Australia Day in Pakistan 2016
With 22 days down in the ‘Big P’, I am about to face my 1st Australia Day here. While there could be a debate about what Australia day is – the settlement by Capt. Cook, or the demise of the original owners by white invasion, this is not the direction this post will go in. For me, Australia Day is simply a day to celebrate our country, our friends, family and the good luck we have for living in such an awesome place, regardless of being white, black, brown, yellow, catholic, christian, hindu or muslim (or any other combinations or missing categories). WE are Australia, and WE make Australia a great place, so it’s a good day just to relish what we have.
Being out of the country, and clearly in a place that doesn’t have as much freedom and awesomeness (in our eyes anyway, I’m sure they would beg to differ), gives days like Australia Day a different feel. When last living overseas, I found myself becoming unusually ‘patriotic’ and even more so than normal. I remember in Dubai I even had ‘Down Under’ as my ring tone, and the occasional burst of VB ads as well from time to time…I would do anything to find the illusive slab of “VB” or make all visitors bring some over as well as packets of Cheesels as the payment for ‘rent’, and I even ensured my office had the Aussie Flag and Boxing Kangaroo! All stuff I don’t have in my office in Australia (except for a flag in the ‘shisha den’).
So now I find myself here on Australia Day eve with what I am sure will be ‘another day’ with not even a chance to celebrate, have a beer or fly the flag! The flag has come with me, don’t worry about that- it is in a box that I should get cleared from customs any day now, so maybe I will get a chance to ‘fly the flag’. I may be able to sneak a beer at the hotel tomorrow night, as a non-Muslim I can get one in my room, or in the ‘secret’ bar that has been found, but it will be a table for one, and a chance to reflect alone and look at all the social media and online activities that have occurred back home.
Australia has a consulate here, in Islamabad, about 300km from Lahore and an Australia in Pakistan Facebook page (not as good as Aussie in Lahore of course) so i thought I would have a look and see if there is anything planned for Australia Day out of interest- nothing found!
I thought I’d Google “Australia Day in Pakistan 2016” and I initially thought it may be promising, with over 86 million possible finds- surely there was something- but again no, it was all about cricket between Australia and Pakistan!
Things are not looking good! With less than 600 ‘known’ Australians listed as living in Pakistan in 2001, and this dropped down to 500 in 2002, (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australians_in_Pakistan), it doesn’t look like we have a rampant and vibrant expat group functioning within the country, so any wonder the consulate has nothing listed on their website. they probably just have a staff BBQ!
So for me, Australia Day will be a non event in a physical sense, but that’s ok, you don’t need to do anything to appreciate things. I will take time at some stage throughout the day to think about all the great things about my true home!
- I’ll remember my family whom are still there, and in the process of coming over and how its been nearly a month since I last saw them all.
- I’ll remember my friends and business colleagues who know who they are, the ones who hang with me, work with me, listen to me and hang it on me. The ‘boy’ times are already missed but we will see each other all again and all will be the same.
- I’ll remember my home, my home town – Canberra and all my established routines there that I had developed – my coffee at Guru Bonner, seeing Steve and Tracie most times when there, my lunches at Simply Pho, bike rides (sometimes), Gungahlin generally, Neighbourhood Food for GBOB, My Gungahlin – for all the events and activities and gossip, and the occasional lost dog, cat, bird or goldfish!, the G.C.C, the Jets, North Canberra Gungahlin Cricket Club…everything about it that I have sacrificed to live in Pakistan. But again…it will remain and I will come back to it. I’ll make new routines here and all will be good.
- I’ll generally remember what it’s like to live in a place where generally you can do as you please. You go to shops, petrol stations, restaurants, hotel (anywhere really) without 1, 2 or more men armed with machine guns, pistols and sworn off rifles at the door. You don’t need to have in the back of your mind, ‘what if….’ in different scenarios…don’t get me wrong, there have been NO safety or security issues here with me, but every day you read about a shooter here, a bomber there or something else, and in a different context to home, so I will think about the lifestyle we have, and if you haven’t lived outside of Australia, you should think about some of these things we take for granted at times, as we really do!
- Generally, I’ll think about just HOW AWESOME IT IS TO BE AN AUSTRALIAN. The number one question I get asked here is “where are you from?” as they expect England or USA (thank god I’m not from one of these) then they next ask, “Can you get me a visa there?” I’ve sat in a cafe in Karachi Googling ‘Australian Immigration Visa requirements’ and trying to find out what is involved to show/ help/ guide several people (as I have no idea about Australian Visa, ‘cos I don’t need one!). So, people know how great it is and want to be a part of it.
The best part is, I am a part of it…I am an Australian!
I am an Australian, and I may be out of Australia, but as an “Aussie in Lahore” 26th of January will always be my Australia Day, but for the next few years, it will be a bit more special and meaningful!
“Happy Australia Day Everyone”
Cheers (over a virtual beer) from the Aussie in Lahore.