This was a special August 14th blog by Dawn.com and our blogs editor. I penned Nisha’s Dubai response.
The beauty of suggestion lies in the hints it alludes to as the mind wrestles with it’s wistful mistress – creativity.
Pehn-nay ki tameez honi chaheay; it’s not what you wear it’s how you wear it. And yet what is ‘it’?
In pardes I have worn skinny jeans, pleated khakis, baggy harem pants, cut offs and throwaways, scoop ins and flap outs, dresses of lace, of sheer soft grace but I have never felt as womanly, as elegant, as complete within my form as I have when wearing our much-maligned shalwar kameez. Yes, I too have complained about how only a man could’ve come up with such a prison for a woman, guzz upon guzz of cloth cut, folded, tweaked and moulded by the tiresome kapray, lace and rung waalay, and finally the formidable “master sahib”.
But I am tired of wearing “practical” clothes which were designed primarily for men, altered to placate women by flashing flesh. The elegance of a subtly draped dupatta, the dance of a breezily flowing kameez and the proceeds of a flouncy shalwar sing the song of ada; for the gulaab is far more amorous than the rose.
Safieh Shah from London
Having been away from Karachi for six years, I have missed my cricket the most. Family you get to meet. Friends you can Skype with. Food you can find anywhere and everywhere. But cricket? There is nothing like cricket in Pakistan. Seriously. Nothing!
I wish I could play a few night cricket tournaments again. Break a window in the nearby building and run. Have someone park their car where extra-cover should be and then get the boys to annoy the uncle until he moves his car beyond the boundary. Explain to the uncle that ball galti se aapko lagi hai, humne nahin maari.
There is cricket in Canada but there are so many laws that it makes it impossible to play anything but indoor and league cricket. Indoor cricket just isn’t for Pakistanis – we rule the streets.
Where did Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Javed Miandad, Shahid Afridi and, more recently, Mohammed Aamer come from? Street cricket. That’s where the heart is. That’s where the talent is.
I wish that, one day, I could go back to Pakistan and relive my street cricket days with the same intensity – we’re serious about our cricket, okay.
Danish Lallany from Ottawa, Canada
The traffic. Yes, that’s right. It was not until I started driving on the American roads that I realised how badly I missed that madness in Pakistan, where not only does one tackle the roads with fast and loud traffic but also shares it with donkey carts, rickshaw drivers and motorcyclists – none of whom care for traffic laws.
Despite the frustration that builds up as a result, there’s always your favourite truck poetry like ‘himmat hai to paas kar, warna bardasht kar’ to cheer you up. Compare this to the overly cautious driving population of the United States who consider honking illegal and maintaining a safe following distance (aka 3-second rule) mandatory and you realise what you’re really missing out on.
I also miss the freedom of navigating through Pakistani roads with the help of landmarks (not street names) and the comfort of asking someone for directions to my ‘point of interest’ without having to fiddle with the GPS as I drive.
Aroosa Masroor from Connecticut, USA
Pakistan is a vibrant place, and adding to its essence are the thousands of rickshaws ferrying people across the city. The rickshaws in design and colour are bright and loud, with both the interior and exterior intricately decorated.
The rickshaw’s engine rumbles under your feet as your street-smart driver expertly negotiates the traffic and the roads, creating his own method in the madness. He avoids bumps and holes with dexterity and speeds up when the road is clear, making the wind rush through your hair.
It is an enjoyable ride which is economical, easily available and you reach your destination fairly quickly too, because the rickshaw-wallas know all the short cuts!
Every time I visit Pakistan, my friends and I, we make it a point to hail a rickshaw because it is an enjoyable experience as all of us pile up on each other and explore Karachi anew. Rickshaw art is unique and it’s always interesting to read what’s written on the rear; i.e., you can’t miss the poetry!
Nisha from Dubai
I migrated to Canada a few years ago, and I always claim that my heart lives on in Pakistan, although after you migrate to another country, life goes on and you have to live and adapt to many changes to whatever life offers you, however for many of us, we cannot forget our precious childhood memories, the mouth-watering food, and our family and friends who still reside there.
When I think about Pakistan, I think of all the above mentioned along with the wonderful memories of our picnic trips to the beach. Over the years, I have built up amazing memories just going to the beach along with my family and friends with a bus load of people or sometimes even a handful of us, a picnic to the beach was always full of fun and excitement, a time for too much food, games and a big old sun-burn!
Today too, as I sit here in my home in Toronto, I think about the wonderful beaches Karachi has to offer and honestly the appreciation only grows for the serenity and exquisiteness of the amazing sea when you’re so far away from it.
Rebecca Fernandes from Toronto, Canada
Somewhere in my home there is – an azan neatly folded in a hand-sown jaye-namaz, a medley of supplications inscribed on the palm of Fatima and sixth amidst its five pure bodies, a watchful Ganesha, whose endless reverberations break softly the silence of its black stone, and not least, extracts of conversations with my mother – found every time I open that box of home-ground spices. But standing high in glory amidst an auspicious soundscape of belonging, is an altar wherein resides a deity named Noorjehan, goddess of a thousand and one melodies.
If there is one invocation that works every single time I wish to recreate home in all its sensory richness, it is this! A voice so talismanic, so intensely concentrated and perfumed with the essence of everything indigenous – unapologetic of its manipulative capacities, almost defiant – to the point that it exceeds the ordinary, and like a potent amulet triumphs over distances turning the idea of home into a hummable melody, a presence manifested to all those who willfully supplicate to the charisma of her voice.
Omar Kasmani from Berlin
A Karachiite has no sense of seasons. All we know are sullen mornings, oppressive afternoons, and evenings with the promise of respite. Lather, rinse, repeat.
There is the sporadic promise of the Quetta winds whose notoriety is matched by their rarity.
But the only real silver lining we seek are dark clouds. Dark, dank, pregnant, overcast clouds that bring with them the promise of bunked classes, voluptuous rain drops, stolen pakorays and mad dashes to the beach.
It is this relationship with gloriously grey skies that I most miss about home. Because you see, London has no shortage of melancholy skyscapes. And the first few months I lived here, I would be constantly waking up with a heart leaping with joy at having sighted ‘gulabi-mausam-baadal’. And all that gulabiness would instantly dissipate amidst the buffeting of cruel winds and ceaseless mist of spindly rain.
Of course over time, I have learnt to cope. I fully expect to return to Karachi and wake up with joy when I see clear skies and the blazing sun every morning, only to be disappointed at the distinct lack of picnics in parks.
Ahmer Naqvi from London
I am not supposed to feel homesick for Pakistan. I really am not. I was not born in Pakistan and nor did I grow up there. In fact, I was born and raised thousands of miles away in the United States.
Recently I made the journey back to New York City after a two year stay in Karachi, Pakistan. And I can write the typical stuff; I miss the food, the clothes, family, weather, etc. I should miss the dear friends I made and to some extent I do, but I am good at keeping in touch so that isn’t such a big factor.
I don’t know how to describe the feeling except that I miss not having to explain myself. I miss that I don’t have to explain the “far-fetched” idea of an arranged marriage proposal, the difference between Sindhi and Punjabi, why Pakistanis get competitive when it comes to India, why we need five days for wedding ceremonies, why my mother brings up marriage at every opportunity she gets, etc.
But here I am sitting in my home, completely homesick — coming to Pakistan gave me another meaning to coming home. And leaving Pakistan has given me another meaning to homesickness.
Happy Independence Day, Pakistan Zindabad!
Sadef A. Kully from New York