Granted I do not reside in the country of my birth anymore, nor have I for the last 5 years. A lot of arguments have been made to me in this regard.

Pakistan is not the same as you remember it to be.

Thinks have changed.

And so on.

Granted those arguments are valid. And the reasons for which I left my country are still valid to this day from when I left. That still does not make me forget all the reasons I still and will continue to love my country of birth.

Most of the people I know will call me a ‘burger’. Derrogatory term for someone who is hoity-toity. So be it, I am who I am, and will never apologize for it.

##What I remember

Pakistan is walking in the streets of Lahore and getting breakfast for two for less than 10 Rupees.

Pakistan is the crazy bus conductors and the drivers that stop everywhere and anywhere to pick up customers.

Pakistan is hanging off a train travelling to Lahore from Islamabad with a friend and singing songs and smoking cigarettes like you just didn’t care.

It is walking for miles because you had no money even for that so-called cheap bus travel, and having a blast doing it.

It is the taste and smell of sand-roasted corn from a hawker in the streets.

It is playing cricket in the parks and streets.

It is sitting in a coffee house for hours on end, smoking and playing poker with friends.

Standing at a bridge over a stream and contemplating the meaning of life.

On that same bridge in the middle of the night playing a guitar while your friend sings our favourite Pearl Jam song.

Hikes on Margalla Hills.

The beauty of the Northern Valleys. Swat, Kaghan, Naran.

Even the messy markets of Muree. Who would have thought I’d miss that?

Picking fresh oranges from trees with your driver and running away pretending you are doing a big heist.

A guard sharing his sugar cane crop with you, or an old man sharing his tea and lunch with you after a long day of work as you take a break at the side of the road.

The truck-driver-hotel tea.

The hospitality of a chota (young waiter at a corner of the street restaurant) as you pull up for dinner.

And countless other things.

Things may change over time, but for me Pakistan will still be the sum of all these things and more.

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