In American culture and many other Western cultures, staring is considered very rude. My fellow travelers, be ready for the stares in Pakistan! They are very curious people and interested in things that are different. Although they do have some tourists, due to the political instability, they do not see many foreigners, and they find foreigners to be very intriguing. I happen to be very white with red hair, and I felt like a cross between a freak and a celebrity. Please do not take these stares as you are unwelcome. No, just remember, in Pakistani culture, it is not rude to stare and try your best to ignore them.
Not everything is straight forward as it seems. For example', if you open a packet of biscuits & offer one to the person sitting next to you he will probably refuse to take it, not because he doesn't want it, but because it is not considered polite to accept the first time. Islamic codes of hospitality are great one is obliged to offer & it is one automatically , but one should not automatically accept only if the person insists -offers three or four times or takes the biscuit & puts it in your hands, should you accept it. Islamic courtesy may prompt a Pakistani to offer you something he does not have, or that is too expensive for him to give..
In Pakistan you will be treated as an honorable guest . This is not just an empty phrase, but part of the Pakistan tradition of hospitality. You will be invited into the homes & offered endless cups of tea. Pakistanis usually have beautiful manners, so just relax, slow down and take the time to enjoy them & learn the local customs. Try always to smile & shake hands & askl polite questions about health & family - this is the Pakistani way & if you can learn a few words of Urdu it will please everyone...
Now before I left i read a guidebook that held the time-worn phrase 'Pakistan is home to some of the friendliest people in the world' at which I though..... hmm, nice sentiment but a bit cliche, a bit broad brushed and warm & fuzzy.
By the end of the trip I found it to be the case 1000%! I have an album of me standing with Taxi drivers, airport security, local villagers, children, families visiting the mosque.....and the list goes on.
Pakistanis had an endearing curiosity for guests travelling in their country and a determination to ensure that those guests were treated well and looked after!
This is just one photo of many where I have found myself standing with a new-found friend on my travels around Northern Pakistan - here the new friend is the airport security guard (in blue).
Pakistan is one of the best places to make friends. People are nice and always invite you to their home for lunch. If you like tea, you must visit Pakistan because people drink lots of tea during the day.
Pakistan is a very poor country. It has one of the worst literacy rates in Asia -- especially for women. And it has a very high birth rate. Yet Pakistanis are generous to a fault, and are happy to help out when you require it. If you've been to India, you'll notice that there is much less begging and not so many touts. For these and many other reasons, it's a very enjoyable place to visit. That said, you will see things that will put you off, as the accompanying photo will attest. I'm not sure what was wrong with this man, whom I shot on a dusty street in Karachi, but I suspect it was leprosy. If you travel in south Asia, you must be aware before you go that you will encounter things that aren't so pleasant. A CAVEAT: Please don't run around complaining about -- or commenting upon -- the 'poverty' within earshot of the local population. I've heard things like that all too often and know for a fact that they are considered highly offensive. Pakistanis know their country is poor; they don't need to be reminded.