We might not always enjoy living in Pakistan but the moment we board a plane to escape the land for good, the realisation how sublime it actually is comes hard and unsolicited.
This Independence day, we got in talks with some overseas Pakistanis to find out what they miss the most about home and you'd be surprised to see how for granted we take some of the things on our list.
From the overflowing public buses to the grossest food stalls on footpath selling the most delicious of stuff, the hubbub at Meena Bazaar on chaand raat or just how unnecessarily extravagant our wedding functions are, these expats reminisce about the littlest of things which are intrinsically Pakistani in nature. Read on:
Kebab, nihari, halwa puri and every oily food item ever
This was an almost involuntary response from the lot we talked to. Some mourned the inaccessibility to halal food while others talked about the lack of taste.
Sidra Iqbal, a Pakistani student studying in Australia, grieves, "Not being able to find bun kebab or gola ganda at every street corner is just frustrating!"
Afraz Ahmed, another young Pakistani working as a fraud analyst in Canada, shares," Pakistani food may not be the healthiest but it sure is the yummiest! The very absence of nihari, paaye, quorma here makes me cry. I can’t make random Sunday plans with friends for a halwa puri breakfast or karak chai at a local dhaba and it makes me miss Pakistan terribly."
Biryani, the lord of every desi household
I know we have already talked about food but this food item is a class apart.
Most overseas Pakistanis have complained about missing the real taste of gourmet biryani outside their own land.
Ahmer Iyaz from UK says, "It's frustrating to crave the desi delicacy and not finding the one which tastes closely like home. Most versions abroad are insulting renditions of our national rice dish so it's the one thing I miss acutely about home. Sometimes I catch myself involuntarily dreaming about a steaming plate of biryani with a chicken leg piece and a huge aloo...aloo, yes, now that's very important. "
We feel you, bro. We feel you.
The heart-warming hospitality
Sarah Ayub, an engineer in Germany, looks back at her days in Pakistan, "I remember our weekly visits to my maternals would be no less than eid for us kids. Our nani would make tons of sooji ka halwa for both the kids and the neighbourhood and mamu would take out his vespa and give us rides around the street. We'd be stuffed till our noses with paratha, only taking a short break before khala prepared something else for us to eat. They would all cluster around us after these extensive food session and we would laugh and talk our time away. It's nothing like that here."
Can't argue with that. From the rib-breaking hugs to the elaborate dastarkhuans, laden with more food than we can stomach, we've all been there.
Not being tied by desi rules anymore
Maheen Shakir from Norway shares, "I miss being scolded by amma for coming home late and not having my dinner. She would never let me go to bed empty-stomached so I had to chug down a glass of milk to make up for skipping a meal."
(Major déja vu)
"Abba would go berserk if I got home only minutes after my usual curfew, she continues, "And my dadi had a whole list of things I should and should not be doing before marriage! I hated having those strings attached to me back then but I kinda miss them now."
This brings us to the next thing on our list:
Siblings over friends any day
Sisters who raid your wardrobes behind your back can be irritating but Saima Khan, also from Canada, misses hers back home whom she shared all the snippets of her life with, "We fought a lot. A LOT. But then when the bickering ended, we would always huddle and swap gossip."
**That love-hate relationship sounds a little familiar... oh wait.