Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 134: Jetlagged Bustle

OYLPA Day 134: Jetlagged Bustle, originally uploaded by klodhie.
The amount that happens within the span of one day here in Lahore is equivalent to approximately 2-3 weeks back home in California. I made sure to double check and ask if this bustling atmosphere is just a rare coincidence while we are here, but I've been told by multiple people that this is everyday life. As a visitor, it's all fascinating and provides me with endless points to contemplate.

I'll relate to you a slice of the day.

At around 8pm, the following was happening. My khala's sister-in-law, who lives right next door, had just come over in a rush, her outfit for a wedding to be attended this same evening in her hands as she was trying to make a quick sewing fix. A few moments later, a good friend of hers came over to my khala's place for a momentary visit and cup of tea, during which time people were running around for some reason or another. Moments later we had another lovely visit from my mother's cousin her daughters and mother-in-law, which meant more chai, gift-giving, and catching up.

With only a very brief moment of calm in between (maybe 5 minutes), the next set of excitement began. A group of carpenters was supposed to come earlier in the morning to install a large TV cabinet on the wall - they arrived around 8pm (there is a habit amongst desi people, yes, even those born and raised in the west, to say that they will arrive at a particular place in "just 5 min" but will not actually arrive until at least an hour later). So after telling my aunt in the morning, "Haan jee baaji hum aik ghante mein aajaenge" ("Yes of course Miss we will be there in an hour"), they began complex electrical and installation work at night. Upon arrival they claimed again, "Baji aade ghante mein kaam ho jayega" ("We'll be done in just half an hour"), and after about two hours they decided it was getting too late, and would come back tomorrow.

So, amidst three men working loudly with drills and hammers at night, family members tried to have conversations. While my mother's cousin began to try to show us pictures from her book launch (Sand in the Castle: A Collection of Short Stories by Syrrina Haque, so proud of her!) a young girl of 15 that works here, Tahira, looked teary-eyed, and after a phone call to her father, burst out crying. Everyone panicked and began asking her what had happened, that she should sit down for moment. Between her tears and sobs she explained that her father should have picked her up by now, but he said he wouldn't come today and had hit her last night. Everyone began talking at the same time, denouncing "jaahil" people, and asking "How can they hit their children like this?!" Khala made a phone call to Tahira's father a little while later after trying to calm her down, and found the father himself crying and saying that he was upset at his daughter for not eating anything, that he was worried about her health (and he was indeed on his way to pick her way, arriving moments later still crying). Tahira did not seem to be scared to go home, and in fact had called her father because she was wondering why he hadn't already come to pick her up. Mom's cousin left, and the carpenters continued. Dinner came and went. Talk of physically abusive families in both Pakistan and America popped up every now and then.

I went to bed, still slightly jetlagged, with endless questions about education, social justice, culture, and the "savior mentality." Having spent only a couple days here after 6 years, I am trying my absolute best to reconcile my observations and surroundings and beliefs without any judgment. It is difficult to do so far.

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