Just a few days left till Christmas. Thanks to the efforts of CNN's Fred Pleitgen, Tim Schwarz and Claudia Otto, we have a Christmas tree in our bureau.
Now it's our turn to bring some joy of the season to the bureau's gloomy sitting room. Surprisingly we find Christmas decorations in a local store. The choice is not huge. For a moment we debate over a Santa paper cutout or the big banner announcing the season to be jolly, but at the end we decide on a lower-key affair. We leave the store with sets of baubles, a few trinkets and two sets of lights.
Back at the bureau, the tree Fred sawed down was propped against a wall. Next to it was a red plastic bucket filled with water. Why the tree was not in the bucket? Have you ever tried to balance a Christmas tree in a bucket of water without the aid of a tree stand? As it turned out it was a bit of a challenge.
It's my first trip to Pakistan, and one of the things that immediately jumped out is the trucks. I realize that sounds strange, but the trucks here are like no other I have ever seen. They are not lumbering and drab monstrosities but a canvas of spectacular and intricate art, a kaleidoscope of exploding colors. I am not one to have much patience for traffic, but here I could sit and watch the roads for hours. Each truck is unique, each a different combination of designs, poetry and other adornments.
What made the "truck art" even more intriguing was just how intricate it is. The designs are made up of tiny pieces of tape, all done by hand. The artisans' fingers move at breathtaking speed and precision.
As a friend and colleague of ours, Kevin Flower, said after seeing a photograph I sent out, "The ultimate pimp my ride. ... I’m going to bring my wheels to Islamabad for a cosmetic upgrade."