To stay or not to stay — same question, different circumstance!

Since DH and I are talking about going to Pakistan (I have yet to get that Passport picture and send off for my passport. But, that is the next step—I don’t feel that bad because DH let his own passport expire, so he has to get another one, also), I am getting some anxious comments from my family. Some are understandable, some are unfounded, yet all are present and need to be dealt with. I am sure that many goris have had the same type of comments and if you haven’t: then, count yourself “blessed.” Comments range from uncertain to downright alarm. So, I am going to tackle them here, today.
1. “You don’t know the language and no one will be able to communicate with you; accept DH.” DH’s father, brother and sister do know a bit of English and his Uncle (who lives down the road) knows quite a bit of English. OK, I was learning Urdu and now, I have six months to step up the lessons, although, I know that I won’t be able to speak nearly as clearly and quickly as his family.
2. “There are diseases present there that are not present here in America and you could be putting your baby at risk.” Now, this one does concern me. So, as a result, I am going to try to get the baby’s first round of vaccinations, pack rehydrating solutions, nurse and find a pediatrician who understands about International travel so that I can get a Doctor’s opinion. We are going to a Health Fair at the Indian Center this weekend, for that vary reason. The CDC recommends malaria medication as a preventative, but I want another opinion because they were vague on whether people going to “Pakistan” should take the meds and how they might effect a newborn.
3. “What if DH wants to stay?” We continue to try to allay those “What is you are the new Betty Mahmoody “ fears. Now, this is really at the crux of many of my family’s anxieties. They assume that A. he will want to stay and B. he will force me (or at least the baby) to stay with him in pakistan. I can’t say that DH, himself, hasn’t raised my anxiety more than a few times with his comments and complaints about American culture, American Government, etc. And, I thought that these might lessen with age: but, maybe I am hoping in vain or have not waited long enough. Time will tell. Being honest, he does have a slanted view of Pakistan and he does hold some stereotypes about Americans that we tend to fight about on a fairly regular basis. So, he does have this kind of “Sure, Pakistan is sometimes immoral and frustrating; but it is SUPERIOR compared to America,” approach. Which would lead one to ask: “Why do you stay?” the simple answer is: “OPPORTUNITIES!” DH has a job here and can make more money here than he could in Pakistan. He enjoys his job and his freedom to come and go as he wishes. Currently, his parents are having a difficult time dealing with their new daughter-in-law and he does not want to be put into that extended family drama. We will be buying round trip tickets and making arrangements to return. If Dh decided to stay, he would have to be proactive and “plan” to stay, or be deceptive about it. That means that we would get a return ticket (no refunds) and he would have to know in advance that he would be lying to me and losing money by deciding to stay. There are more resources in America for blind people. He has talked about getting his Masters degree and education is much more available for blind Americans that it is for blind Pakistanis. Besides, his sister is here and wants to stay here. Unlike DH, his sister does not focus on the immoral and corrupt parts of America. She loves her job, her freedom to make money and she is now engaged in discussions with a new aA (emphasizing the second A) Muslim man. She wants to marry and she wants to have a choice in who she is marrying. She has commented several times that she does not want to marry a Pakistani because the two who she found that were possibilities could not stand up to their families. They liked her, but their families did not want them marrying a blind woman. And, both of these families either currently were or had lived in America. So, she feels that her chances of finding a Pakistani guy in Pakistan who has a family that accepts her blindness is NILL. So, she has firmly decided to stay at any cost. Besides, I think that she is also finding that her growth as a Muslim has been encouraged, here. There are Muslims who encourage her spiritual growth in Pakistan, but they are leary about having her volunteer or teach or do other leadership activities. She has been asked to do some teaching at the mosque that she is currently attending and she enjoys attending mosques as a woman. All this to say that his sister and Dh have a very very strong bond. He does not want to be that far from her. They talk three or four times a day for large stretches of time. It is like they are twins. It is hard enough for her when we live in Different states – about six hours apart. He would not leave her in America by herself: (married or not) and she won’t be married by the time we leave. She could, however, be engaged. And, DH would not want to be in Pakistan when/if she is going to marry. If she stays in America, he would too. Of course, the question then becomes; what if she marries and her husband does not want to stay in America? We will have to cross that bridge when we come to it. I am not naïve. I know that regardless of what DH says, his emotions to Pakistan are going to run highl. He always tries to play his emotions down, but I know that he misses his family, his friends and the place of his childhood. And, I know that he will feel a sense of regret knowing that his son will not have some of those same experiences. If the situation was flipped, I know that I would and I told him so. But, in the end, I don’t think that he would make that leap to actually “stay in Pakistan.” He would be more likely to have his mother and father try to come here for a visit — or to stay. That would be preferable and i think he would feel like he has the best of both worlds.
4. “What if his family want to raise your child in Pakistan, and he lets them?” This is the silliest fear. Many of these fears
demonstrate a mistrust in DH. But, this is the craziest and I am really not sure where they got this idea. First, I am nursing. They would have to find someone to nurse the child and, as of right now, no other family member has or will have a child close to mine. Second, DH is not about to let his child be in a different country, even if it is with his family. He **wants** to be an active father. Third, what kind of man would take his child away from his wife and give it to his mother? OK, DH loves and is very dedicated to his mother, but that is going just a bit too far. And, there is drama in the household with the newest SIL, so why would he put his child in the middle of that? 5. “Aren’t there bombs going off, is it really safe? Will people even want you, as an American in their country? i have heard that Pakistanis are hostile to Americans.” (Thanks Rush and Pat Robertson). I don’t have a good answer for this one. And, then, jokingly, Dh informs me that “Everyone knows that PIA actually stands for Perhaps I’ll Arrive!” I told you that he has no sense of humor and horrible timing! Luckily, this was shared with me and not my entire family. Actually, there have been very few bombs lately going off in the cities that we want to visit. DH takes a different view of death than I do. It is kind of strange, if I think about it. I tell him not to worry so much about “money.” If we have faith and are careful, God will take care of us. He says, “Don’t worry about death.” He feels that if it is our Allah-known predestined time, we will meet our demise; whether it is due to a bomb blast, plane crash or heart attack. This view doesn’t necessarily comfort frightened family members. (surprise surprise). But, I can tell my family that the bomb activity has decreased. And, while many Pakistanis might dislike the American Government and the drones, etc., they rarely express their dislike for individual citizens. And, if they did have some “Hate for Americans,” they would usually just not interact with me. Besides, I am not traveling alone, I’ll be with a family of Pakistanis.
6. The last fear comes from my daughter who is afraid that I won’t make it back in time for April 1st. that is her wedding date, remember? (oh you loyal few). I can tell her all day that we will most certainly make it back. However, it will be better if “DH tells her of his intentions. Why is empathy so hard for him, sometimes? Besides, his work won’t allow him to leave for longer than two or three weeks. She is afraid that some type of red tape will prevent us from coming back on time. So, we have decided to plan on coming back the 20th – or so, just in case.

Any suggestions to help calm the family storm? I will register with the American Embasy, so they know where I am — although, i feel like it is kind of “Big Brother.”
Other suggestions will be appreciated.

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8 Responses to “To stay or not to stay — same question, different circumstance!”

  1. White Bhabi Says:

    On point 1 – that is not a move killer. In my case the language is Punjabi and I live here in India under the same circumstances you mentioned your family is concerned about. Yes, it poses some difficulty however, there are English TV channels and so many people speak English. Pretty much anyone who has any interest in the internet will at least have a basic understanding of English so though they may not be able to talk to you, they can understand you and that helps a lot when you need something. Making friends online or keeping up with old friends will combat most of your need for adult English conversations. Also, maintain a skype account or similar for cheap phone calls and you’ll be able to overcome 95% of your frustration with the language gap.

    Point 2 – see if there are immunizations you can get while pregnant as well and breastfeed the baby. Those will add to your efforts to protect from any diseases. You can try to petition for insurance to pay by alerting them to the baby’s dad being from Pakistan and the baby may come encounter them and be at risk (from visiting relatives, etc.) if they are not on the normal immunization roster.

    Point 3 – when I addressed these with my family I had a full exit plan worked out to comfort them. They need to be assured that your husband will not be granted access to “store” your passport for you in a place you can’t get to it. Put the embassy’s number into your phone, etc. Let your family know you have no intention of standing for any kind of hostage situation and that you know how to get yourself out if you need to. Also, they may be more at ease if you maintain a small bank account separate from your husband and if you trust your mother, give her enough access to deposit money or conduct transactions for you so she knows you keep enough emergency money in there. You’re already off to a good start but they may still want more to satisfy their own fears. The same goes for point 4 only you can add in that since your baby will be a US citizen even if born there they will want you to register it so they can ensure their own future access to being legally able to come to the US.

    Point 5 – there are thousands of terrorist attacks in the US every year. They can google for this one, it’s just that they are not publicized like attacks in other countries. America likes to hide it’s flaws and is much better at it than other nations.

    Point 6 – I can’t help with that one lol. Except maybe to say emphasize your excitement to be the mother of the bride a little more. Purchase your dress, shoes, etc and start looking up make-up ideas so you don’t upstage her (jokingly) and all that fun stuff. If she thinks you’re too excited to miss it, that could calm her some.

    • jamily5 Says:

      these are wonderful comments!!!! I am not sure what immunizations to get, but I am looking into it now. We met a pediatrician from Indian and while DH is still skeptical of even her suggestions (he just doesn’t get it), he is a bit more willing to consider them. She recommended lots of hand sanitizer, no Aunties kissing/holding the baby, ORS, using wipees to wipe off pop cans/bottles/anything contact with baby/etc, bringing your own straws, only fam/yourself preparing food — (not servants), bring carry-on meds, etc. She said that diareah is almost inevitable, but you can lessen the time/severity. And, she said that the longer she is in America, the less immunities she has for India. I wish DH understood it more. But, he just (most often) gets a bit offended.

      thanks for all of your tips! These really help!!!!

      • White Bhabi Says:

        There are no required immunizations but I would make certain you are up to date on Tetanus, Tuberculosis, get an MMR booster, a flu shot, anything else the doctor recommends to combat mosquito born illnesses. Research the common illnesses here and then up date your shot records accordingly.

        As for your husband just remind him that all countries are different and that you would do the same no matter what country you were traveling to because you were raised to do these things.

  2. Roshni Says:

    Hi jan; its nice to be back on your blog; I was off Line for a few weeks due to PC Problems! Believe me when I say that the first trip is always the hardest! Pakistan was different for me because I went for work and not marriage, but I experienced all you write about and more when I went to Iran to meet my in-laws! I really hate the crap we get from our families because so much of it says to me that they don’t trust me to make logical, rational decisions as a blind woman! I’ve travelled extensively internationally and most of the time, don’t tell my family where I’m going till I’ve returned! Friends and trusted colleagues know where I am if I need any thing, so I’m safe! But my family are bonkers and only stress me out by knowing! As for your husband; it’s a first for him too! Being a man he probably won’t voice his anxiety about meeting the family, taking his new wife and child to Pakistan for the first time etc, once you’ve got this trip out of the way, things will get easier on all fronts, I’m certain of that!

    • jamily5 Says:

      Hi Roshni, glad to have you back!!! i sure know about those PC glitches!

      yes, my family goes bonkers. They are just afraid and I try to understand that. HMMM, I did not think that it would be stressful on DH. He always seems so calm, etc. i envy your travels and ability to enjoy each and every situation. I bet Iran was wonderful! Maybe you are right: the first time is the most stressful and with a baby, it will even be moreso. But, hopefully, we will have some wonderful experiences and that will put us all at ease. thanks for your comments.

  3. Roshni Says:

    Iran was amazing and you/family are most welcome to visit us there any time! You know Eastern men, they never admit their nerves openly! It was months after our wedding that my husband confessed about how anxious he had been about me meeting the family etc! it will be hard on you this time around, but you will definitely have great experiences and once you all get comfortable with each other and you get used to the Urdu, it will all feel like second nature soon enough! I have plenty of friends in Pakistan still and if you need any thing at all, do let me know! I know you’ll have your in-laws; but if you need escape time for you, just yell on in!

    • jamily5 Says:

      Hi Roshni, I would love to go to Iran. We, DH and I, read so many books about people in different places that we want to experience all the travel. If there is “ONE” thing we want to save our money for, it is travel! (OK, for DH it is Electronics, but I’m working on that one). –smile. We have not forgotten the UK, either. I think that travel is one of the best things that we could give our child — if we can. And, if we can’t go there, I want him to travel via stories/books/etc. But, that is another post. I’ve already told my fam that we are going. So, I thought to hopefully do a blog that they can look at. OK, pics and videos are going to be very very slow to upload. But, it still will be fun. Hey, are you on FB – or do individual email????

  4. some background before we proceed | 30day experience Pakistan through our eyes! Says:

    […] title=”family’s reaction” href=”https://goridesirishta.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/to-stay-or-not-to-stay-same-question-different-circum…“> […]

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