This is the VIP Entrance to the Foreign Service Institute.
This coming week will be the last week for the Acquisitions course and the final exam will be on Thursday. It turns out that along with that $5.5 million dollar credit card, I've been given a book of regulations governing its use. There are 1,983 pages of regulations so I, apparently, will not be purchasing the Ferrari right away. My own personal credit cards still have many tens of dollars in unused credit line available and the book of regulations governing their use simply says, "If you can afford it, buy it!" Still, I think I would have looked pretty good in a government financed Ferrari.
We must score at least an 80% on the final exam or face the very unpleasant prospect of repeating Acquisitions. With that in mind, I spent this weekend reviewing the material and wishing I'd paid more attention during class. The concepts involved in making purchases at post are fairly straightforward; ensure that funding has been approved, check three sources for competitive bids and go with the lowest price from a qualified supplier. Unfortunately, it appears that a few details were thrown our way during the past three weeks to elaborate on those three directives and many of those details will, undoubtedly, be on the exam. It would all be right in my notes, had I bothered to take notes. Not to worry, I have the reference material, a passing familiarity with the handouts and three days to 'refresh' my memory.
I received my "Welcome to Post" email on Friday! This is actually pretty cool because it lets me know that they are now aware that I'm coming. Over the next couple of months I can begin to get information on living conditions, which job I'll be doing and the specific date they want me to start. I finish all my scheduled training courses on the 26th of October, so anytime after that weekend will be great. A couple of my friends will be leaving for Pakistan over the next few months and I'll have plenty of firsthand information to help me plan my own departure. Several people who have returned from Islamabad have suggested that I ship my car over because having a car is a necessity there and the available used cars are pretty expensive. I asked if it made any difference that my car is lefthand drive (Pakistan goes with righthand drive) and was told, "no, no one pays much attention to any rules of the road there anyway". I'll ship the Volvo and keep the Mustang in storage.
If you plan to live in Pakistan for any extended period of time, there are a few things you need to get in advance. The recommended immunization list is as follows:
Japanese Encephalitis (Why Japanese and not Pakistani?)
Rabies (Yes, I can now bite people without infecting them with rabies!)
In addition to these precautionary immunizations, be aware that there is a high risk of contracting severe diarrhea and that tuberculosis is endemic in the area. There is a lesser probability of contracting dengue fever or leishmaniasis (both subcutaneous and visceral)...which as you may already know is transmitted by sand flies. And don't get me started on influenza! Pakistan appears to be an equal opportunity infector! So, roll up your sleeves and get your visa, I'm accepting reservations for the guest room now.
I'm putting a few pictures of the FSI (Foreign Service Institute) here. By the time I complete my training and leave for Islamabad, I'll have been here for eight months and, as you can see, it isn't a completely terrible place to work.
Outside the cafeteria.
Finally, please remember that Aliph with the double diacritic zuber above it is pronounced as Noon when it comes at the end of a word. Oh, and the words for 'go straight' and 'turn right' seem to be exactly the same, 'sadhee', which apparently doesn't lead to as much confusion as you might expect, although I don't have a clue why not but it may have something to do with that 'ignoring the rules of the road' business!
How am I doing in Urdu, you ask....fair to middlin', fair to middlin'.