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    A Pakistani Girl’s Trip to India and What She Learned There

    India is our biggest enemy, that’s what we have been told. And Indians were probably told the same thing. But every time one of us tried to test this assumption, we realized how baseless this assumption was. It is only by meeting the people of the other country do we realize how similar we are to each other and if the governments decide to solve their issues, we can be the best of friends. Recently, a Pakistani blogger from UAE went to India and documented her journey on Instagram. Sarah noticed the many similarities between India and Pakistan‘s culture and documented her journey on her Instagram to show the people of both countries that we need to give each other a chance. We had a chat with Sarah and asked us to tell us about her journey.

    Sarah was invited to India by a really close college friend to attend his wedding in Gurgaon/Delhi in February. It was a big Punjabi wedding and also the first Indian wedding she attended. It was a nine-day holiday with the first four days spent between Gurgaon and Delhi because of the wedding. After the wedding was over, she went to Mumbai to visit friends there and for some touristy stuff!

    Upon inquiring Sarah about her expectations for the trip, she said, “Honestly, I knew I was going to have a good time there. I got to meet so many of my college friends in the wedding and I made so many new friends on the trip as well. I got to visit some interesting places and I enjoyed amazing food too. If I could, I would have definitely added more cities to my trip, but I’ve left that for my next trip now.”

    She further added, “I was a bit hesitant only before landing in India because it was so surreal, but that soon went away after I landed in Delhi. There were a lot of Pakistanis in the immigration line (mostly on a medical visa). Everywhere I looked and whatever I saw – it didn’t feel like I was in another country. From the people to the city, it was like I was pretty much in Pakistan. I really do want to highlight to people of both countries that whatever the politics may be, we have to give each other a chance and try to get to know the other. I was told by friends and colleagues not to speak in Urdu too much or tell people that I’m from Pakistan – but I did exactly the opposite and was welcomed even more. I realized during my trip that we have so many misconceptions about each other! So the only way to get over them is to meet and interact with each other.”

    Talking about her hashtag that led to massive popularity, she said, “I blog so I thought this would be an interesting idea to make my own hashtag for the trip which people can follow. And like expected, people loved the idea and the hashtag too. A couple of my friends suggested and helped in giving me options and we ended up picking #SarahSarhadPaar because it sounded nice and well, it meant exactly what I was going to be doing.”

    Upon inquiring Sarah about the differences between the two countries, we were told, ” Truth be told, there isn’t a lot of difference. Why would there be? We were once the same! Walking on the roads in Gurgaon, Delhi or Mumbai, no one could tell that I was from Pakistan (same would be the case if people from India visited us). Delhi was a lot like Lahore, Mumbai was pretty much the same as Karachi (only more crowded). That being said, I do think that the transportation system in all three cities that I visited was better (and quite convenient). Pakistan might be slightly cleaner (probably because our population is also less). Apart from that, it was amazing to see how language, food, and customs/traditions of people in India change after a few hundred kilometers! North of India is pretty much the same as Pakistan in terms of food and language. No denying that!”

    Sarah can be reached on her Instagram @asliceoflifebysarah and her Twitter @sarahrizvi.

    We can only learn from Sarah’s experience that our preconceived notions about Indians (and theirs about us) are wrong and it is about time that we started interacting with each other to know better.

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