Okay then. So after all the wedding hullabaloo (which I'm not even going to link to because I'm sure we are all so over it, but if you want to refresh you memories the archives are over there to the right -->) Chachoo's new bride actually went back to her mother's house for a few mornings. Apparently this is something her community does, they send the bride back to her old house every morning for, I think, a week. Chachoo, though, was to ship off back to Saudi Arabia a mere five days after his marriage, so they only did it three mornings. Otherwise they would have spent a good chunk of their very limited time together apart, and since they were going to be not-apart for such a short time, they dispensed with more than half of her cultural tradition. This three days, though, was a little boring back at M's family home because this is not his community's tradition at all, so after she left every morning, my in-laws all just sat around together thinking, "Well, what do we do now, then?"
There was one thing the new bride had to do at home, though. In M's family, the new bride gets a repreive from housework for some time but then, when it comes time for her to begin helping out, the first thing she should do it cook kheer, Pakistani rice pudding. So a few days after the wedding (again, a bit early because of how rushed the newlywed's time was) Chachoo's new wife headed into her new MIL's kitchen to cook her first official dish for her new family.
|Cooking, with a watchful eye from the MIL.|
|It was yummy - she passed the test!|
Every afternoon or evening the new bride would come back home, though, and we'd head off to some family gathering to have dinner. A lot of post-wedding functions include traipsing all over the city to present your new family aquisition to the family-at-large. It's nice for the new bride because she often gets gifts and/or money upon arrival at another one of her new family's homes. There were too many of these family dinners to chronicle them all, but one of my favorites was when the bride's family invited all of US over. They made far, far too much food and it was all so delicious. Then I very obtusely forced them to take out all of their family pictures and we looked through them all until my father-in-law had fallen asleep on their floor. Then we looked some more, actually, and wound up heading home after 2am. On the way home there was a bit of a scary situation where our car (which included M and Chachoo and us two wives, the baby and a large percentage of Chachoo's wife's gold which we'd stupidly thought we should transport to her new home at 2am) came upon a few motorcyles on either end of the alleyway leading to M's house. It was pretty obviously a trap so that these men on the motorcyclists could rob the cars that passed by. We were circled by one of the motorcycles twice and then Chachoo - sweet little Chachoo who I always think of as a little boy - somehow turned out to be the one guy you want with you in a crisis situation! He is unendingly level-headed and he and M conferred for just a few seconds and hatched a plan to get us out of there that included some savy driving, a quick left, a few circles around the closest brightly-lit and well-attended intersection, and sneaking back home through a side-alley One of the few times I've been frightened in Karachi and it lasted not more than 10 minutes. No pictures of that, though.
One funny thing about looking through Chachoo's in-law's family pictures though. I may not have mentioned it, but Chachoo and his wife have known each other since they were in Kindergarten. Both of their families sent all their kids to the same school from kindergarten until they finished matric (like high school.) In my in-law's case, it's because Abbu was (and still is) a teacher there; In my sister-in-law's case it's because her father was on the foudning board of the school. In any event, Chachoo and his wife have been friends forever, but their families didn't know each other until their engagement. While looking through very old pictures of school events and awards ceremonies, though, I found a picture of an audience and there was a picture of my mother-in-law sitting right next to my sister-in-law's mother. So many years ago, they could have looked at each other and said "Hey, we're going to be family one day!"
There were a few things we wanted to do besides family gatherings while we were still in Pakistan, though. Shopping was one of them! I've never been shopping at any of the higher-end stores and malls, save for one trip to Naheed market in 2007 and once prior in the most recent trip. But I've heard a lot about really nice malls and I asked M to take me to a few of them. People are always asking me how I like these malls, and then they're surprised when I tell them I'd never been there but I cannot count the times I've walked through Lalukhait. First, we went to Makro - a big warehouse store kind of like Costco in America. But time ran out though, so after that I got only two hours to see only the most important things; I chose a jaunt through Park Towers mall and a drive through the Zamzama shopping district.
|Makro's huge underground parking lot.|
|Going up an uphill escalator that would somehow grab hold of the shopping cart too.|
|Inside Costco - uh, I mean Makro.|
|Well, you can't buy a motorcycle inside a Costco store.|
|This was their achaar counter - spicy pickled vegetables of every variety, even mango which isn't a vegetable at all!|
|M liked their ginger and garlic achaars that we bought extra to bring back to America with us, then he asked Chachoo's wife to bring even more when she came four months later and he'd run out by then.|
|I took this picture only because my father used to work for this company when I was a kid and it was a very "the two sides of my life meeting" kind of moment for me.|
|The Park Towers mall|
|Inside the 3 story Park Towers. We had to show IDs to get inside the parking lot. But M didn't have his and they let him in anyway, so whatevs.|
|Fancy store that every was talking about. I preferred the Junaid Jamshed store, I just love their stuff.|
|Junaid Jamshed for little boys. LOVE.|
|Later, we drove through the Zamzama shopping area and this was about the only picture I took. We drove by a Subway sandwich shop though, and I was disappointed I hadn't know about it before because that sounded WAY better than masala chicken nuggets.|
Another thing that we'd planned was to stay in the house at least one evening. It was a surprisingly difficult thing to do, actually, because so many people are jockeying for your time and it can be an insult if you go to one person's house but not another's. When we would apologize and say that we just didn't have time to go to a cousin's or uncle's house for dinner, they would ask us for details: "But what about Monday, what about Tuesday?" and then when they found out we were dedicating one day to just hang around the house, they were adamant we should fit them in on that day. I think some people's feelings got hurt, but M and I had talked about it way in advance, back in America when we were just starting to plan our trip. I said that since the family was now fully complete - everyone was married and everyone was in Pakistan at the same time - it would be nice if we dedicated some time to bonding as a family. We bought a dart board and I put the other sister-in-law in charge of another game. After her marriage to my other BIL, he'd gone tot their house for dinner one night and they'd played a "Getting to Know You" game kind of like that Newlywed Game. (Except no risque questions at all - this was extended family, very proper, and in Pakistan, after all!)
I think it's pretty unanimous that the night we stayed home and played these stupid games was THE BEST NIGHT EVER in Pakistan. It was so, so much fun. Even the stupid $5 dart board we'd bought on a whim at a Wal-mart pre-Christmas sale turned into a major tournament, and the questions game was VERY revealing and very bonding. Poor newlyweds knew almost nothing about each other though!! Ha ha!
|M and Chachoo installing the dart board.|
After that evening, family started leaving. Chachoo left first, then M's sister and her family left for America, I think. Then it was almost time for us to pack up and head back too. So then the family procession began in reverse, with all the people whose homes we'd just eaten dinner at coming by OUR house to bid us a proper farewell over the last two days of our trip. Mostly there wasn't even a place for them to be recieved because we'd taken over most spaces with our belongings and lugggae in an attempt to fit all the things we wanted to bring back with us into the airline's baggage limits.
And that was all - time to head to the airport. I'd brought a car seat and used it the whole time we were in Karachi, but I wanted to leave it in Pakistan for future use so the ride back to the airport was sans carseat and of course the craziest taxi driver ever showed up. I don't think I breathed at all on the adrenaline filled trip to the airport and I still thank God we made it there safely!
|Bags packed, ready to go home.|
|Final farewell shot of Pakistan - the crowd at the airport.|