We are the nation of Chicken Biryani, Nihari, Paye, and Kabab rolls. We love our food and more than that we love our meat! That’s the Pakistan I grew up in and that’s our Pakistan today. The only thing that changed…was me. Somewhere along my college years in abroad, I struggled to keep the pounds off in my 20’s, the juicing & health trend caught up with me. After a few month’s worth of research, a few nutrition courses later and a lot of trial and error on my body – came the decision: no more meat for me!!!
Most Pakistani fellows and other Muslims in Qatar where I currently work, thought it was a big joke. Or perhaps I was suffering from some kind of major anxiety about my upcoming wedding. Why else could anybody in their right mind say no to a big juicy piece of animal flesh? (Yumm right?) But the real chaos began when the wedding shenanigans began and I went back home to Pakistan with my big news. Firstly, the announcement was greeted with my utter disbelief by my parents at the dinner table which was piled with Pulao and Shami Kababs and etc, especially served in the honor of the bride. And it started…
” You are skinny enough you don’t need to lose more weight for the wedding , eat up!”
“Ghaib hona hai kiya ab” (Do you want to become invisible?)
“Khao peyo gi nahi tu bachay kaisay peda karo ge”(If you won’t eat and drink how will you produce babies)
“Are your Indians friends convincing you to go off meat?”
“Eat! Don’t disrespect food!”
Then came the challenge of putting in vegetarian options on the wedding menu – so I would have something to eat too. Adding palak paneer and aloo zeera on the wedding menu was surely made people think that we were cheap out on the dishes served! I mean seriously who serves roti sabzi on their daughter’s wedding – there can just never be enough meaty dishes at a wedding reception! After all “larki aik khati pethay punjabi ghar ki hai” and the world needs to know that!
After a few more days of emotional blackmailing, nagging and trying to entice me with bar.b.q ribs, they eventually gave up n just left it up to my in-laws to ‘sort me out’ ! (Quote: ” Jab Sasuraal jao ge tu khud hi seedhi ho jaye ge“) (You will straighten up once married). Then the relatives started visiting and things got messy (as always). Then came the innocent remarks and curious questions by my genuinely lost uncles and aunties.
” What? But Why? (Danish Ali style)
” Oh! Are you… sick beta?”
“Sab kuch khana chaiye, hum ne sab kuch khaya tab hi is age mein hum ayse han” (You should eat everything, we eat everything that’s why we are fit at this age) (Aren’t you diabetic uncle and have had a gastric bypass recently?)
“But don’t you miss the taste? Don’t you crave meat” “How can you live without chicken?!”
” Husband ko kiya kilao ge -bhuka maro ge kiya” (What will you cook for your husband? Will you starve him?)
” You went vegetarian, is that what Kim Kardashian is into these days or something?” (You, my dear, take the award for the comment that pissed me off most) more so then the aunties who concluded that the dulhan had too much nakhra (too full of herself) simply because I refused to eat what everyone else was eating.
Then there were my best friends who right out declared this to be the downfall of our friendship, because how can we possibly enjoy a steak together anymore? All in all, I ended up surviving the wedding without having a drumstick shoved down my throat, but I sure was a complete weirdo of a bride for all my fellow countrymen. One question that I’m sure you all would like me to answer before I cut this short: The groom’s reaction? Let’s just say the groom knew exactly what he was getting into and is willing to put up with much more to have this pretty little face in his life for good (Or so, I like to imagine).