For a healthy lifestyle, beyond anything else, one needs to embrace diversity and be happy while surrounded by different kinds of people.
Not only does this give one a new sense of perspective, it teaches one to be tolerant and respectful towards others, which eventually puts one at peace – and a peaceful individual is a happy individual.
Here is how understood this coexistence of diversity.
Being a Punjabi who was originally born in Lahore but moved to Karachi, I have seen the best of both worlds – Karachi, with its hustling, bustling industrial life, and Lahore, with its relatively slow-paced, yet ambitious scene.
While both cities are renowned for their educational institutions, Lahore is often considered the centre for top of the notch universities. This is because of its cultural heritage – and also because this city hosts probably the best university in the country, the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), where I am currently enrolled.
The diversity which LUMS presents is remarkable, but needless to say, where there is diversity, there are bound to be difference. And the most common skirmish present here is that between the Lahoris and the Karachiites.
Freshmen year begins with the Lahoris eyeing Karachiites as elitists, generally well-off and reserved, while Karachiites view Lahoris as relatively boisterous, unsophisticated, with traces of their Punjabi accent in their Urdu, and insatiable appetites. There would often be a comparison of the slangs both parties use for various words, each considering their own slangs better. But eventually, these reservations start to subside once these groups start interacting with each other.
I have a fair share of both Lahori and Karachiite friends, and although spending time with the Karachiites makes me feel at home, I have realised that the Lahoris can be very welcoming too, so much so that I have come close to calling Lahore my home away from home. Although I was born in a Punjabi family, our exposure was that of Karachi. I chose to return to Lahore, the place where my roots belonged, to check my affinity with this place but I have realised that I am bit of a hybrid now.
While I have the practicality that Karachiites are renowned for, I also seem to have a tinge of Punjabi in some of my Urdu pronunciations, though it not as observable as it is in the Lahori accent. I have bits of both worlds within me. And this gives me an exhilarating experience.
Another realisation that I have come to is that the generalisations which each party uses for the other are in fact untrue. The Lahoris, who have come to call me their friend, have realised that I am not elitist at all; in fact I am more tolerant than many of their Lahori friends. I do not prefer restaurants over road-side fries, and I am always in for getting down and dirty. Unlike their reservations, I am not a snob either.
And contrary to what Karachiites thought of Lahoris, they may be rowdy, but Lahoris are sophisticated in their own set of ways. They are dedicated individuals in the classroom, and they definitely clean up well. And as tough as it seems, they can prioritise over food when duty calls.
Perhaps then, we are all hybrids. We all have a part of each other in ourselves, because at the end of the day, we are not Karachiites or Lahoris, we are Pakistanis. And that is depicted wonderfully whenever one of Pakistan’s cricket matches is on display. The unity in that room is remarkable, and everyone cheers together; there are no boundaries.
Sure, the post-match celebratory dinner will observe differences in Lahoris and Karachiites, with the Lahoris generally being more animated and hungry, and the Karachiites generally preferring to keep it on the low and focusing on finishing the food they have on their plates first, but each party realises that they enjoy each other’s company.
Simply put, it is the diversity of each party that brings out the unique aspects of each other. Both Karachiites and Lahoris eventually come to realise that each party’s cultural strengths are brought to light because of the other.
Until the next freshmen batch comes in with its own set of reservations, which will eventually subside through this cycle, we have learnt to live in harmony. And I, for one, have realised how important that is to stay healthy.
About the author: Iqra Abid Hasan is a student at LUMS who likes to write about social and cultural issues.