I landed in Rawalpindi at 2:50 am the morning of Wednesday, November 9. I had been in the air or wandering airports for the last 24 hours, with limited access to news of the election. By the time I fell asleep around 4:30 am, results in America hadn’t started to be reported yet (the ten hour time difference meant it was still 8:30 pm on Tuesday, east coast time). I woke up five hours later at 9:30 am to a mixture of the morning sounds of my hosts waking up and passing rairdi wallas. Still groggy, I had hoped to sleep for another few hours before getting up for the day. But my phone, now connected to WiFi, had received several BBC news alerts. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the first results.

I lay back down, thinking that there was no way this could be happening, and tried to close my eyes to the monstrous news from my phone. My pulse had skyrocketed, though, and a burst of adrenaline sent my mind racing. Jitters set in, and I knew there was no point in trying to sleep more. I thought some physical exertion might calm my body, but a few push-ups did nothing – the mixture of jet lag, exhaustion and an impossible nightmare coming true was akin to downing an energy drink and sleeping pills and letting your body duke it out internally. I stayed awake until 11:30 pm that first day, and on subsequent days my sleep schedule was very normal. At least I can credit Trump’s victory with helping me get over jet lag. 

As we walked around Satellite Town the first two days I was there, news of the results was reaching people on the street. Shopkeepers asked our thoughts, and we offered our afsos, as one might  to a bereaved family at a funeral. The country I was from, where my passport was issued, had just elected a man who had promised at one point to ban Muslims from entering; the country my heart lives in, where I spent my childhood and formative years, is 97% Muslim and full of kind, hospitable, normal people. Most of the people we spoke with were surprised and upset; a few others, who had followed the campaign more closely, seemed to understand that a current of resentment and need for change, even insane, hateful change, was sweeping the country and had been victorious. 

I was in Pakistan about two weeks, my first time visiting in five and a half years. Even though the trip got off to a rocky start, due to no fault of anyone in the country I was visiting, my experience as a whole was incredible. I had the chance to explore some areas I had never been to before, and revisit some old memories, both good and bad. I was able to achieve my personal and professional goals for the trip, which included connecting with a local film festival, rock climbing outside, shooting video footage for a promotional piece, and collecting local recipes for a cookbook project that might take a few years to complete. Trump’s victory notwithstanding, my love for Pakistan and my resolve to bridge the cultural divide between my home country and my other home country has only grown stronger.

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing your trip notes and the fantastic photos of beautiful people and land that I will love forever. <3

  2. Thank you, Tim. I look forward to your future posts. And the photos are amazing!

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