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Destination Wedding: Turkey and Pakistan Trip During Winter Break

Sem 4 Finals Exams ended on the 14th of December, I flew back in town on the 15th from school/Miami. Then I spent the rest of the day on the 16th shopping and packing for our family trip!. I flew out to Turkey/Pakistan on the 17th. Landed in Pakistan 19th of December at 6am.

Traveling is exhausting- Meriam has been a sweetheart but even she had her meltdowns :( numerous public outburst (sorry random folks walking by ). We Landed in Istanbul on the 18th of Dec, and then we had a connecting flight to Lahore, Pakistan. Once we landed in Lahore- it was deja vu. The last time I was in Pakistan- I was a little girl. It’s been 16 years since I have last been. Once we landed in Lahore, the smog hit us. Air pollution is very high in Lahore bc its a city and there is a lot of factories, malls, rickshaws, trains, cars, construction, etc. This is where Meriam and I belong. This is our nation. Our identity. Although she is young, I did want her to understand and learn her nationality (although she is an American born- she should know about her roots- especially her Kashmir roots). I saw my uncle (who I haven‘t seen in 16 years). He hasn’t aged a bit. Then I saw my Aunt too. This is a very emotional time for me. I haven't seen my relatives for more than a decade. They reside in the Air Force Complex Falcon in Lahore (it‘s a gated community residential only for military members and their family).

Destination wedding. Fun but highly Stressful. Luckily, I had my dresses designed and sent to my sis-in-law place. I mostly relaxed and hit the bazaars when I needed too. I also suffered from serious jet lag. The weather in Lahore was chilly -50-65s. Because of the smog, we all had acute bronchitis. Also, Pakistan is a third world country- central heating is NOT common. You have to pay extra to get something that is common in the United States. Highly grateful for the basic necessities USA gives us that is a luxury elsewhere.

My youngest brother got engaged/nikkahified (Nikkah) to Eman. Nikkah is the Islamic version of being married. Their real wedding won’t take place until a year or two from now. Shahzeb and Laiba had their Nikkah last year- they had their festivities this year. Laiba is my beautiful sis in law who I am genuinely love. It was exciting to see their happiness. Plus- she designed all of my outfits except for my reception dress. My reception dress was designed by Maria B Couture in the most loveliest shade of blue! I paired it with the matching color of Badgley Mischka shoes. Laiba and Shahzeb wedding was amazing. We had fireworks, cake, amazing dances, food, qawali night, and we had a few hiccups. Poor Meriam was struggling with all of the new faces/places. I don’t blame her- she doesn‘t like change. Eventually, she got used to it but still wanted to go back.

Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the air quality is way better than Lahore. The distance from Lahore to Islamabad is 3-4 hrs without traffic. I could actually breathe in Islamabad. The drive to Islamabad is very scenic. Islamabad is very clean and well developed and you can see the difference in lifestyle; Lahore is flashy and ostentatious while Islamabad people are more down to Earth. Poverty is high in both areas. You can tell the difference between rich and the poor. The poor tend to be working as rickshaw drivers or house servants. We had a few house servants working for us in Lahore and Islamabad. They made our beds, laundry, cleaned the kitchen, washed floors etc. While the rich lived a lavish life.

Food in Pakistan is delicious. The soup and the fish crackers were to die for. The biryani was on a whole new level. The inner chef in me was going crazy. My palate had an awakening. Chef Aisha is back in Action ;) The spices are authentic in Pakistan and everything is spicy - even when you say “no spice”- it will be mildly spiced. Shopping in Pakistan is about bargaining. You have to haggle for the prices to go down.

Istanbul is gorgeous. Going to a Muslim country is refreshing. You can hear the Athan (Azan) heard everywhere . An azaan is a call for prayer that tells Muslims its time to pray. You can see the difference in culture and food in Turkey and Pakistan. I told myself- I will go back to explore the culture and the people. It is enlightening to learn from different cultures and experiences. Turkey have a Mediterranean diet (so their food is seasoned but not spicy- while Pakistani food is very spicy).

I had a beautiful time. And I hope to go back again soon :) Leaving was bittersweet for me. Although, I saw my family and spending quality time with them is fun- I wanted to go back to the States.


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