Category Archives: Cross-Border Experiences
Shifa is like any other girl – a life full of joy, dreams, goals and a passion for doing something. After the death of her grandmother (dadi ammi) whom she loved a lot, she would often see her in her dreams where her dadi would talk to her and share a few memories of India.
In 2018, Shifa, who was a chemist by qualification and loved to indulge in social welfare, thought she should try her hand at a small business. This is where her real journey started – she learnt that establishing a business is always more difficult than the daily routine of a job.
But since she was ready to take on the challenge, she started exploring ideas based on her own observations and calculations such as the risks involved, cash flow, need for a certain type of business, capital involved etc. Like any other entrepreneur would do.
The idea of opening her own laundry instantly clicked and she started working towards it. When she talked to her friends and family, most of them rejected the idea, mainly because she had no experience of a washing business. Shifa narrates:
“In 2018, mujhe business ka junoon tha. Laundry start karney ka idea aya. Hoon to mein chemist and social worker. Par ek dam sey yeh idea aya to bas sab ne bohat sunai, guide karna to door ki baat hai. Mein subha se raat tak laundry companies ko mails bhejti thi. But no response.”
But Shifa did not give up hope and instead became ever more determined to take up the challenge and make all the effort she could to bring her idea to life. She looked up all the laundry businesses on the internet and started writing them e-mails for guidance. She did not even count the number of emails she had sent. While she didn’t receive any response to her mails, she did not feel defeated and sent more emails to more companies.
Her effort bore some fruit when she received a surprise response to one of her emails. But wait! This reply was from an Indian company! And they were ready to guide her on how to open a laundry business. Shifa started taking tips from WashApp, the Indian company, collected resources locally and, finally, succeeded in opening her own laundry in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
She says, “Ek din meri aankh khuli and I saw an email from India. One of the biggest companies in India. After that daily unn se baat hoti thi and they guided me at every single step.”
While narrating her story to Aaghaz-e-Dosti, she says that the entire process sounds like a dream and makes her so happy. She believes that people living on the other side of the border have a good heart and we just need to stretch our hands towards each other to become united. She said “I wish ke mein sab ko bata sakoon ke border key uss paar bhi hum jaise log baste hain jo hum se pyar karty hain bas hath barhanay ki dair hai. Ek bar koshish to keejiye.”
Aaghaz-e-Dosti learnt that her business started with providing laundry services initially to domestic users and students, but after positive feedback and trustworthy relationship with customers, it has grown significantly into a firm, called WashHub, and now provides services to industries, hospitals, restaurants and many other commercial users.
She never forgets to say thank you to the Indian company that guided her about how to set up her own laundry.
Her message to young entrepreneurs is:
“Never give up on what you really want to do. Anyone with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.”
(Send your Indo-Pak stories, experiences, poems, travel blogs, articles etc at email@example.com to publish with us)
During my visit to London in Feb 2016, I was very friendly with a young Sialkot native Nadeem ( Name changed) who was very close friend of my host at London Atul Jain and both were colleagues at a big mobile store at South Hall. They used to have good time together on Sundays.
I found Nadeem a very lively and emotional person, who was too attached with his family based at Sialkot and used to send most of his earnings to his native place. He was the sole bread earner of the family.
He felt happy with my company on that Sunday and desired if he can get a good Pakistani life partner at London only. He had a second wish that to get married at his village in Sialkot only. He specifically invited me to his village to attend his marriage. Those were touchy moments for me!!!
On the very next day, on South Hall railway station when I was waiting to board a local train, happened to meet a Punjabi young girl and we both start talking in Punjabi. I was with a wrong impression that all the South Hall area belongs exclusively to Punjabi Sikhs so start talking with the girl in Punjabi with an impression that she is from my country, a sikh girl. And with a similar thought, she was thinking me a Pakistani Punjabi, how funny !!
After few minutes of conversation, I asked her where from she hails in Punjab ? She simply said from Lahore and immediately countered, where are you hail from uncle ( I was 58 that time). I told him that from Bombay but once was resident of Ludhiana so speaks fluent Punjabi. She was Asifa ( Name changed). We both were full of laugh as she found me an Indian Punjabi and I found her a Pakistani Punjabi !!!
I was moving to see Windsor Palace and incidentally, our travel route was same. Obviously we sit together and during journey she shared with me that her father died leaving behind her mom and her alone at Lahore. They were 3 sisters and sadly no brother. Her two elder sisters were married at London only and by those contacts, she managed to reach London and found a job at a Petrol station. Her mother was living alone at Lahore and like Nadeem, she was the only bread earner for her aged mother.
She had a desired if she could get married with a young Paki Punjabi boy at London, then will get a chance to settle there and will call her mother too at London. She was having a very noble thought that all 3 sisters can fully take care their aged mother at London.
Immediately I was strike with a great idea that why both Nadeem and Asifa should get married as both are looking for a life partner, both are Paki Punjabis, both young and both stay at South Hall.
I frankly put that proposal of Nadeem before her and she was very much keen to have a meeting and gave me her mobile number to let have a talk with Nadeem and then a meeting.
I left London, enquired and found that both Nadeem and Asifa had two meetings but I was sad to know, their marriage could not be performed because of some personal reasons. My whole efforts went futile. But somewhere in the heart, I was satisfied that I tried my best to get united both Pakies for their whole life as was highly impressed that both were too much concern about their families at Pakistan.
I was told Nadeem is still looking for a bride, used to remember me and I am eagerly waiting for his invitation of Sialkot….
Adishwar Kumar Jain is a renowned collage artist of India who exhibited paintings in all leading art galleries in India and abroad. He holds the post of Vice President of Physically Challenged Cricket Association of India. He is also serving as the Sr. Vice President in a textile company of Mumbai.
(Picture of South Hall Station in blog is representative image from internet site Hubpages)
Adishwar Kumar Jain, aged 60 years is from Mumbai. Recently, he was watching the famous bollywood film Henna and was reminded of a beautiful incident that goes back to 1991 which he is proud to have been part of. He writes,
“I was on a business trip of Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1991 from Ludhiana (Punjab) when this film Henna was released. It was super hit on the box office and I too went to see the film in Metro talkies of Bombay. Despite of heavy rush, managed to get a ticket for me in black. That time 3 young men came to me and asked for 3 tickets and told they are from Pakistan and do serve in merchant navy. Their ship was parked near Bombay and they took special permission from the captain to see the movie Heena in which Pakistani girl Jeba Bakhtiyar acted as a heroine. It was very embarrassing situation for me to listen all that and start thinking about how to arrange 3 tickets for these Pakistanis. I offered my single ticket to them but they denied as this was not going to solve their problem.
Suddenly I shouted to the huge crowd that 3 Pakistani guests are there and they specially came to see that movie so please arrange 3 tickets for them. To my pleasant surprise, with in minutes at least 20 persons gathered around those young men, shook hands with them and offered their tickets to them. Even few were with their families.
I was just stunned to see the love of common Indian nationals for the Pakistani these nationals. With in no time, 3 tickets were handed over to them and no money was even accepted.
One in the crowd said “Hum to kal dekh lenge par hamare Pakistani bhaeeyon ko aaj hi film dikhayengay….”
In addition, I found that during the interval, people were presenting them with the chips packets and sandwiches etc. They were so happy and were too emotional seeing the love from the Indian people for them.
I still remember this incident which was very touching and that day I realized that how much love the people do with each other of these “Enemy” countries. I always pray for the day when there will be no borders and that Frontier mail (Now Golden Temple Express starts from Bombay) will again run between Bombay to Frontier province and I will go to Peshawar to see the house of Dileep Kumar Sahab (Yusuf Khan).”
Adishwar Kumar Jai is a renowned collage artist of India who has exhibited paintings in all leading art galleries in India and abroad. He holds the post of Vice President of Physically Challenged Cricket Association of India. He is also serving as the Sr. Vice President in a textile company of Mumbai.
by Devika Mittal (India)
I was in Lahore and was staying with my friend Madhavi (Bansal) in a guest house. One evening, I was waiting for my friend Namra (Nasir) as we had planned to go to her place. There was a power cut and so I decided to go outside and wait near the gate. The guest house had 3 people to take care of it. One of them was a young fellow. He offered me a chair to sit. I thanked and struck a conversation with him. I asked him where he is from and he mentioned a place. I asked him how far it is from Lahore. He said, it is about two hours. He, in turn, asked me where I am from. I said, I am from Delhi.
As I spoke the word, his eyes widened and he was shocked. I found it surprising because when I and my friend had arrived at the guest house which was provided to us by our hosts, they had informed the people who took care of the house about us. So i assumed that he would have also known but it turned out he didn’t. He asked me again, “Aap Hindustan se aaye ho?” (You have come from India?)
He then asked me questions around my experience here. One of his last questions was, “Aapka ghar yaha se kitni durr hai?” (How far is your home from this place?)
Devika Mittal is a research student from India. She is the convener-India of Aaghaz-e-Dosti. She tweets at @devikasmittal
by Shayan Khan (Pakistan)
I don’t know how many of you have heard the saying in typical punjabi accent “Lor Lor Ai” (Lahore Lahore Hai – Nothing beats Lahore) about Lahore, Pakistan, the city I was born in and where I grew up. I, for one had never used this term. Lahore for me is home. Period. It’s a place where my close-knit divorced parents’ reside, my father always making sure he is a three minute drive away, as having a second family doesn’t change his love and need for being literally a phone call away from his daughters. The whole of my extended family, friends and most importantly my grandparents who are practically another set of loving parents, define what Lahore is for me.
Also, Lahore means good food and great hospitality. From the interior part of the city to the ever popular local dhabas (roadside food stalls commonly found in the sub-continent), we are the biggest foodies the world will ever get to see if only Travel Channel takes the chance that Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York took and visits us.
Then one day I got married and it led me to live in the U.S. for a year. I was living in an apartment in the downtown amidst Americans, so seeing somebody South Asian would make me want to jump outside the window or more realistically open it in time to say hello. They made me nostalgic. Any and every person who looked remotely Pakistani or Indian unconsciously put a smile on my face because they felt like home. Yes, we (India and Pakistan) got caught up between borders but like families and neighbors resolve their matters and live in friendship; we too need to live amicably. Because it’s getting too old, it’s childish to pick a fight for so long, no religion advocates it, and most importantly it involves lives. And start with empathy. Someone’s life is as significant or more than your child’s or your parent’s. This is what leaders in India and Pakistan should understand.
I have studied, researched and taught business and strategy. It talks about pretty words like ‘synergy’. In almost each class I attended, the Professor would come in and ask with an expression of possessing wisdom, “So class, what is synergy?” The sleepy head’s hand would quickly pop up and he’d spurt the words before anyone else could say ‘Sir, when the sum is greater than the whole’. Of course it is. By the end of the four year programme the class sings in cohesion when the question is repeated for the umpteenth time, “when-the-sum-is-greater-than-the-whole-(yes-we-know)”. But, hey, what is synergy again? I think we still need to get that right. India and Pakistan are neighbours. And as it is, it’s not as if we are progressing as a society. At least, sort what can be sorted. Like resolving issues that both population face – health, illiteracy, water crisis, corruption to name a few. The least that both countries can do is to let young people from both sides synergize, connect, meet and interact with each other. Ironically, in the year that I was in the U.S., I was presenting a research at the American Marketing Association Conference in Chicago being held on the 14th and 15th August, 2015. It was there that I got to meet so many of the renowned Indian Professors and getting to know them made me feel ecstatic. It was the first time I was presenting my work at an international platform like AMA and the confidence that my work received from all the Indian academicians there was motivating. Their supportive eye-contact, the more than the regular number of nods reassuring me through their body language and lastly the literal pat on my back with many congratulations that I received at the end of the conference made me feel blessed in an inexplicable way.
Later, we Pakistani and Indians celebrated our Independence days together by taking pictures and indulging our inquisitiveness about what it’s like on the other side of the border. Of course, we invited one another over to our places but our smiles knew that there was a higher probability we meet again in some other country at some other conference.
Since I don’t want to end this on a sad note, just something that always amused us all was how I went on greeting everyone with my crisp Good Mornings at 7 a.m. But the moment I saw someone South Asian I went onto say Aslam o Alaikum, Sorry Professor….Namaste…I mean, Good Morning! (Flustered). They’d all lovingly forgive me with an understanding of how our values have engraved in us to see someone elder of our ethnicity and offer a greeting. How our values and culture are so similar, and yet there is so much that keeps us apart.
It’s been a long time since the British Raj left…let’s celebrate our independence. Let’s celebrate it together without the enmity and hostility that we have harboured for so many decades. Lets revel in friendship, togetherness and all that brings us closer.
This article was edited by Dr. Nidhi Shendurnikar Tere (Vadodara, India)
Shayan Khan is a researcher and lecturer of consumer behaviour, marketing and strategy with a love for food, travel and books. She is a member of the Lahore chapter of Aaghaz-e-Dosti and also an alumni of Global Youth Peace Festival, Yuvsatta. Shayan lives in Lahore, Pakistan.