Friday, July 16, 2004

Hosting a Newbie
As you've read in blogs below, we are the summer hosts of our son's ’ best friend from High School in the States, Oleg.  This, of course is his first time to Pakistan.  He is Russian-American and 19 years old.  Oleg, has heard Zaman’s stories of the exciting life in Pakistan (m not talking about the animals here) and wanted to check it out for himself. 
Here are some of his recent discoveries.
Oleg now knows that not only diarrhea a way of life here, its causes, cure and treatments are even proper dinner table topic.  If you say you don’t feel well, even total strangers will ask, “Do you have diarrhea?  What are you taking for it? Do you need to go the doctor?” 
He now knows that ants pack a powerful bite,*ouch* and the local mosquitoes like imported blood.*itch, itch*
He’s been trying to catch the lizards in the house for pets.  Yesterday, he came bounding up the steps in hot pursuit of a tiny 1 inch lizard, the kind so small and so charged with energy, that they don’t run, they bounce across the floor in leaps. I was standing at the top of the stairs, and he herded the thing between my feet (you should have seen my record vertical jump!  I could represent Pakistan in the next Olympics.) and straight into my bedroom closet where he lost track of it.  I was annoyed by the thought of it jumping out the closet and scaring the living daylights out of me.  (Even a 1” lizard could do it.)
He has learned the hard way that dhobis (laundrymen) are evil.  While the washing machine was out of order, we sent out the laundry.  Oleg’s boxers came back pressed and starched (ouch!), and his shorts, his FAVORITE shorts, came back with a burn hole the size of an iron.  Yes, dhobis have evil powers to sense your favorite clothes and inflict their worse damage on your best beloved.
Oleg:  “How close is the nearest McDonald’s?”  He should have asked how far since it is all the way in Lahore.  When I suggested a burger from our restaurant to appease his craving, he politely told me they weren’t the same.  Duh, I knew that already: our buffalo burger packed with fillers, seasoned to appeal to Punjabi tastes and served on a too large, too sweet bun would never match the great American burger.  
Sunshine: Pakistan is blessed with sunshine.  Oleg has now learned the hard way that at 3000ft above sea level (the altitude of Islamabad), sunshine is fierce, but at 5000ft above sea level, (the height of low-altitude trekking) sunshine is deadly.  Despite the fact that I packed the boys two tubes of heavy duty sunblock, he returned from his week of trekking with blisters and a new layer of skin, bright red and painful. 
Yes, you can always spot the newbies here, they're a lovely shade of red.