When was told I was going to Pakistan I started to think about all the reasons not to go, how to convince my office not to send me. I did not want to spend the next six months of my life in between mud roads and traffic, dirt and smelly donkeys. I definitely did not want to share my time with radical people, extremists, and walk around all covered.
“Prepare to get sick and food poisoned,” they told me. “You should change your job”. “No, I´ve never been to Pakistan but I´ve been to Bangladesh and I know its the same”… or India, or Afghanistan.
Luckily, someone also told me: “When you go to Pakistan you cry two times: when you are sent there and when you have to leave”. Seven months afterwards I indeed have cried two times. The untouched gorgeous beauty of Pakistan is impossible to describe with words. Everything in this country is untouched; the nature, the culture, the cities. Women in their colorfoul dresses and the way they allow their Pashminas to fall loose over their heads, showing their dark hair. Men playing cricket, such a refined English sport to be played in white clothes drinking high tea, is here the street sport by far, played in every corner of every street. I have climbed stunning mountains, swam in incredible clear lakes amidst the most beautiful hills, visited majestic mosques and drank uncountable types of chai. I tasted lots of different dishes. I did not get myself sick or food poisoned at all, but I definitely got myself a bellyache for not being able to stop eating such delicious food! And the mangoes, oh the mangoes.
However… it doesn’t matter how beautiful a country is, you will always remember how it made you feel. And this is what makes the difference in Pakistan. I have never seen so much hospitality anywhere in the world. Incredibly warm people, genuinely kind. I have never felt so welcomed. There is this tendency to smile. A society that has been for so many years oppressed and still can be so tolerant.
I challenge you to come to Pakistan and don´t like it. Cause, so far, I haven´t met anyone who didn´t. I spent seven beautiful months in Pakistan and I encourage everyone to give this amazing country a chance.