Published: April 10th 2011January 18th 2011
Ever since I arrived in India, I have been thinking more and more about my heritage and where half of me originates from. My Dad's family are originally from Pakistan in the Punjab region and although he was brought up in Kenya, his family are traditional Pakistani Muslims living now in Pakistan, Kenya and England. My only involvement with my Dad's side of the family was for large family gatherings or when we visited smaller family groups for weekends in Middlesex... Hounslow, Kingston and the like. i remember being scared and shy when I met members of my Dad's side of the family and this was mostly down to not understanding the language, but also because the men in the family could be large authoritative figures and sometimes quite intimidating. Apparently, when I was very young, I could speak Panjabi, a language very similar to Hindi, but now I only remember very little, which I've learned is not enough to get by if everyone in India couldn't speak English, which they do and very well. Also, when once visiting Pakistan for an extended visit and staying in Peshawar, I could apparently converse fluently with the local Afghanistani children in Pashto (sp).
When I arived in India, it felt familiar. The feeling of intimidation due to the harsh and sometimes aggressive sounding language (probably reflecting on my childhood) made me feel wary and not totally comfortable. On the other hand, as it was slightly familiar, I felt I wasn't really in any danger and that it was simply the nature of the language and the culture.
There have been so many things which reminded me of my Dad, his family and the way I imagine they were brought up that I wished he was here to share this experience with me and to explain things to me, translate the language for me and to help me see things from a different perspective. He's never been to India before and I'm not sure what he'd make of it. What I remember of Pakistan is not as vibrant and exciting as India, which I've also heard through other people's experiences of Pakistan, although I was very young at the time, so hopefully it'd be more enjoyable to my Dad than his last visit to Pakistan was.
Today I spoke to him on the phone and he surprised me with an announcement that he was going to try and get a visa to come and visit me in India!! I was so happy as I'd been thinking about him for such a long time, wishing he was here so we could meet people together, talk to each other in Panjabi and Hindi so I could learn, take photographs of the amazing sights (we're both keen photographers) and generally get to know each other better. We haven't had the best relationship with each other over the years, but now we get on very well, are very similar and seem to want similar things from life... adventure being one of them! Us both being in India together would be amazing and it's been something I've been wishing for ever since I got here. Let's see what happens...