I love traveling. My record is that after ten days (or two months at the most), I miss home and my country, badly. What are the things that I miss? In this post, I’ll note these. Yet, when one is back, I miss many things that were enjoyed while I was abroad. It is the same for me, whether I go to USA, or Canada, or Europe. So, this post is all about the best in both worlds. The East (in my case Pakistan,) and the West, (in my case US, Canada or Europe.)
Best of Pakistan:
Of course, everyone misses their family. But Pakistani families are something else. They make time for each other at all odd hours. They are caring, warm and very interfering. (Ha ha, that part you don’t miss!) But the result of that is, that the moment you face any tragedy or trauma, they are all there for you. I suppose that is one of the major reasons for Corona Virus not being so bad here. It is because we are very supportive.
We Pakistanis are thoroughly spoilt. Most homes have domestic help. Almost every home will be having: driver, cook, maid, gardener, and guard. If not full time, then part time. Usually it is one person who becomes most of these mentioned. Most middle and upper class Pakistanis manage to have a lovely time. The famous hospitality of the East is mainly due to these gems in our homes.
Hospitality of the East:
A guest anywhere in Pakistan is so pampered. Everything is offered, whether the guest wants it or not. There is so much warmth and love showered on the guest. Whatever mealtime it is, usually you get invited to join the hosts.
There is a tradition of feeding the people. Free food is offered in most saint’s mausoleums. Now, many mosques have begun that tradition. During Corona Virus times this year individuals give a lot of charity in the form of food, clothing and medical help wherever possible. Pakistan is one of the most charity giving countries of the world.
Talking about having food, brings one to the other end. Definitely, the Muslim shower tops the list. Muslims are very particular about performing ablutions for ‘wuzu’, five times a day, for prayers. They have to regularly clean specific body parts, including their posterior ends. So, every washroom in Pakistan has a Muslim shower. It is something all Pakistanis really miss when they are abroad. Every doctor will assure you how important it is. (So, I’d definitely suggest it for the Western world to emulate even if you find it offensive now. Of course you wash your hands properly with soap afterwards!)
Nothing to beat Pakistani cuisine. Not only us, but those who visit Pakistan, feel the same. Yesterday, I had a British couple over for tea, in Islamabad, and Joe said, ‘Pakistani food is the best in the world!’ He was relishing our pakoras, which are delicious snacks. I’m telling you, the food is out of this world, and is missed when one is abroad.
We Pakistanis are chatty people. Very friendly – even a bit nosy – and also very helpful. So, while traveling you enjoy all these attributes. Frankly, I’ve enjoyed everyone’s company while traveling, Canadians and Americans are very sweet persons too, but one needs to break the ice, and it is fun chatting with several of them during my flights. I learnt a lot. In a Pakistani flight, it is chatting everywhere.
Lots of color:
There is so much color splashed in our clothes, buildings and billboards. Though at times it is over flowing, which is bad, but it makes a very charming ambiance.
Herbal and spiritual medications:
Do you know, I’ve avoided a major operation of knee replacement due to my cook’s interventions and bringing me herbs. You can check out my post here about it. There is great knowledge about all these spices and Quranic verses to be repeated to heal. It is a science. Another, main reason for Pakistan having one of the best Corona virus survival rate in the world. Whether your problem is physical or emotional, these things really work!
Best of West (Canada, USA & Europe):
They are always calm and on time, (That can be said for all western folks.) This is the quality that I want to bring back to Pakistan, the most. Our Pakistanis are as non-punctual while being abroad, as they are here. Though some of them have improved.
Cleanliness and garbage disposal:
The places are neat, clean without any garbage in almost any place, except where it belongs. The garbage disposal system is efficient, and everyone is very particular about being responsible about his own garbage.
Animals and pets in full control:
Dogs poop disposal: This one is the best. So, if your dog poops on the road, you will be having a bag for it. You will pick it up into a bag, and put the bag then dispose it properly, ( I saw the whole process.) So, most of the time, you can walk safely.
There are instructions on how to use something everywhere. There are symbols which are known to all, about where the toilet is, where to cross the road, how to use gadgets and items in stations, hospitals etc. Inside the public places there are instructions for almost everything. Everyone is made independent. If you have to ask the staff they are cooperative and helpful. (I know, it is the same here too, but it is much more over there. I feel we must have instructions in Urdu and English everywhere.)
Looking at their buildings, institutions and homes, one finds that these are well maintained. This includes the gadgets within. A great deal of time and effort is made to keep things in working order. They keep things smaller, rather than larger, and keep them well maintained. Everywhere you look, maintenance work is going on. The roads, the buildings and even inside the buildings. Instead of getting new things, I can understand, they prefer to keep their things in working order and in best condition.
Mind their own business:
Since they are fully focused on their own personal responsibilities and work, they do it well.
Pursuit of excellence:
You can see it. There is a constant endeavor towards self-improvement, and finding better scientific and technological solutions to problems faced. Each place is neat, and clean and well managed.
Few persons do more work:
You will find that just a few persons do most of the work. They keep things simple and manageable.
Libraries & love of books:
Yes, definitely the libraries. These are so accommodating, have an amazing ambiance and lots of books. You can have almost as many books as you like. If they don’t have a book they will get it for you. Now, during Covid19 they have online audio books available. I just LOVE these libraries which are there in most communities.
Low maintenance clothes:
They keep few clothes and manage them well. Focusing on simplicity. The clothes mostly don’t need ironing. Most people on the roads are casually dressed.
East & West can benefit each other:
Once I was interviewing Brig. Shafi (God bless his soul,) of Sir Syed Memorial in Islamabad. I asked him, ‘Why do we keep trying to copy the Western countries?’
‘Why not?’ He responded, ‘Most of Europe today, is progressive due to what the Muslims taught them during their golden era in Spain, Iraq, and Egypt. So, during those years the ‘West’ copied and followed the Muslim philosophers, surgeons, scientists and mathematicians.
Now, we are learning from the West.
Just a couple of hundred years ago, when Mughals of India had brought so much prosperity in the Sub-Continent, the French, Portuguese and British came over to trade, and then topple the government here.
So, throughout history, East and West have benefited from each other why not now?
Stay blessed and protected. 😊
Note: All photographs provided by author and her daughters, Nataliya, Nadiya and Waliya and their father Air Cdre M Najib Khan. One photograph of Muslim Shower & Pakistani food taken from online source.