April 19, 2010

On Sunday, while sipping mimosas in the sun with a bunch of gora women (err, did I mention that Islamabad has an inordinate number of foreigners who live here, and that they do a somewhat-exclusive ladies brunch every month?) I had the most bizarre conversation. It started of (as I imagine most pseudo kitty-party aunty brunch conversations do) with clothes, primarily those available at Ego (currently my favorite clothes haunt). It went on to discuss how Pakistani designers have this unwise impression that the average desi woman is a petite, little thing and they size their clothes accordingly. Real-woman-clothes, argued the British lady are few-and-far-between. So anyhow, between clothing trends and yoga classes the conversation veered off into how difficult it is these days to get hold of a Pakistani visa.

At this point I'm flabbergasted. Having participated in countless conversations chronicling how difficult it is with-this-damn-green-passport to get another country's embassy to give you the go-ahead to enter, it had NEVER crossed our mind that the Pakistani embassy may be giving others a tough time. Rather, given the humongous number of goras sitting in Islamabad, it seemed as if visas were being handed on on a platter to anyone willing to venture to the land of the crazy suicide bombers. So there I am, both eyebrows raised, asking the ladies sitting around me (of assorted nationalities: Swedish, Polish, British, Australian, Spanish and American) if it was actually true: were foreigners really finding it difficult to get a Pakistani visa?

They replied in the affirmative.

At this point I'm quite impressed with our embassy. I never thought we'd ever have the nerve to limit the colonial masters entry. But it seems that beginning with the Amreekans and ending with goras on a universal scale, the Pakistani visa is a difficult commodity to acquire. Most foreigners working here are not allowed to stay on once their work permit has ended, unless sponsored by a Pakistani organization. This prompts my next question:

Err, why would you WANT visas to Pakistan anyway?

They look at me as if I'm asking a silly question (and I promise you, I was NOT asking a silly question). And they elaborate: Pakistan, says the Swedish lady, is a great place to live. Specially when one is growing older. She particularly appreciates the ease with which one can acquire attendants. I agree. I have - many times - counted my maid in as one of life's great blessings (not to be confused with the times when domestic help also becomes one of lifes great burdens).

Servant talk aside, I find, there are OTHER reasons why people want to come live in Pakistan. The climate is nice (we're pretty much only talking about Islamabad here, so sure). For development sector workers, Pakistan is a great place to work (true that, we have lots of room for development). For businesses, Pakistan is ripe ground for investment. Lots of consumers, and a pretty much untapped market. Plus LOTS of scope for raw material, the motherland is rich in more than just suicide bombers it seems. Speaking of which, it's also true that some goras are thrill seekers, they just like the excitement of living (and working) in a conflict zone. Either way, a lot of people I find are keen to stay on in Pakistan and very disappointed that our embassy is being stingy with visas. An American woman went to the extend of exclaiming something I have heard before, but never in this context. It seems she's thoroughly frustrated with the visa issues and she wishes she could just marry someone and acquire an (additional) Paki passport so she could be rid of this nonsense.

It suddenly struck me that I've been going about life the absolutely wrong way. All this while I've been looking around for someone with a ferangi passport, what I 'should' be doing is flashing the green-book around like a badge and saying *yoo-hoo* Pakistani nationality, anyone?! It's an amazing revelation, and truth-be-told it's super-cool! Now, I realize, all I need to do is find a nice gora man who wants my Paki passport so we can work on establishing a win-win partnership. What-think-you-of-new-strategy?

16 comments:

Roshni said...

yea...no...still not going to work. What's the age-range of those kitty party women if I may ask.... Its important to know to reacha conclusion here -____-

ps: i hate word verifications. this is try no. 4

Anonymous said...

u should seriously relax the gora restriction because deep down we all know u want to get married to an Indian GUJJU

Xeb said...

Sorry! Not having word verification leaves me open to people trying to sell me viagra. And I don't really want viagra. And the moderation deal is beyond me, so word verification (as annoying as it is) seems to be my only option! :S

Re: brunch 'ladies', they ranged from 25 - 50. Mostly non-Paki and almost all working in diplomatic/development circles. I see potential, I see potential! *scheming grin*

Xeb said...

Anon: Err, why Indian? Not that I'd have anything against an Indian Gujju per se, but I'm just wondering why you decide to pick on that particular species...

Anonymous said...

becoz Paki Gujjus are already an endangered species and interracial marriages are further undermining the sanctity of the Gujju caste in Pakistan.

Xeb said...

Err, Caste is it? :P

Chalo theek hai, Indian Gujju toh Indian Gujji hi sahi. You be happy.

Anonymous said...

so is that a yes? ur cool with non-muslim Gujjus, ya?

Xeb said...

Haha, that's a 'maybe'. As with everything else, it completely depends on the Gujju-in-question. No?

Desert Mystery said...

Not to put salt on your game, but giving someone Pak nationality as a woman is a long drawn out process. Our esteemed ministry of interior is a specialist in making life "interesting" for such situations.

Although visa/residency process becomes easy as they wil at least give that after some "chai pani" ofcourse.

Xeb said...

'whuuttt'?!?!

You mean marriage to my Passport does not automatically mean entry into Pakistan?! Now I'm truly pissed! WTF!

Bloody patriarchal asswipes! They shall ruin my grand plan!!

*walks off muttering*

Psst: nobody tell the goras this until after the deed is done! Okay?

Anonymous said...

*and the Hindu Gujjus

Xeb said...

Haha, yea. And the Hindu Gujjus! :P

Sakhmeth said...

This has totally opened up my eyes. You mean...they WANT to live in Pakistan?! Last time I was this proud of the motherland, I was wathing "The Story of India" (excellent BBC documentary, btw).

Who knows...maybe 10 years down the road, we will have goras attempting to get into pakistan as illegal immigrants...maybe they will try to swim through the Arabian in the dead of the night and enter through Karachi. haha.

Xeb said...

S: Na? I've never been prouder either! :P I wanted to give those embassy guys a pack on the back and say "yeh cheez". I settled for smiling at the goras and commiserating with their sad, visa-less states! :P

p said...

what are mimosas?

p said...

is* hah, googled it now. :)