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When you imagine a place that’s full of trash, polluted air and chaos on the roads, which place comes to your mind?

Pakistan, no doubt, as this is what you’re dealing with in Pakistan. And of course when you imagine living in a place like the US, you would certainly think of clean air, nice and tidy roads, and civilised people. After my visit to Pakistan after three years with my family, I feel that the difference between the two countries is like that of day and night.

I don’t think there is any sane person living in America who would want to settle in a place like Pakistan. The problems that I stated above are enough to deter anyone from going to Pakistan, but then, no place on Earth is ever without problems.

To a child born in the US, Pakistan still seems like home each time he comes down for a family vacation full of laughter and loving memories

There are also some good things about Pakistan, like the delicious food you find there, desi food that is pretty hard to replicate and replace.

And also the fact that you can hear the Azaan loud and clear in your home is very satisfying to the heart, even if some people don’t notice it there. I had gone there from the US, where you aren’t really allowed to make the prayer call on a loudspeaker, so the sound was so pleasing to me.

All mosques in the US are very far apart and you have to use some kind of transportation, unless you live close by. In Pakistan, that’s not the case, as you’ll find a mosque there on every block, and you’ll hear the Azaan from all the different mosques.

Along with that, America is devoid of all the emotional attachments that we have with relatives and the warmth of relations we experience in Pakistan. Another reason why I personally like Pakistan is that most people there are Muslims, so you feel at home anywhere in Pakistan because you know your Muslim brothers always have your back and you have a common faith uniting most people.

Now let me tell you what it’s like to live in America. You might not find a mosque in every block and you might not find Muslim brothers and sisters everywhere, but you can still live here very well in harmony with others. Once you taste life in America, you would never feel like going back to your native land. You might not get the perfect naan, but you’ll find some really nice burger joints over here.

Also, the toilets here are at least a million times cleaner than the ones in Pakistan. In the US, I’ve never had to live with the fear that the light might go off.

The one problem that is really dominant in Pakistan which I want to highlight is the fact that people there break rules all the time. And I’m not just talking about ten-year olds driving motorbikes. I’m talking about cheating, lying and deceiving other people, and of course terrorising innocent people and killing them as well.

And what’s so intriguing about this problem is that the government isn’t doing much to address these serious issues, let alone stop it completely.

In America, you would find very few people who will cheat you as most people there are honest and down to earth. You can live peacefully here without having to worry about streets being blocked because of some random protesters. The law enforcement here is very fast and vigilant, trying to its utmost capacity to stop crime. I’d think twice before stealing even a candy bar over here, but in Pakistan people get away with corruption and all sorts of crimes because they know nothing will happen to them.

I’m very happy living in the US, but I can’t find the cultural elements that are very typical to Pakistan, making it still seem like home.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that I’m very happy living in the US, but I can’t find the cultural elements that are very typical to Pakistan, making it still seem like home.

Being in Pakistan for vacation this year gave me a different kind of feeling, which was loaded with nostalgia. Pakistan has its own beauty in every trivial experience that we have there. From the spicy and delicious gol-gappay to the ice-gollas sold on the roadsides that my mum never allows me to have, Pakistan is filled with strange feelings of accomplishment for the youth.

From the fights between cousins on trivial issues to the scrumptious biryani parties, there is not a single memory that I do not cherish. But now that I am back to my birthplace, at least I don’t have to worry over here if what I ate last night for dinner at a restaurant was donkey meat or regular beef. But the flavours of Pakistan are unforgettable and irreplaceable.

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 26th, 2018