The Pakistan journal



I’ll be honest this blog post has been gathering cobwebs in a corner for a couple of months now. The reason being that there were too many emotions, life changing moments, discoveries and the crumblings of old relationships. To even be able to comprehend and process what to write/archive or rather to be left as forgotten memories.

It took me up to 3 weeks to shake off the jet lag. When I retraced my steps I realised why, seeing as the last couple of weeks of my stay in Pakistan were hectic. I had never moved around so much, I’ve been on long drives and abroad but never like this. The first three weeks were spent relaxing in Islamabad although they didn’t turn out to be as calming as I had anticipated! At the end of the three weeks we left Islamabad for my nani’s village for my cousin’s wedding, where I served my second official post as bridesmaid!  Then on the back of my cousin’s wedding I had to attend another wedding on my dad’s side of the family, both weddings were literally back to back. On the evening of my cousin’s walima I packed up ready to leave for my daadi’s village.

I stayed in my daadi’s village for the duration of the second cousin’s shaadi which was 3 days long and then it was back to Islamabad. A short stay in both Muzaffarabad and Murree. Following this a few days later it was nearly time to pack up for good and leave for home [with a  couple of days stopover in Turkey] AND then finally touching down in London.

I think the 3 or so week jet lag was justified although at one point my mum got worried about my dizzy spells and diagnosed it as malaria, the typical Asian mother hey! People travel all the time but I would say this was my first ever taste of exploring new and exciting places within Pakistan and then Turkey.

Now I’ve had that little taste I definitely want more, I don’t have a bucket list as such but I really want to try to see as much of Pakistan and to explore more of its remote areas. So only then can I sit back and say I’ve seen Pakistan and it really is stunning, vast and full of wanderlust.

This particular 2014 trip was absolutely beautiful, I’ll cherish the loving memories I made, the new experiences I had and the special people I met. There was too much to write, I suppose this post  is like an introduction into the following blog posts to come. So here it goes…

“You’re Pathetic”


I don’t really write about politics much on here. I’ve come a long way since my 2 years studying politics during A levels, where I was reading the papers and avidly watching the news every week on the insistence of Ed our politics teacher. I gradually started to grow more pessimistic and angered by the political situation and biased media in general.

Although my hate and frustration with politics had reached ‘desi high blood pressure’ levels there was one thing I always made sure I took part in and that was voting. With politics I have always felt its electing the ‘lesser of two evils’ isn’t it?  Many around the world die fighting for their right to vote and here I am several decades down the line after the suffragette, contemplating giving up the very freedoms they dedicated their lives fighting for.

So of course each time I go and make an effort to vote whether it’s the local, national or European elections. In May we had the European and local elections in the UK. However in our constituency the local elections had been postponed because one of the candidates had passed away. They were moved to be held at the end of June.

A day before the election I was walking home and was just passing where the polling station would be the next day. When I saw a group of suits; three men and a woman. They were giving out leaflets. As I walked closer I could see the purple and yellow rosettes on their blazers. They were trying to engage with the white lady walking in front of me. Just at this point I was about to pass by the group when the lady in the group shouts out to the woman “I’ve seen you somewhere” in a last few desperate attempts to get her on board. The lady in response turns around and replies “I’ve never seen you in my life and trust me I think I would remember if I had come across you!” and then to my shock she turned to the whole group shouting “you’re pathetic” and walked off.

Clearly I was impressed by her outspokenness but also surprised that a party such as UKIP had the audacity to be canvassing around our area. So obviously I thought I’d give my two pennies worth.  I told them they were going to need all the luck in the world because they weren’t welcome around here. The woman in the group just huffed at me and turned to the men laughing and said “we won’t need any luck darling” bleurgh like how patronising.

After our little altercation I walked off towards home and the outspoken lady from before was ahead of me, walking really slow so she sort of sidled up to me and said “wow I don’t know why I just did that I’m not a shouty person at all, trust me!”  It was really lovely and refreshing to be able to have a lengthy chat with her. She was right, she was softly spoken so I understood why it must have been out of character for her. We walked together all the way down to my house. She was also a local and was baffled with why the party had been there. We spoke of coming from immigrant backgrounds. She asked me who is British? None of us can say we truly are, somewhere down the line we come from elsewhere. Her family had come from Ireland and she was disgusted with parties such as UKIP who preyed on people’s insecurities and hid ugly truths behind their immigration policies. She had just come back from an Arab restaurant where she had lunched with her son. She told me they were lovely and her son had to get back to work so she had to travel home by herself but the restaurant owner himself had offered to drive her home. She loved living in a multicultural city and she appreciated our neighbours. She believed that we don’t belong to any particular country but rather we all belong to the universe.

You see my mum used to work in the local GP surgery down the road so she has known most of our neighbours from a long time. Alhumudulilah I’m glad to say we know many of them. To the right side of our house we have Amy a South African, her British boyfriend and their 2 children. A couple of days ago our new neighbours to the left introduced themselves; the wife a Malaysian, her husband Chinese and their 2 children. We know neighbours that are Sri Lankan, Nigerian, Italian, Portuguese, and Palestinian. The list could go on but these are the ones we personally know and who live in close proximity to us.

I am so grateful for the community I live in and I love this little part of North London. Having spoken to this neighbour it really sent me into a deep thought what does it mean to be British? The question that will probably be unanswered for years to come. Britain like many other countries have been discovered and founded by immigrants from various backgrounds who have come and settled down. So it really is true, we do in some respect belong to the universe.

The day after the elections the local news reported that the elections had been won by the three Labour candidates. UKIP never had a chance and hopefully never will. So I think we showed them they’re not welcome around here, nope not in our small multicultural patch of North London!  With the next General election coming up next year it’s frustrating to see ignorant parties like UKIP making more public appearances and noise. I would say we need to do our research thoroughly before making our choices and become more informed.

** I still need to work on the length of these posts! they seem to go on forever don’t they?

The newly grad life.


Its 1:33am Im absolutely shattered I’ve spent most of the day last minute packing  and trying to cram whatever I can into the 30kg weight limit. The flight is on Friday morning but I’m staying over at my nans tomorrow and then we’re leaving from there. But lets back track a bit. So much has been going on but then at the same time not much either. This post has been sitting in my draft for way too long so here goes!

In 2010 I sat my A Levels at the all-girls High school where I had been a student for the past 7 years.  My life’s been fast forwarded 4 years ahead. It’s no longer 2010 I’m no longer the naïve school girl with her hand bag clutched tightly facing the University’s entrance in a new and lonely part of London. I’m officially a Law graduate. I’ve done it, I survived it. As well as having to cope with uni life and all its warts I also had a lot of personal family issues to contend and cope with.

I feel this weird sense of nervousness perhaps slight excited anticipation for the future and where my path will take me next. But for now at this point I have something to pull me up when I’m feeling down. I survived a law degree; I fought each day sat through each class, each exam, each 2hr long lecture. I stayed kinda sane and even if I don’t feel like it at times, I know now that I did this. I somehow achieved this, so when the doubts start to kick in. It doesn’t matter because I made it this far, I made it, I know I am capable. I can do anything I set my mind to and ‘I’m going to aim for bigger and better things’ as one of my friends wrote in her congratulations note to me.

At the same time I feel like I’ve left the safe realms of the education net. They’ve released me into the ‘real adult’ world, sent me off to fend for myself. I’m not so great with change I ponder a lot on the past and this chapter is no different. I’m going to miss those long Tuesdays with Pri, surviving the boring 2hr lectures on employment law, those 4pm classes when everyone was headed home and we were sat in class trying not laugh at Barry’s weird facial expression and his frequent zone out moments. The tube journey home together discussing the latest current affairs or me going on some feminist /or [anti-feminist] rant depending on the situation. It’s always the simple things isn’t it?

I was speaking to one of my friends from outside of uni and she was telling me that everything  happens for a reason ‘but look at you now, in this moment of time you’re at your strongest. When I first met you you were really shy and quiet but the last couple of years since.  You’ve changed, grown, you’re stronger now’  This made me look at it from a different perspective and its true. Alhumdulilah. Sometimes challenges in life change us for the better and enable us to grow and develop as people but we’re so busy, fighting on that we don’t even realise we’ve already won some of our battles. At one point in time those battles seemed impossible to us, but we overcame those moments. With hope, faith and determination.

The time out

Last year it was announced that my younger cousin was going to be getting married in the Easter of 2014. It’s a tricky time everyone is in the midst of exams/work etc and you tend not to be able to get enough holidays off. but Somehow I felt this was all falling in place at the right time. I would be finished from uni in January and then I thought why not go away to Pakistan for 2 months. I felt like I needed this. So it’s just the bride, mother of the bride and myself off on Friday. The rest of her siblings,her dad and nana will join us in three weeks.

The past couple of years I’ve had to deal with a lot of family politics as one does in desi households. But now I feel even though my Daadi wont be there waiting for me. I feel strong enough to travel there to face the family stuff and drama head on, standing straight and tall. I suppose I’ll get a chance to say a proper goodbye to my daadi and our family home. I know she will always be with me, it will be good to gain some sort of closure.

Too many people are getting married in the family, lets hope I return without having fallen for any mundah. I can not be dealing with that in my life right now.  One thing I know for sure is I never return from Pakistan the same, it always has some sort of profound effect on me, so lets see what it has in store for me this time!



lettersI saw something the other day it said  ‘Be a warrior not a worrier’  you all know which one I fall under and always have. My family know and bless their hearts my friends know it,but its what I do best. I like to plan, I like to know beforehand so I know my path, I know which way to go. I start to worry if I’m off on the unbeaten track. but it seems when I look back at the last couple of years. It hasn’t ever gone the way I had envisioned, more on that in a later post I think.

Recently I’ve been trying to reinvent myself, as one does. I don’t want to be a worrier any more. There’s not enough years in your life to waste with it. I turn 22 next Tuesday and yes I’m scared at how 22 years have passed.

I don’t know whether its the books I’ve read or the movies and the sweet things Noah does for Allie, or the intensity with which he loves her with. But something from the original young girl’s dream has developed and its running away wild and wont back down. I don’t want to settle, that’s becoming my fear more and more often that I’ll have no choice but to settle.  ‘I’m looking around me and everyone around me seems to be. If you don’t, then you risk the chance of being a sitting duck and passing your expiry date. Enduring the invisible finger pointing, the parent’s lectures and the not so hushed whispers that seem to vibrate from the huddled group of aunties.

When I started university a couple of years past. I was different even naive, I lacked life lessons, still do. During high school I was the quiet one, this carried into my first year at uni.  I struggled, but it built me.  Forced me to toughen my skin up. I’ve always taken time in everything I do, this was no different . But the second year brought me confidence, sisters at isoc and lots of  laughter and strong shoulders to lean on. I started noticing a guy at uni. It’s totally terrible but I first noticed him in the prayer room. Wh-at?  the door was ajar, I happened to be walking by!  I guess uni changes us all in different ways. He was never the type to be seen in there. Perhaps I had never taken to him before  because I hadn’t thought he was Muslim.  It was just a silly crush, I’d get over it right? not a thought was given to him over the summer and longer. But cummon don’t deny it there’s a certain allure to the reformed bad boy isn’t there?

This last semester was slightly weird I’m not saying it was anything but we always seemed to make weird eye contact. And no I’m under no illusion that I’m in a bloody Bollywood scene but it intrigued me. His whole group of mates would be sprawled all over the lobby, laughing and conversing loudly and he was usually the quiet one. There’s nothing like the quiet tough looking guy is there? So thus he was named Mr Tuesday (rare sightings on a Tuesday of course)  I only told one of my friends about all this bakwas and the first thing she said was “whoa really?   he looks like a thug!”

What I’m trying to get at through all this is, is that I don’t fall for the conventional Efrons and Goslings. Although who would complain if you happened to bag one? I’ve seen people around me, family and friends ‘settling’ because they knew and believed they couldn’t have the Noah’s, so they settled for way less. Keeping their parents extremely happy and themselves well, who knows it may work out better for them, only time will tell.  I don’t actually really know what I want, I’m under no illusion that I’m a princess or anything. I want the ‘average’ guy but just not the ones our parents seem to dig out. But then on the other hand it’s not as if I can easily go around picking out guys and proposing to them.

A couple of weeks ago we received a hand written envelope through the post. Now those envelopes are rare in this day and age.  This envelope didn’t contain any letters they contained photos of a guy. Generally as a family we don’t do the whole ‘photo/CV’ thing. but this post came from my aunty’s friend. She had been bugging my aunt for a while, to speak to us. So my aunt did, she asked my parents. There’s no harm in looking they said. I told mum from the beginning, that the fact they were in a massive hurry and seemed desperate were making my alarm bells ring. His visa must have been running out. Funny that, it was.  My parents seem to think I’m late already. At 21 I’m running out of bloody time, as several younger cousins have become engaged/married they’ve grown more frantic. But there’s an issue, as with many other western desis, its difficult finding someone outside of the family circles. My aunt told me the guy in the photo didn’t mind what the girl looked like he just wanted someone nice. that hurt. Whoever I find has to love me for me. Is that too much to ask for? Ok perhaps not a love as extravagant as the movies and literature but just the simple love and respect. Right now at 21 well 22ish I’m still holding onto hope for that, it has to come. I’ve got the time to pray for it yet, before the expiry date arrives. But before that I’ve got many things I want to achieve and reach. They’re simple things but nonetheless they’re goals and thoughts for another day.

Defining moments.



Three days ago the wedding film arrived.

A couple of months back during the Easter holiday my eldest cousin got married. She was the first one in the family. Her being the eldest we would always plan and talk about her getting married since we were young girls, I mean who doesn’t.    but it all happened so fast.    It was announced three months or so prior to the actual big day. The preparation period was such a mad rush of; painting little clay pots for the mehndi, fighting in Southall over bridesmaids dress colours, mum having a breakdown trying to find all of us siblings outfits, organising a gift basket for the bride and the biggest headache went to the mini documentary/slideshow that my sister made. She interviewed all 6 bridesmaids and slotted it into a slideshow of photos of our bride through the years.

When I look back at all these wedding shenanigans I remember a collection of memories, meeting and making new friends and the strengthening of relationships. It was a special time for us all.

I had finished my uni term earlier than the others so I went a couple a days earlier to the wedding household. The plan was that all the bridesmaids would stay the week following up to the wedding, help out with guests and set up the house for dholki nights leading up to the mehndi. The wedding was on the Saturday, we would then all go back home on the Sunday afternoon, to prepare for the following weekends walima. Which was being held in Paris!

All of the festivities happened so quick, in between all of the plates of mithai, cups of chai and the frying of spring rolls there were special moments that really stood out. Being an emotional person I was finding it hard keeping all emotions in check.  She was the older sister I never had. The one who carefully guided me through my awkward teenage years, the shoulder to lean on and the all round wise one. This cousin that we all loved and respected was moving away, to start a new life with a new family and a new chapter in her life.

We would only have a few hours sleep each night and during the day we would be running on pure adrenalin. On the morning of the mehndi I woke up to find a message from the bride. I looked over to her across the room ( we were all scattered all over the floors like squatters) she just gave me the cheekiest grin. So I turned to my phone and opened to find a photo of Atif Aslam ON HIS WEDDING DAY. you can’t even imagine how I felt! but that’s how the day began with great banter and ended in emotional messy faces.  In the evening after arriving back from the mehndi we all squeezed into the living room and played the film we had made her. It was only by watching all the photos flicking through on the screen, you’re made to remember all the moments you shared, all the good times and the more difficult ones you helped each other through.

The wedding morning was nothing but utter chaos we all had to be dressed and out of the house by noon. There were fights for mirrors, bathroom time, make up and general clashes between the larger personalities. But somehow we were all dressed on time ready for the photographer to snap away. Most of the Adults had left for the venue and the bride and us bridesmaids were waiting for cars.  As usual I was flapping around the house making sure I hadn’t forgotten to take anything.

The Bride’s mother asked me if I had seen the brother of the bride. No one had seen him in a while. She went outside and I walked past the front room. Through the glass door I could make out his figure in the back of the room. I went in to find him sitting down hunched over. I called his name but he didn’t respond. I thought perhaps he was feeling ill. During the week he had been  full of  energy and banter. This was out of character and I was slightly weirded out. Then I realised he was crying.  Like for God’s sake we had all kept it under control, no tears, even the bride had remained calm.  But here was her grown ass brother crying! (he doesnt read my blog so its all good :p)  He didn’t take long to set me off. I ordered him to snap out of it and stay strong for his sister, she was going to need all her family’s support.

It was an endearing moment, him and his sister were the pair who would fight like cat and dog and never seemed to get along. I think at times she felt that he didn’t care about her at all. But it turned out that he cared a lot, moments like these were rare and precious.

So the rukhsathi time finally came and we all had to bid her farewell. Amongst all the chaos I found myself standing besides the Father of the bride. It was a surreal moment. I looked up at him, he was crying. I felt like I should say something but I couldn’t. So instead I carried on walking behind the bride and towards the front of the venue. Along the way the bride’s sister began walking beside me. Me and her crying together continued to walk down.

Upon reflection the whole experience and emotions seems weird. But when I place myself in the same scene again I understand all the emotions. It wasn’t just letting her go, we were bidding farewell to her youth and celebrating her becoming a woman and entering a new chapter in her life, not to forget also welcoming brother in law aka ‘JEEJ’ into our crazy circle!

Looking across the room I could see several uncles shedding a tear. It was weird having never seen any of them so emotional. But her getting married was the first domino and they all knew that their daughters time was only round the corner. The dominoes already started falling this summer!

This post was an attempt. I can’t fully grasp or convey the excitement, happiness and sadness we felt at the time. Although when I look back on these events there’s this little niggling feeling telling me something amazing took place that changed us all and our relationships.



Last night myself and the siblings were coming back from Taraweeh (night) prayers at the mosque, mum was driving us home. It was the usual deal me and my two sisters in the back and my brother with my mum at the front. I had the window down and was looking out, being in quite a reflective mood. I told the others that I felt a bit lost in thought. They responded with talking about the fresh cake that was awaiting us in the fridge. Typical.

The road ahead was clear mum was driving down the main road and to our right a black taxi cab was turning right into another road. It all happened so quickly but it’s still so vivid. Out of nowhere a car came at high speed and was inches away from crashing into us. Alhamdulillah mum swerved out of the way and instead the car crashed into the side of the black cab. It turned out the cab driver was Muslim too and was returning from the mosque just as we had. We were all so lucky. The cabbies car was wrecked but thankfully it seemed that it hadn’t impacted the driver’s side as much, otherwise it may have been a very different story. The other driver came out and looked unstable on his feet we all presumed he was drunk. His bumper was off, his tyres deflated and headlights smashed.

Mum was furious. My youngest sister was in shock. The cabbie came over and asked mum to stay as a witness and mum agreed. She then went over to the cars and had a go at the guy for being careless and nearly driving into us and hurting her kids. At this point people had started to come out of their houses after hearing the noise. What we found weird was that clearly there had been a very loud crash noise but it’s almost as if in those few seconds of it happening we were in a vacuum, none of us recollect hearing the noise even though all our windows were down.

People talk of cheating death. But it’s not true no one can ‘cheat’ death. Allah swt has planned for us every minute of our lives. Alhamdulillah last night was not our time to depart. Nan rang this morning she had heard what happened and scolded me for not telling her about it. Bless her we didn’t want her to worry. Nan, other members of the family and friends have said that the Angels were watching over us and protecting us that night. Every time someone speaks to me or tells me how lucky we were, it gives me this weird unexplainable feeling. Nan reminded me that my whole family was in the car apart from my dad. She kept saying imagine if something had happened to all of you.

After the initial shock my thoughts turned to what if that had been my last couple of moments, how was I leaving this earth? What had I done during my time here? Weirdly earlier in the day I had had this feeling of contacting all my uni friends to see how they were doing as I hadn’t spoken to them since exams. however it had been a couple of weeks since i had spoken to my two best friends, I had planned to text them once I got back from the mosque. I had even had a call from Dorothy in the morning, a couple of months back she told me she had been ill and it seems she still was and the Drs weren’t sure what was wrong. I promised her I would come and visit her after Ramadan.

They say you should live every minute as if it’s your last and to remember death often because it could take us at any moment in time. Me and my Sister have often discussed this in the past, it’s not like we’re in denial we’re going to die but I don’t know. Although we think of death we can’t grasp the enormity of it all and its implications. But it hit me last night. This has definitely been a wakeup call and the month of Ramadan has been like a detox to de-clutter and cleanse physically and emotionally. So I’m going to use this opportunity to move on forward and to remember to count my blessings every day.

Peace x

‘All I’m askin’


I’ll admit during my school years I wasn’t very good at sports. My only moment of glory I would say was whilst we were playing a game of rounders in year 5. My best friend was batting. I could see the ball flying in my direction in slow motion. My fellow team mates were already sighing dejectedly upon seeing the ball was coming in my direction (I may have had a silent reputation for being the worst at P.E games) the ball luckily for once was within reaching distance and I caught it. Everyone thought it was quite ironic the one time I won the game for us it was at the expense of my best friend.

I would say I am more of a sports spectator than a participant. I grew up with a dad who would repeatedly watch his VCR copy of the ’92 Cricket world cup. This particular game was probably one of the most iconic moments in Pakistani cricket. On the other hand my mother would never fail to miss a Wimbledon tournament. Me and my sister would usually rush home from school to watch our cartoons. However During the summer season for a couple of weeks my sister and I never dared to touch the remote control. So every summer we would join mum watching Tim Henman never quite make it at Wimbledon.

So you’re all probably thinking wow she’s gone off on one, where’s all this heading. Recently I’ve been seeing ‘sexist’ comments online and elsewhere against women. I admit sometimes things are said in humour but most of the time they’re not funny but damn sexist and boring. According to some it’s okay for men to watch and talk all the sports they want but No, women are not allowed to do the same. No we should stick to the kitchens or shopping for shoes. And seriously you don’t have to patronise us with diagrams showing off the offside rule using ‘shopping’ analogies!

A couple of days ago a guy got retweeted onto my timeline, he had compiled a list of #TheMostAnnoyingThingsEver one of which was “girls tweeting about cricket” This might have hit a nerve with me provoking me to tweet about it. Why is it not okay for us as women to watch or play sports? One of the most common arguments thrown in and the one I received was that ‘women can’t play as well as men’. The question of “could the world’s best female boxer beat the world’s best male boxer?” was put to me. I strongly believe Men and women were created differently for a reason but this does not mean that the level of respect should be any different. You wouldn’t put a kid from year 1 up against a teen from year 12 in a game of rugby, now would you? They have varying degrees of strength such as men and women do. At creation we were given different types of bodies and different types of strengths. Women can tolerate the most painful experience of child birth which men cannot do.

Many would agree that Men’s sports are more prominent in the media and women’s events normally take the back bench. Caster Semenya the South African athlete attracted much controversy in the media. She won the 800 meters at the world championships in Berlin in 2009. Accusations were made that she was competing in a women’s event unfairly. Throughout Caster’s life she has been taunted for her build and her ability. She was finally asked to take a gender verification test to determine whether she was female. The results revealed that she was in fact a woman and could compete in women events. I think this particular event says a lot about society’s perception of women’s sports. Almost as if there are boxes or limits to the ability women may have and if they don’t fit these criteria then there’s something quite not right and has to be looked into.

Sports can play an important role in society. It teaches many life lessons in team work, discipline, commitment, setting and achieving goals. An important aspect of sports is a sense of sportsmanship. Recently we went to watch Pakistan v West Indies at the ICC champions trophy, although we lost (badly) the match ended with several fans shaking hands with the opposition. Even though throughout the match we had been goading each other! Essentially that’s what it’s all about a bit of fun rivalry but most importantly bringing people different corners of society together.

Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup to try and create some sense of unity between the two races. Sports can be powerful and always brings along a strong sense of belonging, pride and emotion. It’s accessible to everyone and can unite people around the world. So why just reserve it for one gender?

There are many examples of great sporting women that have gained the same respect as men: Tanni grey Thompson, Venus Williams, Ellen MacArthur, Kelly Holmes and many more.