British Couple Living In Pakistan
Meet Matthew Vaughan and his wife, originally British couple living in Pakistan. They have a beautiful family with three children. Interestingly, Matthew and his wife decided to move to Pakistan after their visit back in 2009. It was then that Matthew fell in love with the beauty of their new homeland.
His friends don’t believe him when he shows them the photos of the scenic beauty of Pakistan. Places like Kaghan, Hunza and the entire northern areas of Pakistan speak of beauty so pristine and breath taking that the image of Pakistan in people’s mind of a dangerous place is hard to shake.
When Vaughan and his wife got married they lived in Luton, London. The area has a big Pakistani community. This way they were already familiar with Pakistani restaurants and food. Vaughan tells, “We were already embracing that part of the culture, I guess.”
Like most tourists, Vaughan had traveled to India first. However, chance brought him to the Wagah border. He fell in love at the first instant, finding the people “friendly and hospitable right from the start.”
Basically the couple moved to serve the church. Vaughan expressed that their other concern was establishing peace. “We just felt that these days the world is getting quite divided and there is a lot of fear and suspicion of people — especially from different religious backgrounds. We really wanted to do what we could to build peace. Especially with people from different faiths.”
Vaughan revealed that his friends were apprehensive at their move to shift to Pakistan, mainly due to the image of the country portrayed by the media.
“We just graduated from Oxford University. All my friends are going into banking, civil service and stuff like that. And we were taking a minimum wage-like job in a place like Pakistan.”
After having spent five years in Pakistan, Vaughan has written a book Notes from a Sacred Land. He talks about the positive life of the country, people and their hospitality.
His British nationality helped him get good and services from people in Pakistan. People were courteous and helpful. They initially lived in Rawalpindi. However, living in Pakistan has also made the locals here surprised at their decision.
He narrated one of the many incidents of how hospitable people are. A taxi driver refused to take the fare from him despite Vaughan’s insisting. “He needed the Rs200 much more than I did. His hospitality or his national pride, or religion — whatever it was — inspired him to be generous like that.”
There is also a downside. People sometimes charge more seeing that they are foreigners.
Vaughan learnt Urdu when he moved to Pakistan. Interestingly, he also learnt some famous Urdu proverbs like jiski lathi uski bhains [whoever owns the stick, owns the buffalo] and jaisa des vaisa bhes [in Rome do as the Romans do] which he uses when people comment on his wearing a shalwar kameez.
In a television interview he wore the national dress. “I find shalwar kameez really comfortable in this hot weather,” he says. “I guess it helps me blend in.”
After a span of three years, Vaughan finished his book, while also balancing his home life and work life. Strangely, on contacting the publishers for his book, he learnt an odd thing. He was told there is no market for a positive book on the country! There has to be something about terrorism if it is about Pakistan.
However, he stayed determined; designed the book, managed the publicity, printed a 1000 copies. The book now is also available on Kindle.
Below are some of the more interesting things he told in interview to the Weekend Review.
“I was actually speaking in the US embassy in Islamabad the other day about the book. And they have a tough time because those guys really can’t go out… So, they can’t see Pakistan at all. And one lady who works there, she got a copy of the book and she was kind of semi-joking and saying ‘I was reading this book, and I have got to stop reading it because it is making me think positively about Pakistan and it is getting harder to do my job.’ I hope it is kind of changing her mind as well, but all she sees is security guards and barbed wire and everything.”
“I don’t want to pretend that everything is okay because there are difficulties here,” he says. “But it is showing just the basic kindness of people, and just the generous humanity of people in Pakistan. It really doesn’t seem to get covered.” Hence his book has interactions he has had with the ordinary people here; the tailor, vendors, bakery owners etc.
When Daniel, their youngest son was born one incident sticks in Vaughan’s mind. “Someone rang our doorbell a day or two later,” he says. “It was just a guy, didn’t even know him, never seen him in my life, just a random guy from the neighbourhood, and he just walked down the road and rang our bell to say ‘I have heard that you have had a son — may God bless him and give him a long life’ — and he shook my hand and walked away. It was just a beautiful thing to do. You know, it doesn’t really happen in the West. People are very private. We kind of keep ourselves to ourselves.”
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He has been surprised by how welcoming people are towards the British. “When you look at history, and when you look at what Britain has done in this part of the world, under the negative effects of colonialism — especially with partition, which was really caused by British negligence to be honest — you would think they would be angry about it all or they would be finding it hard to forgive. It was not the case at all. People have been very kind. They love talking about cricket; they love talking about Winston Churchill or whatever else.
“I don’t want to criticise people because they need to do what they think is right for them and especially for their kids,” he says. “It is hard to criticise them for doing that because there are opportunities I guess in the West you would not necessarily get in Pakistan. But when you see all these really gifted men and women grow up in Pakistan, and they are going overseas, it does make you wonder who is going to work for the benefit of Pakistan.
Via Gulf News