I finally figured out why I am having such a hard time putting up a post lately. It isn’t the new puppies, or the fact that I’ve been sick pretty much the whole month, or the oppressively hot weather that makes me want to lay around like a vegetable, or the news of catastrophic floods all throughout Pakistan that is just more and more depressing each day.
No, it’s because I’ve been here too long. I don’t mean that I want to leave or that I don’t like it anymore. What I mean is that I’ve been here too long to give snapshots of what life is like in exotic Pakistan. Pakistan isn’t exotic to me anymore. It feels, in a lot of the ways that count, like home.
Here is a list of things that I am totally and completely used to: machine guns, mosques, fancy Pakistani clothes, women carrying large loads of things on their heads. At one point all of these things seemed the height of exotic and cool. After living here for one and half years, I have even caught myself saying “we” and “our” and “us” on occasion when referring to Pakistan. This is the kind of stuff that gives the US government nightmares and is the reason they insist that their diplomats go back home on a regular basis to connect with America.
Because of this adopted ownership and my appreciation for the real Pakistan, I now also feel like I have the right to voice complaints about “my” real Pakistan too. But I really don’t. At the end of the day it isn’t actually my country. So here I am, stuck between not being a tourist anymore (oooh, donkeys! shalwar! shisha!) but still being an outsider who has to be polite and maybe not tell the truth every time. It may be that to keep the blog going I just have to start getting real anyway, and hope that I don’t offend anyone. We’ll see how that goes. (First topic: why don’t landlords feel responsible for repeated incidents of open sewage in the backyard?)
A good friend of mine who used to live here in Pakistan recently moved to Bogota, Colombia. She started a blog and she’s been posting, like, every single day. The scene is fresh, her energy is high, and everything about her new world sounds exciting and invigorating. She hasn’t been there long enough to see all of the warts yet, to get a deep sense of the particular drawback of that particular country, which every single country has. Reading her posts is like going on a great vacation.
Cut to me, laying on my couch at home for the last week googling “parasites,” wanting to strangle my landlord, and wondering when the Apocalypse Now re-enactment outside is going to end. (Monsoon season = numbing, endless rain.) And yet, I just said “at home.” That’s the truth too.