A Pakistani Down Under

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By Faisal Sayani

September 11, 2014. Okay, this is what, my 15th day in this city of a very, very different English accent. It took me a while to figure out that ‘toime’ is actually ‘time’, and I still don’t know what word the young teller at McDonald’s used to refer to a meal that comes with a drink and French fries along with a burger. I did ask her but perhaps, I scared her. I just wanted to learn a few words that would help me mingle.

So, I am struggling. Not that I am not liking it or am irritated, on the contrary I find it to be interesting — quite amusing, as a matter of fact. Quitting my comfortable and well-paying job back in Pakistan was not difficult. I was bored. There was nothing left to do, or, should I say the age of experimenting was over in the news television industry there. Besides, I was tired of hiding, of pretending to be what I was not. I am assuming no one will bother if I am reading a typically controversial book in a public train in Sydney. The man himself was here in the city last week (I were late to find out, damn!). I love his work.

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I was tired of hiding, of pretending to be what I was not.


I don’t think I have ever written anything sitting in a very large and quiet room before this. Being a journalist, I was used to typing away stories for news in a big room (not this big though), but newsrooms are never quiet. I like this library room. And the more I look around, the greater is the urge to go up and look at the books closely. I don’t think Caitlyn (the organizer of this meetup) would appreciate this. Not now…

The train service to meet the commuting needs within the city is impressive (except for today –there were major delays today). Not long ago, I’d fuss and complain about bad roads and how much I hated driving, and would want to use a bus or a train to work, and read or sleep all the way. Now, here I am, still haven’t read a word from the book I’ve been carrying around in my bag as I am still besieged by the navigation issues and what’s right time to run to the door, etc., but just the assurance of the fact that I can is something to cherish.

My legs hurt and I miss my car.

Will I find the meaning of Peter Handke’s, “As if pain had no past…” here? One of the things that have been intriguing me for years, this is also inspiring in a strange way. It is already feeling good to having written a few words. Years of television (so-called) journalism affected the urge and the ability. “It [television] has to be shallow in order to work,” someone said. The last serious piece I could write was in 2012 after I returned from a seven day trip to India — which was quite emotional, a journey. I’d write pages and pages while I was the editor of a monthly magazine back in 2000.

Now, what is wrong?

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2014.

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