Current Life Update
I am currently visiting my elder sister Nataliya in Seattle from Halifax, Canada. It took me almost 15 hours (including layovers – there’s no direct flight) to fly from the east coast of North America to the west coast. It was funny when I was moving from Lahore to Halifax 6 months ago, a lot of people commented that you will be close to your sister now. If 15 hours by flight is close then… hell yes!
Nataliya is a lifestyle photographer & blogger based near Seattle, Washington. She blogs about random everyday things, about motherhood, her multicultural life & about home. She is on a lifelong journey to embrace the real and the imperfect. She has a Bachelors degree in computer sciences. She used to be a brilliant student and topped in her college. She has Mashallah been successfully running her photography business since 2010.
Nataliya is 2.5 years older than me. Most of our lives, we have shared a special bond. She got married and moved to Seattle, USA 12 years ago. We always look forward to our get-togethers. Even though we have been living so far away for years, we have been constantly in touch. We make it a point to stay connected and we try our best to meet at least once a year.
She has always played a tremendous role in my life. Ever since I was a child, she was my role model and I looked up to her. In my recent years, she is the one who reignited my creative spark. I had turned into a robot in London. She is the one who brought me back to my interests, hobbies and life. Even now, whenever I feel down or upset, she gives me that boost of inspiration. There is never a dull moment with a sister like her. I can’t thank Allah enough for having such a wise, inspirational and supportive sister in my life. She brings positive energy in my life!
Q#1: First childhood memory kya hai?
First hazy memories are of us playing in our beautiful garden in Quetta in the sun.
More clear memories start from the park in Masroor where we spent every evening.
Q#2: Bachpan ke kis ghar kee sab se favorite memories hain aapki?
So far in my life, I have lived in 23 main houses. My most favorite memories are from:
Bachpan: D150 Sargodha. We spent about 3 years there and played all sorts of games there.
Grown-up: B1 at AWC. Loved the Tennis community there and how we put our tent in our garden.
Q#3: What would be your advice to your teenage self?
- Don’t argue with parents. Trust them.
- Don’t be judgemental. When you’re young and naive, you tend to become judgmental. Traveling after growing up teaches you to be open-minded and more accepting of all types of people.
Q#4: How would you describe our relationship as sisters and with parents?
Relationship with sisters: We have mostly had a very friendly relationship with each other. Most of our lives, we have shared our secrets and fun stories with each other. Night time has mostly been a fun time for us. I remember the countless nights we spent on the terrace of B-16 in E-9 Islamabad chatting under the stars. The four of us girls have our special quality time at night when we sit together, share stories, giggle, mimic each other and go hysterical. Mashallah the bond is priceless. Of course, we have our tough times too. All of us are probably equally laraka.
Relationship with parents: We were close to papa when we were little. He played with us, told us amazing stories and took us out for walks. After Waliya was born, we suddenly became the elder sisters. Over the years, parents were strict and were playing the parents cards. Tennis became the main bonding factor between Papa and me. We used to go and play Tennis together in air force colonies in Peshawar, Sargodha, Islamabad E-9 and NDU. Papa was always extremely reliable. He was there whenever we needed him.
I was pretty close to mama ever since I was a little girl. She started treating us as her friends once we were in our teenage years. What kept me away from doing anything wrong while growing up was the fact that I didn’t want to do anything which I would hesitate sharing with her.
Q#5: What were the most memorable trips or family vacations that you can recall?
There are so many lovely memories from our childhood holidays but I think the trip to Sakesar takes the cake. I absolutely enjoyed it. Trips to Hawksbay and our one & only family trip to Seattle in 2007 were also really memorable.
Q#7: What was your favorite work experience?
So far I have worked for 9 companies in my career (excluding internships). I have worked in Karachi, Coventry, London, Slough, Islamabad, Lahore and Halifax.
By far, my most favorite work experience has to be working for BroadPeak Technologies in Lahore. I loved how I was heading my department and had complete freedom at work. Playing Table tennis in office has been my dream come true with the most fun colleagues ever.
Q#8: What is the funniest family story you remember?
Unfortunately, I can’t disclose the funniest one.
I’ll tell you the other three funniest ones.
- Once in Islamabad lounge, everyone was sitting in the lounge and I decided to say my prayers. So I went to the window and grabbed Ja-e-namaz and dupatta. After I set up the prayer mat and wore the dupatta, I got into a serious mode and was about to start my namaz when Waliya walked closer to me, starred at my face for a minute and then yelled full volume. I was shocked and stepped back. She started yelling from outside the room ‘chooha apkay sar pe’ (mouse on your head!) A baby mouse suddenly fell from my head to the floor from the loud shrill. It was the funniest scene that the baby mouse was sitting on top of my head with a dupatta. Lol. We haven’t stopped laughing yet.
- We took Muffin (our cat) to the vet for some treatment. Once he was through, I went to him and he climbed on top of my shoulders towards my back. I was saying ‘poor baby hope you’re okay’. While petting him, I figured his leg was wet, I turned around and asked the handsome doctor, have you put any medicine on him as his leg is wet. He started giggling and so did Waliya. I sniffed my hand and realized it was pee. Muffin peed on me as he was scared. Now I panicked and tried to get him off me. But he dug his claws right into my back and hung on to me tightly. He just wouldn’t let go. Others in the clinic also started laughing while I danced around trying to push muffin off my back. It was a very hysterical scene which Waliya and I keep mimicking. There are countless other pet stories as they always chose me to do their business on. Considering how OCD I am about cleanliness, it has always been hilarious. jang news
2. One of my friends was kind enough to invite me for an iftar at Monal restaurant, Islamabad. I was excited and straightened my hair and wore new clothes. She came with her driver to pick me up. On the way up on the mountain, I suddenly felt sick and THREW UP IN HER CAR. After iftari, on the way back, again I felt sick and suddenly threw up more. My hair, clothes and her car were a mess. She never met me after that incident. Every time I message her she says ‘Sure honey’ but never wants to see my face for obvious reasons! 😀 I am so embarrassed. Waliya mimicks this scene and we laugh on it often. She also loves narrating it to my friends.
Q#9: One piece of parental advice that you’ve held on to?
- ‘Zyada na sochein’ and ‘Kuch nahi hota’. These were the most precious words from mama.
- ‘This too shall pass’ from Papa.
Q#10: Is there something you can’t live without?
Peace of mind. Freedom. Light & Cats.
Q#11: What’s your greatest fear in life?
In order of priority: Darkness, blindness, Cancer, being stuck in a lift, lizards, Churails and loneliness!
Q#12: What do you think is the most important thing in a marriage?
Respect I think is the most important. I think trust, responsibility and love come later.
Q#13: Your work/life philosophy?
I am a strong advocate of work/life balance. I have written an article called Say No to Late Sittings at work which explains how I fought for my rights when I was being made to stay back after work hours. I have explained how I took a stand at my workplaces for attaining work/life balance. I believe we must set timings for work and not think about work after those timings. I believe we should divide our day in different sections: work, exercise, family time and socializing.
Q#14: What role does your belief/faith play in your life?
Faith plays a fairly important role in my life. Faith is something that doesn’t stay consistent in peoples lives. The level of your eman fluctuates throughout your life. Overall, it is faith that drives the direction in my life. It is the criterion that tells me the difference between right and wrong.
Q#15: The things and people that matter to you the most?
My family and all those who have been with me through my hardest times. This includes those strangers who became my mentors.
Q#16: What are the most important values to you as a person?
- Faith is the bigger umbrella
Q#17: What do you miss about your life in Pakistan or life in Pakistan in general?
1. People: What I miss about Pakistan the most are its people including my family and friends. The bond we have with our childhood friends is irreplaceable. I also miss the friends I found in random strangers, colleagues and travelers in Pakistan. I miss that instant click with people which is so unlikely when you live abroad. I love how you can relate to anyone in a place where you belong.
2. Household help: Since we have house chores covered, we are able to accomplish so much more in life whether it is work, exercise routine or socializing. There is so much more time and energy to spare when you have your house basics covered.
3. Tennis communities: I have played Tennis in countless cities and clubs in Pakistan. Most of them have had an amazing community where we played together, had fun and enjoyed samosa parties. The bond that I had with my Tennis partners (boys and uncles) in Pakistan is something I miss terribly. I have not seen that level of community spirit anywhere abroad.
Q#18: So far what parts are you liking about life in Canada
- Exploring new places
- Restarting life all over again. So new things and furniture
- Having my own home Mashallah and having freedom with it
- Living alone with husband (not a joint family)
- A break from 9-6 grind after a really long time
Q#19: Favorite things to do in me-time?
Q#20: What lifelong lessons did you learn from the tough times that you had to go through in life? From the happy times?
- You have to be strong and fight your battles alone. People may advise and try to influence but you have to be strong and make your decisions yourself.
- Don’t be surprised when you’re left alone. Don’t expect much from others.
- Don’t give anyone else/circumstances the control of your happiness.
- Always give people benefit of the doubt, they could be fighting battles when you have no idea.
- All good things come to an end so enjoy while they last.
Q#21: If you could go back and do one thing differently in your life, what would that be?
If I could change something in my life, I would not suffer a bad marriage for 5 long youthful years of my life. I would have definitely left him sooner. Another regret for me to have walked out myself. I feel I was a weak person at that time to have suffered for so long without standing up for my rights.
Q#22: What are you most grateful for in your life?
- I am most thankful for a loving husband who is the biggest blessing in my life. I love how he is a genuine person and doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not Mashallah.
- I am very thankful for a supportive and loving family. A family that loves me unconditionally!
- Peace of mind and such great friends.
- Whatsapp for helping me connect with all those I live far away from.
Q#23: You love to travel, out of all the places you have been to what have been your favorites? In Pakistan? Abroad?
From Landscape/scenery point of view:
Q#24: What has your normal routine been like in office days and otherwise?
With office in Lahore:
- 8:30 Wake up alarm
- Snoozed till 9 am
- Running to get ready and leave office at 9:10
- 9:15 am -5:45 pm office and play Table tennis in lunch break
- 5:45 pm change into Tennis gear in office
- Drive to Tennis court
- 6:15 – 8:15 pm played tennis
- Home, shower, family time
- Sometimes socializing
- Sleep at midnight
Freelancing in Halifax:
- 10 am – 5 pm work day
- Lunch break in the middle and break to cook/housework
- Haaris comes home 6ish and then we spend time together
- We have dinner around 7 pm
- About 2-3 times a week, we watch the sunset at the waterfront (Atlantic ocean)
- Family time before going to bed around midnight
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