A foreigner’s love for Pakistan

Published: May 9, 2012

There is nothing in this world that can come close to the comfort provided by haleem, nihari and a warm, buttery piece of naan. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/FILE

My exposure to Pakistan was limited. I classified it as one of those countries that was created on religious concepts, was racist toward the rest of the world and wanted the Americans dead. 

Call me ignorant, but with the way Pakistan is portrayed in the media, as a foreigner it is hard not to be deterred.

Then, by sheer luck and forged destiny, I met a Pakistani woman and fell truly, madly and deeply in love with her.

There was beauty resonating from deep within her and it came out in her dark, soulful eyes.

Little did I know, that in less than a few weeks, my entire life would change because I was not only falling in love with a person but I was embracing a culture, a lifestyle and above all I was going to embrace a country deemed one of the most dangerous in the world.

The first aspect of Pakistani culture I fell in love with was the food. There is nothing in this world that can come close to the comfort provided by haleem, nihari and a warm, buttery piece of naan.

The spices and herbs used in Pakistani food are unique, authentic and jump-start the day reflecting Pakistan’s vibrant culture.  Not to mention all sinuses are completely cleared when those green chillies hit the back of the throat.

You know what takes the cake?

After hours of gruelling work I finally made my own batch of haleem and it was delicious.

Moving onto the people; warm, hospitable, welcoming and dramatic in every sense. Pakistani aunties and uncles will make sure us young lads are fed, pampered and shown off like none other.

Some of my best memories from last year are being fed huge amounts of biryani on Eid, dancing with a friend’s family at his dholki and always being the centre of attention.

I was told I did the bhangra better than Pakistanis themselves. I feel like I belong, without even having to try.

Everything is said and done dramatically adding pizazz and flamboyance to language, clothing, conversation and events. Every “Ufffff” is elongated to maximise expression and every “hai Allah” is comical.

My personal favourite is “bussssssssssssss,” with a sizzling hiss at the end to fully convey the dramatic tone being used.

My future mother-in-law sent me a beautiful, blue kurta from Pakistan to wear at a wedding.

Loose and airy around the body, I feel like I am allowed to breathe and walk freely in it. It also has a regal feel, with stunning embroidery work, long, formal sleeves and truly reflects the comfort present in Pakistani culture. It is easier to sit on the ground, cross-legged in a shalwar kurta and personalise the experience of eating with hands, chattering with guests, shoulder to shoulder, enjoying the feeling of being communal and united. I also find digesting food a lot easier after having eaten while seated on the ground.

What shocked me most about Pakistan’s people were its women.

I was always under the impression that most Pakistani women succumb to marriages arranged by their parents, come out to Canada to get away from extremely conservative and patriarchal settings while the ones left behind live under a staunch code of dressing without the ability to truly enjoy themselves and the world they are living in.

On the flip side, I have come across intelligent, smart, ambitious, and sagacious, not to mention confident and beautiful women who believe in themselves and have utmost faith in their country despite all the crime that is committed against women there.

Pakistani women are entering all kinds of fields may it be journalism, politics or filmmaking.

They are curious and eager to bring a change into their country through education and reform. It is inspiring to meet and be in the company of these visionaries, my future wife included, who is charitable and generous toward her community in the most humbling of ways.

What I have learnt from this experience is that judgement cannot be passed on a country, religion, culture or group of people through biased exposure to news reports or because of the actions of a select few.

To attain the bigger picture you have to immerse yourself into their culture, like I have, and then form conclusions.

As far as I am concerned, I have no doubt that when I do visit Pakistan, which will be soon, I will go with an open mind sans fear.

I know I will be welcomed in the most hospitable fashion and I cannot wait to see the beautiful country with my own eyes rather than through documentaries, films, photographs and literature.

Follow Gordan on Twitter @GordanSumanski

Gordan Sumanski

Gordan Sumanski

A marketing analyst, international volunteer born in Serbia and currently living and working in Canada. He tweets @GordanSumanski

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Farrukh

    For those who r complaining for crime n uncertaininty, I hope u have already applied for immigration to your favourite places before talking negative about Pakistan here.

    @ Gordan: Anyways, Welcome to Pakistan bhai! just ignore all the negativity in the comments. You’re gonna love it here. Do let us know when you come. there’s gonna b a party! ;)Recommend

  • usman

    @Maria Khan: what should i say to you now if you are truly a pakistani. when we people will be united. ever you have thought about yourselft that how negativity you have inside. if someone is seeing a better picture only and happy with that why you are pushing him towards the bad scene. i agree there are families does thing like this but not everyone. and think for a moment that even the girl he gonna marry is paki and from paki family. shame on you if you can’t show off pakistan as a real good country. and every society have it’s own bad things if you ever been to other countries. Aalaas! Maria khan :(Recommend

  • ishaq

    Gordan Sumanski you can easily imagine the love you get from unknown Pakistani people by just counting and reading the comments on your article here.Recommend

  • Fizzah

    @Maria Khan:
    sorry but i don’t agree with you….i believe that every one here is presenting a situation which he she has suffered not a general one.
    He is up to some extent right that now IN GENERAL terms things are changing, and people are giving enough space to their daughters as well. Recommend

  • T

    Best of luck with your visit to Pakistan. Hope you find it as enjoyable as your experience with your Pakistani in-laws. I apologize on part of the people posting negative comments here. Never mind them. Half of them are Indians who cannot see some foreigner praising Pakistan..hehe..We welcome you wholeheartedly to our country :)Recommend

  • Imran

    @Maria Khan: Please let him be happy for what he has found. Reality is always perceived, so if his perception and love for what he perceives is sincere, what’s wrong with it? Exposure to misery is not going to do him any good anyways.Recommend

  • farhan

    What a Delightful article!! Do tell us about your love story.;)Recommend

  • Sane

    @Gordan Sumanski
    Great and positive thinking. Pakistan will always welcome you.Recommend

  • Shahbaz Younis

    What I have learnt from this experience is that judgement cannot be passed on a country, religion, culture or group of people through biased exposure to news reports or because of the actions of a select few.

    That’s what exactly we want to convey to the world…Recommend

  • Hira

    @Gordan Sumanski
    Loved every bit of this blog! Thanks for appreciating all the goodness in my country which some of us Pakistanis ourselves fail to do. Good luck for the future :)Recommend

  • Adnan

    Hi, Glad to hear your views about Pakistani culture, food and etc…….and really need such kind of thinking to remove wrong portrait about Pakistan. Recommend

  • Awais

    Gordan, beware of Indians posing as Pakistanis and commenting negatively on Pakistan. Visit Pakistan and you’ll love it. Recommend

  • A. S. Khan

    George (ka Pakistan) too came…….and then left. Will you be staying for good?Recommend

  • Been there, done that! Would do it again in a heartbeat.

    Congratulations on finding true love. Pakistani, or not. Muslim, or not. Its always hard work. I have been married for almost a decade to wonderful man myself who was as besotted by my country and culture and me (ahem, yes i blush as i say it) when he visited as a foreigner and worked there for a while, in Karachi. You sound like him, ten years ago. So you have our blessing. But in the end, its a marriage, a contract, thats hard work, with whomever. Best when found as we were lucky enough to.. but, Harder when reality steps in and people grown up in two different countries try to make it work. When kids come. When jobs have challenges specially those requiring travel. And guess what, we all change. The only advise i give, is stick to remembering what you love most (as a person) in the your spouse. Make loads of happy memories before marraige. And you will get by ANYTHING. And yes people will always hurt you both along the way, mostly out of what they dont have or cannot undertand. You both will hear, ” Iss may kia dekha tha?” (What did they see in each other) And sometimes, like everything, all thats wonderful, also shows the ‘dark side’ like the steppenwolf eventually, but remember, the good side, and remind the the other of the good side, and you go past that. And when the kids come…dont cross the bridge when you get there, make some decisions on its identity from now, or trouble ensues. As with kids come your own identity and your families, in question…which is normally reborn with the child. So anyway, have fun, im very happy for you. And for your true love. Our best times were in Pakistan too. And its the most romantic vacay for us still.. ;) Bismillah and Mubarak.Recommend

  • ishaq

    This is the best motivation for the Pakistanis who are living abroad.
    Come to your beloved homeland !!!Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    @Gordan: Thanks for telling me the event. I just hope the woman didn’t marry you for the sake of obtaining a foreign passport. I feel discriminated among the Pakistani women just because I am a locally born Pakistani and don’t hold a foreign passport like them….Recommend

  • Sunnysideup

    @Big Rizvi: what is wrong with you?Recommend

  • Abid P Khan

    @Sunnysideup:

    “@Big Rizvi: what is wrong with you?”

    You took away words from my mouth.Recommend

  • Jai

    @Awais:
    Man, what’s with all the paranoia? LOL, RAW has got better things to do than to ruin Gordon’s marriage. Recommend

  • Dekh magar pyar se

    I really respect your views and what you thinks about our country but I am really sorry to say that your analysis is limited to a very small cross-section of the society. By simply having ‘nihari and ‘haleem you can’t be judgmental about the whole society.

    Around 65%(official stats) of our population lives below the poverty line. Our Education system is rudimentary, only affluent classes have the privilege of going through some sort of convent or grammar school and than going abroad. Corruption is sky-high. Ethnical racism is on its new peak. You have no idea what a common man has to go through. A common man comes from the majority who thinks twice before having an extra ‘roti’. He lives for that day and complete that day with gratitude after he sees his children having a peaceful sleep. This is Pakistan. The grass always look green from other side, or do one thing try to settle down here in Pakistan and than see with your own eyes. Otherwise enjoy your stay here and have lots of sripai and haleem and make your trip worth sharing for your foreign friends. I wish you a very good luck for your future life.Recommend

  • Maxwood

    This is Pakistan, or may be this is United States of America and Pakistan

    May he be a success story here and hereafter AmeenRecommend

  • SnK

    My goodness! One reader has gone to the extent of going into the origins of our various dishes just because the author mentioned nihari and haleem as Pakistani dishes. This way we should all call ourselves Indians, as we were part of India. What is wrong with people!Recommend

  • Faisal Anwar

    Dude hats off to your observation and the critics that you had to face due to some of our most silly people in the Nation.
    @ EVeryone who just complained
    I am living in middle east and been born here and spent 5 continuous year in Pakistan’s urban, suburban and rural areas during my education and 2 years in Australia but at the end of the day I am a Pakistani.
    Sitting in your bedroom and to complaint (*saying darling this country is going to the dogs) while doing nothing is the reason our Nation and its people is in a mess. One of the things that i observed very common in Pakistan is to criticize, insult and making fun of others instead of taking a positive stand and do something.
    My fellow nation its an appeal to wake up and do something to progress instead of jumping in without looking at the dirty lake.
    We are the one who is currently engaged to make or destroy the future of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Talat Haque

    Dear Gordon ……….. keep the spirituality alive and the universe is beautiful …………….. best prayers for both of you! Recommend

  • http://www.zealforwriting.blogspot.com Sarah B. Haider

    @Ms. Pakistani: How do you define growing up??Recommend

  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan

    Best of luck buddy. Keep religion out of this ppl, its a personal issue. CheerioRecommend

  • Aajnabi

    Good luck Gordan – speaking as a gora who was in a long relationship with a Pakistani woman, I have shared a lot of your experiences. Sadly, for complicated reasons it did not work out.
    You appear to be a genuine and intelligent person and so does your partner (just as I would like to think that both I and my ex- are), so it was a little bittersweet for me to read your piece.
    There is a lot to be said for women of Pakistani women – their beauty, and also their values and strength. I also had a very positive experience with most of my ex’s Pakistani friends and family, just don’t underestimate the cultural challenges involved in what you’re entering into.
    So that you know – the “reversion” you queried above was a reference to the view that some muslims have that since their “deen” is supposedly perfect and ultimate, anyone converting to Islam is simply reverting back to the religion the whole world is “technically” born into.
    As you may already know, you’ll face a lot of pressure to convert, since under Islamic law non-muslim women can marry muslim men (as long as their children are raised muslim, naturally) and yet non-muslim men must convert before marrying muslim women.
    This is one of the dichomtomies of Islam and given this view it is easy to see how many from outside the muslim world view Islam as a discriminating religion which seeks to dominate other religions, and those of no faith.
    I hope you are able to reach an accomodation with this problem (since myself and my Pakistani ex- were unfortunately not). You’ve said that neither of you are religious, and neither am I or my ex-partner, however the greater family issues you noted are not to be under-estimated.
    I would imagine also that since you appear to be of Serb (or possibly Croat) origin, there may be some reticence on the part of your own family for you to marry a Muslim. That’s just a guess, and I’d hope it’s not the case.
    From someone who has been in your shoes, and understands what you’ve written, best of luck bhai-jaan, to you both. I hope my comments have been of some help.
    PS – I’ve used a pseudonym out of respect for my ex, however you might like to ask your fiance what it means – it’ll come in handy to know :)Recommend

  • alizeh

    this is sweet, but it’s just sad because what good you’d like to believe about our culture is not true. i hate our culture. this girl’s family may accept you, but her family’s friends will not. i recently attended a wedding in which a pakistani girl had just returned from her education abroad and was marrying a “gora.” her family was very happy for her but everyone else at the wedding party was discussing how it’s such a shame and how beghairat her father is. it was like they all attended just to see the spectacle. keep in mind that beghairat is the worst possible insult in this country. it’s a matter of life and death. and these were all filthy rich, aitchison, ivy league educated people whose family names go back hundreds of years. even the majority of elites look down on these marriages. even if you convert they will not care. even if you’re a muslim from another muslim country, they’ll be shocked the girl brought home a guy herself. if a girl picks a guy for herself, if the match is not based solely on the boy’s family background, wealth, connections and education, they assume the union is based on sex. thats why people are shocked. they assume that if a girl has the guts to pick the guy, its because she couldnt keep her legs crossed long enough for her parents to pick. even the elites that appear to be accepting are not. you’ll start realizing that soon enough. pakistanis compain about racism abroad but we’re the most racist qaum i’ve ever come across. marriages still take place based on a caste system here. forget accepting races from other countries, we cant even accept each other. i was raised to believe that anyone who’s not a landowner has no family background and that people who dont have an ancestral village have no class. even people who came into wealth a hundred years ago are considered new money. i used to try to convince the americans that pakistan is much better than they think it is. that was before i actually lived to see it for myself. now i know better. it is utterly stifling. i’ve lived here for so long and i’ve yet to meet a family like this in person. i’ve heard of them but they’re like freaking unicorns. the girl you’re with is really lucky to have her family’s support. in this culture, it’s rare especially when it comes to marriage. Recommend

  • Knotty

    You look so handsome in that Kurta
    .
    And ignore the baseless comments. Basically Indians & Pakistanis have obsession with each other and they take it out on comments sections with fake ids/rude comments.
    .
    You are most welcome! Come any time!Recommend

  • Sara

    Oh my gosh!!! What a lovely article!!! Thank you soooo much!! and phew! What a relief! It’s great to hear such words spoken about Pakistan from a foreigner! We folks down here just wait anxiously for such moments, when we are shown as normal human beings!! I wish you all the best and hope you come to Pakistan soon and have an amazing time!! :))
    As for all the idiotic whiners….. will you guys NEVER learn??!!! groan! Haven’t you’ll got it through your thick heads as of yet??!!!! Just STOP criticizing your own country every chance you get!! You crib about Fox News but here you all are, helping them for free! For heaven’s sake, be a bit PR savvy! Use your brains! These comments are going to be read by people from all over the world! And thanks you to you’ll I can’t even mail this article to some foreigner friends of mine, cause they’ll read your self-hating comments and turn the tables on me! Seriously, be a bit smart for once. Bunch of 12 year olds! This article has nothing to do with getting deep into Pakistan’s issues, why don’t you go to other online forums that do, and post to your heart’s content?! Foolish…absolutely foolish! bang head on keyboard!Recommend

  • Sara

    @alizeh
    Funny, all that you’ve said is absolutely UNTRUE, to the lovely, wonderful, amazing Pakistanis that I know. I know Pakistanis that have married a “gora” and all the friends, family, cousins, second cousins, third, fourth, fifth (well, you get the picture) absolutely loved the couple, they certainly didn’t say all the horrendous things you just generalized and some couples have been happily married for over five years now. Everyone attended the weddings cause they were happy for the lovely couple and people were a mixture of all classes. I know dozens and dozens of Pakistanis who have “brought a guy home” and are happily married to this day. It had nothing to do with the guy’s background, and everything to do with being a nice person. Not one Pakistani I know is a racist like the type you mention. Not one Pakistani I know is married based on “caste system” (gosh, what have you been smoking? sorry, couldn’t help it, first i’ve heard of such a thing!)
    I was raised to believe that honesty, integrity, morals, values, kindness, ethics etc is what a person should look for in a family background and these are the people with class. Having lived in Pakistan all my life I have never felt stifled, not for even a second. Every single Pakistani I know is a “unicron” which you speak of…. so nope, it’s not rare at all!
    Really feel sorry for you that you come from such a rare, narrow minded family. I have never met a Pakistani like you in my entire life, so looks like you’re the “rare” one to me.
    Pakistan is a beautiful country, with beautiful people, so don’t generalize because of your awful, rare situation. I can quote the same kind of situations in other countries as well, so please, be a bit broad minded. In fact, you sound exactly like one of the “rare” people that you are “stifled” by. Feel really sorry for you that you come from such a family. Hope you manage to get out of your “rare” situation soon, and join us “unicorns”Recommend

  • Abid P Khan

    @SnK:

    “My goodness! One reader has gone to the extent of going into the origins of our various dishes just because the author mentioned nihari and haleem as Pakistani dishes. This way we should all call ourselves Indians, as we were part of India. What is wrong with people!”
    .
    My goodness! Why don’t people see an optician or enhance their cognitive capabilities. That is what is wrong with you @SnK. Kapisch!Recommend

  • Dante

    The people commenting on this blog article should learn to appreciate the goodness conveyed by the author, instead of bashing it.

    Gordon you look nice in the local dress. Good luck mate. Have a happy wedding.Recommend

  • Atu

    To be honest, I was moved to tears! The story has been beautifully told, capturing the true scenario of Pakistan perfectly! Thank you Sir! Loads of respect and love for you, and in waiting for you to finally visit Pakistan! PAKISTAN LOVES YOU TOO! :)Recommend

  • geeko

    @alizeh:
    it’s then not a “women” issue, the men too wouldn’t have the choice to marry outside their… caste (huh.)
    And “caste” is not a “race” either… Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @Conan: I very much doubt that Narayanmurthy was suggesting a conversion. In India many Hindu girls marry Muslim men and many Muslim girls marry Hindu men. No-one thinks it is a big problem. In Pakistan they would be deeply offended if a Muslim girl married a non-Muslim man, though they would be OK with the reverse. SoI guess he was just pointing out that this might be something Gordon should anticipate/Recommend

  • sultan mirza

    @alizeh:
    that’s true. people here have read some quotes on “living the moment” and have started living in a fairy tale. people who have forgotten and betryaed their values these people should pick up the books and read history and it is there that no other nation has respected this sort of a lot and this is exactly what is happening to us. If some one thinks otherwise, then he is living in a state apparently not part of USA called Denial.Recommend

  • Nimra

    This is an amazing piece. what i like the most about it is the vibes of positivism it radiates that transcendent deep into the heart. this is all we need today-a positive attitude.Recommend

  • Saba

    I like the way things about Pakistan have been admired still I feel if the opinion would have been given from a point of view of a person who loved & adopted Pakistan not because of a lady but because of the true essence of Pakistan , he would have loved Pakistan more for sure.Recommend

  • AIN

    welcom je !!!
    Please come in may, June & July in PAK.You will definitely enjoy the stunning HOT summer with extra “dose” of three hour electricity load shading after each hour.
    Then you will love more your in-laws ‘s land :) :)Recommend

  • lord ‘headless’ stark

    @Random Passerby:

    Have an Upvote :DiRecommend

  • Najam Chaudri

    Hello everyone! Call me optimistic. And that s what I am and proud to be one too. Except few ladies most of the comments above were positive. Trust me One day those ladies (MARIA, SIDRA and RUBINA) will find good suitable RISHHTAS too. INSHALLAH . To be short “The GOOD will prevail over The BAD for sure”. Please have Faith. Recommend

  • Deb

    @Gordan

    Good luck to you.But remember the advice from @John B,he is quite sensible.Religion in Pakistan is 5 times heavier than what it is in Balkans (yes I remember the war).
    Still wish you and your ladylove a happy future.Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    @sunnysideup: Nothing is. I’ve been going out always and eavesdropped on women’s conversations. I was not stupid enough to check the internet which represents only 10% of the masses. All the time they are talking about marrying foreigners, Justin Beiber, loadshedding, marrying foreigners, thinking people abroad are better looking than here, marrying foreigners, cheap commercial music and Lady Gaga. And did I mention marrying foreigners? Maybe, but they mostly judge a man by the size of his wallet/bank account, not by the size of his heart. Sigh Whatever happened to falling in love/having a crush on a guy with nothing but a plain Civic… Or a Liana for that matter, I don’t think the Civic will last long anyway.Recommend

  • BDDT..

    @big rizvi…I just thought of another reason that’s even more obvious than you being a just PK passport holder. You’re a whiny loser. Maybe if you had a personality, it may help, trust me at the rate your whining is going, if you had a Liana or a UKUS passport, it Wont help. Sorry… Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    @ BDDT: I am not a whiny loser. This is a rotten and bitter pill we must swallow. Nothing greases a relationship like money and a foreign passport. Or atleast for a ‘whiny loser’ like me. Recommend

  • http://www.imrankhan1984.com Imran

    Forget the trolls, I wish both of you best of luck for future. Pakistanis are 180 million in number and live in 3rd world. We do have our problems but so do other countries. Pakistan is certainly not the kind of place portrayed in media. You will notice this once you come here.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Mr Sumanski, you are lucky to have received some sort of a dress from Pakistan to wear. There were others who were obliged to marry half naked to conform to the culture of amazonians. For a person of a polish origin it is great that you are able to sit comfortably cross-legged on ground while eating with hands. Enjoy while you can and good luck.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Maria

    @Deb: Perhaps you have no idea of how big an issue religion or ethnicity is in the Balkans. I have seen Canadian born kids of Croatian and Serbian backgrounds fight in the schools here about slights carried over from Yugoslavia. Calls of Ustashe and Chetnick which are nasty names they taunt each other with. I don’t think that many Pakistanis know that the brutality and nastiness of the Balkan civil wars and killings far exceeds anything Pakistan has ever had. One thing you should learn by know Gordon is that Pakistanis have a talent for being closed to the events in the rest of world and only think problems are there- and those too they like to exaggerate for enjoyment. Try to spend time with educated Pakistanis who read about what goes on in all parts of the world and not only those who are glued into local news which they paint in negative colours!Recommend

  • SHAJIA

    @Mufazzil:

    I don’t see one reason to believe let alone thousand. Still I hope everything goes best for both the parties Inshallah. Recommend

  • Marium

    @ Mr Gordon

    Thank you for the love that you have shown to this country and its people. I can assure you that we have our problems , but we know how to deal with them too, something you have understood more than many of the pessimists you find on this blog.

    We welcome you here.Recommend

  • Marium

    To the pessimists on this blog

    If you cant make a difference to this country , please try taking the respectful way out and stop complaining about it . This blog is not about your personal uncle and unties and family politics, so please don’t make it one. And No we do not want to know if you had a horrible Girl experience in the country. Go twitter or Facebook your woes, let this place be whining free Please!Recommend

  • Gordan Sumanski

    @alizeh: These stigmas are not only present in Pakistani culture but can be seen globally. You know how hard it was to get my people on board? A Serbian orthodox falling in love with a Muslim…my grandmother back home had a heart attack and didn’t talk to me for months. You can’t make everyone happy. Even though men in her family have married foreigners, I do understand that girls marrying outside of the culture is rarely seen. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Change in perception will follow eventually when enough interracial mingling takes place, as it is out here in Canada. We don’t intend on living in Pakistan after marriage and I am pretty confident this will take place with or without the approval of families and their friends. I see your points, but I went into this knowing all that fully well.Recommend

  • Gordan Sumanski

    @Big Rizvi: She is a permanent resident and didn’t require me for that. The country gave it to her based on her work and creative projects. Recommend

  • Gordan Sumanski

    @Rex Minor: I wouldn’t mind getting married half naked. :PRecommend

  • Gordan Sumanski

    @AIN: Looking forward to it. After going through minus temperatures, unimaginable snow, hail, constant rain and cold weather in Canada, give me load shedding, a blazing sun and a beach any give day. ;) I volunteer internationally in extremely rustic areas, the Mayan villages in Mexico and the State of Morelos to name a few. If I can handle no running water, no electricity or internet and helping children out in extremely depraved conditions I’m sure I can handle Pakistan.Recommend

  • Gordan Sumanski

    @Aajnabi: Thanks for that, brother! It came from a place of honesty, I could tell. I’m a proud Serb and you are right, convincing my side hasn’t been easy either..but as I mentioned to someone else, there comes a point when you realize you can’t make everyone happy.Recommend

  • Alizeh

    @sara oh honey, you didnt need to take it so personaly. Even kids these days know that if you have to resort to such bitter personal attacks, youre losing on the internet.
    i know its tempting to simplify the argument down to one sad girl and her crazy family, but you totally missed the point. i wasnt raised that way by my parents…thats whay ive observed in my society.
    In our culture:
    Most rishtas are arranged by first finding out the family name, a general idea of the familys wealth, the familys history etc. If all that is a match, only then do they proceed to find out about the boys education and personality. if hes not that attractive, it can be overlooked. but a girls skin tone and figure are noted. some families are crass enough to reject openly stating the girls weight as the reason. If its still a match the boy and girl get to know each other. There are people who are out dating but again, thats not the norm. many date but most of those still end up in arranged or semi arranged unions. very few can just bring someone home and not be met with opposition.
    also, a decade or two ago, there used to be more shia sunni marraiges but thanks to wahabism that divide is getting deeper.
    Ahmadis can no longer live openly, much less intermarry.
    Syed women have to marry syeds. syed sunnis with syed sunnis and shias with shiss.
    Have ever heard of a pakistani muslim marrying a pakistani christian? Its only ok if hes a gora christian.
    Cheyoti sheikhs usually end up marrying within their own community.
    Zamindars marry zamindars and call people who dont have ancestral villages shehri even if its not meant to be derogatary. they call others urdu speaking and in return get called paindu.
    Our society as a whole has become intolerant. but you all know that already and thats why youre so desperately seeking validation from a “gora.”Recommend

  • Herman Bruin

    @Gordan Sumanski:
    Dear Gordon,
    You give a very lively impression of being in love with a girl of Pakistani origin. Enjoy this period of being madly in love. It colours your view of the world and of people. However rational you would like to be about the culture and the present day political and religious situation in Pakistan, your views are coloured by love.
    I lived in Pakistan for some years in the sixties of the last century. At that time I was a catholic missionary sent there to convert people. However, soon enough I was converted myself. I learned the language from a fugitive former professor at the Alighar muslim Univerity in Lucknow. I really got to know him and his famliy well. After a year of contact I called him abba djan ( father dear).
    Once, after having enjoyed a meal in the presence of his children, we walked to another room to have a smoke. I then told him that I had really been sent to Pakistan by the catholic church, to convert him. His answer has made a life long impression on me : “When you keep the faith of your father, and I keep the faith of mine, our fathers will be happy in heaven”. From that moment my respect for my own roots has grown, let alone respect for his roots. Chance made one of us being born in the west (becoming a christian) and the other being born in the east (becoming a muslim). When my teacher died, I lost a father figure. He and his extended family had given me a home in Pakistan. At that time we still felt free to be different , and still be appreciated. Now things have changed.
    Last February I went back to Pakistan after nearly 50 years of living in The Netherlands. Before dieing, I wanted to take leave properly of the family which had been so important in my life as a young man in my twenties. Many people disavised me of going: too dangerous they said. I took my chances and was received by the family of my Urdu teacher very warmly. I found them in karachi.It was like coming home. We all had grown older, but the original feeling of being at home was still there.
    The most striking difference to me was that the country is no longer as free as it formerly was. Politically Pakistanis are experiencing great difficulties, let alone religiously. Both politics and religion have made Pakistan a country in which a Westerner wil not feel free. My host in Karachi have as much as possible tried to protect me. They never let me go out alone in the streets: too dangerous. I stayed with them or with their friends. The fact that the west is fighting a war in Afghanistan does not bring a feeling of freedom to Westerners in Pakistan. The west is not very tolerant of the muslim religion and this is noticable in alle papers, periodicals and behavour.
    I would say: if you want to marry your Pakistani lady friend, do so by all means and enopy you life together. Hovewever: do stay in Canada. There you both can be free. If you want to emigrate to Pakistan do prepare yourself for a life in prison. You will loose all the feelings of freedom you now have in Canada. Unless of course you would like to convert to the Islam. Then you will have some chance of a life of your own. Do prepare yourself however for the fact that the common Pakistanis in the street will consider you as a westerner and in general at this moment in time not be friendly towards you.
    HermanRecommend

  • http://pakistani-edu.blogspot.com Usman Shahid

    When stories like these, make us happy and feel proud of our country.

    Gordan somanski, you are more than welcome in our country and wish you best of luck for your marriage :).Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Ge able to convince ordann somanski

    So you convinced her that you were conscripted in nthe serbian army, but did not take part in genocide against muslims! I hope you are able to convince her relatives as well that you were just an innocent watchman. Why take on a non serbian name?

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Sara

    @Alizeh No worries sweetie,no need to apologize… and didn’t realize there was a competition going on online about winning or losing… but if you feel so strongly about it, the medal is all yours! And a shiny silver cup too! :)

    Well, again, your rishtas may have been arranged this way, but there are loads of rishtas in my family, which are certainly not arranged by simply looking at “wealth” or “history” (uh, history, what’s history got to do with anything?! strange…)… so again, you generalize, and seems as if you have little or no friends, as you seem totally ignorant that such a normal, amazing life exists in Pakistan. Oh good lord, did you just say a girl’s “skin tone” Ok, where have you been hiding lady?! I thought stuff like this only happened in movies now!! Haha! ok, that’s just funny..(So your family must be spending millions on fairness creams then, uh?) but again, really sorry to hear you went through all this..sad, really sad. As for weight… sigh… to think that just a few years ago my cousin fell in love with a really sweet Paki girl, who was nice and plump, hehe! And no, that certainly wasn’t an issue for anyone in our family! Oh, and they just became proud parents of an adorable boy! …. And you’re speaking about arranged marriages as if they’re a bad thing… a forced marriage is a bad thing, an arranged marriage with the consent of both, the boy and girl is certainly not… And now you’re bringing Sunnis and Shias into it?! Like seriously?! Siggh…. you need to get out more…. And to think that I attended a friend’s wedding just last year, where the girl was Shia and the guy was Sunni….
    Don’t you get it…. of course there’s ridiculous stuff going on, as is in all countries, but don’t speak as if it’s happening to every single Tom, Dick and Harry in this country…. you just happen to live in a narrow minded family, but I don’t. And it’s quite strange that you don’t even seem to know any normal person who lives a normal life, full of tolerance, like I described above…. are you sure you’re a Pakistani? Or have you just read this stuff in the news or word of mouth?….. Hmmm…. And what’s valididation from a “gora” got to do with anything… that’s quite an inferiority complex you’ve got there…. again, strange.. you sound as if you know nothing about the normal, educated, good side of Pakistan… Hmmm……
    And speaking of religion….. Why don’t you mention the Convent schools we have here? I too happen to have studied in one and have loads of Christian friends and had a wonderful time in my school, singing in the choir and wishing my friends Merry Christmas…… So Pakistan is full of tolerance, a fact you seem not to know of….. I mean, you speak of castes.. but that’s more true for India…and the way you speak is like you’ve got everything from the news….. Hmmm……. And I’ve heard that a girl’s skin tone is quite an issue in India actually… Hmmm…Recommend

  • Maria

    @Herman
    Life in prison? That’s extremely harsh and unfair…. And you say that converting will bring him that freedom? Now that’s just silly….How will the ppl on the streets know if he’s a convert or not? Do you expect him to wear a sign…? And even if he did… what’s that go to do with anything??!! Religion is a personal issue and no one has the right to tell anyone to convert or not…and just so you know, there are many Convent schools all over Pakistan… one such school in Karachi is now 150 years old…. I too have many Christian friends and colleagues whom I work with in Pakistan…. so your remark on conversion in order to live a “free” life, makes no sense whatsoever, as my Christian friends and myself and others hang out normally & have a great time. And Pakistanis are extremely friendly to foreigners. Politics is a separate issue, which ppl have strong views on here, but they certainly don’t take it out on every single foreigner to walk the street. (Though Blackwater, Ray Davis etc did mess things up big time)

    As for all the complainers, why don’t you you’ll say that Gordan will have a wonderful time walking down Port Grand, catching a 3D movie (hey, have you guys seen the seats at the Gold cinema in Lahore?! Lazyboys! http://www.cinegold.com.pk/home.php ) ….. so plz, instead of acting like journalists for Fox, talk about how Mamma Mia, Moulin Rouge was performed live on stage in Pakistan and about the yummy food and great restaurants we have here.
    p.s @Gordan Was really touched by your article! Thank you so much! And sorry for all the petty posts and rants (including mine!) which should have nothing to do with your article!Recommend

  • http://karachi HH

    Mine was purely arranged marriage. And after eight years and two kids, we are madly in love with each other; can’t even breathe without each other…Recommend

  • AIN

    @Herman Bruin:
    cool advise!!! Mr.Sumanski should consider itRecommend

  • http://shoaibtaimur.com shobz

    I usually don’t comment but I thought this was well written. I am not surprised to see comments asking you if you plan on converting. You should do whatever makes you happy. It’s awesome that you found someone you love and you plan on spending the rest of your life together. Here’s to a great future for you.Recommend

  • Maria Lucia

    I can fully relate to this. Just flip the coin, the other side is my exact version :). Recommend

  • Herman Bruin

    @Maria:
    Dear Maria,
    Thanks very much for reacting to my comment.
    I used the word “prison” so as to provoke comments. It sounds harsh. But my Pakistani friends tried to protect me and keep me safe. They restricted my movements. I myself would have taken more risks. They (my Pakistani friends) did not consider it wise for me to move freely. So it felt like a prison. I say this, because coming back home in The Netherlands, I felt free.
    I have no solution for the present day predicament Pakistan and its people find themselves in. I do feel that the anti-western sentiment in the streets of Pakistani cities is very much influenced by the presence of the American and the NATO troops in Afghanistan. If only we westerners could learn to live in peace with the East . I am absolutely sure Pakistan and Afghanistan can take care of themselves. They do not need the west to meddle in their affairs.
    As for conversion: I wrote that I would always advise people to keep the faith of their fathers so that their fathers would be happy in heaven. Religion is somthing of the heart, you are perfectly right. But I tried to give the bloke a chance, if ever he would like to live in Pakistan and be part of that society. Just now I do not think that the feeling of freedom of choice in religions is very strong in Pakistan.
    Best wishes,
    HermanRecommend

  • Paki

    @Ataullah:

    You indians can never digest Pakistan – neither the country or anything good.
    The country you belong use HINDI for the so called Urdu , its we Pakistani who have given the ownership to Urdu as National language , yours is Hindi .
    Nihari and other foods which are common in Subcontinent were not developed or produced after the partition , so they do not belong to you. Hope your History is refreshed and be open hearted Recommend

  • Maria

    @Herman:
    Oh you’re very welcome! Glad I could oblige you with my reply!… Though it was a bit mean of you to say that you used such a harsh word on purpose to “provoke” people, when you could have easily asked politely if you wanted some comments to your queries, in a rational manner……anyway…. Well, my point is, these particular Pakistani friends of yours may have acted in a certain way, but that does not give you the right to generalize your particular situation. Just a year or so ago, my cousins had got their American friend down here for holiday, and she had a ball seeing all the different places and going everywhere normally and she certainly felt as free as a bird.
    I agree with your comments about the West though, that they should try to learn to live in peace and not poke their nose where it doesn’t belong…..politics is a dirty game I guess. And the anti-western sentiment is directed towards the policies of the West, not the normal, good, educated citizens of the West, so you can’t just say “anti-western” but “anti-western
    foreign policies” would be more accurate, and not limited to only the “American & NATO troops in Afghan” but a bigger picture….everything from sending Blackwatr to Pak, Ray Davis shooting Pakistanis in the back, the murder of 26 Pak soldiers by Nato, the threats, insults, bullying etc etc… But again, this is specific to all the political issues…otherwise ppl here love watching everything from Gilmore Girls to Grey’s Anatomy and listen to Elvis and catch a Hollywood movie at the cinema. We are very good at compartmentalizing the good and the bad directed towards us.

    I don’t agree with you about the religion part. Like I said, I have many Christian friends here. One just got married a few months ago and I was looking the beautiful wedding pictures of her in her white dress, in a beautiful Pakistani Church. So they certainly have all the freedoms in the world and i’ve known some of my Christian friends for over 10 years. A Chrisitan teacher in a Convent School here was honoured for teaching for 50 years….so all these Pakistanis are Christians and no one’s taken any freedom away from them, like you are trying to insinuate. Do minorities have their issues here, yes, just like minorities do in countries all over the world. Maybe more so in certain countries, because of poverty etc, but nothing extraordinary.
    I think your exposure to the large, mainstream, educated Pakistanis is quite limited, you just happen to know one family, who were a certain way. So just so you know, it’s not all like you think it is. Next time you come to Pakistan, catch a movie in our 3D cinema, go for a walk at Port Grand (www.portgrand.com) or drink some coffee at our numerous coffee cafes. Oh, and dont’ forget to check out our newest mall! Hope you come again soon!Recommend

  • kamran

    @Faraz Talat:
    you write wonderfully and nonchalantly too. thank you for your writing brother faraz talat.
    Cheers and GOD BLESS you and y/our families..Amen. Recommend

  • kamran

    @Aajnabi:
    what is one the dichomtomies of islam … i did not find the word on my new webster. c
    give me some more dichomtomies of islam please.

    believers of paganism must convert to islam before marriage, boy or girl .
    Christian / Jewish girl can marry muslim boy provided she agrees to raise the offspring as a muslim. christians who are believers in one GOD follow the holy book that came into existence two thousands years ago. this holy book the bible is rendered obsolete with the new holy holy book that comes some 1400years ago. no-where in the bible is prophet jesus christ peace be upon him claiming to be a god. the usage of ‘we’ is in the royal term . rather in the bible we find jesus christ peace be upon him claiming the oneness of GOD ALMIGHTY our LORD and CHERISHER . also we find prophet jesus christ telling of another messenger to come after him with another message and this will be the new holy book .

    you are a lucky geezer who did not marry the girl from pakistan . she would just have gone obese like the others.

    marriage is for the mutual attainment of heavens in the afterlife and both spouses work constructively and productively for that ultimate goal, the hereafter in which only heavens can be looked up to .

    kindly stop whining about islam. you are not a believer and you would only be one if i could properly patiently converse with you . but i choose to turn away from you now . my call.
    cheersRecommend

  • Bonzi

    Good for you Gordon.

    Putting your personal life open for such critique is highly appreciated and admired !
    Bonzi ( Facebook Group: Pakistan Ctrl+Z ) Recommend

  • Sidra

    Happy to hear that this guy had such a positive experience with Pakistani culture. Also amazed that his mother-in-law sent him a kameez, which shows her acceptance of him. My parents are both well-educated, have been in the west for 30+years, and everyone else in our circle is similar in background. However, all of our parents would freak out if we married a gora. I only know of about five cases where the girl was Pakistani and the boy white. In all the cases, the parents went absolutely hysterical, crying, devastated, etc. saying that goray just use a girl and move onto to the next; they have a high divorce rate, it is haram, etc etc.

    I was born in Canada and am Pakistani so I’m familiar with both cultures. While Pakistan is not as bad as it seems in the media, it’s not as tolerant as depicted here. In terms of tolerance, Canadians and Canada definitely win. My Canadian friends don’t care who marries whom, and they will really try to understand other people’s points of view. On the other hand, Pakistanis generally have super-rigid views of what marriage should be and if you try to disagree with them on anything, they will launch a full-out attack instead of even considering your argument. I’m hoping you’ll be the rare guy whose positive experience continues this way. But I would advise to keep a respectful distance, it’s much safer…when you’re close, you get the hugs but it’s also easier to get mud. :x Recommend

  • Safa

    Wow..this brought tears to my eyes..Our country really has lots of reasons to believe in it, from the rich variety of colorful foods to the amazing assortment of traditions never neglected to the innocent children living in such bitter poverty, but possessing the capability to make Pakistan shine. God willing, good times will soon come for our country, if only we could find the right leader..Pakistan Zindabad!Recommend

  • questioner

    @Ataullah:
    I guess Nihari and Urdu must be the baggage that UP Muslims brought over from India =pRecommend

  • Ehsan karim

    What is her name Gordan ? :PRecommend

  • Indian Brother

    I am in Indian, and have lately become a fan of ET blogs. As I find this forum as a window to Pakistan. I am very much amused and enchanted by the stuff that has been posted by the members, and II thank you all for that.

    I must mention that its not every time I have come across anyone praising the situation or affairs in Pakistan. The story of Gordon and his beloved is heartwarming and has a feel good effect. IMHO whether this represents a larger portion of the society or not, shouldn’t be pierced, at least someone is happy.

    I wish all you writers on this wonderful blog the very best, and must mention that I regret Afridi having chosen to retire from ODI as he has a fan following here and some of us do follow all his games even if India is not playing in them.Recommend