Saturday, July 24, 2010

Indians on Pakistanis…

Sometimes it is difficult to explain to fellow citizens, who know little about Pakistan, what I/we are doing on the other side of Indus.

Here are some of their reactions:

You mean you didn’t marry there?
So this is like a punishment posting… Oh my God! How long before you get out?
After being briefed about the nature of the posting and that it is not quite a punishment: But what exactly do you do there?
Have you met the Taliban? Has your neighbourhood been bombed?
Do you know where Dawood Ibrahim is?
Do you wear the burqa there? Are women allowed to step out? What language do you speak?
We’ve heard that Indians have shadows? Is that right? Do they trouble you?
If you invite friends/relatives to Pakistan: Are you crazy? Do you want us killed?
You must be getting awfully bored there.
The food must be awesome! Right?
Pakistanis are a very hospitable people.
Shopkeepers give away things for free to their Indian ‘mehman’
Will I be in trouble if we connect on Facebook/phone/stay in touch?
You better return fast. I will pray for you.

This is why, when in India, I usually do not give away our current location to strangers because it is quite cumbersome to answer the same questions over and over again.

I was at an eye specialist’s in Delhi and he was annoyingly gregarious. He asked me to return in two weeks for a follow-up. I told him I couldn’t because I didn’t live in that city. The doctor was not in a mood to give up: “Where?” I surprised myself by saying “South Africa”.

Another time I had a nagging co-passenger in transit. “So you belong here?” he asked. I said, “No”. He pressed, “Oh so you must be from…” I walked off to get myself a cup of coffee.

Of course, with friends and relatives I am more than patient because I seriously want to dispel the many myths we have about each other’s countries. I also humour them with stories from Pakistan. Like the ones about our tails.

And yes, it feels rather strange not to have “Daku Bhai” tailing us or that I can just pick up the phone and whine about anything under the sun without having to worry about another Bhai trying to decode my conversation.

PS: Coming up next – Pakistanis on Indians


  1. I am not surprised.. even I would have asked you some of those questions... :)

    That's is why I love reading your posts.They dispel a lot of misconceptions I have..

  2. Seriously?! Even the educated and well traveled ask you things like that?

  3. How about doing a few blog posts answering all the above questions?? (I see that you have answered some.. but more info will be appreciated, and we promise we will not nag you!) :P

  4. Rupa, educated yes, but most know little about Pakistan.

    P, will try :)

  5. Other questions.."do you ever get vegetarian food to eat??" "How did you manage with out converting in to non-veg eating? OR have you started eating already??!!" "were you able to perform Ganesh Chathurthi?" etc..etc...

  6. Ranjini, haha.
    Thanks for reminding me about the veg bit; was completely clueless about Ganesh Chaturthi...:)

  7. Sigh, everybody has to carry their own cross, it seems. I get regular comments asking whether Bhopal still smells of gas

  8. In general i think Pak ppl know a just a little bit (very little bit) more about Indians, as we have been more exposed to Indian media than you guys have been to ours!

    Though in saying that there are soooooooo many stereotypes that we have of you guys too - many reinforced by state propaganda and the 'education' system as well as by the media...

    I suppose the only way these will be dispelled is when there is more people to people contact and people go see for themselves what is on the 'other' side!


  9. Bhopale, lol :)

    A, thumbs up to people-to-people contacts!

  10. I have a few of those doubts too. I have connected to a few Pakistanis on Orkut and was wondering if I am going to be stalked by the security agencies if I say, call one of those Pakistani fellows to wish them on their birthdays..

  11. hahaha... questions.. questions.. questions...

    the misconception and queries will always be there...

    was funny to read... waiting for what pakistanis ask about indians...

  12. i can understand having been a jurno myself once upon a time in bhopal

  13. Anand, don't worry you are safe!

    Rupa, the sequel is up.

    Soch, :)

    Anonymous 1: Thanks

    Anonymous 2: Thanks for reading.

    Aditi, thanks :)

  14. Have you met the taliban? have you met dawood ibrahim? and has your neighbourhood been bombed? take the cake!!!

    its like someone asking me how come i managed to survive 26/11 despite living very close to all the sites that were hit!!!

  15. realy liked your...i always wanted to interact with pakistani peoples..and u just provided an opportunity...thanks...i also had sum stereotypes!
    m huge fan of their traditional music, want to know more about geography and communities!!

  16. in fact internet has been a tremendous medium of interacting with and knowing the pakistanis well and vice versa, one can chat, discuss, debate and all first hand, and in the process one would like to believe a lot of myths and prejudice tend to shatter.

    another good thing i see interacting with them through such a medium is that they are pretty much sure no one ever is going to trace them so they can also speak their mind out completely without any inhibitions, which means getting to see the real intent and the emotion.

  17. check this out ...i think questions related to safety will in most of the people visiting Pak. Not only from India but from rest of world also.

    I can't even dream about visiting that place.