Islamabad - Jan. 2nd, 2010
Holy Shit, it’s 2010!
I can’t comprehend it, just accept it. It has been a blur of week, a week speckled with resting in the hotel, sleeping off the sweats and caughs, getting used to the ins and outs of the Serena, and occasionally getting outside the hotel walls to venture into the the town or the diplomatic enclave. So far, my favorite places are the neighborhoods around Tom’s work, where there are many people (read - men) walking around, carts with various goods for sale, trees lining the streets and lots of flowers for sale. It feels lively and occasionally one can even see a female! Even from my limited encounters outside the hotel, so far already there have been very striking experiences, the most poignant of which is that one simply does not see very many women. It’s not that there aren’t any, it’s just that they make up about 2% of the public in view on the streets. It feels very strange. Unbalanced, to say the least and most the most obvious. I don’t like it at all. When I do see a woman, I rejoice internally and try to connect with the feminine energy.
One of the days I was sick, I ventured into the diplomatic enclave to the Canadian High Commission to see the famed Dr. Jenny, a British dame who’s been here for about 30 years, and seems to know all the expats and the ins and outs of Islamabad. Actually getting into the enclave on foot through the walled, barb wired, machine-gun armed checkpoints was an adventure, and once I was in, it didn’t get any less interesting with the labyrinth of streets and reiterations of checkpoints, tents and barbed wires. But I was determined to see the doctor, and trusted that she wouldn’t have told me to walk over if it weren’t safe enough for me to do so. I covered my head, put on my best “don’t fuck with me look” and continued to walk in the general direction of the High Commission, by the British, the American, the Iranian, the Indian embassies, none of which are labeled, and all of which look like fortresses. When I made it to the clinic, Dr. Jenny diagnosed: “well you made it here on foot, you’re smiling and you look pretty good. so I’d say you’re not all that sick.” This made me thankful for my persistence. It was a great thing to meet Dr. Jenny with whom I ended up spending several hours, and had tea with her and her son. She confirmed my instincts about living in the enclave, and encouraged us to find a house in town, saying it would be important to have a life as close to normal as possible. It was also somehow encouraging to know that finding housing is always tricky and can take a month or so. She gave me some tips and other useful advice for beginning a temporary life here. I felt a sense of accomplishment after she dropped me off at the Serena. I felt more grounded and secure.