I may be a 'gora' but Pakistan is my home
I will soon be celebrating my 10th year here in Pakistan. It has been an incredible experience so far having travelled all four corners of the country, from Hunza to Jiwani and from Darra Adam Khel to Nagarparkar.
I have enjoyed all the highs and lows possible and Pakistan would not be Pakistan if these highs were not unscalable, 25,000 feet mountains, and lows of ocean grade depths.
Yesterday, specifically, has special significance to me as it was three years ago that I cemented my relation with Pakistan by marrying one of its most beautiful and smartest women. I still remember the photographer at our wedding who was waiting even after all guests had left for the rukhsati (bidding farewell to the bride by her family). His face dropped when we told him there would be no such ceremony as I had decided to embrace my extended family by living in their home.
I left my parental home eagerly at the age of 18 to go to university. I must admit that it took me some time to get used to the fact that your life becomes an open book to all family members and servants alike and that your father-in-law would still worryingly ask you not come home too late at night.
Growing and running your own company is no sinecure and I must admit that having been a professional 'rat-racer' for 18 years, I do sometimes long to the life of the company-senior-executive life style. The need to chase, harass and blackmail your customers to pay for you even after the completion of an assignment continues to surprise me. Despite all the zillion of hours in planes to visit clients with my family taking the brunt of it, I still love my work. Helping companies to engage their employees to grow their business has been immensely rewarding. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it again in a jiffy.
Over the last several years, many people have asked me why I have chosen to stay on. My answer to that has always been that Pakistan is my home. I have my family here, my business here and my life here. The simple thing is, I would never have been able to achieve what I have achieved here any where else in the world. Here, everything is possible; and with that I truly mean everything is possible. There are no boundaries; just your passion, your ideas, your hard work and, of course, a little bit of luck. As the saying goes, “meri kismat, mere haath mein” (if it is to be, it is up to me)
I love this country I so proudly call home. I love its landscapes and its culture. Above all, I love its people; heart wrenching, emotional, utterly impulsive, ‘minimise effort and maximise reward’ seekers, conspiracy theorists, intensely optimistic, kick-us-down-and-we-come-out-on-top resilient, ever hospitable, fun- and food-loving Pakistanis.
I guess nobody has been able to articulate my status better then the driver who picked me up from Islamabad airport. After interrogating me in “Urdu-English” he came to his conclusion,
“Haan, ab mein samjha, you are a desi gora.”
(Yes, now I understand, you are a Pakistani white man)
I have been wearing this title with pride ever since!
Happy independence day.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paul_Keijzer