Sights and sounds of Valentine's day in Pakistan

Some things you experience on Valentine's Day just leave you laughing, rolling your eyes, or face-palming yourself.

Imaan Sheikh February 14, 2013
Valentine's day is here! Love it or hate it, live in Pakistan or England, you cannot ignore Valentine's day.

I am not too big on this 'day of lovers', and it has nothing to do with my relationship status - I'm just not very festive. Be it Eid or Valentine's, my day is usually spent reading a book or watching South Park re-runs.

The observations I've made about the past few Valentine's days in Pakistan have made it a fun day for me  -- there are these particular characters you meet and things you hear and experiences that just leave you laughing, rolling your eyes, or face-palming yourself.

So I've made a list of five of these characters. I'm sure you've come across at least one of the characters I've listed below too, even if on Facebook or Twitter. If you haven't started noticing them yet, begin now! They'll spice up your day.

The girl in red

Do you have a friend, a classmate, a cousin or a coworker who claims to not be celebrating Valentine's day but wears pink or red and calls it a "total coincidence"? If you go to university/college, you would know this girl.

The woman who cried "fitna!"

I don't know if all families have this one 'auntie' - mine has a few of them.

She does not necessarily have to be a relative; she may be someone living next door. She can be seen squinting at you in disapproval if you walk by with a member of the opposite sex.

This woman hates Valentine's day and other "unislamic events", and she takes pride in telling everyone about her children who 'don't believe in Valentine's day'. She is obviously mistaken. She goes through the occasional television-is-hell phase, and complains about how the media is promoting immodesty by airing a Valentine's special commercial with a boy, a girl and chocolate.

The anti-Valentine

This person couldn't care less about Valentine's day. But, boy, does he want people to know how little he cares. He loathes Valentine's day so much that he decides to hold a campaign with his other anti-Valentine friends about to demonstrate his stark indifference to some 'lame internationally celebrated day'.

The irony is hilarious.

Encounter with the teasing phoolwala (street florist):

This character has brought embarrassment to so many Pakistanis, it's not even okay.

If you are going to make the mistake of travelling in a car with your colleague or brother/sister, on Valentine's day, you will meet this interesting man who will tease you into buying flowers while the signal's red.

This is what happens:

This happens on normal days too, but on Valentine's day, the odds are that  you will get home red-faced because you were told by a man on the street that you and whoever you were sitting with in the car, make a fantastic couple.

It has happened to me one too many times, and I'm sure you've been through this at least once as well.

It's the worst when you are sitting next to your brother.

The indecent proposal

You know that random guy who texts you girls that he "wAnNa FraNdShIp yEw"? He is in full throttle mode on Valentine's day.

Below is the typical text message and the typical response of the reader:

So those are five examples of the sights and sounds in Pakistan on Valentine's day.

For a little dose of nostalgia, here is that little heart-toting teddy bear you've seen at least one of your school friends desperately trying to hide in their bag on Valentine's day:

Celebrating it or not, I hope you all have a safe Valentine's day!


Read more by Imaan here or follow her on Twitter @SheikhImaan
Imaan Sheikh An graduate with a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Karachi, she enjoys reading, writing and listening to classical psychedelic rock. She blogs at and tweets as @SheikhImaan (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


mehwish | 11 years ago | Reply I live in England and am completely able to ignore Valentine's day! Intact it's relatively more quiet that day , unlike Pakistan we have NO TV shows airing Valentine's day nor any banghras on the street. Infact, we couldn't care less!!
uzma | 11 years ago | Reply Dear author ! additions to your list The Sheepish Salesman yeah, the one who thinks you are shopping for your Valentine & shares story of a lady who bought a gift but insisted it will be picked by her BF in the evening ............... The Smug Transexual I ran into one in a busy market ......I was told baji my BF wants a bike as his valentine gift !!! please help me out !!!! I was stupified & responded do you have a BF He /she said haye Allah baji kyun nai!!!! the list might go on but I think it's more than enough for now!!!
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