24 July 2005

In Islamabad

With my previous job I was asked to travel to Pakistan several times, I always managed to escape. This time with Alcatel it was almost impossible. I tried to avoid so for almost 4 months now I got stuck and here I am.

Just arrived to Islamabad this morning at 2:00 AM. The airport reminded me of the Cairo airport not that I am proud of it, but it is the same chaos. People act the same way trying to cut in lines acting stupid or disoriented. You have to shout with a mean grin on your face and suddenly they wake up from there day dreaming realizing that there scam failed and quietly walk back to the back of the queue.

After waiting for almost an hour for the bags to arrive. I gave up and asked the police officer if I can go outside smoke a cigarette and then come back in to collect my luggage, he said no need to go out just smoke here. Cool! I was trying to respect the tiny sign at the end of the arrival hall that no one seems to respect but even the policeman is ignoring so I decided to ignore it myself and just lit a cigarette, no one even complained or gave me one of these dirty looks that you will
probably get in Paris when you follow the crowd of smokers in Charles de Gaule airport.

This morning I woke up really early went from breakfast which was amazing. Lots of cooked beef and chicken?!! Chicken Masala, Chicken with Oranges, Beef Shashlik, beef with I don't know what and so on.

The following thing was to straight head out for shopping. Luckily I am with a colleague from Alcatel who came to Islamabad 4 times before so he knows the city inside out.

Islamabad was built in 1958 by a Greek architect, and it was designed to be the capital. The city feels strange, it feels artificial in a way, it is very well planned wide roads, green and clean. I still did not go to the poor areas as I was mainly downtown and in the diplomatic district. But I am so far impressed.

First day was a triumph so far got some cheap books and DVDs not original of course. I got for example "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" book six for only $4 USD, while the list price is $29.99 and on Amazon you can get it for $16. DVDs are sold around $2 and $3. Amazing!!!!

Well I am in the Marriott now writing this email, today is Sunday so it is the weekend still. Tomorrow my misery will start as I will have to go to work but now I am enjoying my bowl of Pakistani Mangos and a nice Mango juice. An Egyptian will always remain Egyptian so I have to add that our mango is much much much better, the Marriott in Zamalek Cairo is at least 10 times nicer :)

I will be leaving Islamabad heading back to Cairo on Wednesday night so if you need anything don't hesitate to ask :)

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