Just do this, pick up a globe, and see where Pakistan is…then put your finger across on the other side of the world. And you will find Seattle, a little to the North. That is the place I’m talking about now. It is not only across, it’s the opposite, or nearly opposite of the world we live in. I’d known many things, but they say there is no short cut to experience. And this is what it is. I mean, the sun comes out of a different side, not the East. It does not set in the right place. Its not the West. Needless to say even the timing is all wrong. All prayers timings are a mess too. I mean, Fajar does not start till around seven in the morning, and then Zuhr, Asr and Maghrib…all between two and four thirty pm. It came to the point, where one would just stand on the prayer mat and ask? ‘Kaunsi namaz parhun?”, and hope the answer comes quick or you miss that prayer also! Yes, this is wrong time of year to be here in Seattle, winters. It is like this here at this time of the year. In summers it’s the opposite. Daylight till ten pm. Tobah! So, when you land here after a seventy hour journey after leaving Karachi, you are feeling like a zombie. Pakistanis will be Pakistanis where ever you are. -Ready to come all the way to receive you at the airport the same courtesy, the same hospitality. And you thank God, at least that’s not changed!
Come to think of it, even the Americans were pretty courteous. Apologetic too for having to ‘recheck’ our names at the airport. As a name ending with a ‘Khan’ is suspicious, on top of it another name like ‘Ahmed….’ Oh that is too much. Another hour to make sure there is no connection. So, we all waited patiently as they found out that we are not those terrorists. I mean which terrorist arrives with a wife and three daughters. But I understand, one has to be careful. But I was thinking, we are the most deeply hit by terrorism. In our parts, it’s a daily affair, having blasts, and suicide bombing, and what not.
So, there we were received warmly at the airport feeling odd that the airport is not as ‘dashing’ as the Amsterdam one nor even the Karachi one… All concrete and dull. But then you suddenly land up in a ‘train’ (no, we don’t have a train to embark on just to get your baggage!). So, we get our baggage all of them. (Though one was saved at the last minute by an agitated lady who rescued two of our bags which had been ‘unclaimed’ and had been removed.)
So, as I was saying, we were warmly received by my daughter and son in law… Seeing them after a year and a half was something. Both looked great in that ‘maghrib’ light, as we got our eight bags into their SUV. And …then we went swirling down round and round to the main road. Now, how do I explain the round and round…? It was the drive to the car park which was at least four storied. As we got on the main road, I realized they don’t drive on the right side. (I knew it, but….)
I mean … its’ the right, but it does not feel right as, we are used to driving on the left side of the road.
And then there are no people. I mean nothing like our massive population! I mean, … ok, let’s not talk about it. Oh I see, its’ because there is so much else to do here. Besides… there is the science museum, the skyscrapers, the many many storied high buildings.
PS: Found this article written in December 2007, when I first visited Seattle with my husband and two daughters.