It was a typical warm Hawaiian winter, when my parents surprised my sisters and I with tickets to an exotic place. Pakistan- the birthplace of my parents, the home of my grandparents, and the land of my countless cousins. Being born on the Big Island of Hawaii, I was unsure of what to expect. Of course I was excited and eager to finally leave the island, but nobody could prepare me for what I was about to discover.
After two days of tiresome plane rides, and analogous airports, we arrived at Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore. We were greeted by hundreds of family members I never knew existed, yet who all seemed to know who I was. On the way to my mom’s old house in Shadbagh Lahore, I stared out the window in shock of this foreign land. Kids ran barefoot around the streets, playing cricket with long beaten sticks. There was no highway or motorway, only a road with no central middle line. Small compacted cars, buses, and rickshaws sped past us on either side; avoiding our car by inches. The cars kept honking at each other as if they were speaking some unknown language they all seemed to understand. The streets of Shadbagh, Lahore smelt of fried foods, smoke, and spices. I felt dizzy from the array of people crowding the streets and rushing to get somewhere. People yelled at each other in the markets, bidding for the cheapest price of the freshly cut beef. I was scared, yet fascinated by the different culture. It was a culture that was familiar, a culture that grew inside of me, making its presence known.
Growing up isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this foreign land now seemed home, and Hawaii seemed what was distant. It was truly amazing to see humans living life in this beautiful culture, on the opposite side of the world. Although it was bizarre, and different, this way of life worked for the people of Pakistan. This was who they were, and nothing could change that. When I watched the news I see the Middle East depicted in trouble. Flashbacks of bombs, terrorists, and riots consume my head. Yet being there, present, and conscious, these images normally seen on the television are not visible. In the street, under those gently tied turbans weren’t faces of danger, terrorism, or violence; but rather misunderstood lives. They were fathers, husbands, and friends. Fathers who work three jobs to bring in food for their family. Husbands who try very hard to put a roof over wife and kids. And friends who are loyal, caring, and faithful. No firearms, bombs, or shells.
Whether it was Islamabad, Karachi, or Lahore, all three cities had different stories to share. Islamabad, a city of bright lights and innovation. Karachi, a home of historical buildings and intricate architecture. And beautiful Lahore, the birthplace of my mother, and the insight of a true rural Pakistan.
I have always heard of Pakistan, but it felt to far away to be real. Who would have known these people existed and lived here? The world now seemed huge, and not a little island called Hawaii anymore. After traveling around this different part of the world for a month, it all seemed like a dream. I got to see people, and places I didn’t know existed. Growing up on the Big Island, a small rock surrounded by water, I was detached from the outside world.
I want people to see past their islands, and experience the real world.
I want to live in this dream called traveling.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.