A Day in the life of...

Today is Friday. Fridays are half-days at AKRSP, Saturdays are full work days and Sundays are off. One Friday, after a week of Eid holidays, I walked back to the Eye Hospital where I’m staying. I arrived just after noon with my laptop swinging on my shoulder. The American doctor who works at the hospital saw me and said, “What, off work already?”. “Yes, Fridays are half-days at AKRSP.” “At the Department of Public Holidays, more likely.”

The lawyer I mentioned in a previous post mocked the director of Market Development during the post-meeting chai session in the Market guy’s office, “I wish someone paid me to sit in a nice office and listen to people tell me about their problems.”

Today was a good day, a long day, a day in my future life (perhaps). Today is my penultimate day with AKRSP and I’m trying to wrap up my report. Yesterday the Regional Programme Manager directed me to beef up my analyses of the project. So today I was working on that. I stayed late and the office emptied out. I moved to the office one of the accountants so I could use his printer and network connection.

A kerosene heater warmed up the room and made my eyes sting. I had the door open a crack for some ventilation. The window in my office looked out into the cold gray hallway, through the windows that line it onto a long lawn and up into the mountains coated with fresh snow and pink and mottled in the chilly dusk. The local mullah started his mournful call to prayer and I chirped away on my laptop trying to make sense of Pakistan’s policy on renewable energy development and splicing segments of the World Bank’s latest evaluation into the final section of my report.

As the dark gathered outside I finished up the final section offering recommendations to the Programme based on my analysis of progress so far on the community-based mini-hydel project and the implications of privatizing the hydel.

Before leaving I printed out the text of my report, feeding the finicky HP laser printer one page at a time and thinking I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

It was cold when I left the office. I told the night guard I was going to the hotel across the street for supper and asked if there would be a vehicle available to drive me home after.

The hotel is the same one that served me suspect chicken jalfrezzi last time I was there, so I ordered their chicken ginger handi hoping the (new) cook was not going to apply his maverick methods to the entire menu. The handi had changed, but was still good and the naan hot. I sat at the table with my back warmed by the heater going through my print-out highlighting errors, but realizing that, overall, it would probably be acceptable.

Green tea with cardamom accompanied my meal.

I paid and walked out of the restaurant just as an AKRSP Land Cruiser (the “white jeep” criticized as a symbol of AKRSP’s aloof approach to development by one person I spent about half an hour listening to speaking in breakneck Urdu) pulled up to drive me home.

I washed dishes, made myself chai and sat down to write this blog post. Now I will post it and spend a couple more hours on my report, hoping to finish it to present for final review tomorrow.

I could do this everyday, all of it.

(PS. Word keeps switching back to US spelling and now it’s telling me that “programme” is spelled incorrectly. At the home of an American family here in Gilgit we were sitting around discussing American, Canadian and British spelling and pronunciation. “Do Canadians use American or British spelling?” said one of the Americans who teaches English here in Gilgit. “We’re confused,” said I. Another Canadian in the room laughed in agreement. “And you guys say “aboot”, don’t you,” challenged the American. “No,” I said. “Canadians simply pronounce vowels they way they’re supposed to be pronounced.” That one got a triumphant smirk from the other Canadian and a laugh of disbelief from the American)

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