May 31, 2006

My apologies

Yesterday I had the pleasure(!) of spending my morning at the Royal Infirmery in the West End for a little local anesthetic surgery. I am hereby renouncing any unjust criticisms I have made against the NHS. Officially. (Gordon & Jerome please take note). Not only was I squeezed in for an emergency appointment in less than a week, but when I got there the operation was tight, well run, efficient and the Irish doctor was chatty, friendly and she was wearing the MBS trainers that I bought so long ago but have been afraid to wear. Before I knew it, the needle was in and out, and I had a hole in my leg patched up with 6 stitches. Good to go. It wouldn’t happen like this in many places even if you had to pay for the service…

Just thought I would set the record straight.

In other news, there is no other news. Still cleaning, still chucking, getting ready for the big day tomorrow of packing up all our worldly belongings, or at least what is left of them…

filles at 8:18 am

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May 28, 2006

the home stretch…

I’m just catching my breath. Sold two armchairs and our rug today as well as all our gorgeous trees & plants and small appliances. The living room is particularly sparse now. It’s going to be a lot more difficult for the real estate agent to rent our apartment looking like this. Serves them right.

If you didn’t remember, the whole reason we started the process of moving again last December was because our landlord refused to renew our lease telling us that although we were good tenants, he needed to put the house on the market to sell. We offered more money, we pleaded and we begged because we wanted to stay in Glasgow for another year. All to no avail. Fast forward 4 months to the end of April when we were having nightmares with the French authorities, we received an email from the real estate agent stating that the landlord had changed his mind, and would be quite happy for us to stay in the apartment for another year at the same rate if we were interested! B#*&$a%d….

Anyway. We’re off to Paris on another adventure. We’re still not sure what kind of life it’s going to be, whether we will be able to afford to travel as much as we did while we were here (the £ goes a long way when you travel….). I’m sure there’ll be some changes, some tightening of the belt required here and there, but there will also be the adventure factor, plus the good wine, the fresh food markets, and the fact that it’s PARIS. We’ll see.

I’ve been busy closing down accounts, doing change of address’, chucking old stuff and binning as much as possible, getting ready for the movers on Wednesday and Thursday. We’re going to lose the internet soon as well as our phone line, and it probably won’t be up again for a couple of weeks, although I’ll try and check in every couple of days from an internet cafe or similar… my UK mobile phone will still function for a few weeks, and we have a ‘portable’ already in Paris (if you need the number just email me) so we won’t be too far away.

Regular trips to the cafe for caffeine fixes and the pub for a pint or two or three are still pencilled in – so if you fancy meeting up before we go, give us a bell!

filles at 3:27 pm

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May 24, 2006

Ethical Living

I’m done with ‘The Baghdad Blog’ and have started ‘A Life Stripped Bare’ by Leo Hickman who is a columnist at the Guardian who spent a year experimenting with ethical living. So far it’s great. You can read his columns here, just select his name from a pull-down list of ‘experts’ and you’ll see a list of his latest columns to get an idea of the style and content. And when I’m finished reading it, I’ll lend it to you if you want…

In other news, Michelle had her medical today and interview with the ‘prefecture’ in Paris and she passed. She is now officially free to live in Paris.

We move June 3rd.

filles at 6:33 pm

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May 22, 2006

up in the rafters

We went to see Cecilia Bartoli last night at the Royal Concert Hall. She was brilliant. It was a lovely evening out, I dozed off a little in the first half (we were up in the nose bleed part of the upper circle) but I was fully awake for the strong second half and her half dozen encores…. Michelle hasn’t given up on me yet. She said “we’ll get seats closer to the front next time, you’ll be able to see her expressions“.

We were second row from the back last night. You couldn’t get much further away….

filles at 5:26 pm

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May 19, 2006

Risks people take

I’m reading a great book, picked up at Bookworld for a pound (£1) the other day. You know when you read a book that is worth every penny of the RRP, I feel bad that I managed to pick it up as a bargain. How much do the authors really get anyway? Are they on a flat fee or a % of sales?

Anyway. The book is called ‘Salam Pax: The Baghdad Blog’. It’s a diary of an Iraqi man who recounts the details of his everyday life in Baghdad, the story of the war from the inside of the besieged country. It’s incisive & funny and an extremely interesting record of the anticipation, resentment, bemusement and sheer terror felt by a someone living in the last days of a dictatorship. The original website “Where is Raed?” is still up on the web but ends in August 2004, and from what I can see so far, Salam Pax continues his recordings at “The Daily Absurdity Report“.

While we are busy worrying how we’re going to fit all our stuff into a tiny apartment in Paris, stressing over the fact we’ll have to somehow afford to live in such an expensive city – there’s shit going on in the world. Terrible stuff. Life & death stuff.

The realisation of the absurdity of it all makes me feel sick. It’s time to focus on the things we can do to make things right. There are plenty of options.

Have a nice weekend.

filles at 12:14 pm

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May 17, 2006

Big Night In

It’s the Champions League Final tonight in Paris. Arsenal vs Barcelona. We managed to get Michelle the last hotel room available in Paris, thankfully, and she’s out tonight to watch it on the big screen on the street. Imagine Paris full of English & Spanish football fans…. literally not a room left to be had.

Me, I haven’t decided if I’m keen enough to go to the pub to watch the game or to watch it at home on the computer – I’ve got 35 minutes left to decide!

filles at 7:07 pm

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May 16, 2006

Update

Michelle has entry clearance, my second application has gone in. It’s not guaranteed but it looks good. Next step is the medical then the visit to the prefecture in Paris for the visa for Michelle – and me, I can enter France and stay for 90 days out of every 6 months until I receive my entry clearance, which, all going well, could be as soon as 1 month away or up to 6 months, worst case! (unless of course they refuse my application which really would be worst case…).

So, two more steps, then we can schedule our move….

This moving, mobility stuff is exhausting!

filles at 4:02 pm

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May 15, 2006

3rd trip tomorrow…

Back to Edinburgh tomorrow. Michelle has to come too.

We had a fantastic weekend, great show in Dundee, highlight for me was a little known indie band called Hot Chip – but we did manage to see all the headliners. I’ll fill you in tomorrow….

filles at 10:44 pm

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May 12, 2006

Back to busy

Weather is gorgeous. Attempted to have a BBQ in the park last night, but the rain came down just as we were heading out. Another gorgeous day today.

Coming up:
1. Weekend in Dundee with Mad & Dave
2. Going to see Keane, Sugababes, Pink, Editors, Feeder & We are Scientists amongst others at Radio 1’s big weekend on Sunday
3. New tenants coming to visit flat Monday morning
4. French consulate has agreed to accept my application for a long stay visa (that is, to take the application and review it) on Tuesday next.

So back to busy.
Have a good weekend!

filles at 2:26 pm

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May 10, 2006

Edinburgh

A much more productive morning. I have a list of documents as long as my arm to pull together for the consulate, let’s hope these will get us somewhere. The weather is gorgeous here in Glasgow… 21 degrees, sunny, anyone would think we were already in Paris!

filles at 3:30 pm

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May 8, 2006

Me and the bike

So, back to normal life. We’re missing furniture, we’ve sold the car but most things are right back where we were a couple of months ago. The move is on hold, pending resolution of some visa issues. Since we’re not convinced that they will get resolved we’ve decided to stay where we are for another month in case we may end up having to move elsewhere or even back to Canada. This is a worst case scenario and we’ve still got our fingers & toes crossed that we’ll be able to move before too long, into our new, ready & waiting apartment in the centre of Paris.

Meanwhile, life just keeps on pottering along. I took Michelle’s racing bike down to the bike shop today to have air put into the tyres. A bike is so not me. Especially a hot pink racing bike with funny pedals. Michelle insisted I put it on my shoulder to carry it the mile & a half to the shop to save the wheel rims – and I must have looked a sight. I stopped every 20 paces to re-adjust it on my shoulder, and was hot, red and sweaty by the time I made it into the shop. The guy was nice, he didn’t laugh, but I vowed then that that was the last time I was setting foot in a shop as intimidating as a professional bike shop. I’m going to stick to the things I know… coffee shops, book shops, bars etc…

filles at 10:18 am

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May 5, 2006

thankfully they didn’t sell our apartment

I’ve just renewed our lease in Glasgow for another month, put the electricity back on, reconnected the phone… hell of a week!

filles at 6:47 am

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May 2, 2006

Return to Pakistan

We now have 2 beautiful antique Bokhara carpets rolled up ready to go to their new home in Paris. We did well, we almost bought 3 carpets only we weren’t sure where we would fit them! Because we spent about 5 hours deep in negotiation…. we missed the rest of the afternoon so we didn’t set off for the Peshawar bazaars until nightfall. It was fantastic. Imran took us through various different bazaars and then on a walk through the old city before bringing us to a wonderful BBQ restaurant where we sat upstairs just off the terrace for our best meal yet. It was sad. Our last meal. Our last evening with Hatam & Asghar. We had become friends.

Peshawar really was the highlight of my trip, it’s a city, but a nice size city – with all the romance of a frontier town.

We left the next morning for Karachi which is a big sprawling city full of people, and cars, and buildings. Almost a shock after the villages we had experienced over the previous 10 days. Jamal took us on a tour of the city, stopping to see the most beautiful Tooba Mosque constructed in white marble with thousands of mirror tiles in the interior, said to be the largest single dome mosque in the world. We also stopped to see the camels and donkeys on Clifton Beach and the Quaid-i-Azam Mausoleum which is a monument to Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Unfortunately for us it was closed because of an official political visit that evening. In the early evening we hired a boat for a few hours to go crabbing in the harbour. It wasn’t the good season for crabbing, we didn’t catch any, but our crew had brought along some live ones that they cooked up for us on the boat all the same. It was a lovely evening out watching the sunset – we weren’t the only ones who thought so, the harbour front was packed with people all jostling for space on a boat.

In the evening we were collected by a business associate of Michelles and driven to his house for dinner. Michelle’s new job involves sourcing suppliers from low cost countries and she has in mind doing some business in Pakistan since one of her divisions already has a successful relationship with this company based in Karachi. The evening was marvellous and the hosts were incredibly kind and a very interesting couple, we kept them up late telling them our tales from our trip up north – hopefully we’ll have the chance to repay their hospitality once we move to Paris.

Then it was the end. Our trip to Pakistan was finishing. Originally terrified and not too keen to travel to such an unknown country, now, after less than 2 weeks we felt we were being torn away too soon. So many places we didn’t have a chance to visit, so many more trips were being planned to return. The country was beautiful. The people were so kind and so generous and so happy. It really was fantastic.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to Pakistan, go. You won’t regret it. You’ll be amazed.

If you need any help planning it, booking hotels or even if you have any questions, contact Jamal at Pakistan Travel & Culture Services, I would have no hesitation recommending him to anyone for any trip in Pakistan – wherever you wanted to go, he has contacts and partners and resources all over. He managed everything perfectly, we didn’t want for anything and not once did we feel like we were being jostled about as tourists. It was an intimate, private tour at a very reasonable price. I can’t thank him enough, the best way we know how, is to return in January 2007!

That’s the plan.

filles at 3:42 pm

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