Weekly Writing Challenge: Ghosts of Years Past

Phi Phi Island, Thailand

Phi Phi Island, Thailand

27th Oct 2003: I open the curtains and the stunning view leaves me mesmerized. I stare out at the shimmering blue water against the backdrop of a green mountain. Could such beauty really exist? It’s my first trip to the Far East and I’m with my husband who I married a few days ago. It’s the first time we’re together but it doesn’t feel that way. The hesitation I felt in the beginning seems to have melted away.

Security Council, UN HQ, New York

Security Council, UN HQ, New York

10th May 2004: We are at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. We are standing outside wondering how to get in. My husband sends me forward as he thinks I look less of a Pakistani and therefore less suspicious. I get the details and we enter the building. A few hours and many photos later we stop by a McDonalds for lunch. We are touring the United States and have 3 weeks to see as much as we can. I have discovered that my husband loves seeing new places even though he is not too adventurous.

Langkawai Harbor

Langkawai Harbor

16th Nov 2005: We have rented a car to tour the small island of Langkawi in Malaysia. We have already been in the cable car and now we’ll see the rest of the sights by car. I ask my husband if I can drive the car too but he makes an excuse. I have learnt that he likes to be in charge and I don’t mind. I’ll just relax and enjoy the ride.

Isle de Brehat, Brittany, France

Isle de Brehat, Brittany, France

30th Sept 2006: I’m with my colleagues from Pakistan on training in France. We have a car to ourselves and each weekend we visit a new place. Brittany is incredibly beautiful and peaceful. But every night as I lie down to sleep, my heart aches. 5 weeks away from my husband is the longest separation I have had to bear. So this is what being in love feels like.

View from my hotel room, Cairo, Egypt

View from my hotel room, Cairo, Egypt

6th Nov 2007: I can see the Nile from the terrace of my hotel room. The night view is the most gorgeous I have seen. But my mind is thousands of miles away. I wait for my husband to call me. I want to tell him about the incredible room I’ve got. I know he’ll call exactly when he said he will. I know very well how punctual and organized he is. Having to travel without him is such a headache.

Nathiagali, Pakistan

Nathiagali, Pakistan

8th Mar 2009: We are holidaying in a mountain resort in Nathiagali in Pakistan. We have bought our first home together and cannot afford to make an international trip. It has been the biggest achievement of our lives. People take all their lives to build their own home. Although I also made a major contribution I have to say that my husband is the most hard-working man I have ever met.

Father and son fast asleep

Father and son fast asleep

19th Aug 2012: We are on a plane to Maldives for our first international trip with our son. He is old enough now for us to manage well. I have brought his jigsaw puzzles and his coloring pencils to keep him occupied.  But he soon grows bored and wants to go over to his dad. He snuggles up with him and they both fall asleep. I look at the two men in my life and I feel content.

23rd Dec 2013: There is only a day left for me to do our packing. Since we’re going by car I’m not too worried as there are no weight restrictions. But I should make a list of all of my son’s things as they will be the most in number. Toys, clothes, snacks, I really must make a list. I hope it’s not too cold and we can enjoy the beach. I’m sure we’ll have some good family time together. This time of the year is always exciting for me, the end of the year and the start of a new year. A time of hope, reflection and gratitude. It will be the last vacation of the year but God willing there are many more exciting times to come.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Ghosts of Years Past

  1. Weekly Writing Challenge Response (December 23rds) | starlightfire
  2. This time last year… | Home’s Cool!
  3. As you grow older, your Christmas list gets smaller; the things you really want for the holidays can’t be bought | Never Stationary
  4. A Year Ago Today | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  5. Weekly Writing Challenge: Ghosts of December 23rds Past | hippiebitch420
  6. A Theeivening to remember | booksdragonsanddietcoke
  7. Recruiting Minors Insults My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
  8. Christmas B & E | Fish Of Gold
  9. The Year I Turned 18 and Met the Messiah | jackiefoxdotnet
  10. Family Ghosts on Roots Day | humblegenealogy
  11. ‘tis three days before christmas | Musings of a Random Mind
  12. Ghosts of December 23rds Past | On Being a Homegirl
  13. Ghosts of December 23rds Past – The Poetic Take | writingequalspassion
  14. Emily’s December 23rd | emilykarn
  15. Ghosts Who Sing | My Play Nook
  16. Ghosts @ HX | HX Report
  17. Weekly Writing Challenge | December 23, 2003 | House of Farts
  18. Ghosts of December 23rds Past | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  19. Christmas in the Pacific Northwest – The Christmas Tree – 2012 | Chasing Rabbit Holes
  20. One Year From Today | lifewithgreeneyes
  21. Festive Reflection | Getting Nowhere Fast
  22. Weekly Writing Challenge: Ghosts of December 23rds Past | imagination
  23. The Day That Changed Her. | Babbleogue
  24. The December Twenty-thirds of My Dis-belief | A Wild One Within
  25. Weekly Writing Challenge: Twas the night before… | Life of a Fallen Angel
  26. Chapters of Christmas Past | Mary J Melange
  27. Weekly Writing Challenge: Ghosts of December 23rds Past, Or: The Christmas Cancellation | polymathically
  28. Galloping Through the Mists of Time | Perceptive Pot Clueless Kettle
  29. Stock taking on Dec. 23 | Minnesota Transplant
  30. A Good Date (Weekly Writing Challenge: Ghosts of December 23rds Past) | Mod with Love
  31. Ghosts of December 23rds Past (WW Challenge) | Ruminations & Observations
  32. Ghosts of December 23rds Past (Or, Boy Do I Love My Life) | Laughing Through Life
  33. December 23, 2005 | johnautry24
  34. Weekly Writing Challenge: Ghosts of December 23rds Past | Stories for the Heart
  35. ghosts of december | yi-ching lin photography
  36. there are decembers | y
  37. 23 Desember 2 atau 3 tahun lalu | semangat! (coba-coba)

Photolog of the US

A travel distance of nearly 12,000km and 20hrs with one stopover, the farthest I have been from home is to the United States.

My husband and I travelled from Islamabad to New York via London back in May 2004. Back then the cost of one ticket was more than my husband’s monthly salary. We dug into our savings but were determined to go.

I was working at that time and had recently rejoined. My bosses did not like the idea of my taking 3 weeks off so soon after having joined, but I kept insisting until they reluctantly agreed.

There were weeks of planning and calculations and excel sheets involved. We eventually finalized an itinerary.

We stayed in New York for a week and saw all the sights from the Empire State building to Central Park to Liberty Island, Brooklyn Bridge and the UN Headquarters.

We then flew to Los Angeles where we stayed another week. We saw the Getty Museum and went to Hollywood and Universal Studios and drove along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway.

Then we were off to San Francisco for a few days where we got to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz and rode on a cable car.

We also made a day trip to Grand Canyon and were greatly impressed by the natural beauty of the place.

Arizona - Grand Canyon View & Z II (2004.05.17)Lastly we stopped at Las Vegas for two days where we got to see the fountains of Bellagio.

Las Vegas - Bellagio Fountain Show V (2004.05.17)Despite all the strict “random” checks on the flights that we had to endure, this trip was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m glad that we made it happen.

Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me

  1. Travels | The Magic Black Book
  2. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | Under the Monkey Tree
  3. The newbie wed – prologue | Beth Byrnes
  4. Flying from Nowhere | Mara Eastern’s Personal Blog
  5. come fly with me | Bizzimummy’s World
  6. Rural Tourism in Russia: Russian Village Street Photography | Bright Moments Catcher
  7. The Lord of the Ring | Geek Ergo Sum
  8. Come Fly With Me…to the Dominican Republic | Maybe Not So Zen…
  9. Let the thoughts flow | Le Drake Noir
  10. My Grand Thailand Adventure! | Open to Experience
  11. The loveliness of Crete… | alienorajt
  12. To the Moon and Back | Delana’s World
  13. My.Vivid.Visions | Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me – to Mysore
  14. Budapest And Bud Light | The Jittery Goat
  15. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | Anniemation Floe
  16. Come Fly With Me: Traveling from the Bottom to the Top of the World | Charles Ray’s Ramblings
  17. New post Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | Welcome to msxhan. The great tricks, tips, infos, poetry and much more.
  18. Back to Starting point | crookedeyebrows
  19. She’s Leaving Home | Javagrrl Cafe
  20. DAILY PROMPT: JOURNEY – AN IRISH HONEYMOON | SERENDIPITY
  21. Come Fly with Me – Jumping Pics Around the World | First for Everything
  22. Oh Chanukkah, Oh Chanukkah … in Israel! | Stacy Gittleman’s blog
  23. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | Awl and Scribe
  24. Daily Prompt: Come Fly With Me | Transitions
  25. Enjoying the sunshine in New York’s green promenade is possible; it should be the case in Albania too | Laura’s Little Things
  26. Life Living In Europe | Kansa Muse
  27. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me- to the West Coast | Wordz on a Page
  28. Let’s fly away. | smoke&mirrors
  29. Rockin Down That Highway | maunderingsofaninja
  30. Daily Prompt: Travels | veryvanessalynn
  31. DAILY PROMPT: HONEYMOON IN IRELAND | SERENDIPITY
  32. Travels [Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me] | unknowinglee
  33. [DAILY PROMPT] Come Fly with Me. | Fathia’s little cave
  34. Wanderlust | Drops of Magic
  35. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | life n me!
  36. Short Story – ” The Hunters- A Thanksgiving story “ « Dancing with Fireflies
  37. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  38. Daily Prompt: Come Fly With Me | Undecided Answer
  39. Home… Where is that? | An Upturned Soul
  40. Come Fly with Me | Going New Places!
  41. “Travels” | Relax
  42. Under the Bridge | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  43. A Long Time Ago In a Graduate School Far, Far Away
  44. Flying Crab Apples: A Daily Prompt | melanielynngriffin
  45. Come Fly with Me [Daily Prompt/NaBloPoMo]
  46. Daily Prompt: Traveling | Tommia’s Tablet
  47. Travels … on the pier | … Lara Klopp … Variegated Musings …
  48. The Reluctant Tourist | Just Visiting This Planet
  49. Travels … back in time | … Lara Klopp … Variegated Musings …
  50. Travels … curiousity | … Lara Klopp … Variegated Musings …
  51. Journey To The Valley Of Makkah | seifsalamakarem
  52. China | The Land Slide Photography
  53. Flying First Time | Flowers and Breezes
  54. Time Travel | It’s a wonderful F’N life
  55. Bratwurst and Bitterballen | Fruit Loops & Foie Gras
  56. Come Fly with Me | Real Life Co.
  57. Kirkwood, Missouri | Life is great
  58. I have been 1/8 of the way to the moon – and there are really big spiders there! | The Flavored Word
  59. NaBloPoMo: A Trip to Remember | The Joyful Soul
  60. Once in a Lifetime….(wp daily prompt) | Daily Observations
  61. The impossibility of sleep on an airline. | thoughtsofrkh
  62. Once, we were THIS far away … | Margaret Rose Stringer
  63. Far Far Away | Giving Thought | Giving Sight
  64. Laid Off | tjbarkerseattle
  65. My Own Little Heaven | Winding Road
  66. The Permission to Be | Winging it
  67. Daily Prompt: Come Fly With Me ~ NaBloPoMo ~ 12 « Mama Bear Musings
  68. Come fly with me | Saysie
  69. travel | Mareship
  70. Furthest from home | Allirani
  71. Flight | JC Bride ~
  72. Travels [Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me] | Potpourri Adventures
  73. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | Faerie Thoughts
  74. Daily Prompt: Come Fly With Me | Steve Says….
  75. World Traveler | Write Through Life
  76. Daily Post: Come Fly with Me | Destino
  77. Come Fly with Me to Bali: Daily Prompt | Scribblings from the Bluegrass
  78. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | Basically Beyond Basic
  79. Rio for a week | Mariposa Social
  80. Daily Prompt: Travels | Chronicles of a Public Transit User
  81. In case you’re w(a)ndering… | .:Lani’s Summer in Rain
  82. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | GG’s World
  83. Guy on the Train: London 1980 | Jaye’s Brain
  84. Come Fly With Me | 61 Musings
  85. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | polymathically
  86. The Furthest I’ve Been From Home » Kryson’s Kreations
  87. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | adorablyobnoxious
  88. Montezuma’s Revenge: Locked in the Men’s Room | Chasing Rabbit Holes
  89. Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me | Nola Roots, Texas Heart
  90. Come Fly with Me…to Greece | Holoholo Girls
  91. Motherland | Computer Blue
  92. Daily Prompt; Come Fly With Me | terry1954
  93. Come fly with me to Istanbul | Empressnasigoreng’s Blog
  94. Pain in Paris … far far far from home | Life with Tess
  95. Come Fly with Me | The Nameless One
  96. The furthest point | All work and quite a lot of play
  97. Come Fly With Me | Life as a country bumpkin…not a city girl

Applying for a visa

What’s the most dreadful (or wonderful) experience you’ve ever had as a customer?

Many years ago I applied for a US visa from my home country. My brother was working as a doctor in the US and I wanted to visit him. Now since you are paying for the visa you are a customer and it’s only fair to expect some good service in return.

I first had to queue outside the embassy. I remember the place where I was standing had no shade and it was in the hot months of summer. There was an old gentleman who had turned up wearing a suit in his zeal to impress. After standing for about an hour he collapsed and was helped by others also standing in the queue. Nobody from inside the embassy came to help.

When I finally got inside, there was another queue to deal with. When I reached the counter I remember the man interrogating me like a suspect. He asked me about my work, (I was working for a telecom company at that time) and would stare at me for a few seconds after I answered as if to judge whether I was telling the truth or not.

I got a 5 year multiple visit visa. I never went to visit my brother but I did visit the US years later with my husband.

The best experience I had with visa applications was recently when I applied for a Turkish visa from my country of residence. We waited in a room for around 10 minutes before being called to the counter by a friendly visa officer who checked our papers and then offered to give me a 2 year visa instead of the 1 year I had applied for.

Daily Prompt: Are you being served?

  1. It’s Hot in Mike’s Kitchen | In Harmony
  2. Things You Should Not Say To Me While Ringing Up My Purchases | Lori’s Life and Other Stuff
  3. 178. Customer Service | Barely Right of Center
  4. Daily Prompt: Are you being served? | મન ની વાત
  5. Early Dessert? | Daily Prompt: Are you being served? | likereadingontrains
  6. Daily Prompt: Are you being served? BAD service!!! | Life as a country bumpkin…not a city girl
  7. May I have your order? | Crossroads
  8. I Have Secret, Invisible Items. | tuckedintoacorner
  9. Rite of labour | shame
  10. Why? | That’s Just The Way It Is
  11. May I have your order? | Crossroads
  12. ••Gone Terribly Wrong•• | mët•aRVhëë•n✪ia
  13. The 65 dollar cup of coffeee « RPMAS
  14. Daily Prompt: Service | Books, Music, Photography & Movies : my best friends
  15. Well, aint that just finer n frog hair | mostlytrueramblings
  16. The New iOS 7 | Anchors Aweigh
  17. Daily Prompt: Are You Being Served? | Under the Monkey Tree
  18. Daily Prompt: Are you being served? > Served with Gratitude | From Ground to Home
  19. Daily Prompt: Are you being served? | lifebeinggirly
  20. Unemployed; The Worst Of Times And The Best Of Times | The Jittery Goat
  21. Service | Motherhood and Beyond
  22. Daily Prompt: Server Not Found! | DCMontreal
  23. I just wanted to run away | crookedeyebrows
  24. M. Le Serveur | Barefoot in Paris
  25. You Don’t Look Good With Socks and Sandals | sayanything
  26. Customer service makes me want to cry | It’s a Fine Line
  27. WordPress Daily Prompt: Are you being served | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  28. Daily Prompt: Are You Being Served? « Mama Bear Musings
  29. SERVICE WITH A SMILE | Dear Yolandi
  30. Service With a Smile? Not Likely… | Just Visiting This Planet
  31. The good the bad and the… | dawnyhosking
  32. Daily Prompt: Are you being served? | The Story of a Guy
  33. You just cannot get the staff! | alienorajt
  34. Have You been Served? | Along Life’s Road
  35. Once upon a time in a diner | SueAnn Porter
  36. Daily prompt : Are you being served ? | jansideas
  37. DTP 2 PRINT – Best Service in Years! | Sula1968’s Blog
  38. Daily Prompt: Are you being served? Chaos and Madness at AT&T | SERENDIPITY
  39. Daily Prompt: Are you being served? | Vagabond
  40. Good Service… | Haiku By Ku
  41. The Family Book | Life is great
  42. The Family Book | From Five to Fifty
  43. A Perfect Day…(wp daily prompt) | Daily Observations
  44. Service in the Hutong. | The Land Slide Photography
  45. Daily Prompt: Are you being served? | My Atheist Blog
  46. “Service” | Relax
  47. Are you being served? | Random Encounters of an Inquisitive Mind
  48. “I’m Sorry, But We’re All Out” | Here’s My Heart & Here’s My Mouth
  49. Are You Being Served? | Flowers and Breezes
  50. It’s Toni Thursday! Spokes-Snail of the ISBM at your service! | Janey Macken Street!
  51. Are you being served? | Dreams Will Catch You
  52. Have I really been served? | Rob’s Surf Report
  53. Sorry, No Portuguese! | Pink Bubbly
  54. How may I help you? Syke! | A Short A Day