Eid is an Islam celebration for Prophet Abraham who was going to cut his son’s throat for the betterment of humanity – Jesus like. As Abraham, who was blindfolded, as he did not want to see his son while cutting his throat (why would you), was about to cut the throat of his son, through miracle the son was substituted with a sheep. Abraham was able to make the sacrifice and his son lived.
Today Eid is a holiday where families get together and celebrate this story and slaughter a sheep, goat or cow and give most of it away to those less fortunate than themselves or in the least share it with as many others as possible.
For me this holiday was a chance to get amongst Pakistan culture and the people. On the first day I visited the largest Mosque in Islamabad and then went on a beautiful hike overlooking the slight hazy views of the city and surrounds.
The highlight however was being invited to a local family’s home for lunch on the last day of the holiday. Fatima I have met through email and skype as we have been working together for the awareness and advocacy for polio eradication – http://www.theendofpolio.com/pakistan. I joined Fatima and her family for a beautiful exchange of culture, conversation, learning and perspectives that is the most wonderful souvenir I can ever hope for from another country and culture.
The journey to get to Fatima’s home was an adventure of not knowing anything, anyplace or anyone but Insha’Allah and thanks to the kindness of anyone and everyone I asked, I made it to Fatima’s home an hour or so through walking, a crammed mini-wagon ride and finaly a mechanical metal shell or known as a Pakistani taxi.
I was greeted with great enthusiasm and expectation as I handed over a few simple gifts that was meant to be a litre of homemade custard of which 80% had leaked through my bag and some German shortbread biscuits.
Then the hospitality and eating began… some wonderful yogurt and vegetable medley with coriander and cumin that smelt as good as it tasted. Accompanied by meat kebab and Pakistani spring rolls that were light and tasty with a mint yogurt sauce – and this was just the Kindergarten entry to the feast!
A time of digestion, conversation, photo sharing and interview (question of me, my family, my country and life) flowed before it was soon time to eat again. This time fresh goat, that had been slaughtered the day before, chicken pieces, salad, chicken and chickpea mix and who can remember beyond that but I know there was more. Fatima’s mum made sure she played her role in the ‘international mum movement’ of forcing me to eat more and filling up my plate just in case I was going to never see food again and starve!
More conversation and now interrogation continued. I say interrogation as Fatima’s two 9-year-old cousins had shed their shy skins and were now ready to ask me anything – including if they could be the flower girls at my wedding; obviously they know something I don’t!
Of course it was soon time to eat again as dessert had not been covered. A wonderful smooth mix of cream, jelly, biscuit and custard (not mine) in an English truffle had a truly satisfying end to an epic feast, with insistence of seconds and thirds from mother (without too much objection from me).
Before I had blinked it was after 4pm and time to make the trip back before dark – when Pakistan gets scary and dangerous…
Another contraption with a motor that can loosely be described as a car or again better known here as a Pakistani taxi was meant to take me back from where I had come so I could easily navigate my way back following the trail of crumbs I had left on my way to Fatima’s place. Instead I was dropped at a new location with a new challenge of working out how to get back to Islamabad.
Luckily consultation with friendly people and a range of different advice had me on three separate sardine mini-wagon rides and at a point that seemed to resemble the place I had been previously in the day. Now well after sunset the people still seemed to be friendly, safe, honest and helpful and hadn’t turned into their supposed alter-ego of evil that western media portrays, and I continued on the adventure known as getting home. A long walk down dark streets with ‘Salam Allekum’s’ (peace to you or ‘hello’) and ‘can I help you?’ took me back to my place of stay and rounded out an incredible day in the life of Pakistan and the Eid Holiday.
I would love to see this kind of story splashed on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald or the 6pm Fox News – ‘Foreign man enjoys hospitable day with wonderful friendly family in their home celebrating Muslim festival and is helped home by community to return safe, satisfied and humbled by the generosity and kindness of the Pakistani people and culture!’
Love it eh!