Travelling from the most beautiful city in Pakistan, to the most beautiful city in America, has been an awesome experience. My heart is full of the joys I’ve experienced in Seattle. During my two months, the most remarkable feeling perhaps has been of enjoying Pakish hospitality; (the term ‘Pakish’ is introduced by Danish Rahi. I wrote this, in my post on the launching of his book: The Pakish Identity. )
While being spoilt hollow by my own family in Seattle, where my daughter Nataliya and son-in-law Bilal cooked for me, entertained me and took me out to beautiful places. We went to Afghan Cuisine and Naan and Curry and visits to beautiful places. I was also spoilt by all of the friends there.
My friend Rubina would have something planned almost every Friday, which was her off day from work. This included yummy brunch, dinner, and hi-tea. Her cooking an amalgamation of American, European and Pakish food – scrumptious. Once, she invited Saba, who has her own lace business, for a brunch. Saba is a keen reader of my blog posts. It was a pleasure to meet someone who has her own business in Seattle.
This, being my fourth trip, most of my daughter Nataliya’s friends have become like my friends. I’m frankly so proud of each one of them. So competent and efficient as home makers and several of them managing careers too. They are bringing up their children in a very commendable way. The access to latest information and technology is made full use of. Along with this, they are keeping the children connected to their religion through Islamic school in local mosque, and Quranic skype lessons from Pakistan.
The Pakish families are leading a jet-set life in this competitive world. Most of them have studied from universities like GIK, FAST,IBA, LUMS in Pakistan. They are managing very well with style, humor and a good life. There are young men and women working in Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Google, and organizations working on alternative energy, which I can’t spell or understand! They are doing well, and keeping abreast of challenges of the current world in a progressive society. Most of them are connected to their home country through parents, in-laws or relatives. Some of them have also been born in USA, while others were born in Pakistan, and shifted there later, before or after marriage.
It is a daily struggle to achieve many things like language, literature, dress and style. Most things we take for granted. Yet, today it’s a beautiful world everywhere. What with ‘drama online’, Google and Youtube and Chrome to keep everyone fully connected everywhere. Many dramas are followed in the US more religiously, than here in Pakistan.
So, I’d say, we all are definitely in a better world today. A more connected world.
So, the moment I reach there, I get invited to dinners and parties. Knowing the lives they have, I feel like avoiding these, and not put further pressure on them, but they keep insisting. So, this time Affaf, the daughter of my colleague Mahjabeen in APSACS, arranged a one-dish party at her place. So, Nadia, Tallat, Sana, Nabila and Naveen also brought food. The dishes were just out of this world. I loved the ‘gup-shup’ and the children and the men and all of us talking at the same time, brought the sound level to such a pitch. I had to smile inwardly, remembering similar parties in my life when my kids were small (-wasn’t it just yesterday???)
Everyone gathered at the Persian restaurant in downtown Seattle, for Eid. Afterwards, Bilal got a parking ticket! He wanted to contest it, but found it far less stressful just to pay up! You pay online, simple! Here, in Pakistan, it’s a long process. I wish they did the same way, here too! – Any policeman reading my blog post???)
Anyhow, the food came so late, and the restaurant was over booked. While waiting, there was so much to catch up on. Naveen whose parents Air Cdre and Mrs. Saqib were known to my husband and myself, was there with her mother-in-law. The later, turned out to be a close relative of our close relative, Uzma.
I’m telling you everyone in Islamabad is related to each other! (You find that out after ten minutes.) Then, everyone in Pakistan, knows each other’s relatives somewhere or the other. – So, its’ all one big happy family, mostly. – Or at loggerheads with each other again like one big unhappy family!
Bilal has never been too social. He is more of an introvert. Yesterday, I read that intelligent people are that way. (– So what about all of us not-so-intelligent-but-not-stupid-social-people?)
So, anyhow, then Nabila Chaudhry and Nadia decided to to meet us at Cheesecake Factory in Bellevue. Right before entering the restaurant, I found out that there are two Nabilas in Nataliya’s group and I had misunderstood who this one was! Thankfully, the error was duly corrected before we met. Ummm the food was amazing. Nataliya and I usually share our food, so that makes up for the huge helpings! The conversation was so gripping, that Nabila and I (who had met for the first time) got quite carried away. Her father had had GBM IV – a deadly brain tumor, like my husband did, so we had a lot to share. The conversation wasn’t one to be had over food. But that’s how it was. The courage, the bravery needed at such times, was once more shown with the way we went through the food! Sigh, even after almost five years and in her case, over twelve years, it all seemed tough.
A meeting with Nadia Ali in Starbucks in Duvall was also fun when Nataliya treated us. Nadia is studying, and is into Urdu literature. So our conversation hovered over Mustansar Husain Tarar, to Bano Qudsia, to Ashfaque Ahmed and on and on. She loves tragedy.( I cannot stand it.) She hates happy endings! So, naturally, she likes Bano Qudsia more.
Sumera came home to meet me, bringing her new born baby and son along . It was wonderful seeing her drive all the way, guided by Google map.
Nabila who works for Microsoft invited Nataliya and myself to Microsoft café in their building 34. The food and service was literally out of this world. I don’t know why I didn’t take pictures of the three course food. The café itself was something. Lots of hanging plants growing while being lighted up from the roof, these were the herbs and salad leaves served in the restaurant. It is not possible to capture everything in pictures. Nabila leaves her baby with her mother-in-law usually, otherwise, there is a day-care in the premises.
I missed out on other pressing invitations: Aisha, who invited me last time to a fabulous dinner in her previous home. Again, she was keen to entertain me, in her new home in Kirkland. Then, Sana wanted me to see her apartment in Seattle’s downtown. Naveen invited me too, but somehow, we couldn’t make it. I’m so glad that Naveen is studying art and design in Seattle, while her children go to school. Then, we also wanted to meet Fatima, who had just had her baby.
So finally, before I left, Nataliya had a tea party for the friends. Mariam, the daughter of Uzma, my colleague in SZIA also came. Along with Tehmina who is from Norway. Then, Affaf, Nadia and Aisha were there too. The working girls couldn’t make it due to their own commitments. But it was fun getting together.
A couple of days before I left, two ladies from the Jehovah Witness Church came over, while we spoke I invited them inside. We sat and we talked about what God says. How important it is for humans to be loving and caring. They invited me to their church gathering. I showed them the Holy Quran, while they showed me passages from the Bible. I mentioned how Quran is the last edition of the series of Holy Books. They listened keenly, when I mentioned how Allah has put this ‘chip’ called conscience inside every human being. If we just listen to it, we all ‘know’ what is the right thing to do, in a given situation. I told them about this place called Kalash, Chitral in Northern Pakistan. It is one of the oldest living cultures – at least 2500 years old. How there is no crime there, even today. The two beautiful young women spoke with so much love and compassion, it was wonderful.
“Thank you so much for your hospitality.” One of them said, “you didn’t even have the cup of tea I offered.” I said. They said, “You brought us into the home, and invited us to sit down. No one does that.” Well, that’s what happens in Pakistan too, to the people who go door to door…. But I felt bad. Here were two persons walking door to door inviting people to the house of God. Whats’ wrong with that?
Lastly, I have to mention the Renton Writer’s Salon meet up group whom I met about three times. They too had snacks. Stephanie had gifted me her own book. They were warm and sweet and said “Now, we are an international group having you with us!” I told them, “That’s an honor for me. Pakistan has such great writers. I’m just too small a writer, in comparison with them.” Yet, I loved the importance they gave me as a writer. They gave me pertinent tips for my upcoming books. I showed them the drafts of two. Specially the one on translation of Allama Iqbals’ poetry.
The night before I left, Tallat her sis Sana, and husband Humayun came over to bid me farewell, with a gift and sweet words on a card.
She wrote these words:
Thank you for remembering us always and bringing us your beautiful print art. You are passionate, brave and full of life and energy. I love meeting you every time. You make all of us proud for standing up against the odds. You are truly an inspiration for us and Nataliya is fortunate to have you. May you have long, healthy and prosperous life and continue to show us how to act when things don’t go according to plan.
Please accept this little token to remember us when you are so far away from us.
Tallat, Humayun and our little kids.
Seattle, November 4th 2016.
It was truly a privilege and pleasure to have met such wonderful folks.
I believe that when someone gives you their time, they give you something that they can never have again. I’m truly blessed that so many wonderful angels gave me their time while I was in Seattle.
This was the lunch I got from my family before leaving, finally. A lamb roast made by Bilal along with the chick pea dish. Rice, salad and koftas by Nataliya. Yum yum. So, this trip was a feast for all my senses, and I’m so thankful and happy for it.
PS: Isn’t it a happy co-incidence that this post is getting published during Thanksgiving holidays?
Thank you, for your time, my dear Reader. Stay blessed! 🙂