Have a fabulous 2012


Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Expats in Pakistan!

My first advice will be: Do NOT bring your baggage to Pakistan, figuratively, that is. It is different from your your own country and has its own customs, traditions and hence, might not fit perfectly in your plans and ideas.
Having said that, I've been getting an idea that NOT many foreigners dare to come to Pakistan but it proved wrong when I boarded a plane bound for Islamabad (right after Eid). To my surprise the flight was full of foreigners except 14 Pakistanies ( I counted them being the last to get the boarding pass). I said to myself, how come with so many of these foreigners still visiting/living in Pakistan do we have such a bad reputation overseas- almost always? Is there anybody onboard who can say a few good things  about this place where they live and live lavishly (in huge mansions or really spacious houses; where they shop until they drop; enjoy exotic/garden-fresh fruits which are either extremely expensive in their respective countries or simply they don't have them; armies of maids, drivers, gardeners, security guards and still are able to have big savings compared to what they save while living in any other country). I think what is lacking wih respect to a foreigner is approaching this country and its people with open hearts and minds.

Pakistan offers a lot to foreigners but rare incidents hijack the spotlight and nothing but bad reviews is all Pakistan gets.
Pakistan has four (five: including monsoon) seasons (this is how Koreans and Japanese introduce their country and it always amazed me what is the big deal about it? Answer is:  other countries in that region have only 2 seasons: summers and rainy). Pakistan also has a great history - from Indus Valley Civilization to its fascinating Buddhist heritage as well as it is a mecca for the sikh religion,  from highest mountain peaks to an endless list of: beautiful landscapes, palaces, forts, walled cities, that are littered all across the country, hence, it ceases to be explored fully.

With all such gems, I feel cheated by the expats in Pakistan (most of them) who write about Pakistan but never tell the whole story, the truth - all they have to share is the bits and pieces of their (or that of others) bad experiences, that is all. I wonder how would they ever know the place if they have a negative/judgemental attitude towards it? A personal attitude is also a kind of baggage that people come with. At times their perspective become norms and no wonder this create a difficult relationship in opening up to a new culture, a new country.

I know, we all complain and criticize as expats and never get tired of it. We usually try to find our own home away from home which leads to frustrations but then, if we give ourself and our new country including the locals  a little time, it is impossible to get stressed!

I guess, travelling is a fantastic learning experience. Embrace any country without bias, in return, you are going to have great stories to tell...!

You will see how the well kept secrets will unfold for you, how out of the blue, great things will happen to you(this has been a blessing for me).

Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, people and much, much more is waiting right around the corner for you - go grab it. All we need to do is to open our hearts and our minds. All we need is to look beyond bias. All we have to do is to get real, get out of the living rooms and de-glue ourself from various screens (TVs, computers, cell phones etc.) and explore the country and the people around. I bet that you will say that: Pakistan is NOT as dangerous as the media tries to show.

The more you expose yourself to the locale, the easier the life will become for you and next time when you will email, blog, tweet etc.  about any country including Pakistan - I assure you that you will have tons of positive things to write about it!

I am confident that once, you will leave Pakistan for good, you will miss it and miss it terribly!