How to be Pakistani — 13 Foolproof Ways

By Hiba Gardezi | 17 May, 2022

How to be Pakistani? Does this sound strange? I mean we’ve heard it all before – How to be Parisian, How to act British. And this is all fair fun and games if you’re putting on an act but I think we should sit down and consider what we Asians have been doing to ourselves in the past few decades. 


Colonialism left an imprint on our minds and though we became an independent state in 1947, it seems that we are still slaves at heart. We still look up to the West, still submit to everything they do expecting it to be worthy (and ourselves not so) and when we look in the mirror we feel shame – our hair is too dark and thick, our eyes too brown, our complexions not quite white enough. We want to learn to sit and talk like our Western masters and in the process, our present generation has turned into a hybrid, not white, not desi, but somewhere in between. 


I think it’s worth discussing how we can own ourselves or to think about some quintessentially desi things:

1. How to dress: Women


Always carry a dupatta, it’s not oppressive, it’s cool. Wear beautiful jewelry like churiyaan, anklets, teekas, finger, toe, and nose rings. Oh and the mehndi!


2. How to dress: Men

source: Facebook

Shalwar Kameez, occasional shawl or waistcoat (is there ever anything much that guys have to do?)


3. Talk in Urdu


Descended from Brij Bhasha, born from different cultures that lived together in harmony once upon a time. A beautiful, symbolic, musical, and poetic thing!


4. Get used to chai


It’s warm, it’s loving, it smells like home. It’s a collective experience. Ao chai peeta hain, ao baatein karein.


5. Read up on the news


If the British talk about the weather, we talk about politics – It’s the one thing that will come up at any dinner party or get together, whether it’s with your uncles or the street vendor, so be prepared! 


6. Be dramatic


Let’s face it, we are passionate. Whether it is music, celebrating, loving, head-massaging and looking after guests or crying, scheming and fighting, Pakistanis feel very, very strongly and I think that’s really something.


7. Read Allama Iqbal


I mean come on, if you haven’t read his poetry are you even Pakistani? I think we all grew up thinking he had a literal dream about Pakistan. Anyway, he did have a great hand in the making of our country and his work is truly exceptional.


8. Don’t ever let anyone pay for their dinner

Source: trip

Snatching the bill, arguing, and creating a scene – it is all perfectly acceptable in the face of the unbelievable horror of letting the other person pay for their own meal. 


9. Feed your guests excessively, even if they say no


Nahin bohat hogaya. That’s perfectly normal, they’re lying! 


10. If you are a guest, never accept anything the first time it is offered


They’ll be feeding you anyway, don’t want to look greedy.


10. Family is everything


Family systems are big in Pakistan and that’s beautiful as long as we stay well-behaved and treat each other with respect. (No saas-bahu drama please!)


11. Cricket


Whether you like sports or not, you have to be there for Pakistan – India matches with a painted face and a green t-shirt.


12. Weddings


Like I said, very passionate! Dress extra and don’t forget your dancing shoes.


Did we get it right? Anything to add or subtract? Comment down below!

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