Sunday, 7 August 2016

..... Home is Pakistan






I have been delaying this post for the last two weeks. Those who know me, know that my procrastination always leads me into being very productive otherwise. So, everything around the house is clean and shining like this page that I have been trying to fill with my thoughts but words are constantly failing me. I wanted to start my series of travel related experiences in Pakistan with this post....  so, today I have vowed to complete this. I will soon post all the fun things I did in the three cities that I visited.

Well, I am a Pakistani living in Malaysia for the last 7 years or so. I did not 'really' visit Pakistan since I moved to Malaysia until last month. There is no specific reason apart from the fact that my husband and I always chose a different destination to visit every year and it was impossible for us to have two vacations in one year. My mother & siblings visit me often so there was a lack of motivation for the trip too. But, this year we could not resist the temptation to go back and meet all our friends and relatives. We chose to go back at the time of Eid which is an Islamic festival celebrated with full fervor in Pakistan. There is nothing better than to be with people you love during a festive season.

To be honest, I was apprehensive about this trip more than I am about my trips to countries I know nothing about. I had not met a lot of my friends and family members for ages. People’s thought process, as obvious from what they post and share on Facebook, scared me. I felt as if I will walk into Pakistan and people will start questioning my beliefs, my ideas and I will always be in middle of some sort of politically or religiously charged debate.  I think long distances does that to you; it makes you forget the warmth after a while. I was nervous yet, the minute we booked our tickets a few months prior to the actual date, I began feeling homesick. I don’t know how I managed to pass those days waiting to take the much awaited flight.

I arrived in Islamabad where the airport finishes literally in four steps. You enter, cross immigration, use the toilet, take your luggage and done. It is unbelievably tiny especially if you boarded from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and had 4 hours transit at Bangkok. But, as soon as you enter that tiny, little airport at Islamabad, you can start feeling the forgotten warmth. The minute the immigration officer spots you standing in a long queue and asks you to come forward ignoring the queue because you are a woman, you know you are home. The minute you enter the toilet and cleaning lady greets you with a welcoming smile and starts praying for your safety and well being (may be for tip), you know you are at home. The minute you stand at the conveyor belt waiting for your luggage to arrive and a group of porters rush towards you to help you take your luggage – you know you are at home.

The faces of people who stared back at me were of strangers as I stepped out of the airport but I felt as if they are complaining why I have come back after so long. The hot air hit my face and I felt my own tears for the first time. A cleaner who thought I was probably lost offered me his cell phone to make a call if needed. I smiled through tears and said to myself, 'Welcome Home'. 

When my brother came to pick us, I squeezed myself into the car where my mum, sister in law, brother and two adorable, excited nephews were eagerly waiting to take me home.

Though, I love my condominium in Malaysia where hubby and I spend countless hours in pajamas planning every little thing but that night, the toy room in brother’s apartment that was converted into a guest room for both of us felt more homely. My mother’s endless plans, changes in brother's schedule to accommodate our trip were discussed at the dinner table on first night while my sister in law (who had taken it upon herself to ensure our checklist of things to do is completed) served us homemade bun kebabs (Pakistani burger) and told us that the refrigerator was full with goodies she knew we longed to eat.

The next 3 days before Eid were spent in shopping. Eid is all about dressing up, socializing and eating. I was lost in finding matching bangles and shoes with my Eid outfit, getting henna on my hands and listing down things I wanted to eat that are only served during Eid. Eid was grand as expected. My paternal uncles met my husband almost for the first time, if you minus the wedding event itself. There was this impossible amount of love that we received from them. He received double Eidee (gift money given on Eid) and individual invitations for dinners that were impossible to deny. 


Once the Eid was over, I met my childhood friends that I had not met for sixteen or seventeen years as I had moved to a different city when I was in college. They were accommodating to my plans beyond belief.  Their hugs so tight and warming that all the distance created in those years just melted away. It took us seconds to be transported back to the good old days, coupled with these uncontrollable fits of laughter at silly things. My heart ached every time I came back from a reunion wishing that I could have met them for a longer time.

I made many obsessive trips to the malls with my mother and sister in law where at every shop I wanted to buy something.  The two ladies waited outside the fitting rooms managing my two boisterous nephews while I tried dozens of clothes and asked their opinion on every single purchase. Once, when I came out and mum was too tired to comment, a random aunty told me that the shirt looked nice on me and was only missing a red lipstick. I felt at home and I bought that shirt.

You know its home when your husband’s friends threaten to kill him if he pays for lunch or dinner. It is home when friends call after every few hours to check if you still have time to have another meeting. It is home when friends ditch their deadlines and spend a whole day showing you around the city.  It is home when friends take leave from work to be with you, offer you to use to their car, or to stay at their place: it is where you tell your niece randomly the foods you miss and TA DA... every single dish you mentioned has been arranged for you at dinner. It is at home that you can even sense the warmth and love in the anger and disappointment of those you could not meet.  It is only at home when you are walking through a half constructed, new hospital  with no sign boards looking for a specific room and a stranger who overhears your conversation decides to walk with you to your destination before going his own way in a different direction. 

It was a real struggle to fly back to this home away from home. Initially, I felt I had left a part of my heart there but, now I realize my whole heart is in Pakistan. 


  
We leave our homes in pursuit of a better life, a more promising career or better opportunities but the home stays in us like this small comforting spot that provides consolation in lonely days. Even though, the shops don’t open until noon in Pakistan, sometimes there is no electricity for hours and there are places with limited water supply. Even though, on roads the blaring horns, reckless, impatient drivers and beggars knocking on your windscreen emotionally blackmailing you into paying them, is a pain. Even though, the street food may not be as hygienic and public toilets almost non existent. Even though, people are highly opinionated and are super emotional about sports, politics, religion, food and almost everything else but, no matter how green the pastures of these countries we choose to live in be, there is nothing like the open field in middle of a city in your home where the wind quietly hugs you and assures you that.....

 home is where the heart is. 






28 comments:

  1. I am an indian living abroad.So I do know how it feels when you go back to your home country after long time.Such a nice article.Made me remember of India.

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  2. Too good 😊

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  3. Pakistan is my dream destination. I've been wanting to visit since the last few years and actually I wrote a wishlist post on my blog too!

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  4. I grew up in a third world country and now live in the US because of the greener pasture. I do miss my homeland every now and then. Now I have my own kids and this is now my new home. And home is where my family is - no matter where it may be. =)

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  5. Almost people around the world are trying their best to find the greener pasture, including me. I can relate what you felt and experienced. But your new world - with husband - is the future because of love. Feel happy always...enjoy life.

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  6. Great article to read. The only time i left my home country was few days ago and stayed in a foreign land for 2 weeks and i easily missed my family

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  7. This is such an emotional post. I'm sure you're missing your homeland right now, but it was very awesome that you got to go on vacation and see your mom and your brother after a long time. You're absolutely right, home will always be where your heart is.

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  8. When i heard Pakistan, it's a chaotic and dangerous country, but there are some part of the place where beauty stands out, i love the tatoo hand i always seen that to Indians when there are weddings ^^

    www.itsbeyondimaginations.blogspot.com

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  9. It makes me miss my home town too. I can really feel you when it suddenly dawned to you that you are backed home and filled with nostalgia about Pakistan.

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  10. Beautifully written piece about missing and embracing your homeland. I have always lived in the city and country of my birth my whole life. Even if it is not the most prosperous of cities or countries, here is where my heart lies as well.

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  11. Lovely story of going home - I don't live abroad, but I do live several states in the United States away from my hometown and going back to where I grew up is always bittersweet. I can only imagine the feelings must be multiplied when you are traveling from a different country. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. its always nice to go back and see what home is like now. To also see the changes and to visit fiends and family too.

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  13. Beautiful. I can imagine that everyone feels that feeling of missing home. Especially more when you don't live close. There is nothing like childhood friends to make you feel loved.

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  14. Thanks for sharing such a nice thoughts... http://www.totalitech.com/

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  15. I've never been to Pakistan, but I understand how you feel about having to visit family and friends back home. It's never easy, but it's nice to see familiar faces again.

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  16. I also have apprehension to go to places I haven't heard or read about. Sometimes, going away from our comfort zone makes us stronger people and get to have more confidence to try new things. It's great that you have now experienced to travel far from home.

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  17. Absolutely beautiful! Hope that one day I can visit!

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  18. It`s awesome that were able to spend a great time with your family. The henna looks really nice, it looks like lace.

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  19. Wherever we go in the world, our home country is always in the heart. It is the place that shaped us to be what we are today.

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  20. I like the fact you eventually visited and enjoy your native country. Regardless, of one's journey abroad for years, home is where the heart is indeed. I'm happy you created time to explore different cities again in your homeland. Keep smiling always!!

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  21. I am so glad you were able to go back home. It sounds like you had such an amazing time and that you have such a loving family!!

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  22. Loved every word. You keep getting better and better. I wish we could have met in Pakistan too. Next time Ins shaa Allah. Cant wait to read more about your trip.

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  23. Touched my heart. A lot of people think that we Pakistanis who have left Pakistan do not love or in a self imposed exile condition but I think people like us are doing better by writing and creating awareness about Pakistan. I love all the comments here. You introduced Pakistan to so many who did not know much about it

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  24. This is a sweet post. For me, my home is Singapore even though I'm born in Malaysia. It's because Singapore is where I'm being brought up and educated. It's where my heart is and I'm proud to be a Singaporean~

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  25. It is always to go back home, to one's roots, it brings joy to the soul of the person

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  26. It is always a wonderful pleasant feeling to go home and see everyone after a very long time. It is good that you were able to time your vacation during Eid. Based from your story, it must be a wonderful celebration to participate in. I particularly loved your henna, too! I am sure the wonderful memories will be enough to keep you going until your next Pakistan vacation. I hope you can send me a postcard from there when you do! :D

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  27. It literally made me cry.Very well written.

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  28. Thanks for sharing your story and about Pakistan. I wish to visit your country.

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