Some time ago, I had the honour of being featured in a gorgeous magazine from Germany called Quite Something
I was approached by my lovely friend Laura who believed I had something worthwhile to say and gave me a chance to write for her. She was amazingly supportive and enthusiastic.
I had been been experiencing a bit of a low point in my professional life, as a writer (and whatever else I do) and I really needed the boost this chance gave me. I felt like I was worth something again, that my words held weight. And the realization that somewhere out there, my article was in actual print for people to read, actually blew my mind!
I am so, so grateful for the team of Quite Something for giving me a chance and bringing me back to what I love most, writing and giving a voice to my experiences.
Here are some more links to this amazing publication:
Below is the article they published. I hope you enjoy it and please do let me know what you think!
Have Love, Will Travel
I have the dubious honor of having a background that makes me persecuted while also giving me immense pride in my history and culture. If I listened to the media I would be convinced the world hated me. That if I was to step out of my home, I would be shot in the streets.
Being Pakistani, a Woman and a Muslim all at the same time means that I don’t have much going for me if I was to believe the news. They will tell you that I am a “third world poor kid”, “a repressed, subjugated woman doomed to fail in a patriarchal society” or “a crazy Allah o Akbar screaming extremist”.
But growing up I was lucky enough to be from a liberal family who loved their girls and cherished their women, who believed in education and the coexistence of religion and logic. My parents who themselves are avid travelers, had seen the world and told me of how wonderful a place it was… even with all the bad stuff I see on television.
They told me to have an open mind and that there was good to be found in every race, religion, country. There was good in people.
They told me that I was no less than anyone else and no better and that if I could show love and compassion, I would find love and compassion in return wherever I went.
And so I set out to see the world, my green passport in hand.
I knew I would face questions, maybe some racist jokes and comments. I hoped there would be no fear inducing interactions and that I would return home still moderately sane. I steeled myself to face a world I thought didn’t want to meet me, didn’t want to know me, didn’t want me around.
So far I have travelled to the England, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China, Malaysia, Thailand, United States of America, and many more places. As you can see, it’s been a varied journey. I am on my 4th passport and I am 27 years old. If I started to list all the places we would be here a long time!
I saw so many different places and I understood what my parents meant when they said the world is truly beautiful.
The most surprising of all though? The people I met along the way. I have been embraced by the same people the news told me thought I was garbage. I have been accepted by people that I should have feared if I followed what the media had to say. I have been given friendship, love, laughter, knowledge and most of all, respect.
People did have questions but they didn’t come from a place of anger or righteousness but a genuine curiosity. They wanted to know me! They were fascinated by my home and my culture. There were talks that lasted all night about religion and education, culture and fear. We spoke about ourselves and learned from everyone else.
I realized that we all have a voice and even though the media would tell me that mine doesn’t matter, it definitely does and there are people who want to hear it.
I fell in love with the human part of my travels. People became the best part of a new place. I cannot begin to thank everyone that has now become a permanent part of my heart regardless of where they might be in the world.
I did get some funny/uncomfortable questions:
- “So how come you’re not married yet? Don’t you have to be married at like 12?”
(No, that’s sort of illegal? Also really, really wrong)
- “What’s with all the suicide bombing?”
(I don’t know? I don’t understand crazy! Also radical/extremist Muslims are a very small minority of the whole. They just happen to make a lot of noise)
- “Wait, so you’re not Arab? What language do you speak then? Isn’t Pakistan in the Middle East?”
(I AM ASIAN!!!! Also, we speak Urdu in Pakistan)
- “So do you hate Indians?”
(I don’t hate Indians, most Pakistanis don’t and vice versa, it’s a complicated shared history thing)
- “What’s up with this cricket game?”
(I have no idea, I don’t play cricket, I prefer hockey!)
- “Why aren’t you covered up/wearing hijab/showing skin? I thought Muslims were conservative”
(I have visible tattoos… like the permanent kind. Never said I was perfect Muslim or even come close to being one, but we are all different and don’t all adhere to the same practices… also its MY body and MY business)
That’s just a few of the hundreds I’ve gotten over these past many years. Sure, they seem ignorant and I used to get annoyed but then I stopped myself and thought about WHERE these questions came from. The same media that lies to me lies to everyone else as well!
These questions weren’t meant to insult me but from a genuine place of confusion. So I answer them calmly and make my point. Sometimes people listen and at other times they don’t.
You will learn that people will believe whatever they want to believe.
What have I learned?
People are amazing. There is so much love in the world it is unbelievable. People do not want to fight! They don’t want conflict! Everyone just wants to have a good time, share cool stories and get to know each other. We are all out to experience this amazing planet in all its glory.
So have an open heart and be brave. I did it and it was the best thing I ever did.