Sunday, 9 December 2007

Doogle 1997 - 2007

A very sad day here for us. Our lovely cat Doogle was killed in a road accident on Sunday. We will miss him so much.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Global Warming?

27th November and this little daffodil has sprung up amongst the autumn leaves. They have been flowering earlier every year, but not this early. Usually appear towards the end of February or early March.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Fun at the park

A cold day at the park but the children enjoyed it. Stuart doesn't like the swings but he enjoyed pushing Jakob and Jasmine.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Street children

Whilst shopping in Rawalakot I came across a group of 5 children begging. I gave them some money and as I tried to take a photo of them a shop keeper came out and chased then away. I just manage to catch these 2 girls with bare feet.

There are always children begging everywhere in Pakistan and kashmir. Whenever you stop in the car at traffic lights they knock on the car window asking for money. Even late at night in the shopping centres they follow you around. Some pretend to have injuries and fold their arm inside shirt sleeves to make you think they have lost it. Mothers with young babies also beg for money for milk. I have seen several with bandages wrapped round their babies heads with blood stains on them. Whether they really have an injury is anybody's guess. The disabled are also more or less forced to beg as I don't think there are any benefits for them there. It is not unusually to see legless men sitting on boards with small wheels on them reaching up from the road to knock on the car windows. I am sure many of them receive even more injuries from the traffic.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Solar Powered Dishwasher

My SIL is just having her kitchen extended and it will have cupboards and a sink with hot and cold running water. This is Muzzer her hired help doing the washing up. The green drum is filled with water which heats up in the sun. I'm sure he will find it great to have a proper kitchen at last, especially as the winter is coming and it does become rather cold.

Baffled Bird

The house windows are made of oneway glass with mirror on the outside. The poor birds weren't sure whether to be amorous or aggressive to their reflections. It was easy to photograph them as they couldn't see me.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Pakistani Art

Art is not confined to buildings. My favourite are the decorated lorries that can be found everywhere in Pakistan. It is said that the drivers think more of their trucks than they so their wives. They are painted with flowers, birds and animals and even some very profound Urdu poetry is found on many of them. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you will be able to see in more detail.

They also like to decorate their tractors.

They come in all colours, some brighter than others. Many have elaborately carved wooden doors too.

The metal fringe at the bottom of this one jingles very loudly as it drives along.

Pakistani Art

Many mosques and other buildings in Pakistan are intricately adorned with coloured tiles, paintings and mirrors.

A mosque in Islamabad

A decorated well

The ceiling of a mosque in Lahore


Next traffic down the lane was a group of gypsies migrating for the winter. There were about 20 horses carrying children and bedding. They didn't appear to have many belongings. They stopped for a while to adjust their horses saddles so I had chance to take photos of some of the children.

Goat Trail

The metalled road to the village ends where our family houses are and becomes a cobbled dirt track. This means there is little traffic apart from the occasional jeep or tractor. One day whilst eating breakfast on the veranda it became very busy. A large herd of about 300 goats passed us by. There were several men and dogs herding them along but not before they sampled all the trees along the road.

Eating at the drive-thru!

Oblivious to their fate

On arriving at my sister in law's place we were greeted by two goats who were nonchalantly grazing at the front of her house. No she hadn't acquired new pets or living lawn mowers. ;-(

It is customary in Islam to sacrifice a goat and give the meat to the poor people as a way of thanking Allah when something good happens or at a marriage or when somebody is ill and you want His help. My sister in law decided to thank Allah for the completion of our house by buying 2 goats for sacrifice. The poor of the village ate well that day. We had mutton biryani a couple of days later!
I didn't dare ask!

Duboo and Kaloo with Bashir the butcher.

Kashmir Nights

The sky at night is so full of stars that are never seen here in UK due to light pollution. There are thousands or even millions of them to be seen on a clear night.

It is so dark there that a torch is a must when you go to bed. Once the lights are out it is pitch dark. The windows of my sister in law's house are very small with frosted glass and not a sliver of light can be seen. They also have a slight problem with the electricity. The supply is switched of for a period every day to conserve energy. We always went to bed with a very low wattage bulb left on in case we needed to get up in the night as we wouldn't be able to find the light switch otherwise. Only problem being if the electricity went off in the middle of the night. That is when a torch was needed.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Kashmiri wedding

Carrying the water pitcher

The Bride awaits her groom

The arrival of the groom

We went to a wedding last night in Rawalpindi. The families were Kashmiri though, not Pakistani. It wasn't very exciting as all we seemed to do was sit around waiting for the bride to arrive. She was due at 8.30pm but eventually they decided we should eat first instead and she arrived at 10.30pm.

I had a turn at carrying the water jug which is a tradition in Kashmir for the ladies and I think is supposed to bring luck to the couple.

Monday, 29 October 2007

New house

Two views of our new house in Kashmir. Furniture we have ordered should be ready to transport to there from here in Islamabad on 2nd November and we will travel there the same day.

Waiting for "Eidie"

Village children dressed in their new Eid clothes calling to collect Eidie.

A helping hand

My niece helping me down the mountain. Not easy wearing sandals and a skirt! lol

Sunday, 28 October 2007

News from Kashmir

Friday 12 November 2007

We arrived Islamabad at 6am local time just 10 minutes later than expected time of arrival in spite of leaving London one hour late. We were met by sister in law and were driven to her house to freshen up and rest until shops and bank opened. After visiting bank and buying cakes we drove to Kashmir. This is a long drive of over 3 hours and we arrived at 3.30pm.

It was thought that this day would be the last day of Ramadan, the month of fasting but unfortunately everybody was disappointed. The end of Ramadan is declared at the sighting of the new moon but unfortunately nobody had sighted in anywhere in Pakistan even though it had been seen in Europe and Saudi Arabia the previous day. Hence there was to be yet another day of fasting in Kashmir and Pakistan.

The end of Ramadan is celebrated with the festival of Eid. This is the equivalent of the Christian Christmas and the biggest celebration of the Muslim year. After breakfast the men visit the mosque for Eid prayers then they go around visiting all the neighbour’s houses. The women also go visiting but not with the men. At each house you are given refreshment. The children are also given ‘eidie’, which is a gift of money. Young children go from house to house alone and one group that visited us said they didn’t want any food just eidie please!

Visiting the neighbours was quite a feat as the houses are built on the side of a mountain. People there are as agile as mountain goats and I had to be assisted by my young nieces to reach some of the houses.

The last visit of the day was to my husband’s elderly 84 year old uncle who lives practically at the top of the mountain. We were driven there by my brother in law in his jeep. There was a tarmac road part of the way but the last 10 minutes or so were along a dirt and stone track. Even being a passenger was hard work and extremely bumpy. The roads are all very narrow with sheer drops down the side of the mountain if you wander to near the edge. It is amazing that somebody so elderly lives in such a remote place and walks the mountains with ease.

The second day of Eid is for visiting relatives who live further afield. Once again this required a journey in a jeep to visit one family. Their house is on the top of another mountain and is in the process of being rebuilt following the earthquake of 2005. Only the basement was left undamaged the upper floors were completely flattened. They are building a very big 4 bedroom house on top of the original site. I can’t imagine why anybody would want to build there again after such a disaster. It looks too dangerous to me especially for the builders trying to do the work. The family living there has had a bad few years. My husband’s brother in law’s father, who is very elderly, lives there with his daughter in law and 4 children age from 14 to 3. Their father died suddenly when the youngest child was a small baby. Then earlier this year the children’s grandmother died too. They must have some money if they are rebuilding the house but generally I think things are quite difficult. They don’t even have piped water and have to carry it every day from a well 10 minutes walk away.

We visited three further families that day and had lunch with my husband’s cousin who he hadn’t seen for 40 years. They also had other visitors who were an English couple who are working with the teacher’s training scheme at the Pearl School nearby. On talking to them we discovered that one of them used to live less than half a mile away from us in Wales. What a small world we live in!

I was going to put some pictures here but have very slow connection so they will have to wait until I arrive home.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Fun Guy?

The damp autumn weather brings with it the inevitable fungi!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Going away

Going to Pakistan and Kashmir on Thursday. We have just had a house built in Kashmir and are going there to furnish it. The house was started in the spring of 2005. Building was halted in October of that year because of the devastating earthquake. People were too busy repairing and rebuilding their own houses. Here is a picture of our house taken in May 2006. It has been a very slow job as the pace of life is much slower there and they don't have all the modern equipment that we have here. The stones for the house were cut by hand.
The house is now complete so once we have seen it and measured up and decided what we need we will go shopping in Islamabad in Pakistan from where we will have the furniture transported. I will keep up to date here with what we are doing and more pictures. (If I can get internet access)