Sand, desert, camel…

January 17, 2016

Things that average Americans think when they hear the word ‘Pakistan’

Sand, desert, camel…

Taking advantage of being in the US, I decided to go around asking common American people a question that may be of interest to Pakistanis back home - what struck them right away when they heard the word Pakistan. Though this, by no means, qualifies as scientific research, it will perhaps shed some light on time and effort the people in the US put in thinking about Pakistan and allegedly conspiring against it.

The responses are as follows:

Kayra Sailors, a graduate student in a famous public university in the US, says, "Hmmm… Sand? And camels! And Arabic, it’s like Egypt isn’t it?"

Dr Kramer, a professor at another public university in the US, says, "I don’t know, I have never thought about that, maybe, religion, hot weather and cuisine?"

Chris, a former graduate of another public university, says, "I, literally, don’t know much about Pakistan. Sand! Maybe? We did a cultural day in grade 5 in the Middle East. But I don’t remember specific places."

Tracey, an undergrad student at a public university in Ohio, says, "Terrorism, hot and desert."

Kacey Kump, an athlete and an undergraduate student in a public university in Illinois, says, "Ummmmmm… really never thought, perhaps, sand… and war… and, and… camels?" Lauran, a graduate from a public university in Kentucky, giggles, "It is… give me some time… it is… war?" She looks at me with a question mark on her face.

I ask, "What’s the second thing?"

She adds, "Humans of New York was in Pakistan, and third… maybe, I know it would not sound good, bombings." She giggles again.

Dr Miller, a professor at a public university in Pennsylvania, says, "Cricket, desert and not good things… all those bad guys! Terrorism!"

Dr Chris, an instructor at a public university, says, "TV show Homeland… Bin Laden and terrorists and stuff…"

I ask for the third thing? He adds, "Uhhh… that’s not the country you think about… now I am thinking… drones, maybe?"

A graduate student in one of a public university in the US, says, "Sand, Middle East and Afghanistan… Coloured people, different language. I have really never thought of it… you look like one of my friends who is from Jordan! Is Pakistan near Jordan? What language do you speak? Arabic?"

I reply, "No we speak Urdu."

She adds, "What? What is this?"

While the responses were amusing, the ignorance and naivety displayed in these responses shocked me a little as it exceeded my expectations. So as I reprimand our habit of linking every evil prevalent in our society to a conspiracy hatched against us by others, I also take this article as an opportunity to educate people in the US a bit about Pakistan.

Of all the responses I got, desert and camels made me laugh out loud. I want to tell people in the US that Pakistan is not a desert and we don’t speak Arabic or travel on camels. I strongly encourage them to come visit the country and see for themselves.

Sand, desert, camel…