Friday, 8 September 2017

Summer Adventures | Pakistan

Before British Summer Time is really truly officially over I thought I'd put together a couple of posts about my summer adventures. I'm writing this on September 8th. The sky is a steely grey, rain is thundering down and I'm wearing my cosiest hoodie and winter slippers. The first few signs of Autumn are beginning to show and I can't help but feel a little sad. Autumn is a popular season, particularly amongst bloggers, and while its colours are certainly beautiful and there's nothing quite like a bright blue sky on a cold day, I will miss the light of summer. The warmth, the flowers, and the long gold evenings. I hope Autumn has as many lovely days as it did last year. 

My summer began in May. I submitted my dissertation on May 12th, finally free from deadlines my good friend Maryam and I caught a coach down to Bournemouth to spend a couple of days by the sea. We were armed with wellington boots and umbrellas and while it inevitably rained for most of our trip we enjoyed a few special days taking long walks on the empty beach and splashing our wellies in the water. I barely snapped any pictures during this trip so rather than creating a separate blog post for it I thought I'd share a picture here:

Then, on June 18th I caught a flight to Pakistan with my mother and two siblings and spent a month in the land of my ancestors, simmering in the summer heat, spending as much time with family as possible, and seeing more of the country than I'd ever seen before.

View of Faisal Mosque from Margalla Hills, Islamabad 
We spent most of our trip in Pakistan's capital city, Islamabad where my mother was raised and where my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins still live. But we also spent a few blistering hot days in my fathers village, Pakhwal. This is where I spent most of my previous trips to Pakistan, and the river that runs through the village is still one of my favourite places in the world. But this summer was the first time I explored a part of Pakistan that wasn't in the Punjab region. We drove out of Punjab and into Khyber Pakhtunkwa and spent a few days in the beautiful Swat Valley taking in the breathtaking rivers and mountains, as well as catching a glimpse of a Pakistani culture that differs from the culture of Punjab.

Being a disapora Pakistani is a strange experience. I am both British and Pakistani and these are fundamental aspects of my identity. But I am never wholly at home here or there. I am British-Pakistani not Pakistani-British and this difference - though subtle - points to what part of my identity takes up a larger chunk within me. I've visited Pakistan a handful of times in my life, and while a part of me always feels like I've come home I am never more aware of my Britishness than when I am in Pakistan. Yet there are those who believe I don't belong here, in England. That my home in the suburbs of London should belong to someone with a whiter complexion and a simpler name, and this hostility prevents me from feeling 100% at home in the only home I've ever really known.

I think most immigrants - whether first generation or third - feel a split within their identity. Too foreign for here and too foreign for there. So where is home?

I hadn't intended to take this post in this direction, but sometimes the words take over and you just have to let them do their thing. I thought about this topic a lot during my month in Pakistan, and I don't think I will ever find a simple, single answer. Who I am today is shaped by the country I was born and raised in, as well as by the culture of my motherland and my connection to it through language and food and clothing. Both are vital to my identity, neither can be discarded of.

Anyway! I hope you guys enjoyed the pictures as well as the rambling paragraphs. Look out for another two posts in this Summer Adventures series! 


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