In the spirit of the upcoming Independence Days for India and Pakistan I’ve decided to base this week’s blog post on my somewhat rare experience of belonging to both these countries. For those of you who don’t know, my maternal family is from Hyderabad in India, while my paternal family is from Karachi, Pakistan.
Growing up as being Half-Indian and Half-Pakistani was pretty cool, but also pretty confusing. As a child I was jokingly asked by family and family friends which nationally I associated myself with. “Tum Mummy ke jaise Indian ho? Ya Papa ke jaise Pakistani?” “Are you Indian like your mum, or Pakistani like your dad?” I was unsure of my identity growing up and felt as though I had to pick and choose between who I was. I went back and forth between what I identified myself as, and it took me 20-odd years to fully appreciate myself as being both. Belonging to two countries that hold animosity for each other is difficult, and it’s had upsides and downsides. From my experiences, here are the perk and perils of being Half-Indian and Half-Pakistani:
- I’m lucky enough to have been to both countries on multiple occasions, and honestly, they’re not all that different. While I’ve been to India more frequently, I miss Pakistan and I look forward to going back
- I get to enjoy the best of both countries at home – Bollywood movies, Pakistani dramas, both Indian and Pakistani fashion, Indian Cadbury (best Cadbury ever), both Indian and Pakistani foods, the list goes on and on!
- I get along really well with people from both countries, I recognize the culture of both and have something in common with people from either place
- I get to be happy either way when there’s an India vs Pakistan cricket match 🇮🇳🇵🇰
- Seeing the look on people’s faces when I tell them I’m a halfie – I’ve gotten some very interesting reactions!
- Seeing constant hatred and exchanges of insults between the two countries is a total bummer and makes me really sad
- Not being able to become a citizen of both countries 👎🏻
- The fact that there’s an entirely different visa form to fill out to visit India if you’re a Pakistani (compared to basically every other nationality), and the visa turnaround period of Pakistanis is much longer. A total pain if you want to travel to India with your Pakistani crew
- People’s reactions when I tell them I’m from both countries. While this can be a perk, I’ve also gotten some less-than-sweet reactions with people grilling me for information, or thinking less of me for being tainted with the enemy’s blood 🙄 #mudbloodlife
Needless to say, I’m really happy with who I am today, and appreciate both the countries/cultures that have contributed to making my world what it is. I feel as though the positives definitely outweigh the negatives, but it’s a real shame that there’s not more unity between the two countries. Especially since they have a lot more in common than not.
I sincerely hope that things get better between them someday – I hope to walk through Wagah Border one day, from one country to the next, like a Veer Zaara moment. A girl can dream…