Saturday, September 02, 2006

East and West, side by side

Although I have been to a number of cities in Pakistan, before my March visit I had never been to Behboudi or any nearby town. I needed a person familiar with the area. Through a long process I got introduced to Munawwar Hussain Awan who worked in the circulation department of Daily Dawn. Munawwar was in charge of newspaper delivery operation in Hattiyan and surrounding areas. We rented a car from Rawalpindi and headed off to Behboudi.

People in Behboudi are all related to each other. These Chach people have been living here for a very long time. Economic forces have made some of them go to foreign lands where they encounter cultures very different from their own. For the emigrants among these Chach people the only way to retain their identity and have a clear understanding of their roots is to bring their children back to Behboudi. In Behboudi you will find kids brought back from the UK or USA, by their parents. These children live there for long periods of time. I talked to a few of them and tried to understand if they felt living disjointed lives; if they were torn between two very different value systems.

Chach Pathans are very hospitable people. News of our arrival spread fast in the village. We were taken to a hujra/baithak (guest reception building) where people gathered to talk to us. Everyone had a different variation of the same question, ‘Would Hamid Hayat be freed?’ At night Munawwar and I were put in a modern house. Here Munawwar is seen enjoying Chach hospitality.


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