Have you ever visited Pakistan?


Have you ever visited Pakistan?

Mudassir Ali 10 months 4 Answers 281 views

Answers ( 4 )

  1. Revant Nayar, Research Scholar at Princeton University
    No I have not, although my ancestors lived there (Sialkot) for at least a few centuries. I grew up listening to my grandparents’ stories of their childhood and teenage years in Sialkot. All their accounts painted the picture of a harmonious society with a perfect blend of the industrial and the agricultural, with many communities living peacefully. “Why can’t we go there”, I would ask. “It is ‘enemy territory’ now” I was told by the popular media. A land of hostile fundamentalists who wish nothing but the annihilation of India. During my training in classical music I would be puzzled to find that all prominent artists from my (Shyam chaurasi) gharana now live across the border . How could a land of terrorists produce such soulful music? ” Salamat Ali Khan is the exception, Hafiz Saeed is the norm”, I was told. I encountered various other ‘exceptions ‘ over the years but never questioned my original premise. That is, until I met Pakistanis in the US. And found that they were more Indian than me.

    While growing up I was repulsed by modern North Indian/Punjabi culture of pomposity, uncontrolled hedonism and frivolity. Throughout the 2000s, I felt increasingly out of place in the increasingly westernised space. The drug and alcohol crisis in Indian Punjab left its ugly marks everywhere-in the proliferation of pubs and bars, crimes against women, the unavailability of labour due to drugs, etc. Where had the traditional Punjabiat of earlier generations gone- the restraint, the humility, the hospitality that the old movies and books speak of? Where was the self esteem and valor of the generation of Punjabis that vowed to avenge the Jaliawala massacre? Where was the legendary jazba-junoon?

    In the US I discovered that it had been largely preserved in the ‘other’ Punjab, the land of the so-called enemy. Here, I have more Pakistani than Indian friends- perhaps because they remind me of the home I never had. For all the problems faced by Pakistan, from military dictatorships to fighting American wars, to the Saudi funded extremism, and against the predictions of most political pundits, the common Pakistani man has endured. Perhaps a big reason for that is that he has retained his identity- an identity that precedes and transcends race, religion or any border chalked out by invaders. It is hard to put in words- it is a kind of fearlessness, large heartedness and groundedness, of humility and tehzeeb. It is an identity that my grandfather embodied, though one that is rapidly fading under the pretext of ‘globalisation’. I am all in favour of the economic benefits of the latter but completely opposed to the consumerist hedonism that it has bred that has all but destroyed the cultural fabric of much of North India.

  2. Murree is a hill station near Islamabad, it is a relaxing place for Islamabad citizens and a developed tourist area with countless restaurants, hotels and shops.

    Because of the high altitude, Murree’s temperature is about ten degrees below Islamabad, some people go there to see the snow in winter. When I went there, the temperature was close to Beijing’s autumn.

    On the way from Islamabad to Murree, with all the way up, the night view is extraordinary. On my way, I sat in the front seat of the car and saw the lights of Murree far away, it was like a starry fuzzy sky, and we are headed for the fantastic nebula. The night breeze was cool and we are in the mood of the light song.

    I ate the best dried apricots in Murree. It was with traces of the natural drying, tough, sweet, after chewing here comes a bit souring. Before dinner, I finished whole bag of apricots while strolling the streets.

    But my favorite place is the shawl shop. No words can describe my feeling when I saw hundreds of different styles, colorful, hand-embroidered shawl at the first time, at the first night in Murree, I spent three hours in the shop, bought a dozen scarves and Shawl, still do not want to leave.

    But Murree is so cold. I did not sleep well for whole night. Early morning in the next, we were going back to Islamabad. I fell asleep when K took me on motorcycle, slowly he stopped at the curb. I woke up with Dizziness and tinnitus, just like the night when I arrived in Islamabad.

    K and his friend sat on the side of the road, eating a snack like jelly. I tasted, declined to eat more.

    I stood on the curb, shaking my head, feeling like there was a broken string in my head. Suddenly I saw uncle who sells the “jelly” was smiling at me, with his white modeling beard. I ask K to take a picture for us, uncle tided his beard, made his posture, and then we took a picture together. Before we left, uncle gently patted on my forehead with his hand.

  3. I put on my special red dress. I bought it when I went to Ningxia in the summer of 2016, then rarely wear it when I came back. After I came to Beijing, I did not wear it even for one time, she was just hung in the closet with loneliness. Living in summer once again, only she can deserve the joy of my vacation.

    My neighborhood is all villas, with different decoration style, different kinds of doors, butevery yard planted trees. The roadside is also full of trees, or even a small garden. There are churches, mosques, and schools. The sunshine at noon is so dazzling, I have to walk with squint eyes, look around everywhere.

    There are guards in front of some gates. Uncles with white, sky blue or beige kurta, are very thin, dark skin, leaning on the armchair, look at me curiously. I politely looked back. I want to speak with them, but there are a hint of vigilance in their eyes, obviously no intention to talk to me.

    But the children are interested in me. Two six-year-old boys passed by and they said “Hello,” and I said hello back to them in surprise. They stopped and asked me “How are you?” “How old are you?” After I answered, they did not react and were not interested in my answer. For them, the Chinese speaking show was over, when I was eager to perform a few Urdu speaking show, they waved to me and left.

    Even I did not get a chance to take picture with them.

    Walking in the villa area, I marvel at the greenery here. After that I found out that the entire Islamabad has done very well in afforestation. Maybe because of its young age, maybe it gathered a lot of the middle class and the elite here due to its position as political center, Islamabad is more like a resort not a modern city. The road is wide and smooth, no traffic jam at all, tress growing on the both sides.

    When I took an overlooking at Islamabad in Monal restaurant, the feeling became more intense, the entire city is covered in green, only the centaurus reminds people that the city is gradually growing from the forest.

    But the night is still gentle. In the Mid-autumn festival, we went to the mountain for the moon, Islamabad city looks like a dark night sky filled with dozens of stars, some of them are bright, and some of them are dim. Beijing city is more like the IKEA Light area.

    Fortunately, Islamabad returned to the way that I first met her. When the sun goes down, it becomes dim and peaceful. After a few days, K usually carry me with motorcycle, we drove like flying at night, everything became fuzzy, warm air is full of the aroma of vegetation.

  4. Ruiyao Luo, Reporter at The Passage (2018-present)
    I have, two times.

    And I really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to my third time visiting Pakistan.

    I worte something about my trip to Pakistan, more about personal experience, but would like to share it here. (it is written in Chinese then translated into English by google because I was busy at that time so please forgive me if there is some mistakes.)

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