Stories about expatriate

You will always be ‘home’, Pakistan

My heart has been aching since the past week. Day one: I unpacked my suitcases. Day two: I put away the laundry. Day three: I packed lunch for my kids. Day four and five flew by. But, it’s still there. That hollow throbbing ache, it’s in that same spot where I think my heart is meant to be. And it refuses to go. My seven-year-old daughter has asked me at least two dozen times, “Why don’t we live in Pakistan?” Today my three-year old son told me, “Your house is boring Mama, I want to go to Pakistan.” Their questions don’t help my pain. ...

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From Houston to Golimar

The abrupt decision to move to Karachi from Houston was distressing. The realisation that it would be a move from Houston to Golimar was even more distressing. The enduring flight bore anticipatory thoughts of what this foreign land would hold for me, if anything at all. Western media had successfully accomplished its goal of tarnishing Pakistan’s image in my eyes. This would be the first time I travel to Pakistan in 12 years after having lived abroad for all of my life. As I walked out of Jinnah International Airport, the putrid stench of the third-world hit me like a sucker punch, nearly ...

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The expat

Hammad Khan, a young aspiring Information Technology (IT) professional from Karachi, moved abroad leaving behind his family and friends in the search for a better future. The young man acquired a bachelor’s degree in IT and joined a US-based software company; his arrival in the USA was like a dream that had come true. Hammad planned on staying in the US for about ten years, so he could make enough money to settle down comfortably in Pakistan. As the son of a civil servant – who could only manage to earn himself a one-bedroom apartment after his retirement – Hammad aimed to ...

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Increasing call rates to Pakistan is plain cruelty

The recent increase in the calling rates for incoming calls to Pakistan has come as a rude shock to many overseas Pakistanis for several reasons. Firstly because there was no prior announcement of this revision in rates and secondly because the rate of increase which ranges between 300% to 800% is beyond anybody’s comprehension. It is being reported that this big increase is a result of the PTA’s decision to implement the International Clearing House (ICH) and is claimed to reduce illegal calls to Pakistan. This government has now become notorious for its illogical and poorly advised decisions but this increase in ...

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Back in Pakistan and loving it!

The second best decision I ever made in my life was to come back to Pakistan. The best decision I made was teaching in this country that has been labelled as the ‘most’ dangerous country in world. Michael Kugelman, the program associate for South Asia at the  Woodrow Wilson Centre, recently wrote a blog for Dawn about the return of expats to Pakistan. He concluded the article with a question to expats about what it is like to be back. This is a question posed to me almost on a daily basis by anyone I meet who discovers I have returned after having ...

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A Pakistani Spring is not enough

The Arab Spring has captured the imagination of young people around the world with a powerful message about people taking control of their own destiny. In Pakistan, the spirit of the Arab Spring is playing out to a different tune. Instead of adopting “overthrow of the system” as their battle cry ala the Arab Spring, a visible and growing number of young, educated professionals in Pakistan are channeling their energies to incrementally improve the system by engaging with the current set up. Young Pakistanis, including many who have traveled to the West to get educated, are returning home to make active contributions ...

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10 assorted additions to Pakistani culture

Whether they prompt you to scratch your head in puzzlement, raise your eyebrows in disbelief, or crack a spontaneous smile, life’s little idiosyncrasies break the monotony of one’s daily routine. Expats in particular have a fondness for quintessential elements of Pakistani culture that may be annoying when you live here, but are endearing when you’re away. Here are a few, chosen at random: 10. Go-Gos: Chanting “go” is a universal cheer, (like ‘Go team! Woohoo’) but to feisty Pakistanis, it literally means LEAVE. Example: “Go (head-of-state) Go!” 9. Outdated expressions: Verbal relics from the Colonial era include: “Can I have your “good ...

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Igniting the love for Urdu in America

This is how my story begins. I was blessed with my first born, a beautiful daughter, in June 2008. On this special day, my Bhaijan, a close relative who is like a father to me, gave me an important piece of advice: “Apnay bachoon ko apni madr-e-zaban sekhana – agar nahi sekhai tu future may tum chahaye 10,000 dollar bhi kharach karo gay tu kuch hasil nahi hoga, aur wo apni zaban asi nahi sekh sakaingay jaysay tum bachpan may sekhao gay”. (If you don’t teach your children their mother tongue, then in the future, even if you spend 10,000 dollars, ...

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American life through the eyes of a Pakistani

Today, it is common for young Pakistani men and women to go to the United States of America for higher education. My friends ans I are a part of this percentage of Pakistan. Let me be the first to tell you that it’s not that easy to get there in the first place. You apply to countless universities; receive lots of rejections and a few acceptances. It is then up to you to decide where you want to go. Are you a big city type of a person? Or would you prefer a more of a small-town feel? Once you have finally ...

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Patriotism is for the rich

It was noon on a particularly lazy Sunday. I could not go out as the law and order situation in the city was bad – as usual. I decided to watch television to get my mind off the gloomy state I was in: tired of the situation in the city, where there is a strike everyday because some political figure decides to be inappropriate and crude on national tv. I flipped through news channels because I had heard enough about cars being burnt and people being shot. In hindsight I realise I wanted some kind of escapism. So I landed ...

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