Surviving the Holidays, Culture, Humor, Life

25 life struggles every Pakistani expat has to deal with when they go “back home”

You actually thought people stood in lines? Or stopped at red lights? Where do you think you are?

1. You’re constantly dealing with prying relatives.

A boy wearing a red sweatshirt is getting out of a car and looking at a large group of people waiting for him, a lot of them holding cameras and phones.
[Image description: A boy wearing a red sweatshirt is getting out of a car and looking at a large group of people waiting for him, a lot of them holding cameras and phones.] Via Giphy

It doesn’t matter that you haven’t met these people for years or maybe never at all, they fully believe they have every right to ask you the most personal questions and be all up in your business from the minute they see you.

2. Your parents go through a whole personality change.

A woman in a white turtleneck with a bob haircut looks concerned as she says "Look, doc, I really don't understand how her whole personality could change."
[Image description: A woman in a white turtleneck with a bob haircut looks concerned as she says “Look, doc, I really don’t understand how her whole personality could change.”] Via Giphy

The same parents of yours who will only want to eat one particular brand of cheese or refuse to drink coffee if it’s not from their favourite brand at home, will suddenly call you out on your preferences as “having airs” and being “high-minded” to show their relatives how down-to-earth they still are while the kids have been spoiled.

3. It’s unorganized. Deal with it.

A busy street intersection with no streetlights or signs has a large amount of cars going in every direction haphazardly.
[Image description: A busy street intersection with no streetlights or signs has a large number of cars going in every direction haphazardly.] Via Giphy

You actually thought people stood in lines? Or stopped at red lights? Where do you think you are?

4. You learn to love street food again.

A black blob like creature with a white face mask is exclaiming "I want to eat everything!" in front of a large feast of delicious looking food
[Image description: A black blob-like creature with a white face mask is exclaiming “I want to eat everything!” in front of a large feast of delicious looking food] Via Giphy

The cornucopia of delicious street food that you won’t find anywhere else in the world is enough to turn anyone into a foodie.

5. You have to get used to the environment – fast.

A shaky camera view of a street at night with a lot of chaos and people running around
[Image description: A shaky camera view of a street at night with a lot of chaos and people running around] Via Giphy

There’s going to be a lot of noise, a whole lot of pollution and tons of mess and inconveniences. Things locals don’t even notice, and if you’re there long enough, you won’t either.

6. The blackouts.

A woman in hospital scrubs says "You got to be kidding me!" as the lights go off in the hospital room and then a city wide view of a blackout hitting the entire city.
[Image description: A woman in hospital scrubs says “You got to be kidding me!” as the lights go off in the hospital room and then a city wide view of a blackout hitting the entire city.] Via Giphy

There’s going to be rolling blackouts, usually several times a day and for quite a few hours. It’s pretty much the way of life there. Nothing you can do about it.

7. Political correctness is not a thing.

A man in a suit standing in front of a mic proudly says "I'm not politically correct." and laughs
[Image description: A man in a suit standing in front of a mic proudly says “I’m not politically correct.” and laughs] Via Giphy

You know that thing about not being racist or sexist or prejudiced? Yeah, that doesn’t exist. You’ll often find people making judgemental statements without batting an eye. They might even get offended if you tell them it’s wrong.

8. You have to meet relatives you didn’t even know existed.

A man yells and throws up his hands as he gets knocked down by a large group of people running toward him him
[Image description: A man yells and throws up his hands as he gets knocked down by a large group of people running toward him] Via Giphy

They’re going to be coming from everywhere. The distant cousins, the aunts and uncles, the relatives of relatives. And you’ll have meet and greets with all of them.

9. You have to deal with complete strangers the same way you would with family.

 A young boy in a blue T-shirt turns back while leaving and says "Wait a minute, who are you?"
[Image description: A young boy in a blue T-shirt turns back while leaving and says “Wait a minute, who are you?”] Via Giphy

You mean you don’t remember your dad’s second cousin’s neighbor aunty? She took care of you all the time when you were 3 months old!

10. Your marriage or lack thereof is open to discussion by ANYONE.

A woman wearing a black dress is saying "Find you some business of your own."
[Image description: A woman wearing a black dress is saying “Find you some business of your own.”] Via Giphy

People you haven’t seen for years will have no qualms about asking you right out why you aren’t married, when you’re getting married, why don’t you have kids, or want more kids than you have already.

11. Your every move is going to be observed.

Two women are looking very closely at something while one eats a sandwich and holds a plate while the other puts on her glasses for a better look.
[Image description: Two women are looking very closely at something while one eats a sandwich and holds a plate while the other puts on her glasses for a better look.] Via Giphy

People are going to be watching you like hawks, waiting for the first thing they can criticize or make a point about.

12. You’re expected to pay for everything.

A man in a business suit is exclaiming "I declare bankruptcy!"
[Image description: A man in a business suit is exclaiming “I declare bankruptcy!”] Via Giphy

You’re automatically expected to pick up the check wherever you go. After all, you’re the one who brought your fancy ass back from abroad.

13. You’re resented by your relatives for being different, while also held as an example for their kids.

A woman in a black and red dress and hoop earrings looks away appearing very confused.
[Image description: A woman in a black and red dress and hoop earrings looks away appearing very confused.] Via Giphy

They don’t like the fact that you are different. Then other times they’re telling their kids to be more like you. It can be very confusing and not always logical.

14. You don’t want to see the “posh” places everyone wants to show you.

 A woman in a off white top and bikini bottoms spins and smiles and walks happily on the beach.
[Image description: A woman in an off white top and bikini bottoms spins and smiles and walks happily on the beach.] Via Giphy

Your relatives are going to try to show you the fancy restaurants and hangouts, and you really won’t care because you’ve seen a hundred of those where you came from. Show me the dhabas, the roadside restaurants that serve the best niharis, and the open beaches.

That’s the stuff I’m interested in.

15. Pushy salesmen. 

A woman in a blue dress is saying devastatingly
[image description : A woman in a blue dress is saying devastatingly “For god’s sake, go away! leave me alone] via giphy
People who try to sell you stuff in the streets won’t easily take no for an answer, and will actually follow you down the road to get you to buy something.

16. You get offered more food than any human can consume.

A woman sitting at a dining table is tasting whatever she can as a lot of food dances past her.
[Image description: A woman sitting at a dining table is tasting whatever she can as a lot of food dances past her.] Via Giphy

The hundred relatives you have to visit will offer you so much food, with so much enthusiasm, that even though it’s not humanly possible for anyone to eat that much, you’ll feel guilty about turning it down.

17. You learn weird and funny things about your parents’ past.

A man in a blue shirt holds up a picture of the man opposite him in a goatee and says "This goatee." and the man in front of him in a white shirt responds "Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I look like my own evil twin."
[Image description: A man in a blue shirt holds up a picture of the man opposite him in a goatee and says “This goatee.” and the man in front of him in a white shirt responds “Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I look like my own evil twin.”] Via Giphy

You’re going to hear the strangest stories about your parents from relatives, like the time your dad snuck out of the house to watch a movie when he should have been studying, or the time your mom glued flowers to her hair and then couldn’t get them off.

18. If you follow all the rules, you’re too naïve (read: stupid).

A woman wearing a black sleeveless dress says "Are you really so naive? Do you really think that things just work out for the best?"
[Image description: A woman wearing a black sleeveless dress says “Are you really so naive? Do you really think that things just work out for the best?”] Via Giphy

Nobody has ‘high-minded ideas’ like insisting you should be on time for things or queueing in line and waiting for your turn.

19. Your fluency in your native language or your general knowledge about your country are treated like academic achievements.

A huge crowd of people sitting at church pews applaud emphatically
[Image description: A huge crowd of people sitting at church pews applaud emphatically] Via Giphy

There’s this belief that kids who’ve lived abroad are:

1. Always bad at their native language,

2. And have very little knowledge of their home country.

So, if you show the least bit of aptitude in either one people are going to be surprised and treat you like you’ve won some secret contest.

20. The hugs are coming, and you can’t escape.

A bunch of people are all joining in on a group hug.
[Image description: A bunch of people is all joining in on a group hug.] Via Giphy

Personal space is not a thing. People are going to hug you, it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, you’re being hugged. Otherwise you might seriously offend them or even cause an argument. Just grin and bear it.

21. The meninists. All of the meninists.

An image of a woman wearing a dress and yelling is brought closer to reveal she is holding a sign that says "I can't believe I'm still protesting this shit."
[Image description: An image of a woman wearing a dress and yelling is brought closer to reveal she is holding a sign that says “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this shit.”] Via Giphy

You’re going to have to deal with men, even if they’re only 16, mansplaining the simplest things to you or expecting you to not be able to handle yourself because you’re female.

The worst part is that not all meninists are going to be men. Some women are just as emphatic about being anti-feminist.

22. Even very young kids will have full-blown political opinions.

A group of three children are sitting around a table looking concerned while the girl in between says "Now, my plan is to divide up into three research teams. We will present our argument based on -"
[Image description: A group of three children is sitting around a table looking concerned while the girl in between says “Now, my plan is to divide up into three research teams. We will present our argument based on -“] Via Giphy

You might overhear a conversation among very young kids, and it will be an all-out, highly opinionated, and heated debate about some political issue.

23. Everything is inexpensive. Everything. 

A woman in a red dress comes into a room holding a lot of shopping bags in both hands.
[Image description: A woman in a red dress comes into a room holding a lot of shopping bags in both hands.] Via Giphy

The discounts and prices you will find things at will amaze and delight you.

24. The mangoes

Three line of mangoes keep scrolling while between them you see the words "Fresh Jams"and "Good Vibes" alternately
[Image description: Three lines of mangoes keep scrolling while between them you see the words “Fresh Jams” and “Good Vibes” alternately] Via Giphy

The only explanation possible for them is that beams of sunshine and rainbows got together to make the heavenly fruit that are the mangoes of Pakistan.

25. Everyone speaks a language that you understand.

A man wearing a suit looks very pleased as he says "You get me" to a guy in front of him
[Image description: A man wearing a suit looks very pleased as he says “You get me” to a guy in front of him] Via Giphy

There’s something very comforting that there is no language barrier. This entire populace speaks a language you know and is yours.