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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Living In Two Worlds

Many Pakistani Americans were impacted adversely, when the twin towers of WTC Building collapsed, back on the ill fated day of September 11, 2001. Many decided to head back home as they felt, the American dream for them had turned into an American nightmare. They were petrified of the concentration camps, where some rumour mongers were eager to dispatch them.

The reality turned out to the contrary. Many who left for safe harbours in Pakistan or Middle East (read Persian Gulf States), returned back empty handed to the same good old America. The horror they supposedly ran from in the US, followed them in those countries. There was a common theme that each one of them narrated. They were either duped or conned into shady investments, were not able to find reasonable economic opportunity or some domestic strife came in their way.

The good old saying is always true, "home is where the heart is." Many people argue about what is so special about the good old US of A. I would simply put it, it is the freedom and the ability to reinvent yourself. My friends and family members, often criticise me for being divided in two nations. I think it is a good thing. I always say, you have the best of the both worlds.

The common gripe against us who have supposedly abandoned their mother land, is that we are indifferent and we do not care about our home country. We have sold our souls to the adopted countries. The truth is that in last three decades or so, not a single day has elapsed, when the word, "Pakistan", did not come out of my mouth. My friends at the some forums take jabs at the fact that, "I am a sell out, and I live in a country, that is not so friendly to the rest of the Islamic countries." To them I have always said, "get a life."

Often in our discussions, we bring the foreign policy of the US as a basis for our discourse. As a citizen of the US, I do not agree with a lot of international policy decisions of the US government. Similarly, if I would be residing in Pakistan, I would not agree with many foreign policy decisions of the Pakistan government either. In any case, that does not make me less of a Pakistani or less of an American.

A few weeks back, a very famous personality weighed in on the decision of her family to move back to Pakistan. The primary reason was to acquaint her children with their roots. I wish her and her family well. I have learned a lot about my faith in this Non Muslim country perhaps more than in my own home land. The Western culture, which is often ridiculed as a stigma can only influence you, if you allow it to.

Often when we return to Pakistan, our relatives ridicule with us as we seem to them like "bunch of weird people." Often in our interactions with shop keepers, we tend to say, "please" and "thank you" a lot. We prefer conversing in Urdu and move around in traditional clothes.

The fact is that being in two worlds simultaneously is a good thing. It keeps you well balanced and gives you a dual identity. Here in America, no one puts a gun to your head to frequent the bars, casinos or night clubs. No one forces you to engage in illicit relationships or turn a blind eye towards your faith.

Your identity and your values reside in your heart. It is up to you to let the rest of the world know, who you are and what you stand for. You carry your culture with you every minute of your life. The culture is not confined in any geographical boundaries. Be proud of who you are, no matter where you are. In the end, it is the personality and character, which trump everything.

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