03. July 2017 · 1 comment · Categories: Memories

As a white skinned, blonde haired boy growing up in Pakistan I always wanted to be American. Most of the people I was around were Pakistani, naturally, while my friends at school and the children of my parents’ coworkers were British, Scottish, Korean, Australian, Kiwi, Canadian, and American. Being American in Pakistan seemed to mean something, give me some kind of identity. It was the opposite during the few widely-spaced years we were actually in America. I didn’t understand what kind of clothes to wear, what kind of haircut to have, how to say certain words correctly. While we were in America I wanted to be Pakistani; looking back I’m not sure I knew exactly what that meant, but I knew I wanted to have some kind of concrete identity.

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Holding a snake at a beach near Karachi, in the early 1990’s. The mongoose, which would fight a snake for a small fee, is not pictured.

One of the most American things we got to do in Pakistan was go to the American Embassy for the Fourth of July. We would go occasionally to swim in the pool and eat at the American Club (about the only place to get American food in those days). But on the Fourth of July we got to go for a huge party, with hot dogs and hamburgers, lots of people, and a spectacular fireworks show set against the backdrop of the Margalla Hills at the northern edge of Islamabad. I have vague, ephemeral memories of those parties, and of the intense feelings of patriotism I experienced celebrating my country in a different country.

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