Postcard from Pakistan

6 Apr

Sweets

Guests always bring a gift when they come to see you. Most often it’s a cake, or traditional sweets like these, but I’ve also received a set of tea cups, a serving bowl and flowers.

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I recently realized that I write relatively little about Pakistan. There is so much out there about the politics, the chaos and conflict that are part of this vast country that I lack the inclination to join a rather unpleasant discourse. Also, in spite of the fact that I live here, the truth is that I remain on the sidelines of daily life. I stay home with my children, and partly by necessity and partly by choice, I am only an observer.

Nevertheless, the Pakistan that I see is different from what is shown on the news, and perhaps the mundane and unremarkable is no less important because it brings everything, the drone attacks, the terrorist ambushes and the political protests back to the human level. That is why I want to send out a postcard every now and then, about what is like to lead a normal life in Pakistan. A life where the most exciting thing to happen any given day is finding yellow ranunculus at the nursery, or getting an inch of rain in the middle of the night.

It’s not all beards and bullets, and life can be surprisingly pleasant. Cruelty has not yet taken everything away. When I think about the ordinary people of Pakistan, the ladies that go to the market every day, the construction workers who huddle over their tea at midday, or the children playing cricket on the street, I am sad and angry because their suffering means nothing to those who would hijack the country. I grieve for the present marred by hatred, and for a future that may never be.

I am a foreigner in Pakistan, and I admit that most of the time I feel that I don’t belong. Were it not for my husband I would not be here, but as I am I decided long ago that my happiness was to be my own responsibility. 

Very slowly my respect for this country has turned into affection, and the people I see around me who struggle every day to have a decent life in the face of many obstacles have touched my heart and earned my admiration. They are the people I see when I think of Pakistan. The images I will take with me when we leave (as we will, eventually) are not the angry faces distorted by hate, but the soulful stare of a laborer after a hot day in the sun, or the sight of a woman carrying a stack of fodder on her head, her small children walking slowly ahead.

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6 Responses to “Postcard from Pakistan”

  1. natalian April 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading this post! Thank you for sharing a bit about your world in Pakistan and it’s people. News channels are not travel channels I suppose so the bad and the ugly are normally what is portrayed to the world.

  2. susiej April 7, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    That was a lovely portrait.

  3. lvmg (Lizzy) April 15, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Natalian, I think the peaceful majority should never be forgotten. They are the constant victims of hate.

    I really like this video from Time Magazine, and it’s sort of related. http://www.time.com/time/video/?bcpid=1670048590&bclid=1342094282&bctid=19402457001

  4. aighmeigh April 30, 2009 at 6:34 am #

    I love this post and would love more glimpses into life in Pakistan from your perspective. A picture of life in a different part of the world can do so much when it comes to opening eyes and minds.

  5. Dr Yasir Qureshi July 9, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    Dear Foreigner, I hope you are fine.

    I am a Pakistani national who just happened to read your blog, and your article about Pakistan. Frankly, I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and I am grateful for you to potray Pakistan way too dofferent from the news.

    I wish you a very nice stay here in Pakistan, and would like to know if we can have a brief face-to-face meeting.

    You can phone me anytime,

    0331 3537040

    Thanking you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Postcard from Pakistan No.2 « No.1 Mouse Place - November 14, 2009

    […] To see another postcard from Pakistan, go here. […]

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