Friday, April 1, 2011

Swedish-Iranian Writer on Pakistan people of the land

It depletes the body to work and travel constantly for a month...

(I'm) back in Lahore after almost two weeks in Karachi and the southern province of Sindh. The stay was partially productive... Pakistan is filled to the brim with different ethnic groups and languages, and there has been a struggle to find someone who can be both good English and the local language. To my delight, I got a good translator one day in the camp Tent City in Musharraf Colony on the outskirts of Karachi. (Someone) was Urdu, English and Sindhi and was ismailit (a branch of Shiite Islam) did a fantastic job and sweated constantly, like me in the warm tent during the three hour visit.

Worse, it was the translation in the village of Gaber Machi where I spent the day with a family who lives just two miles from the mighty Indus River and who lost everything when the flood engulfed in themselves their land, houses and possessions. The village is located in the heart of Sindh, outside the town of Moro, about six hours by bus from Karachi.

In order to interview women in a family, I have had to have ...female translators who know the local language. ...but ... we managed to create a mood and a belief that she had many people from Nasib (pictured below) family telling conclusion for me about what happened when flood came, how they had it right after and what they think about life now.

(About)...a farmer. She owns no land because she is poor, so for 30-50 percent of the harvest, she and her husband on a feudal lord's land, as it is called here. They have two sons who are both married and seven grandchildren. One of those still missing ...was born just five days before my visit.

(She)works cooks and take(s) care of all their children.
- " She is very strong, " said the father-in-law about his daughter-in speaking of that she was up on legs so soon after birth that occurred in the home.

She and her family lost everything when the flood came. The only thing she had with ... were some of their animals and lived in tents for more than three months before they could return home to continue living in tents for a few more months. She bears witness to almost 15 years of drought, they used to have ceremonies in honor of the Indus and how they prayed for rain. When the flood came protective barrier was broken and the land their houses stood on the stone fell as much as five meters. Down there, in the ditch, where her house once stood, you can not build a new because it is so muddy and a new flood could easily damage the house again, "said Nasib and pointing to the old ground. The new building containing two rooms are built on the edge of the ditch.

... (the little girl)...who is seven years complaining that she misses her two dolls - they disappeared with the water. You hear a melody and Iram, five rupiers of his grandmother, takes her three-year sister Saira in her arms and ran barefoot down the hill.

- We do not even have a kiosk here in the village since the flood. Each day a motorcycle (comes) with ice cream and candy that kids can buy, "said Nasib.

I will write (more) about (this family) in my upcoming book .

The day before I visited (this)family I ended up with a large group of Shiite Muslim women when I was out walking in a village outside of Moro. They invited me, showed me the tent that was donated by Iran and called for the obligatory group photo. To keep up with lot of women always gives me strength, even if we do not understand each other fully!

Thrown in to a wedding when I landed in Karachi for a few days ago and had to that at the wedding in Lahore go up and take pictures with the bride and groom to the bride's brother, insisted in an hour. The lack of vegetarian food made me rather put in my lot sweets in respect of hospitality.

(Nearby there) lives ... a wonderful family with mom, dad ... and four children ages 15 to three ... Every half hour, they will enter and ask if I've done working on the days I have been sitting home and writing...they are really charming and it's great to have so much life around them. Last night I had the honor to invite the whole family and another friend - to dinner at the Iranian year's first day. The children would love to go to the barbeque and I finally got to order Palak panir ... a little spinach, five pieces of cheese and incredible chili. The dream of Palak panir persists! Before dinner we decided to go down to the beach...

Port and mega-city of Karachi is home to over 15 million people with one hell of traffic (I've been through the second traffic accident here in Karachi, the first was in Mardan). The other day it took me an hour and a half to go from the west side of town to the north and most of the time we were standing in various queues. It is spring here, the plants are green and the city has a lot of palm trees. By day, it is currently 40 degrees Celsius with 30 percent humidity, the sweat flowing constantly when you are outdoors.

The days have been intense here. I have had time to be in a tent camp ...for interviews. I have there been moved to tears by the incredibly horrible situation people are forced to live in, people who really do not have any guilt for global warming, but are the first to suffer.When I was there the other day and sat and sweated in a tent during my three-hour interview with a family, I made it clear to them that I could not eat in this heat when they asked if I wanted to have lunch. It was an excuse not to eat the food that is not even enough for them. They get a food ration for a month that lasts for two weeks ... I tried to (resist) when they came with the pot and the typical bread here in Pakistan. They insisted, saying:
- We can not afford to use so much butter and fry the bread never in butter, but since you are our guest, we have done it for you.

I could not help but to eat with tears in my eyes.

Although they are victims, they are not at a loss. The people of the 6000 people with big camp is organized and selected by representatives of a large 12 person committee that is fighting for residents' rights...(they had to leave) their home village of Alai Baksh KoSa ...(to) go to Karachi.

Have also gone to the village Sajawel two hours outside of Karachi where (a friend)is helping to build houses. Amazingly beautiful village right on the Indus River, now with incomplete mud houses. The question is how it will go if it gets heavy monsoon rains in the area again?

Took a boat to a beautiful mangrove swamp that wealthy landowners here (are) tearing down to build housing -- (I went) in order to interview fishermen (who work)to protect the marshes of their lives. After the meeting (we) took the opportunity to dip (our) feet in the Arabian Sea...

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