There are many of us here, women from Karachi whom fate brought to Bangalore after marriage...
By Shazman Shariff
Trying to choose from an array of delectable sweetmeats on the shiny glass shelf, an item caught my eye: Karachi Halwa. Nothing surprising about that - except that this was in Bangalore, India, and I could not help wondering how the delicacy got its name, that of a city from the neighboring country to which I belong. But nevertheless it brought a smile on my face.
I don't think it's just me. There are many of us here, women from Karachi whom fate brought to Bangalore after marriage. It takes hardly a fraction of a second for thoughts of our hometown to emerge when we come across anything that reminds us of Karachi.
Never mind the occasional pinches of nostalgia or pangs of homesickness,Bangalore too is home now and provides enough reasons to keep us in high spirits.
One such woman is Rubina, who has been here for more years than she lived in Karachi. For her, it is now the home where her heart is.
She never faced any "major adjustment problems" as she married within the family; that too in a manner which she jokes, could make a spectacular screenplay for Ekta Kapoor's serials.
"When I was little, my aunt came to visit us from India with her son, Aziz, and said she wanted to make me her future daughter-in-law," she says. Her mother too, liked the idea.
However, as both children grew up, their families' hopes of seeing them marry faded. Aziz showed little interest in the bride-to-be from Karachi as diplomatic hurdles stood in the way. Rubina got engaged to someone else. Then, Aziz visited Karachi for some reason, and met Rubina to whom he had been informally betrothed as a boy. It was proverbial love at first sight.
The long cherished dream of two families materialized when the elders called off Rubina's engagement. After a grand wedding in Karachi, Aziz brought his young bride of merely seventeen years old to Bangalore.
Is there some divine force, an unseen hand, at play to bring people closer? How else do such matches happen when both countries are often at loggerheads with each other?
Take my own experience. Recalling it, I can't help smiling at how I found my match. Each year Valentine's Day evokes the memory of the day when some years ago I first came to my husband's house, during a visit to Bangalore with my father as a distant relative from Karachi. Strangely enough my husband, who was never into all this lover's day stuff, was told by an acquaintance that his 'valentine' would visit him that day.
As a young bachelor then, he dreaded the idea of getting married and cleverly steered clear of all proposals coming his way. However, after that visit, talk of our marriage starting doing the rounds and only came to rest when we were finally wedded. Undeniably some stirring events brought us, women from Karachi to Bangalore, but what really matters now is we believe we have come to a good place.
"People are civilized, courteous and cultured. And they are inherently simple. They may be worth millions but never show off," comments Rubina spontaneously.
She enjoys her trips to shopping centers and says she never gets any alien feeling even when she goes out alone, relying solely on her limited acquaintance with Kannada, the local language, to communicate. More than our incapability of conversing in the local language, what sets us apart here is our proficiency in Urdu. I am often mistaken as a North Indian because of how I speak Urdu, which is quite different from the local dialect.
Bangalore's multicultural environment provides a wonderful opportunity to people from different religious and cultural background to reach out to others. "Whether at my children's school or social events, I've mostly met unbiased and forthcoming people who interacted without any preconceived notions," says Rubina.
However, for Neena, the veneer of unfamiliarity about Bangalore still remains to be lifted. Married to her aunt's son, she too was betrothed to her future husband when they were children. The marriage only took place when both of them agreed to it - but not before they had got know each other. Although they could not meet personally, they made use of the internet to diminish the distance.
"We chatted for quite some time and did our best to get to know each other," says Neena. They both agreed to the marriage after feeling that they were compatible.
The wedding took place in Karachi a couple of years ago. Everything went well, except that the guests from India had to face visa problems.
Happily married, with a lovely daughter, Neena still feels "new" here and doesn't venture out alone. Despite being ensconced blissfully amidst loving relatives, she feels homesick and misses her folks in Karachi. But on the bright side, she feels secure. "It is much safer here, unlike in Karachi where law and order situation is not so good."
She finds Bangalore overall "a good experience" and enjoys discovering about the local norms and traditions. Food, weather and shopping are three areas that Bangalore shines in. Neena is starting to like the vegetarian food, "especially dosas".
I can't help but agree. It was after coming here that I came to appreciate how much variety vegetarian cuisine has.
For someone who has braved Karachi summers, Bangalore is sheer delight, with its cool climate and long rainy season - except for people like Rubina who finds herself vulnerable to allergies and infections here.Apart from that she asserts, "there is nothing about Bangalore which lets me down".
The three of us and many other Karachi women have indeed found a home away from home here.
There are many more out there who would not mind crossing the barbed wires to find love, companionship and a new home. If only those at helm of affairs would realise that it is time to build bridges not walls.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
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