Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Pakistan

P is for potatoes, pakoray (deep fried sub-continental snacks) and pretzels (my new favorite snack in France.), sub-continental pickles with chillies, carrots, garlic, lemon and baby green mangoes, palak-paneer (spinach and cottage cheese curry), pink (the color), polka dots, pastel colors and Les Pains (french generic word for all kinds of delicious breads). P is for pinnacolada which is one of the few drinks I don't like. Somehow I am not fond of the coconut taste infused with pineapple juice.

While P is also for Paris, today P is for Pakistan, my homeland!

I always say that going out of a country for a trip is a totally different experience than immigrating permanently to another land. I never went out of Pakistan for the entire 24 years of my life and finally when I did, it wasn't a vacation or an adventure trip. It was a long term, almost permanent move.

While in Pakistan, I had my share of problems which any Pakistani reading this post can relate to. The long and unpredictable electricity load shedding hours (a special shout out to KESC for the major 24 hours black out in the entire Karachi city on my 24th birthday, you made it memorable!) the unexpected politically announced days off and the sad periods of instability in the city. But apart from these problem which are shared by all Pakistani's (specially the ones living in the metropolitan of Karachi) there were also those elements that I never realized I will miss so badly one day.

My friends and family lived so close that the idea of being able to visit them whenever I want would used to turn into weeks and months of procrastination. The dinner time electricity cuts would turn our ordinary dinners into candle lit ones. That mix of fear and excitement that I, along with Zoya and Hina felt on that Chaand Raat 3 years ago to get our last minute shopping and mehendi done is a feeling that still makes me grin. The vegetable vendor always throwing in few free green chillies or Lemons in my package, the caretakers of the building helping me with my groceries and happily bringing me my Sunday special breakfast, Anda Paratha and refusing to take the tip, the cafeteria manager offering free hot chocolates with funny cocoa faces made on them just to cheer me up and that over all sense of belonging is something that hasn't yet arrived to me in France.

France is beautiful, interesting and full of opportunities (as I would like to believe). I am growing as a person learning new traditions, cultures, languages and practices. It did take me some time to accept on all levels that I have left Pakistan way behind me and it will be a long time before I ever return even for a little trip. But even now that I am settled here, living a life and have quite a few friends of my own in here, I can't deny that everyday there is a moment when I sincerely want to go back to Pakistan so that I can relive the life I had there, this time with less complaints and minimal fault finding.

However, France is a part of my life's progress. I am learning and growing as an individual on various levels. It's not easy, I tell you but it is important for me to develop myself into a better version of me. It's a challenge for my personality to consistently adapt to each new experience on daily basis. Maybe one fine day in future I won't be so dramatically nostalgic about Pakistan. Maybe I will move from one country to another with a stronger sense of belonging.

“At the end of the day, it isn’t where I came from. Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and never have been before.”