Blogs from Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India, Asia - page 3


Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 25th 2013

This is gonna be brief because I feel like shit. Here goes: · Rahim and I bought a bottle of vodka yesterday and I seem to have managed to drink/smoke enough to remove my stomach lining as we watched Prison Break, followed by the Royale Family. We justified our almost total consumption of the 75cl bottle of Vodka with the words of the Nana Royle who, when talking about pilfering the belongings of her newly ‘dead friend’ Elsie, rationalised her actions saying, ‘It’s what Elsie would have wanted.’ We also ate a rather staggering amount of peanuts purchased from one of the many vendors who roast them on their carts in the street – probably a mistake. I went to bed pissed and awoke at 3am dying of thirst, then remembering that I had no bottled ... read more

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 24th 2013

My godchildren Hugo and Kambale called this morning and I am thrilled to say that everything seems to be the same as it always has been. For a start, when I asked how come they were calling my at 5am their time, Kambale played on a familiar gag, announcing that they had been ‘doing business’; when I pressed him further he cheekily elaborated, ‘You know, selling drugs.’ I know that they’d been watching DVDs all night or had just returned from DJ-ing at a friend’s party, but it’s was great to hear Kambale telling the same old joke. We chatted about this and that, a general catch up on how things are going for them and for me. Kambale told me all about his work experience, and he had lots of deliberately intrusive questions for me ... read more

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 23rd 2013

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous now, I am writing this diary entry whilst actually sitting in another ‘let’s decide together whether we should serve sweet or salty biscuits at the teacher training conference in December 2011’ meeting. Ridiculous, because I have had to come into work on a Saturday to sit in on this meeting to finalise the budget for a project that I was not involved in designing, that I will not be involved in delivering, and which – like I’ve already said – is an education, not a child protection project anyway. And the icing on the cake is that the meeting is, again, being conducted in Hindi/Urdu! Even the Country Programme Manager has decided to stay on his houseboat and get on with his work, so what the hell am I ... read more

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 22nd 2013

4:41pm Once again, writing this during office hours – very bad, I know – but since I’ve already spent hours today (on Mustafa’s suggestion) participating in an education roll-out that has nothing to do with me, and since I’ve done all the work that I can do without the collaboration of either Rahim or Mustafa, I figure this is a sensible use of my time. This is especially true today as the Country Programme Director is here, and Englishman called Neil, and it is possible that I may end up wining and dining with him this evening. Fingers crossed I don’t have to: don’t get me wrong, he seems okay, but my poor IBS bowels are shredded after 2 consecutive nights drinking beer with Rahim (since Fosters was out of stock we had to go with ... read more

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 21st 2013

4:56pm Good lord this workshop is boooooooorrrrrrring. And I don’t feel guilty about saying so, since it’s education not child protection focused. I decided to sit in on some of it this morning in order to learn what I can about rolling out a new project: having been a teacher myself in a past life I get most of what is going on, in spite of the fact that most of the discussion is in Hindi/Urdu. However, this afternoon has been all about planning in detail the activities which will be carried out over the next three years. IHI India staff from Delhi and J&K plus around 15 representatives from the local partners all trying to agree on minute details such as how long a job advert should be placed in the local papers (which then ... read more

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 20th 2013

6:18pm I’m sitting in my office waiting for a meeting to finish downstairs before I leave. I’m waiting for two reasons: 1. Because most of the rest of the staff are in it and if I stick around to the end it will show camaraderie and win me some brownie points (especially since some of the Delhi staff are in there – I’m such a manipulative twat at times!). I don’t need to attend the whole meeting since it’s about education, not child protection. But more significantly... 2. Because Rahim and I are going to get the beers in tonight. Yey! So, the Delhi staff are here because we’re doing a three day roll-out of the new education project which is starting here in April. Representatives from all the local partner organisations are here ... read more

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 19th 2013

The customer service world is out to get me: I have just been refused treatment for haemorrhoids by a pharmacist! Having had the uncomfortable sensation of having a sharp rocked lodged up my arse for the last few days I had a feel around whilst I was in the shower this morning and concluded that I have haemorrhoids; they’re not exactly difficult to diagnose, after all. I figure it’s a not entirely surprising after-effect of all the stress my arse has been put under throughout the diarrhoea problems I have had since my arrival in Kashmir. So on my way home from work today I decided to face the embarrassment and pop into the local pharmacy/wand shop and get some cream. Mercifully the shop was empty and it was the same guy who had served me ... read more

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 18th 2013

An absolute classic in Kashmiri customer service today. Over the last 4 months I have grown accustomed to being in the middle of being served in a shop, phone recharge centre, post office etc. only to have the assistant suddenly divert their attention from me to the person who’s just walked up to the counter and is demanding their immediate service. You’ll be just about to complete your transaction when you’ll have to wait for another person to get seen to before the attention comes back to you. And the best part of it is, no-one here seems to bat an eyelid at it! Initially it used to drive me nuts, but I thought I was over it by now. However, my experience today was in a league entirely of its own. Today I went along ... read more

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 17th 2013

Another wonderfully warm day (dare I wonder if this winter is finally over?) and I have just returned from an afternoon spent playing with the kids at Bait-ul-Rahim. It was the stuff memories are made of, for me and hopefully for the children too: hours spent playing together in the sunny forecourt of the orphanage, not a tantrum, tear or torn trouser-knee in sight. I really have grown fond of those children whilst I’ve been here, and I think that we have managed to negotiate a relationship which works well for both of us; my visits to the orphanage provide us all with a distraction from the monotony of the daily routine and a chance to share experiences which are foreign, new and exciting. Returning to Relax Inn this afternoon, I realised that - ... read more

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Srinagar February 16th 2013

I wish everyone in Srinagar would just fuck off! Just fuck right off! Take you questions and your rickshaws and your shikaras and shove them right up your arse! JUST FUCK OFF! Ahhh, that’s better. I’ve just got back from a sightseeing and photo shoot tour of Srinagar. A two and a half hour mammoth circuit of the city to try and capture in photos an impression of what the place is like, as a memento for me and in order to be able to show people back home. When I awoke this morning to blazing sunshine and blue skies, I knew that this was the time to do it; with only a few weekends left here and freezing snowfall and glorious sunshine seemingly working in shifts at the moment, there’s no guarantee that ... read more

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