#GrowingUpBritish are memes I see a lot around the internet so I thought to myself "hey why not write about growing up British Pakistani because I'm British Pakistani?" Now, if you're also British Pakistani reading this do not be all "that's wrong it's not like this" because I'm writing about my personal experiences which may be different to yours. And if it is different then please share in the comments it's always nice to know different experiences and to discuss them. I've never actually been to Pakistan, well, I've never been out of England so before you ask that question - I've already answered (sound a little too cocky here I know). So let's just dive into this thing:
1) Barely Knowing Your "Second Language"
Now me being an ethnic in England, a lot of people expect me to speak another language. Now where I'm from in Pakistan we speak a mixture of Urdu, Punjabi, and Mirpuri, but to shorten it we just say "Punjabi" They're all really similar languages.
Now when I speak a little bit of Punjabi to my English friends, I feel great because I seem really fluent, and to them, I seem like I could be a translator. When I speak Punjabi to my Asain friends most of us are in the same boat, as in we can't really speak the language that well, but we can understand it okay, so it's really relatable. But when I have to speak to a relative, say an elder who's English is limited... Let's just say I try. Or I'll resort to speaking English in an Asain accent because they might understand me then.
When I was 13 the only words I knew how to say in Punjabi were "Gee" and "Nay" Gee means yes, Nay means no. So when I went to the shop with my grandma, who can't speak English very well, she spoke to me in Punjabi, I understand her but all I could reply back was either "Gee" or "Nay" so as you can imagine, we had a fun conversation.
I should really learn Punjabi, I know, and after my exams are over I'll spend the summer trying to learn it. My parents were also born in England, so Punjabi is their second language, and so we speak English at home. But one of my new year's resolutions is to learn more Punjabi so, wish me luck!
2) Some People Automatically Expect My Dad To Have A Long Beard and Be Strict
Now, this isn't everyone, but some of my friends have been really shocked when they've met my dad.
"Oh my goodness! Your dad doesn't have a beard?"
"He doesn't make you clean the house 24/7?"
"He doesn't mind that some of your friends are boys?"
For some reason, some of my friends expect my dad to be this really strict guy who will kill me if I even look at a boy who isn't related to me. It's not their fault though, I guess that's all they've heard about Asain men.
But Asain people like anyone else are human and will have their own personalities. My dad can be strict when it comes to grades and schoolwork. He does shout at me when I do something wrong. But he doesn't completely try and control my life. He lets me wear my hair how I want to wear it, he lets me dress how I want to dress, he doesn't mind me being friends with the opposite gender. Dating is a no go zone, but to be fair I don't want to date anyone at this age anyway. The only place I really meet boys in school, and I'd rather have happy memories with all the people from my school not making things awkward because somebody is my ex. Anyway, schoolwork is way more important to me than looking for a boyfriend. One of my friends said to me: "I was really shocked when I saw your dad I expected him to be one of those guys with a beard" but not all Pakistani men have beards lol.
3) The Parents Wanting You To Become A Doctor Phase
Now, this is one thing most of my friends who are British Asain like me have experienced. At some point, their family has wanted them to be a doctor. I remember looking through one of my baby books which my parents are supposed to write in and then when the baby is older they read through it.
And for the "When my daughter grows up she will be a _____________" No prizes for guessing what my parents put: "doctor". Now when I was younger I did want to be a doctor because that's all I was told, that I was going to be a doctor. But when I got older I started getting an interest in other things, like computer science and writing. My parents are actually way more supportive of me wanting to go into computer science than being a doctor, my dad and I both agreed that being a doctor may earn you a lot of money, but it's just not for me. Writing is more of a hobby for me, and right now I don't think my parents would be really supportive for that, as it's not a reliable career which I understand, not everybody makes it in that trade. I would like to pursue writing as a career, and if I proved to my parents I could become successful in that trade, then they would have no problem me going into that trade. But I understand it's more sensible for me to study something like computer science so I always have a reliable career to fall back on.
4) "Learning" To Cook a Curry
My parents constantly kept on nagging me about how I should learn to cook because it's a good life skill and all, and we eat curry as our dinner time meal so it was natural for my mum (who is a great cook by the way) to teach me how to make a curry.
So a few times I went into the kitchen with her expecting to learn how to make a curry. She showed me the first time and I just watched, I understood that I needed to watch and learn the first few times. But I became sick of watching eventually and wanted to try to learn myself, so I asked her if I could do something so she let me stir the pot the next few times.
But I wanted to do more than just stir a pot, so I asked if I could try and make the curry myself. So my mum just gave me a carrot to chop. I got annoyed and just didn't bother trying to learn considering my mum wouldn't let me actually try and make a curry. I was about 11-years-old then so maybe she just didn't want me to hurt myself. Truth be told, I've been lazy ever since and not even shown any interest in learning to cook. Part of it was the last time I tried to learn but most of it is just my own laziness.
After my exams I'll try and learn to cook as well, I'm getting older now so I should really know how to. Well, after my exams I've got almost 3 whole months free from school, so I'll try and learn to cook then. It's a basic life skill :P
5) Being Able To Handle Spicy Foods But Loving Traditional British Food
My parents have been giving me Roti and curry for as long as I can remember so spicy foods don't really bother me and when I eat a curry which is basically every day, I don't have problems on the toilet.
I can easily handle spice, as can most of my Asain friends but at the same time, the traditional British foods like Yorkshire puddings and Fish and Chips are also great. My mum will make an English dinner as a treat or we'll order fish and chips every once in a while.
It's been awesome having the privilege to have all these different kinds of food.
6) English Clothes vs Asain Clothes
If I'm honest with you, I prefer the standard English clothes i.e. leggings and a jumper to Asain clothes. I just find them easier to take off and put on and more comfortable. My mum is opposite she prefers Asain clothes.
I do have a few salwar kameez which I don't wear often, they are pretty but sometimes they're just itchy and a nightmare to take off. On special occasions I will wear salwar kameez I'm not dead against it or anything, after all, it is what my ancestors would have worn but I just wouldn't want to wear them every day.
To conclude, I'm proud to be British and proud to be Pakistani. It's who I am. And if you're one of those people thinking "well Pakistani men are _______, and Pakistani women are like ________" Don't because there are actually some really good Pakistani people out there starting with my parents. I;m proud of who I am and where I come from. Both England and Pakistan. Remember to celebrate who you are too! Thanks for reading! :) <3