Lost in translation: 12 signs you’re new to Pakistani culture
Recently moving from Canada, where I’ve lived practically my entire life, to Pakistan, I’ve had to do a lot of learning.
Here are few of the things I have learnt since coming to Pakistan:
1) My mother-in-law asked me to clean char maghaz.
I was relieved to learn that I was supposed to clean seeds and not four animal brains.
2) There is no uncle by the name of ‘lal baig’.
3) Don’t’ wear bronzer in Pakistan; rather than getting compliments on a healthy glow, aunties will recommend Fair and Lovely.
4) Chukandar (beets) and chuchandar (mole) are very different. You should have seen the look on my husband face when I said I put chuchandar in the curry.
5) The concept of not littering is practically non-existent. After carrying an empty can for 20 minutes in search of a trash can, I was forced to throw it where my flat disposes trash, in a pile behind the building.
6) You will get many evil stares if you call a Zuhljina a horse.
7) While we are on the topic horses, there is a difference between gora (foreigner) and ghora (horse). To my dismay, it was people who were visiting the office from a foreign embassy, not a bunch of horses.
8) Green smoothies are unheard of – nobody makes spinach smoothies.
9) Milk can be stored in the pantry, it never goes sour! Is it even milk…?
10) No matter how loose ones clothes are or the hijab on my head, I am not modestly dressed unless I carry a dupatta; yet it does not matter if it’s net or completely sheer.
11) Flagyl, the pill for stomach problems of all kinds, is my best friend.
12) Bharay huweh tindeh is the most uselessly annoying dish to prepare in the world.
- Chop the tindeh,
- Peel the tindeh,
- Scoop out the insides,
- Cook the inside goop,
- Refill the tindeh with the inside goop,
- Find the other half of the tindeh and place it on top of the filled one,
- Tie up the tindeh with string and cook it again.
- Remove the string before serving?
In the end, it’s still just tindeh.
Six months after, I flipped over my life; single-to-married, Toronto-to-Karachi, I think I’m finally beginning to get the hang of things – well, mostly.
With Punjabi and Sindhi speaking in-laws, and a brother-in-law who is an Urdu Professor and shaayer (poet), I think it might take me just a little more time before I can analyse the works of Mirza Ghalib and Allama Iqbal.
Have you guys ever been lost in translation? Let me know about your mix-ups!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.