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Anybody visited Islamabad/Rawalpindi

(43 Posts)
Thewindcriesmary Sun 21-Aug-22 07:05:24

I am now widowed. Before I met my husband I went out with a man I met at work for some time (over 30 years ago, in the UK). The relationship ended on amicable terms. I thought he was a little too old for me at the time (14 years older) but differences in culture and religion were never a problem. He is Muslim and originally from Pakistan. He married and went out to work in Saudi. When he retired they settled in Islamabad where their extended family are. We have stayed in touch all these years as friends and recently his wife died. At first it was by letter but simce the internet was invented we have been in touch on a daily basis, completely platonic just talking about our daily lives. He has invited me to go out to stay for a couple of weeks. I am looking forward to going, I have travelled a lot but never been to Pakistan. Has anyone visited Islamabad and what was it like? I know Pakistan is a poor country and there are strict codes of behaviour. I suppose you would say my friend is upper middle class, they have security guards and maids. Has anyone been and what sort of differences in living should I expect? ( when I have looked at houses for sale in his district they are nice and modern but have those toilets where you squat for example.)

Chestnut Sun 21-Aug-22 18:18:59

We have stayed in touch all these years as friends and recently his wife died. At first it was by letter but since the internet was invented we have been in touch on a daily basis
So you have actually been in touch with him for 30 years. That does make it more understandable. When you say you've been in touch on a daily basis, how? By phone, text, or have you had video calls? That would of course be the best way of communicating as you can see each other and read facial expressions etc.

silverlining48 Sun 21-Aug-22 18:22:03

A friend of mine in the 60 s had a muslim boyfriend who called himself John. In all that time she never met friends or family.
Much more recently another friends daughter briefly went out with a fellow Muslim student, and again he kept this secret from his family.
I know this is a dufferent situation but am not sure much has changed.

Lathyrus Sun 21-Aug-22 18:26:18

I think a number of posters are being a bit unfair to the Pakistani people. The OP will be a guest there and guests are revered and treated with courtesy. To care for your guest and their comfort is a sacred duty of Islam.

Cultural expectations, particularly in public, are different from the West but I can’t imagine the OP would be rude enough to deliberately shock and invite trouble by ignoring them.

Only she knows where her relationship stands with her old flame but honestly I can’t see him kidnapping her or whatever it is that people fear.

Esspee Sun 21-Aug-22 18:28:09

silverlining48. Your comment about the hose on the floor perhaps being for feet cleaning had me choking on my my tea.

You were making a very droll joke…weren’t you? ?

silverlining48 Sun 21-Aug-22 19:17:16

Well Esspee am not actually sure. but I can’t think what else it might be for. Shiny new airport new toilets all with hoses? Shall have to remain a mystery.

Aveline Sun 21-Aug-22 21:01:55

Erm no toilet paper silverlining?

Hithere Sun 21-Aug-22 22:17:48

I also have concerns for this trip.

The destination is not the most female friendly, safety is a huge factor too

Depending on the family's financial situation, they could be more or less westernized - home facilities speaking - toilet, ac, etc.

People may look at you and become fixated at you in public, if you are not of indian descendant.

Do you speak urdu or hindi?

Moreover, where does he live? With family, on his own?

Guests are supposed to be very respected according to their religion but we all know religions are not always followed as written and cherry picked as it may be convenient

What is the purpose of the visit? It makes me suspicious, given that his wife passed away recently

I would go to another location, bring a friend and enjoy the visit with your long term friend.

I have been to India and culture shock was huge. Never felt so alien before.
It was like a bulb pointing at me - look, a white woman! - and people would stare forever, so much that my indian ILs would tell them to stop

Food will be a huge challenge too.

Callistemon21 Sun 21-Aug-22 22:32:13

We have stayed in touch all these years as friends and recently his wife died. At first it was by letter but simce the internet was invented we have been in touch on a daily basis

The internet has been around for a very long time and webmail then email since at least the 1990s. How did his wife feel about you keeping in touch on a daily basis?

BlueBelle Sun 21-Aug-22 22:34:28

Well I m not being unkind to Pakistanis or Muslims Lathyrus I would give exactly the same advise if it was a British bloke

Pakistani s are an extremely hospitable people no problem with thewindcries visit as long as she is prepared to follow the countries rules which I m sure as a well travelled lady she would…. but to go and stay with a man she used to have a love relationship with 30 years ago, so soon after his wife dies sounds very suspicious to me Why hasn’t this old flame perhaps invited her before to meet and stay with his family but as soon as his wife dies she’s invited over
He’s looking for wife number two methinks and it could be very awkward

Shelflife Sun 21-Aug-22 22:58:15

If you knew me Lathyrus you would be in no doubt that I would not be unkind to Pakistanis or Muslims . This is to do with what I consider to be a risky situation. Does' nt matter who the chap is or where he comes from !! This situation does not sit well with me .

Farmor15 Sun 21-Aug-22 23:14:01

I have been to India many times, though not to Pakistan. My experience has been a bit different to Hithere’s. I think older women are less likely to be stared at or attract unwanted attention. I’ve coped with squat toilets - sometimes cleaner than Western style ones where there is a choice.

OP’s friend has spent time in UK where she met him, so will have a good idea of her expectations of modern comforts.

However, Thewindcriesmary , since you’re in frequent contact with your friend, why don’t you ask him some of your questions directly - even about what kind of toilets he has!

It’s very unlikely that you would be wandering around on your own or even using public transport - most likely all outings would be in a car with driver. If your friend has female relatives, they would bring you on shopping trips and advise you on what to wear.

Esspee Sun 21-Aug-22 23:15:23


Well Esspee am not actually sure. but I can’t think what else it might be for. Shiny new airport new toilets all with hoses? Shall have to remain a mystery.

The hose is how you clean yourself after using the loo. It has started becoming more popular in this country now, especially with women who like feeling clean and fresh. I am considering getting one installed as our bathrooms aren’t large enough to fit in a bidet.

Esspee Sun 21-Aug-22 23:36:15

Thewindcriesmary. It would be a wonderful experience to visit Islamabad and be hosted by a local resident able to show you the real culture. You would of course need to conform with local customs e.g. covering your body including arms and head in public. Trousers and long sleeved tops plus a head covering such as a very fine pashmina are absolutely fine, no need to buy anything special. I would also read up on customs so as not to offend.

Personally I cannot cope with high temperatures without air conditioning. Is the house air conditioned, or at least the guest bedroom? This would be a major concern for me. As to food I would love it.

You haven’t told us what age you both are, just the age difference. Do you see this as a dating situation or simply visiting an old friend because it does sound rather as though he is looking for a replacement for his wife. How would you feel about that?

His family might be most put out if they see you as a threat to their inheritance so keep that in mind.

Personally in your situation I would be suggesting he visits you first then you will know whether you feel comfortable about going to Islamabad.

Do have a wonderful time if you go.

Lathyrus Mon 22-Aug-22 08:31:07

Didn’t mean to offend anyone by saying I thought people were being a bit unfair. I had a good time In Islamabad and it’s surrounds and didn’t encounter any of the problems people fear. If anything, I was treated with more respect and courtesy than I might expect in Britain!

Yes, I would be concerned with the OP jetting off to meet someone she’d just become acquainted with, in any country! But she did say she’d know him for many, many years. That he didn’t invite her before was the measure of respect he had for his wife. It really would have been seen as an insult to have a past girlfriend actually in the house of his wife.

I so love to travel, live in homes in other countries and experience “culture shock” .
But if the OP is a bit concerned then people have made some suggestions that might mitigate her anxieties.

Witzend Mon 22-Aug-22 08:48:18

I’ve never been, but a good friend whose dh was working in Islamabad, visited a few times. She wasn’t mad keen (to put it mildly) - was groped several times when out without her dh, inc. once in a smart shop in the foyer of a smart hotel.,

I was once with her when she had to visit the embassy to get a visa - she was almost hoping for them to raise difficulties (as they had before) so she could tell them to stuff it! - she didn’t want to go anyway. She only ever went to see her dh, who so looked forward to her visits.

This was all quite a while ago now, so whether things have changed I don’t know.

Lathyrus Mon 22-Aug-22 09:09:06

Yes, a woman on her own is likely to receive that sort of attention. To be without a male escort is regarded as a recognised sign of availability or willingness.

We may not agree with that but that’s why it’s important to research cultural expectations in whatever country we visit.

jeanie99 Fri 14-Oct-22 23:10:04

Toilets aside I don't think the family may be too keen on you visiting when his wife died recently.
If you are keen to go could you not stay in a local hotel, you would get your own privacy and still be able to meet up with your old friend. 30 years is a long time and you will most certainly have changed in your views about most things. Having your own space in a hotel could be a blessing.