This blog would not be complete without at least one post mentioning the Pakistani Aunties and Uncles (A's & U's non related to myself) that make it their business to know everything about everyone. You gotta love 'em!
Being a half Swedish/Pakistani growing up with two cultures in one home, I suppose the "pakiness" of my father was somewhat moderated by the presence of my Swedish mother. Having said that, I was of course not spared entirely, for besides my father, every daughter of a Pakistani knows, that her business and her life is every Pakistani Aunty & Uncle's business.
I find that there is a strong cultural peer pressure, that leads the parents of such cultures into acting and saying things they normally perhaps would not be so passionately against. An example:
A few years back I was on my way home from work, and I suppose it was a bit late after ten or so (anything after 4 pm is late in their eyes), and I was walking with my Swedish colleague, a girl, mind you. When I reached home (and this is how fast the A's & U's work), dad had received a phone call from one of his friends who got him all worked up. Question is, if he himself had any idea why he was all worked up?
Dad: "Where have you been?"
Me: "You know where I have been, at work?"
Dad (uneasy and agitated): "Yes I know, but you were with a blonde girl!"
Me: "Umm, yes? and Mom is blonde too. Who told you anyway?"
Dad (increasingly annoyed): "Uncle so and so called me up and told me that you were walking with a blonde girl."
Me (unable to grasp what his point is): "Yes she is my colleague and what is the problem with me walking with a blonde girl?"
Dad (confused and not sure what to say): "Well, umm, don't talk back to your father!"
A classic remark. It is amusing however mind you, there are girls who are deeply affected by this mentality.
My dear friend had another incident involving her mother. She was out in town with her younger brother (he must have been 19 at the time), and they are very close and sometimes walk arm in arm together like siblings sometimes do. The moment she stepped through the door she found her mom in tears:
Mom: "Mera bacha (tr: my child), what did I do to deserve this?"
Friend: "Mom what's wrong? Who died?" (usually someone has died back home i.e. Pakistan, and even if it is the neighbor's dog, it is customary to feel upset.)
Mom: "Aunty so and so called, and she told me she saw you with a boy hugging! Aik larka ke saat! hay Allah maine kya ghalat kiya?!" (tr: With a boy! Oh God what wrong did I do?)
Friend: "What? What boy? When?"
Mom: "Jhoot mat bolo! (tr: don't lie) She said she saw you today and she called from her mobile phone."
Friend: "Mom, I was with bro the whole day?"
Mom (thrown off her Bollywood Drama act): "Don't talk back, I am your mother!"
So there we have it, the A & U News Network. I tell you, CNN cannot hold a candle to them.
Another hilarious story.
My friend, a half Pakistani/Swedish such as myself (mind you we have an even harder time since any wrong we do is blamed on our poor Swedish moms), moved to another city to pursue her studies at a university there. Nothing odd about that, right? Wrong.
After a few months she came back to visit, and had gained a pound or two, it usually happens, being homesick and all that, and she stayed a week and later on left. By this time, the A's and U's had spotted her near her home and naturally noticed the slight increase of weight.
Minds were now at work and rumor quickly spread:
A's & U's: "You know that girl, Aamir's daughter, she is pregnant! Yes, it is true. I saw her tummy. That's why she is living in another city. Haan, dekho, jab laug Swedish aurtein ke saat shadi karte hai to yeh hota hai." (tr: Yeah, you see, when people marry Swedish women, that's what happens).
There are so many stories, so many gems, but on a final note I leave with this last one (for now).
When I was 19 I decided to move to Syria (with a close friend of mine) to learn Arabic. Didn't really know anyone in Syria, besides one family that had previously lived in Sweden, nor been there before nor spoken a single word so it felt like it was pretty obvious that I am going there to study Arabic.
So I left, and came back to Sweden after 10 months. Like planned, I could now speak a bit of Arabic and read and write some. So, there was a Pakistani function of some sort held and against my will, I attended it. Of course all of the A's & U's were there just waiting to look at me, perhaps to see if a baby had popped out while I was gone (after all it only takes 9 months). And so I met with everyone and most of them don't know the difference between Syria and any other Arab country so most of the questions I got were:
"So how was it in Iraq?" "Did you like Algeria?" "Is Libya dangerous?"
Harmless, I thought. Not too bad after all. Till I sat down with a good friend of mine, who had the decency to be upfront with me.
Friend: "Shaykhspeara, there has been a lot of talk about your Syria trip, and I just thought you should know about it."
Me (bracing myself): "Oh really? Well thank you for telling me. What exactly has been said?"
Friend: "Well the Aunties said that you went to Syria because you wanted to marry some Syrian guy."
Rumor has it, ladies and gentlemen.