I’ve been wanting to write about this for sometime. As Pakistanis born and/or raised in Western countries, I feel there’s just alot we need to keep up with. We have the American culture we see whenever we go outside and then Pakistani culture we see at home. To find the balance bewteen the two is not only challenging for our parents but it’s also overwhelming for us growing up. Then when we get married and have kids of our own then it’s whoah….now what do we do?
Some people tend to get away with the Pakistani culture all together. They stop speaking Urdu, they stop wearing Shalwar kameez, and they stop cooking Pakistani food. Its fair to say that they may seem pretty content. But there will always be those big family weddings where you feel you need too wear Pakistani designer clothes. Or that Aunt or Uncle who’s visiting from Pakistan and and ask you, “Beta, bachon ko Urdu nahi sikhayee?”. Or those Pakistani families who come to visit you and expect “ghar ke bane huwe” shami kababs, samosas, and spring rolls. Ummm, yeah.
Then there are those whose parents instilled the Pakistani culture so adamantly that they tend to keep it that way. These people grow up and can speak/read the perfect Urdu (maybe even Punjabi), cook the most complicated Paki dishes (Nargisi kofte, anyone?), and don’t mind wearing shalwar kameez to Target. When you go to visit them, they will serve you dinner in the most impeccable way. You can’t help but wonder if they are possibly the Pakistani Martha Stewart.
Then there are people like me. Just too much of both cultures. When I go American, I go all out. I want the Jimmy Choos, Prada glasses, Louis Vuitton bags, and shop for jeans and tops from Nordstrom. I want to cook all the recipes that are on the Food Network. BUT…at the same time I want to wear Sana Safinaz, Asim Jofa, and Elan outfits. I want to cook (and eat) Chicken Makhni, Qeema Aloo, Daal, and of course Ras Malai! I want my kids to know and speak Urdu fluently. I want to speak slang Urdu with my friends and watch Pakistani dramas. I want my jewellry box to hold my jhumars and tikkas, AND my Tory Burch and Michael Kors.
This is how bipolar my lifestyle can get…But I love it. I may never have enough room in my closet for all my Paki and American clothes, boxes of Tory Burch and Stylo (a Pakistani shoe store) shoes may be popping from under my bed, and my kitchen cabinets may be stuffed with both Shaan masalas and Italian seasonings but it’s how I choose to live.
Living a double life as an American Pakistani can be challenging and not quite pocket friendly. But oh well, it’s the life I’d like to live and have the freedom to live. Yes, I do my groceries from Stop & Shop AND Paki stores. And yes I talk to my kids in English then Urdu if they dont listen. And yes I love my pizza and bihari kababs. I just love being a true blooded American Pakistani.