Stories about foreigner

Pakistani airports: Heading for paralysis?

A person belonging to the procurement department of a military-related setup once told me an interesting story about how the US had banned the sale of F-16 spare parts to Pakistan and had blacklisted the concerned setup. A metallic plate of some specific calibre was urgently required for the F-16s and they had run out of any other options. Out of utter necessity and desperation, one of the officers from the organisation called up a blacksmith from Gujranwala and asked him to forge the plate. The blacksmith was able to forge an exact copy of the plate and for much less money, ...

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Home is where the heart(less) is

April 25, 2014 Friday, 4:08pm:  I finally check my regular worldly news and social media updates. After a hectic day of running errands, wading in the rain and running around for meetings here and there, spending time at the library with its semi-hushed warmth seemed like the perfect end to a long week.  The promise of a late afternoon catching up on reading turns into just that, a promise. There was a blast in Defence, exactly an hour ago, when I had been rushing out of class. It was too close for comfort to where I lived. Sickened, I look at my ...

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I wish I didn’t feel like such a foreigner

Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t born in such a big house Didn’t watch so many Disney cartoons, Or read so much Enid Blyton, when I was young… Didn’t go to the poshest all-girls private school in town, Or eat at the best foreign restaurants Hadn’t ever been on a plane, Ever outside the country Didn’t know the words to every English song on the radio Didn’t have a big air-conditioned car Didn’t live in Defence Didn’t always get what I wanted. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t feel like such a foreigner In my own country Among my own people That I wouldn’t be polite, Embarrassed, awkward That Punjabi or Urdu would flow from my mouth As effortlessly as ...

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How do you explain ‘the lota’ to a foreigner?

We miss many things when we’re living away from home – mangoes, bun kebabs, paan, the dust, the loadshedding. Okay, okay, just kidding! We miss some of these things, but we manage without them, one way or another. There is one thing you cannot do without, though, and that’s the lota. It is such an integral item of sub-continental and Muslim culture, that even a short term visitor such as the famous American designer Charles Eames couldn’t help but notice it most particularly when he visited India in 1958.  He had this to say about it: “Of all the objects we ...

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Celebrating 10 amazing years in Pakistan

It has been ten awesome years since I started working and living in Karachi, Pakistan. It’s a strange realisation that I have never lived longer in any other place my whole life. I arrived in March of 2003. It was the start of the Iraq war and one can only imagine the concern my parents felt when I told them I was moving to Pakistan. Their apprehension has not faded (they get daily reminders of the horrors that Pakistan is exposed to) but they have now accepted that this is my home. Obviously I was also quite uneasy at first, and to make matters ...

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Bring back tourism to G-B

I still remember how tourists, particularly foreigners, would openly wander around the streets of Gilgit-Baltistan before the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent start of sectarian violence in the region. G-B is one of the world’s most scenic destinations, where tourism was once the main source of income for a majority of the population. During summer, some 12 years ago, G-B would host so many foreign tourists that domestic tourists found it hard to find any accommodation. Every hotel, restaurant, guesthouse and even private residents were occupied by foreign tourists and dollars were showered in every business.  Tourists would roam around without any ...

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Bitter expats, you give Pakistan a bad name!

It is an interesting fact that most Pakistanis become more patriotic after leaving the country. It’s oxymoronic unto itself that they leave the country hating it in order to love it again having reached foreign shores. I have no contention with them, seeing that I, too, belong to this group.  I do however have a problem with some expats who badmouth and spread negative views about Pakistan and its inhabitants. A couple of days ago a friend of mine who’s not a Pakistani but an Australian of Greek descent was describing to me in detail the horrors inflicted on Karachiites ...

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Islamabad scareport

For the purpose of this tale, I’ll describe the reception area at Islamabad airport as an horizontal U in a space the size of two large kitchens. Stood at the beginning of the left hand column of the U is a security guard for the first security check. Walk through this and along to the curve at the bottom of the U. That’s where (on its outer perimeter) there’s a long table. Behind it are five customs officers in front of it are four queues waiting to have their bags searched.  Walk past this and you’ll swerve up the right hand part of the U parallel to the left – ...

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I may be a ‘gora’ but Pakistan is my home

I will soon be celebrating my 10th year here in Pakistan. It has been an incredible experience so far having travelled all four corners of the country, from Hunza to Jiwani and from Darra Adam Khel to Nagarparkar. I have enjoyed all the highs and lows possible and Pakistan would not be Pakistan if these highs were not unscalable, 25,000 feet mountains, and lows of ocean grade depths. Yesterday, specifically, has special significance to me as it was three years ago that I cemented my relation with Pakistan by marrying one of its most beautiful and smartest women. I still remember ...

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A foreigner’s love for Pakistan

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 ...

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