Yes yes I am. I have decided to spend the next two years (starting August) of my life living in Lahore, Pakistan. Am I crazy? Perhaps. Actually there is a good chance that a healthy level of madness has helped me to make this decision and wholeheartedly commit myself to living in a place that most people would not touch with a 10 foot pole. But as my friend Linley said, I seem to be drawn to places slightly in the red or yellow so this really isn’t a shocker, although it did make me think about my attraction to countries with some kind of upheaval or governmental dictatorship. It may be part of my greater goal to help the world ( I really am a peace lover/tree huger at heart) but who knows. For now I’m living and learning and trying for my presence in other countries/cultures to be a positive thing versus a symbol of westernization.
Back to Pakistan. This is kind of how it went down…Neil was in charge of applying for jobs. This was kind of self-appointed, kind of I was too busy with work to care but he shouldered that responsibility for the past two months. Besides from writing our cover letters and giving my opinion on countries (which vaguely went something like “warm country, Asia preferably, not predominately Muslim, not overly touristy”), he put in the long hours of researching and applying. So when I received an email from a school in ‘Lahore’, I assumed Indonesia, Sri Lanka, maybe India…but no further West then that. India itself was on shaky ground with me (I’ve heard it’s crazier than China! Do I really need more chaos in my life?) so I was pretty sure it was still somewhere around SE Asia. Never mind that I read all about the school, the employment package and the city for probably half an hour before I thought to google map ‘Lahore’. Surprised didn’t even come close to my reaction when the country name ‘Pakistan’ popped up. I laughed/snorted/gaffed loudly and then promptly ran to Jenn’s room to lament “Neil wants us to move to f*ing Pakistan! What the hell is he thinking?!?” Like any sane person, my reaction was not overly positive. So I kindly emailed back this school in Lahore and told them “although your school sounds amazing, I have certain reservations about living in Pakistan etc.”. Then I was put into contact with current teachers who answered my questions with unbelievable depth and insight. Then we had interviews with the principals who were both intelligent and kind. Then we started researching Pakistan. Then I was hooked.
When the day came to chose between a job offer in Burma (Myanmar) and Pakistan two weeks later we talked in circles for hours and ended up with our thoughts turned inside out, upside down and no where near a decision until the next morning. My sister wrote “PAKISTAN” on my facebook wall and apparently that was all I needed to make my decision with total conviction.
Now, I’m trying not to swallow ALL of the Western Media garble about Pakistan. It is difficult with the Governor (Salman Taseer) of the province I’m moving to having been assassinated by his body guard the other day. The motive? Religious of course…something along the lines of opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law. He was being too ‘tolerant‘. While in my opinion tolerance is an awful word that describes ‘putting up’ with rather then a true pattern of acceptance and change, he was assassinated on the premise of ‘tolerance’. Are you following me here? I need to watch my tongue.
But I’m hoping that Pakistan will prove me wrong. I feel like I’m eating up the bullshit of Islam militarism and licking the spoon, when all I’m basing my thoughts and feelings on are new articles (which are always spun) and my social network (who are always influenced by the news articles spinning). I am ready to have my thoughts changed. I am ready to find more complexity in the situation that I feel has become mostly ‘us’ and ‘them’. I guess as always I’m looking to understand.