What started from a plate of Biryani, turned into a lifelong fusion with the country she thought was dispersed with viciousness and hostility all around. One knock on her door back in Tokyo and the warmth of her Pakistani neighbors with the enticing aroma of chicken Biryani in their hands and she was convinced, she had to visit Pakistan. Little did she know, her small trip to this land would be the start of a lasting tale.
Rie Mihara, an entrepreneur in Japan had moved to Pakistan for good in the March of 2016. But what prompted her to leave behind her steady life and start a new one in this frenzied foreign land? Her story begins in 2011, when Japan was hit with a tsunami that left a large portion of the country in disarray.
“My mother and me, like most people around the world had a stereotypical picture of Pakistan in our heads, filled with violence and hostility. But in 2011, there was a tsunami that hit Japan. So me and my friend and my teacher we visited the affected area to help the survivors, we used to make frequent visits and since I have a certificate in grief care therapy I used to help the survivors cope with their loss,” she began narrating her tale in an exclusive interview with The News.
She went on to recall: “There was a Pakistani family living in my neighborhood. When they found out about the voluntary work I’ve been doing, they knocked on my door one day. When I opened, they had a plate of Biryani in their hands and they said ‘we want to go to the natural disaster site with you and help the victims. Because when Pakistan was struck with a deadly earthquake in 2005, Japanese people had helped our people. Now we want to help them.’ That’s when I realized, Pakistan was different from what I thought it was.”
After visiting the country for the first time in 2014 and finding an inkling towards the country, Mihara returned in 2015 to Karachi and found her way to Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital. “It was Ramadan and a massive heatwave had hit Karachi that had taken the lives of over a thousand people. I visited Jinnah Hospital just to help the people and talk to them. I met an army doctor who asked me in Japanese, how I am doing and I said good. He then continued in Japanese saying, ‘don’t worry you will get good health soon.’ I was surprised to find him speaking such good Japanese. That is when he told me how in 2011 when Japan had suffered the natural disaster, he had memorized the phrase in the hopes of conveying it to the victims suffering in that neck of land. I was surprised to see that he had made so much effort for the Japanese victims, just out of love and empathy. That is when I told myself, my life is to be lived in Pakistan.”
"I went back and negotiated with my mother. It took half a year for me to convince her that Pakistan is not a scary country but then she agreed, and me along with her and my dog, moved to from Tokyo to Karachi in March of 2016, and have been happily living here since.”
Mihara shed light on a dream she finds herself working hard towards every day in this country: “There was one reason why I wanted to move here and make money here. When I have lots of money, I want to open up a small clinic and a school for the underprivileged people for free.”
“It will take me a long time to bring this dream into reality but I want this to be a thank you to Pakistan, for giving me not just Biryani but lots of love and a home,” she concluded.
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