8 questions you will be asked if you live in Peshawar

Published: July 16, 2010

Questions, questions, questions and more in Peshawar.

Four years ago, when I moved to Peshawar, I told myself to slow down and enjoy living in the cultural hub of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Perhaps, the only thing I was truly worried about was the cruel weather that inhabitants face from April to October. I have come to love the city and its people with all their merits and demerits. There are, however, questions I am asked that sometimes amuse me, and at other times make me wonder about how naïve some people can be. The following are just a few examples of how exasperating an introduction can be you happen to live in Peshawar.

1. Do you wear a veil (burqa)?

No, damn it! Pathans are conservative, I agree but that certainly does not mean they force their daughters to cover themselves from head to toe. It’s a personal choice, well, most of the time.

2. Are there Taliban in Peshawar?

Oh well, that is a tough one to answer. So I usually just roll my eyes. There are Taliban everywhere, I’m sure Peshawar isn’t their only hideout.

3. Do you buy smuggled laptops, iPods and mobiles phones for really low prices?

The rumour that laptops, iPods and even mobile phones make it among smuggled goodies is as over-rated as it can get. They might sell some third-rate stuff at the famous smuggled goods market here but I don’t think the whole population swarms over those.

4. Do you go out, socialize and eat?

Last I checked we were normal human beings – not aliens who just decided to live near Afghanistan. So yes, we do socialize. We might not have a Dominos yet, but we do go out and enjoy ourselves.

5. Why do you guys fast and celebrate Eid one day before us?

I wish I knew. What is more surprising is that even people who live in Peshawar are divided about when to fast and celebrate Eid. There are two groups, those who follow the government and those who don’t when it comes to Ramadan and Eid. Confusing, I know.

6. How is the situation in Peshawar?

Like everywhere else in the country – scary! You never know when a bomb may go off. The whole country is under a brutal wave of terrorism. Yet, life goes on here.

7. Oh my God, you can speak Urdu?

This one, particularly, makes me laugh. The inevitable follow up question is “Oh, so you speak and understand it well, too?” Au contraire, we do speak Urdu and sometimes, speak it really well though with a tinge of Pashto accent. Locals here speak Hindko and Urdu and not Pashto, as astonishing as that might seem.

8. So, Pathans don’t marry out of family, right? Or alternatively, Pathans only marry Pathans, yea?

In 70 per cent of families, that might be the case but it certainly isn’t a strict rule that we are born with.

I am sure there are a multitude of other questions that riddle the brains of those curious few, but I seriously hope this lays to rest some myths that we are so popular for.

Bushra Maheen Rahman

Bushra Maheen Rahman

A doctor from Peshawar who writes, blogs at www.pistaye.wordpress and tweets @MaheenRahman

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