photo's  I have taken and they are in no particular order. Yesterday (Monday) was another interesting day. This week classes are 6 hours for 3 days so we are busy trying to finish up loose ends-Seems like there is never enough time.  I have a full fledged, stuffy nose, hacking cough cold so my voice is coming and going and I am probably freely spreading my germs (Great).  After class, Sidiq (the driver) took me over to the City Campus -where I was interviewed by a reporter from the Express Tribune, Ali Usman.  The article is below. I hope the link works!

Interview with the Express Tribune

My students swear by Johar Joshanda.  It did help me get through the class today!
Today I woke up with absolutely no voice and felt really crummy. But, today was also a perfect example of Pakistani kindness. Sayeed, the cook, listened to me for about a minute and ran into the kitchen. He came back with a big glass of hot water and salt and motioned for me to go gargle (sweet man!).  Sidiq, Salima's driver heard me say Good Morning and immediately took me to a pharmacy to get throat lozenges (another sweet man).  When I got to school the students made me a hot herbal tea and insisted on helping with class. Salima came after lunch and told me I was going to the doctor (which she arranged). Maryam Hasan took me to her doctor, we waited about 4 minutes, saw the doctor which cost a whopping $7.00 and my 4 prescriptions were less than $3.00 (I keep asking myself why it costs so much at home).  None of this would Maryam let me pay for. One of the things Pakistani's pride themselves on is how they treat you as a guest and this shows. I feel a little overwhelmed by all of this, but really appreciated it.

Right after school I went on a tour (courtesy of Naazish Ataullah) of Aitchison College (a prep school in Lahore).  Maryam is a friend of the family and arranged for me to have the tour and tea with the principal's family. This school is unbelievable and looked like something out of a fairy tale.  Tomorrow I will blog on that because it deserves a page all of its own.
I've mentioned the UPS systems many families have to use here.  These are big battery packs that charge while the electricity is on and when it goes out (as it always does) they power the fans, lights and a few other appliances.
One of the hardest things about using a blog site here is the power shut downs in the middle of uploading pictures.  Your text usually saves, but the pictures (if they are uploading) disappear.  It seems to take an inordinate amount of time to upload as well, but that may be my inexperience showing.  Going to do more research on using Picassa albums!  More random photos below.
You see these fellows  lot in the early mornings.  This is a milkman. Some use the more familiar milk can, but personally, I like the brass pots.
The colors here are one of the things I most want to remember.  This is so not a monochromatic city-color everywhere.

More public monuments.  I have to hand it to the people here.  Every major thoroughfare has some type of public art.

Construction worker maybe?  I still can't figure out how people get the stuff they do on motorcycles here. Ingenuity and necessity at work.  Sidiq, my driver to work, always slows down when we come to interesting things and yells "picture!'  I think he has me pegged.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Seeing Some Sights

This is about half of my class.  They have not been able to go out and see much in the city so this trip was a treat for them. Even with umbrella's and sun screen I still got sunburned.

What a fun day today!  The van came to pick me up around 10 and me, 7 students and Saku went over to the Lahore Fort.  Saku, who is from Sri Lanka, has been here 3 years and not been to the fort, so she wanted to come along. Once we bought our tickets a really nice guide came up and started talking to us and said he'd give us the tour for 100r each (or about $1.20 for each of us).  There are some definite do's and don't's in these places so we all agreed it would be a good idea and he was a gem!  Our guide's name was Mohammed, but he had another name on his card. My students explained to me that just about everyone's name is Mohammed so it didn't really count.  We took big umbrellas because it was so hot and took turns holding them so everyone could take pictures.  This is the most picture taking group I've ever seen.
Our guide Mohammed.  I gave him a good tip because it didn't seem like we were paying much. The girls said he was getting very adequate pay for what he was doing, but it still seemed very little.

We explored the fort and our guide told me the story of Anarkali (which depending on who you talk to-has about a dozen variations). Anarkali was  a dancing girl in love with Prince Selim (later the emperor Jehangir). The prince's father was not happy about the prince falling in love with a commoner and ordered the young girl to be bricked into a wall alive. Prince Selim's father owed Anarkali's mother a wish and she asked for the life of her daughter, so although  it appeared she had been walled in, there were tunnels that took her out of the city and away from her love.  So...long story...short version.  All my students wanted to get into the hall of mirrors or the fountain podium and play Anarkali.  Saku posed for us so we had our own version of the story.
Saku (alias Anarkali)
We liked Mohammed so much we we booked him for the rest of the day (200 more rupees each). We finished touring the fort, stopped for cold drinks, and  ended up having him take us all over-to the Lahore Fort, Badashai Mosque, to the Old Walled City, the Turkish Baths and the Waszir Khan Mosque. I went to all of these places on my last trip but there is always something new to see (especially when you see it through the eyes of someone from Pakistan who has not seen it.  Below are some of the pictures.

This was part of a ceiling fresco in the emperor's quarters.  The colors and designs on these things are absolutely amazing after 400 years.
The hall of mirrors.  This is where the dancing girls danced for the emperor.

Group shot in front of the Emperor's Hall.  The cannons were added by the British.
This is the Pakistani Independence Monument viewed from the fort

This is the Sikh temple near the fort.
The beautiful Badashai Mosque.  The brick pavement is so hot they lay down long sections of mats for you to walk on.
On our way into the Badashai mosque.  You have to cover your head and take your shoes off. We were all jumping around yelling hot, hot until we got to the mats.
Group Shot!

When we arrived at the Wazir Khan Mosque the call to prayer was going out. so no pictures were allowed.  I took this just before we were asked to wait on pics.  Her the mullah is making the call over the intercom. It is so loud he has to cover his ears to hear himself.  The man in front was preparing to pray. This mosque is under heavy renovation with funding from the US to help pay for it.  It is a truly beautiful sight. The pictures I took here in November were better because none of the construction had started then.

After a great visit in the old city where we continuously lost at least two of the group every few minutes, we hopped in the van and went to Salt and Pepper Village Restaurant. The girls had not been there and that was on their punch list for Lahore.  This place is a buffet to beat all buffets.  They told us that in the emperor's palace the cooks prepared 118 dishes per dinner, so again, we played at having our own feast.  The girls kept bringing me things and saying I had to try it.  I  told them I had tried everything in there but that didn't matter.  They wanted to see me try it. I did get Sugar Cane Juice there (and hope I don't pay for it later), but the waiter assured us it would be ok.  The musicians were playing today and most of the students knew the songs so they sang along. Of course, the musicians loved it, asked us did we want more requests and even sang a song about Saku!
This is Kulfi.  It is ice cream on a stick made from goats milk and sugar.  One of my absolute favorite things here (as you can tell...I ate two!)

Sugar Cane Juice.  It is a nice lime green color and tastes good!

Our musician buddies singing some popular Bollywood songs.
By then, everyone was pretty exhausted, we came back and I was just in time for tea.  I was wiped out for the rest of the afternoon.  Definitely getting a cold...oh joy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Birthdays, Buses, and Bas

Yesterday was one of the student's birthday so we had a pizza party for lunch from Pizza Hut.  There are KFCs, Subway, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's everywhere but they all serve food with a Pakistani twist (i.e.-spicy).

We are coming into the end of the class so it has been busy, busy.  I'm still not absorbing enough Urdu, but whenever I want the class to be quiet I raise my voice and say "Bas!" which is "enough" in Urdu.  It is much quicker than saying "Listen up" or "Be quiet" in Urdu and always sets everyone off laughing because they know that I can't seem to get my tongue around the other phrases.

Going over materials. I love the couch in the middle of the room!
After class we headed to the Faiz Museum. Faiz was Salima's father and a very famous Urdu poet, journalist, and activist (I've mentioned him before).  Looks like they are going to do a movie on his life (which was pretty interesting). Several documentaries have already been made.

This is Faiz the museum-Small, but they had a good many important letters and original pieces of poetry written in his hand.

This is a typical outfit you see most men wearing.  the shirts have a breast pocket but also pockets sewn into the shirt sides to keep things in.  That way you aren't pulling your shirt up all the time.
I spend a good bit of time everyday going here or there and I never tire of the view from the car.  My regular driver (Sidiq) laughs at me a lot because he knows I am constantly taking pictures. Siddiq (like many other household workers) is from the Swat Valley.  Work there is scarce, so many of them come to the larger cities in hopes of a job.  The pay is not high, but household servants usually live with the family in servants quarters, have their food provided and most needs met.  Training household staff seems to be a major issue, so you want to treat your staff well so they will stay.  In a lot of households, you only have male servants because it is considered somewhat improper to leave a young female household servans alone with males unless their are several women there.

Going back to the road I've said before, you see everything. The buses are always crammed full of people and the decoration is amazing.In the more rural areas, people hang off the side and sit on top. My understanding is that they have special firms that specialize in decorating any type of moving vehicle.  You see big trucks, tractors, wagons, rickshaws-all decorated.  For some reason, I haven't see any cars decorated like this.

City Bus

This is the back of the bus--will you look at that design?

There are monuments everywhere, but because this is a Muslim country, the only statues of people are the few left from the colonial era.  Consequently, you get some really unique stuff.  Here are two I pass daily.
This is at one of the roundabouts all over the city.  Sooooo glad I don't have to drive in this.

I knew my Mom would get a kick out of this. She loves eagles and although I can't bring home this monster eagle for you Mom, the picture was made with you in mind!
The military is an ever present visual here, but I've been told not to take pictures, so I don't.  You can't take pictures of bridges either for (I am assuming) security reasons.

I'm afraid I am coming down with something as my throat and ears are hurting. Thank goodness my doctor gave me a round of antibiotics to take with me.  The idea of flying home with an earache doesn't sound wonderful. I felt crummy enough last night that I had dinner in my room.  Felt better after that, but still not feeling 100%.  I am taking my out of town students to the Lahore Fort today.  They are really excited and I know I will enjoy seeing it again. I've been three times now but it is so big-you really need a couple of trips to soak it all in.  Saku just called and they are on their way over in the van, so I need to run. Love to all!