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Urbanization vs Ethnicity: letter


I have been living in the capital for more than twenty years now. Even before that, I  have traveled and lived in different major cities of Pakistan, that being the requirement of my father's job, who is now a retired bureaucrat. I have grown up seeing artificial people. People wearing different masks. People suffering from various complexes. Trying to be who they are not. Living the lives of strangers. That is the way it is in the cities. I call it 'The Mask of Sophistication'. It is the demand of living in an urban area. If you do not wear this mask, you are a misfit. It is all about knowing what is in and what is out, what is chic and what is out dated, how to treat your servant and how to pamper your worldly equals. It is about raising your brow in shock when you see a feeble looking villager. It is all about plastered smiles and artificial styles, more popularly known in Urdu as 'nakhras'.


The one place that was my escape from this self invented world was up in the mountains of a fantasy land. Where lie the roots of my parents and myself. Where I would herd  the goats with my grandmother, carry fodder with my aunts, and play 'shapir kelli' with my cousins. Each night I would go to sleep staring at the stars in the sky, not the ceiling fan. Each morning I would wake hearing the sounds of the river flowing nearby. These are the lovely memories of my holidays in Chitral.


Unfortunately, I feel that the disease of urbanisation is gradually spreading towards my cherished land. I know that urbanisation has its benefits too and that technology is the need of the hour, but all good things do not come in the same package. I feel that trends in Chitral are changing and all, not exactly for the better. Chitrali,  fear, is losing its ethnicity in the name of modernization. I certainly do not mean that the people of Chitral should go back into stone age, but I just hope the purity of this land remains forever. That the innocence of the people doesn't get suffocated in the claustrophobic environment of western culture. That the guitar doesn't take over the sitar. That the 'pushur tiki' doesn't get replaced by pizza. That our norms and values aren't forgotten. That our culture doesn't become something insignificant to the next generation.
Being modern definitely does not mean being an artificial person and losing one's own identity. When I was little I learnt a song at school, the lyrics of which still echo in my ears;
Desi bol, badesi gana, lagta hae begana
Dur ke dhol suhanay sahi, tum apna saaz bajana.

 

Zeenat Khan,

Islamabad

16 July 10.

 

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