Sunday, October 17, 2010

Everyone has a story: My Experiences in Pakistan

Badshahi Masjid

The first time I went to Pakistan is something I will never forget.

It was my first time going on a plane, and my mom had not visited Pakistan for nearly 14 years. When we arrived, we were greeted by 20 or more family members. They all knew exactly who I was ,while I was completely unaware of who most of them were. I had no idea I had so many relatives.

While we were heading back to the house ,I saw donkey carts, small Suzuki vehicles—and of course— many Pakistanis. I was not used to seeing so many Pakistanis because I grew up in Oregon where everyone was either White or Mexican. When we arrived home, I was amazed to see an enormous house with a gate surrounding it. It was even nicer from the inside; the ceilings were nearly 15 feet high, and there was a bathroom in every bedroom. All the walls and floors were made out of marble. I went upstairs and stood on the roof looking at everything below. In the distance I saw countless numbers of mosques . The athan was called for every prayer –and it was loud enough for the whole country to hear.

When I went downstairs I was greeted by even more people, and all I could think to myself was do I really have this many relatives? Yes, I have a huge family mashaAllah, and till this day I still do not know all of their names. Everyone had on Shalvar Camise – a kimono looking clothing which is the traditional attire in Pakistan .People do wear shirt and pants sometimes—but it is not worn often. I had a good first impression of Pakistan. The day I had to leave was a sad one. I stayed from April 4th to July 21st 2004. I really wanted to stay longer because I had so much fun.

Six years later, I returned to my beloved country on July 2nd 2010. The day before my plane arrived in Lahore, Pakistan, a bomb blew up near my grandmother’s house. When I was younger, my country was much safer and the economy was “better.” Life in Pakistan is not the same as I remembered it. It is not safe to leave your house at night. It is not safe to be alone anywhere. It is not safe to have your head uncovered.

People are desperate, and the living conditions here are saddening . While everyone needs help , some need it more than others. Alhumdulillah my family is not poor and we are not living on the streets, but we do not have much money either. My first night here, I tried to fall asleep in the blistering 120 degree heat and all of a sudden I heard a whistle near my house. I sprang up out of bed and my eight year old brother grabbed a hold of my arm and reassured me that it was nothing—only a guard warding off burglars. Every time we go out, our car is encircled by beggars. Beggars include old people who cannot make money any other way, mothers holding an infant, people who are disabled, and children. It breaks my heart to see that this as the only way of income for the less fortunate in Pakistan. I give them money here and there but I cannot help every poor soul.

Building with the Pakistani flag

You are probably wondering, why on earth would I ever come here to begin with?. And my answer is: for a little vacation from America. I was becoming too engulfed in not-so-important- every- day- problems. Coming here made me more appreciative of everything I have. All I see here are people praying. When I returned in the habit of praying 5 times a day, I wondered why I kept finding excuses not to pray. It is not as difficult as I was making it out to be. But in America it was “Oh it is prayer time… **continues to watch television**. I find myself bored at times, but it gives me time to think about things. All we really have in this world , is God. When nothing is around, you always have Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala to turn to. Religion is everything here, and people are constantly reminded to be fearful of God. Try living in a place that once you turn on the news it is about another city being bombed . All you can think is, “uh oh, again?”—Flips channel—. Being bombed is normal? What an awful thing to get used to. I then realized that the only reason why I am in this world is for Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala. THAT thought alone helps me go on with my day.

 Random Guy making wudhu in the canal , MashaAllah

America is home to me, and lately,  I have been extremely homesick; In America, I was never bored. Even when I was home alone with nothing to do—I had T.V, movies, friends, video games, my yard, and my dog. I had something, and here it seems like I am just waiting for the day to end just to begin the next one. Days seem long and endless . At the end of the day, at approximately 2am, I fall asleep only to wake up and do the same thing I did yesterday. Days seem long and endless, but, according to my relatives, there is a lot more to Pakistan that I have yet to see.

McDonald's in Pakistan

When I was talking to my cousins they said that there is everything here. You name it. It has bowling alleys, arcades, indoor ski resorts, parks, HUGE shopping malls, beaches, and the list goes on and on. But apparently they are hidden, and you only know where they are located if you are a true Pakistani. I am (unfortunately), an A.B.C.D., an American Born Confused Desi, and I do not yet know where everything is . I have 3-5 months left in my stay , and I have plenty of time to experience the fun activities, inshaAllah.

Please remember to keep me and Pakistan in your Duaa. People here are suffering every day. And it is up to us to do something about it. May Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala ease the pains of every person enduring hardship around the world . Ameen.

Anonymous Contributor
*Please note that all pictures were taken by the contributor herself .