My first visit to Pakistan (May-June 2008)
As I scramble to get ready for my sister’s friends’ wedding ceremony, the lights go out. “Shoot, I only put on mascara on one of my eyelids.” I carefully search for my cell phone as it can offer me some light so I can finish putting mascara on the other eyelid. I use the light from my phone and reflect it off the mirror. There is no other way to get light right now. I have gotten used to the lights going out any time of the day, that is not such a problem. However, when there is a water shortage, that becomes troublesome.
In Karachi, the power goes out without any previous notifications. The Pakistanis know that during the day, the power will go out at least a few times for some hours at a time. Knowing this in advance, mothers and daughters prepare dinner during the daytime so it does not become a problem at night when there is no light. But, coming as a guest in relatives homes, I am served dinner with candlelight. My mother laughs recalling when her oldest daughter came to Pakistan with her in 1980; she naively asked whose birthday it was when the candles were brought out.
I have taken bucket showers with cold water, peed in a “hole in the ground” which they call a toilet, and rode in rickshaws that obey no traffic lights or keep in their lanes. I’ve had impoverished children sell me bracelets they have made with lilies or simply beg me for money. One time, I saw some Afghani orphans in Islamabad eat scraps of food from the ground in front of a food place. They were being kicked out and hit with sticks because they were making the food place less desirable for customers. I asked my cousin about this, and he replied this was normal.
I am constantly awakened by the vegetable and fruit sellers or the religious guy that calls the azan for the Fajr prayer. I go right back to sleep. Daily, late afternoon, I look out my window and see a handful number of teenaged boys play cricket. I yearn to play some sports outside, but I never see any girls play, and my mother says that I cannot play with them. After the wedding ceremony, when I was returning home, it was about 3am and there was an audience of about 50 people watching a live cricket match outside. It was an amazing atmosphere.
Nonetheless, Pakistan is a wonderful country and I was fortunate enough to visit it and still return safe back to America. I constantly read in the papers that suicide bombers have attacked innocent civilians in Karachi, and now Islamabad. It breaks my heart to see how people can kill each other like this. The government is corrupt and is in a political mess. The youth want change for Pakistan and that is easily visible. I wish to be a part of a new future for my motherland, but for that I believe we must all unite for this and condemn those who do not want justice, freedom or a democratic political system.
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I am a Muslim-American born and raised in New York. I am passionate about global issues and being socially responsible. My dream is to make a positive impact on this world. Currently, my major is Middle East Studies.
Great Friend Hafiidhaturrahmah
| Oct 2nd, 2008
A very great Journey to Pakistan. I'm really sad also that u wrote about bombing in June and it was happened again in Auguts...
I hope u can visit Pakistan again and the situations there became better and safer ^_^
Nive to meet u here Anum
Keep sharing the stories friend so everyone in this world can read it...
Awesome Story Taban
| Oct 7th, 2008
I love your article, Anum. I haven't gone to Pakistan in two years and by reading this I really miss going there because I just love everything about the vacations we have there.
Good!!! Adelusi Oluwafemi Temidayo-Don
| Dec 3rd, 2008
Thank God that you are dreaming to be part of that new future and MANDATE CHANGE of your motherland. Please note that that is what it takes, because she has nobody but YOU.
Just keep up the good work.
fantastic writing Surya Gaire
| May 22nd, 2009
hey anum that was typical great awesome story, its short, its amazing, its interesting and its traditional. Dont forget to write anywhere you visit. keep it up.
great story Jasmine Jeanty
| Dec 8th, 2009
this is a great story and you are absolutely right at the end. America's government surely is a mess and it feels like things are getting worse. I would love to visit Pakistan and see how life is for myself.
| Mar 24th, 2010
I will visit this country someday
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