04 May 2015

# Lahore Diaries # Pakistan

My Pakistani experience - your questions

I'm taking Adam to Poland tomorrow, so hopefully there will be a change of topic here ;) But when I was putting together my previous posts, I asked the followers whther there was something specific they'd want to read about.

Here's what couple of people asked:

  • "It would be nice to read about the cultural differences and if it was easy to adjust to life there. Especially the joint family system."

Well, I thought I'd experience a massive culture shock, especially that I was meeting the whole family for the first time. But I met one of Hubby's aunts before, when she visited the UK, and I spoke (OK, if you count saying "hello, how are you" ;)) to his mum over the phone. And he talks to them like all the time on Skype, so I've always kinda felt like I already knew them. 

Yeah, the joint family system is something we now rarely see in the West - in Hubby's family house in Lahore two of his brothers live with their aunt and grandma, with everyone looking after the family's eldest member. Did I have to adjust to that? No, not really - I don't think so. 

Another reason why I didn't feel the cultural differences that much, was that I've been with Hubby for a while now, and I'm quite used to his pakistani-ness. Some of his family also lives in the same town as us, so I've had a chance to experience a bit of their culture before. And we live close to the town's "little Pakistan" ;)

I actually enjoyed meeting Hubby's family - they're a lovely bunch of people, who treated me like their own daughter/sister/cousin/niece from the very moment we arrived. I really loved watching how close they all are.

  • "Something about the prejudice that people have about Pakistan (or the prejudice you had yourself before going there) and what you found were true or not."

When we went, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I definitely know what prejudices other people have - that it's a dangerous place filled with terrorists on every corner and that someone would surely kidnap me ;) That the country is poor, and women oppressed.

Oh well.

As I said, people are really sweet. Whenever we went to visit Hubby's family or friends, or anyone came to visit us, everyone would try to accomodate our every need. Everyone's really friendly an welcoming.

Terrorism? Yeah, can't deny that - even when we were in Lahore, a bomb blast happened just days before we were due to leave. But people still live there.

Kidnapping? I was actually surprised how little attention I was attracting with my pale skin. Apart from a few rare awkward situations, I haven't had any bad experiences.

Oppressed women? Well, there are of course plenty of women covering completely. Majority of women will cover their heads when outside. But you can also see teenage girls in jeans and t-shirts. 

As for the poverty - I found Lahore being a city of contrasts. I've seen people sleeping rough, had beggars following us round, seen run-down buildings that looked like they were about to collapse. But then I visited really nice houses, went to western-style shopping centre and drove past exclusive boutiques. And, as Hubby observed - people seem to be poor, yet all the food places and markets are constantly packed with people spending money.

  • "And do you want to go there for a longer period of time, or maybe move there in the future?"

When Hubby decided we were going for whole four weeks, I was really scared. I don't really know the language, plus I'm a terrible introvert that hates meeting people, and I was terrified. I didn't know what I would do in Pakistan for so long, especially if Hubby was going to go somewhere, like see his friends, and leave me alone. But then we spent a long time in the village, which left us with just over 2 weeks staying in Lahore, and there's so much to do and see in the city, that this was nowhere near enough! So yes, I would happily stay there for much longer ;) As anxious as I was in the beginning, I was actually pretty upset to be leaving so quickly.

Would I move there? I had a moment of the initial fascination with the place and all its culture, when I said to Hubby I could stay there permanently ;) Realistically though - nah. I would find it really stressful to move to a different place within the UK, not to mention a totally different country! And I don't think Hubby would want to live there either, we're now settled here. So, unless we'd have an extremely important reason to do so, we wouldn't move to Pakistan. I guess it was a nice escape from the everyday reality ;)

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