My favourite bits of Pakistan and the final word

This is it, my final post on the Aussie in Lahore blog. Living in and working in Pakistan was a great experience and one that I am glad that I and my family had the chance to experience and I would truly encourage anyone who has the opportunity for an expat assignment to jump at it, and ignore the doubters and ill judged opinions, do what you feel is right for you and you can’t put a price on the experience.

Although a short stint, in comparison the the 5+ years in Dubai all those years ago (which was also met with cynicism), there were plenty of great bits to reflect on.

The people

Like most places I have been, it is truly the people who make the difference. Regardless of race, religion or color, I have always found that people are people and deep down we are all the same…I know I reflected on the Middle East and the people there and compared them to how we perceive ourselves in Australia, thinking we are the best, most easy going and friendly people around, but when it comes to doing things for others and making others welcome, we don’t come close. We were openly invited to share the lives with many people, some who hardly knew us, always invited for a tea or meal from randoms when working or travelling, and the number of people who simply thanked me for being in Pakistan was amazing. I was recently in Perth on transit back to Pakistan and had a Pakistani taxi drover from Lahore and we got chatting, and as I left he said, “thank you so much for being in Pakistan and helping change our image” and wanted to give me his parents details so i could go for dinner!

Despite the often over eager to see/ meet you (via the photo issue in a previous blog), most of this is with good intent, people wave at traffic lights, drive their motorbike next to you and ‘interview’ you whilst riding a bike, or want to know all about you at airports or anywhere else you are spotted…then they ask for the visa! But seriously, the people were highly positive, friendly and would and did do anything for you to make your stay welcome, and this included people like Saeed, Ayseha, Saba, Rouba and their families downstairs at our house in Lahore, Zahid who worked with them, as they were our Pakistan family…we laughed, we fought, but at the end of the day they would do anything for us…even deliver meals when i was there by myself, and generally look out for us, so thank to them! I sahll not list all those who were special as i have told them personally, but wanted to give an example of how the family helped out at home.We even had the honor of attending Saba’s wedding.

Seeing the history

From the Old Walled City, to Wagah Border and the countless Tombs, Mosques and general architecture, Lahore, and Pakistan has a lot to offer. Despite never getting to the northern regions, as posted about recently, this is truly a wonder of the world.

Pakistan has many aspects of history and the buildings al reflect the differing periods of rule and influence, with a strong British evidence in many Lahore buildings as well as the hundreds of years old constructions that have stood the test of time.

Embracing the culture

There is nothing like living in a place and really living in it.

For this reason, just like when in the Middle East, I embraced the culture, probably more so than Dubai, as it doesn’t really have the same level of culture (or not as evident anyway), I attempted to learn the language, would wear my Shalwar Khamis to work and took part in Eid and Ramadan via Sehri, Iftar etc with the team and friends, as this is an important aspect when living elsewhere.

Sure I failed at the language bit, it was very hard to grasp, but I did make a massive effort, as did the family to fit in culturally from time to time. These are the aspects that are hard to explain, but ones that give the kids especially some grounding, and exposure to others and how others live and survive.

The food

I loved my Malai Botti Chicken and Fish Tikka and developed a taste for Dahl Mash Handi, but got to experience many different foods both in restaurants and at local friends houses. I became a little obsessed with Salt Lassi and even mastered making my own which was a great cool refreshing drink, I tried sugar cane juice late in the piece and this was also lovely.

Making a difference in a business (hopefully)

Having the opportunity to work with the Pizza Hut brand gave an opportunity to coach and develop a team of committed people who loved the brand. Luckily they responded to the vision and the goals we set for the business, and this was a proud and defining experience for me. Having a boss who has built the business to what it is, and to have the potential to grow exponentially was amazing. We got to give the business a chance to expand via franchising, and the ability for the business to go public in the future, this could not have been done without the dedication of the team I was fortunate to work with, so a big thanks to all of them.

Getting to meet some really cool and unusual characters and opportunities

Never would I have the chance to sit in a ministers office in Australia like i did in Peshawar, or hang with the tea an in Karachi, or some random (who looked like a druggo hippy from the 60’s) in Kasur, or to re-kindle long lost friendships with old PH and KFC people, or have my very own personal machine gun men or a driver, but I did get that chance, and loved it all. I even ran into Glen McGrath in Islamabad…

Mushtiaq and Saqib – my protectors!

My driver – Aslam

 

So that’s it, it’s a wrap….would I go to Pakistan again…possibly, but this has now been ticked off the ‘done that’ list. Now it is time to move onto the next challenge Africa. I hope you enjoyed my journey as the Aussie in Lahore, and hope you can follow my next journey over at www.canberratocapetown.com so look it up and follow the blog or via the Canberra to Cape Town Facebook page.

 

Cheers…Tony

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