Friday, January 23, 2009


While I've warmed up considerably to Pakistan - especially during the long beautiful drive between Islamabad and Lahore today - there have been challenges this week.

One of the dimensions I'm struggling with over here is both an age and cultural gap between myself and one of our staff members. He's 30 years older than I, and was once in the Pakistani army. As such, although extremely accomodating and solicitious, every once and while he says something that has me stewing.

We're eating alot of greasy food, with limited healty options, and we're all starting to feel the bloat. One evening, he gave me hard time about becoming so fat that when I returned no one in the office would recognize me.

Last night, I was a "good little girl" for having a salad at Subway (yes - he made us go to Subway in the land of biryani, kabab and chicken jalfrazi). He thought I might not get so fat now.

Then, he went on to disparage post-partum women, declaring that "so many of them let themselves go and become fat"(I wanted to ask him if he'd ever tried carrying around a 7lb baby without gaining any weight, but I judiciously held my tongue).

This morning I was "too young" to represent our company in a meeting with a large bank. Well, more accurately, he made a wide generalization about how young our group is to be going to this Bank (one is 40, one is 35 and I am 29. Spring chickens we're not) and then, so that we all got it, pointed at me and said "I'm talking about you."

Honestly, at this point, I've been frustrated so many times that I can't do anything now than just hold my tongue and laugh at the next crazy thing he says. Tonight he grilled me on how I was going to wear my dupatta (head scarf). Tomorrow it will probably be about how fat I am again.

On the other hand, he has done some wonderful things (negotiating with a trade for me on a beautiful piece of Afghani jewlery) and is genuinely concerned that I enjoy my time here.

Thing is, I can't enjoy myself if I'm constantly being grilled.


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