Monday, April 19, 2010

An open letter to Bhai…

Bhai on his trusted mobike

Dear Bhai,

Hope all is well with you.

Forgive me for communicating with you in this manner – I did train a pigeon but it took off when it figured I was an Indian in Pakistan.

First things first. Thank you so much for keeping track of this blog and reading all posts – not just once, but over and over again, all the time, from all kinds of locations. I really do appreciate your interest in my interests.

I am truly indebted to you for this and so much more that you do for me all the time. If only I could return the many favours…

Bhai, I feel so special and so cared for each time I step out of the house and you try and match footsteps with me. The other day when you followed me into the superstore and kept me company when I was shopping for groceries, I was so moved.

I noticed that you asked the store supervisor and other shop helps too to take good care of me. It felt so good being the cynosure of all eyes – including the customers’. And you looked so cute making a mental note of which pulses I eat and which brand of flour I buy. Ah! I so wish I could tell you so.

I also spotted you carrying a packet of Ariel washing powder. You remembered to shop for Bhabhi even on duty? She must be one happy woman!

I was delighted when you and another Bhai walked into a laboratory with me where I had gone to collect medical reports. Of course, as you would have gathered, the reports weren’t mine but my maid’s. Yet the fact that you care makes me feel so nice.

I felt honoured when you walked into the upholstery store with me. Because of your presence the sales guy helped me make up my mind in record time. I figured how possessive you were about me when you pulled up a museum guide for talking to me too much.

I also loved the way you spent time with me in that teeny-weeny jewellery shop some time ago. There was barely enough space for the two of us, yet you did not deprive me of your company even for a second. It was nice of you to take interest in the kind of designs and gems I like. Ditto when I checked out Pakistani handicraft and you tried to get details of my likes and dislikes from the salesmen after I had walked out of the store.

Did you know that I like that smile on your face when you look at me and when you take a sharp U-turn on your red Yamaha to announce that you are there for me – always. I feel so thrilled when you follow me on foot when I decide to go for a walk.

I love the way you hang around under that tree in front of my house with your pals (you know, the chowkidars and guards) and keep a careful eye on my house. I am positive that if it wasn’t for your special job you would have attained Moksha by now. I don’t know the Urdu equivalent of Moksha, but in English its “salvation”. Familiar? Did they teach you about “salvation” at your madrassa?

I want to put on record that the chowkidars and guards are doing a brilliant job of filling in for you while you are away. I would even recommend a raise for them and, if I may say so, a weekly off. Of course, I’ll miss them tremendously – not to mention their “meow-meows” (when they see me with my cats) and their comments when I play badminton – but then you know I am all for good working conditions.

Thank you again for making my stay so comfortable in your country. I will try and write as often as I can to you. I know you’d love to write back, but then don’t worry your silence is worth a million words. And, of course, you can continue to pay/repay me in kind for writing to you.

My salam to bhabhi/bhabhis (as the case may be) and muah muahs to the chunnu-munnus.

Your pyari behan


  1. Mam, I have been following your blog from almost day one, much before Mr Tharoor made it famous.

    First, I must say your writing style is delightfully Indian, Which I adore.

    This particular post, is very interesting. I can totally see that slight twinge of frustration, while you sincerely show your love and respect for your "bhais".

    I hope you continue to provide this wonderful glimpse of your and your husband's life in Pakistan.

  2. I think its time you were back ..... to qoute the great poet " apne ghar mein bhi hain roti"

  3. Ankit, you are most kind. Thank you.

    Premal, the countdown has begun :)

  4. Urdu for 'moksha' - nijaat. From Persian, as in Ahmed-i-nejad. Also used in everyday sense to mean 'chutkaara' - i.e., Bhagwan aapko aise 'bhai' se nijaat dilwaaye!

    best wishes
    OMM (no pun here)

  5. haha ...... like to read u a lot ..... very subtle ....keep posting ...

  6. I would really like to thank Shashi for giving us pointer to your blog. I never miss to read a single post of yours. Really delightful.

  7. OMM, for me nijaat was always chutkaara :) Thanks though for providing the Urdu equivalent.

    Parag, thank you.

    DilSe, thanks.

  8. I hate the RSS/Atom watever web feeds..
    Worn out my knuckles rechecking ur blog for new posts..Its been really long since last one.I thought u guys almost stopped blogging..hope bhai logs learn frm ur letters how to treat a guest properly.Can almost feel the claustrophobic atmosphere in ur posts..
    You guys have such good hearts and infinite patience..Totally admire u guys..
    Even if u guys return to India..for reader's sake plz keep the blog running..or start a new one..

  9. Irony at its best...must say you have loads of patience and your post always give one a feel that ones land is always ones own and alien land keep reminding one of being alien :)
    Like the veiled emotions in the post!Keep up!

  10. Hahahaha....amazing post.

    The best part I like about your posts is the subtle humour hidden between the lines (and sometimes outfront!!).

    It is always a delight to be updated about your extended family (bhais/bhabhis and chunu munnus *wink*


  11. Is this like a parting short for the bhai?

  12. Kannan, been busy :)

    A New Beginning, yes, loads of patience -- but just for my many bhais! :)

    AM, thanks. I do like my extended family, chunnu-munnus, included :)

    Wordsmith, ? (I am quite low IQ)

  13. I meant that perhaps you were planning to come back to India and hence the last parting shot for the bhais and James Bond/s.
    Anyways, like Kanan says please do continue writing.

  14. Wordsmith, @parting shot: I wouldn't dare upset Bhais' monopoly :)
    Thanks for reading.

  15. Hello mam, after long time been waiting for a good read.

    The tiny jewelery shop episode was fun to read, and the chunnu munnu almost made me ROFL.

    Stay safe and keep blogging ...

  16. I don't have words to express what i felt reading this post... Awesome...

    Hats off to u ppl... nd as everyone is saying, pls continue writing evn if u cum to india...
    nd on regular intervals... not long gaps like dis time...

    till the next post... take care and have a safe stay...

    Khuda Hafiz...

  17. is there a bhai for every indian brother and sister in Pakistan?????

    also, I feel you must give your pakistani bro a token of your appreciation when you are leaving the country for all the days and nights he has kept a watch on you.

  18. Dear Author,

    Thanks for raising this again, its horrible to know that you are followed so much. As a Pakistani it makes us aware of how much our govt. follows and watches not only you but us too. That being said i should be careful what i write here!



  19. Ashu, as always thank you for tuning in :)

    Soch, awwww :) no more breaks!

    Anonymous, yes for all Indians. Any ideas for gifts? :)

    A, thank you for dropping by :) Yes, its sad how some Pakistanis get pulled up for interacting with us.

  20. Good post, but do I detect a tinge of sarcasm and/or frustration?

    Hope the Bhai decides to post a comment to your blog ;)

  21. well...since there is a bhabi ji, may be you can gift her a nice saree (but bhai may not let bhabi wear it considering it a dress of Indians!!!) You can consider gifting bhai a nice lucknowi kurta???

    may be you can look to gift bhai and bhabi ji a nice pashmina shawl for those chilly winters in islamabad. not to mention toys and some nice stationery for the chun muns for them to use in school.

  22. Anirban, he didn't :( Or so I think.

    Anonymous, thanks for the gift ideas :) Will keep them in mind!

  23. I love our blog and your sense of humour, not necessarily in that order :)
    How you are able to look at a potentially paranoid-making situation and make light of it says a lot about both of you.
    More power to you both and to your pen(keyboard?)

  24. Hi! Flying kisses to the chunnu munnus from our side too!!

  25. I read this post. I laughed. I cried. I wanted to unleash a hail of raucousness by opening up my mouth wide and going hoolala...but the neighbours are a bunch of Nazis, u c.
    Thoroughly enjoyable; it's a kind of humour only folks from the subcontinent can relish. =)

  26. Simply Hilarious! Bhai looks dumb in pic but u have made him a "hero".

  27. Heard you on NPR this evening. I'm as Indian as Indian can be, but I hope I visit Pak one day.. Bhai, Chunnu-Munnus and all.

    How are the people there ? Do you seriously have to constantly watch your back ?

    Best to you and your hubby,


  28. I love your spirit and sense of humor. Nothing surprises me in this world, so I cannot say that I am shocked, but I am astounded by your resolve. Much luck to you!

  29. Thanks all for reading.

    Gov, its worth a visit :)

    Anonymous, you made my day!

  30. I've been reading all your posting in chronological order(in just one sitting), and this takes the cake so far. Such sarcasm, expressed so beautifully. You must go on to bigger things in writing.

    And I do pity the Pakistanis who spy on you - they will never get anything more useful than the grocery list of an Indian Muslim.