March 4, 2010
On my way home today, I happened to have a little conversation with our driver- Mr.Ali who is a Pakistani national from NWFP(North West Frontier Province in Pakistan). He is Pashtoon.
I don’t really remember why we got into discussing Pakistani politics today (which is not unusual btw) but as always- I learnt a lot.
I want you to imagine Mr.Ali first of all.
He is in his late 20’s, has a dark mustache, fair skin, hazel colored eyes, always well-groomed i.e. nails are cut, his sandals are polished and his traditional clothing- the shalwar kameez, is always washed and ironed.
He takes pride in the way he smells and always ensures the car smells crisp and of proper quality perfume.
He is skinny and tall. He is a father and his wife is 16 years old. My sister had the honor of christening his first child and she named him Enad (he asked for suggestions) and now, he’s regretting that decision cz he found out the name means stubborn- but that’s another blog. LOL. Poor guy!
Mr.Ali and us are kinda close. We bond regularly and I appreciate him and the work he does for us of course. At the end of the day, we are like a family. He knows our schedules, listens to our gossip, knows our favorite brand of food, beverages and our favorite music and of course where all our friends live.
Thing is with Mr.Ali- he kinda neither speaks English nor Arabic very fluently. And even though I have attempted speaking the official language of his country-Urdu (yes I thoroughly enjoy Bollywood and have tons of Asian friends)with him in worst case scenarios (bad grammar and all but he is VERY proud of us) we communicate perfectly.
Working in the education industry for the past 5 years- I know what to look for when listening to a person speak and I’d say his vocabulary is excellent, however his weaknesses lay in fluency, sentence structure and grammar.
With Mr. Ali, and many other before him. I have learnt to happily listen to their stories.
So today was another very informative day. I learnt some more. Like..
Bangladesh and Pakistan used to be one country and only separated in 1971. That’s when Bangladesh gained independance.
I also learnt that Pakistan gained their independance a day before India which was August 14, 1947 for Pakistan and August 15, 1947 in India.
I was fascinated by this quiet little mans intelligence, to be honest. Who would have thought that Mr.Ali who only drives us around has all these historically important dates memorized!!!
I knew he was intelligent but to have all these dates down was like WOW!
So I asked him, who was economically more successful- India or Pakistan?
Naturally he replied- “India because it’s a bigger country. If Pakistan hadn’t split up with Bangladesh- we’d be very economically successful too. Bangladesh is rich with tea. Lipton is made in Bangladesh- thats the yellow money- the yellow tea- the yellow label”
Ok he didnt quite say it like that- but that’s what he meant.
His exact words were as we continued our discussion “Pfakistan is very difficult because all is harami- you know chor? Zardari is a chor-man. Hes horse eating affle. All country is poor but hes horse eating affle and all fruit only. Zardari is Benazir husband . You know Benazir?”
Chor btw means thief…
The he went into how she got assasinated and I quite couldn’t follow but I mentally noted it down on my to-do list- watch Benazir’s assasination on you-tube.
So what I’ve learnt from todays experience is the power of the Eastern education system- no matter how looked down upon the East is- their education system is STRONG!!