4 p.m. – small tea break. I’m looking out of the office window over a tropical garden and see a camel trotting along the dusty road between some cars. Every day at this time it’s passing by, stoically pulling a small wagon with junk behind it. The subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company I am working for is located a bit outside of Karachi (16 million inhabitants) and it’s my second time being in Pakistan’s capital for for business reasons several days.

For Europeans, life here is both: a blessing and a curse. On the one hand you enjoy certain privileges like living in a large house with staff and pool, on the other hand the hygiene and security situation is always uncertain. This means that a strong, partly armored vehicle is used for transportion and you are always surrounded by guards.

When I’m here on a business trip, I always stay at the local manager’s house for security reasons, as there are always attacks with fire arms on international hotels. The private building is huge by European standards, but above all it is surrounded by a brick security ring for 24-hours. That means  a permanent presence of security guards inside and outside the house. The same applies of course to all company buildings and grounds.

I only landed with LH xxx around 1 a.m., after being picked up I finally went to  bed at 2:30 a.m., but at 4:30 a.m. I already heard the muezzin praying. As always, it was a short night and when I pull up the blind of my guest room, a bearded guy in army clothing and a kind of Kalashnikov is circling below me. Everything as usual. At 8:30 am I heading towards the company, as ten gentlemen are already awaiting my lecture regarding “Value Based Management” at 9:00 am.

Despite everything, I like being here because I really appreciate – besides the Scottish boss –  the local staff, because they show me the greatest possible respect as a non-Muslim-woman. After work, we also talk about many private issues and the world‘s situation. Of course it wasn’t always as formal as on the cover photo which was taken one year before.

However, the onward flight to the Philippines shouldn’t be that stressful as it is scheduled for around noon. But when traveling within Asia, the flight can become an adventure. It doesn’t matter whether you fly tourist or business class. I particularly remember a flight with PIA International (national airline of Pakistan) from Karachi to Manila. I am certainly not afraid and have already experienced a lot. There was no alternative airline on this route at that time anyhow.

Inch-Allah. Why I am you telling this? After a charming stewardess with a veil on the cap has shown me my seat in the spacious business class and handed me the menu card to choose from together with a welcome drink, I heard the announcement “All doors in flight”. The machine slowly rolls over the bumpy slope runway. When the seat belt sign lights up, also the flight crew needs to  sit down using a seat belt. However, one crew member stopps  in front of me having her arms stretched out widely. The captain welcomes the passangers on bord by loudspeaker. He briefly explains the flight route and ends his speech with the words “… and inch-allah we will touch down in Manila at 17.00 hours local time. Let us pray “. Promtly a sura from the Koran sounds from the tape. As soon as the words have faded away, he pushes the thrust lever and the machine rattles along the seemingly endless runway of Jinnah Airport until it finally takes off. The aging inventory like the overhead lockers is exposed to such vibrations that the stewardess has to hold them closed with raised arms respectively hands on the right and left because the locking buttons are not working any more. The gorgeous looking stewardess holds out with a slightly painful smile until the plane takes off and reaches the gliding phase, then she rushes towards the pantry kitchen to initiate the regular on-board service. Lunch, however, was delicious …

Thanks to whoever, that also this machine has finally landed safely and on time in Manila. In other words: Right now we keep complaining of being isolated and blocked from travelling due to the Corona-situation, but sometimes even “home-office” and video conferences” might have some positive aspects.  

p.s. Top photo taken by a local photographer 1998
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Petra
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