Written by: Alina Alamgir
It’s ironic how we look down upon the things we have and wish for what others have. A human is unpredictable. He never values what he possesses.
A year ago, I was on a trip to Singapore and Thailand. I was accompanied by my family and some other families from the doctors’ community. Needless to mention, Singapore is one of the cleanest countries in the world. We had to take our flight from Benazir International Airport. While waiting for our flight, I saw one of the families savoring delicious burgers and slurping their drinks noisily. An Australian couple sat in front of us. Now the change in their expressions on seeing this loud affair is indescribable! Well, now it was time to board the flight. But the family never ceased to astonish me. They left their trays and food leftovers all scattered on the seats they were siting on earlier. The Australian couple scrunched their noses in disgust and then finally decided to clean the mess which the ill mannered family had created. While, the family didn’t even seem to notice it. I was saddened by their behavior. I felt ashamed of what they did, because after all we belonged to the same nation. Their actions will cost the whole nation. What they do today, will represent our whole nation tomorrow. Countless times before, I’ve encountered such situations where I was forced to think whether I should be proud of the green passport I have or get embarrassed after how some of us behave. I remember when I was on a trip to Hong Kong in 2014 and there while waiting in the line, one of us mistakenly disturbed the queue. A lady behind us said something which shook us up. She had said with the utmost disgust in her voice:
“Stop doing this, this isn’t Pakistan!”
I was snapped out of my thoughts by the flight attendant’s voice, who politely asked me to fasten my seat belt as we were about to land. After all the necessary procedures, we were once agin in the waiting room of the Bangkok Airport, we had a connecting flight to Singapore which was due in a few hours. After aimlessly strolling at the airport for an hour, I returned back to the waiting lounge to see a girl from the same family munching on her meal. I frowned on the thought of what’s coming next. A moment of embarrassment again! But to my utter surprise, she took the tray in her hands and asked a passerby
“Excuse me, can you tell me where’s the dustbin?”
I stood there with eyes wide as saucers and jaw dropped. What she did a few hours ago back at Pakistan flashed in front me and I couldn’t decipher if she was the same girl?
I was once agin saddened to see that she cared enough to follow the rules and regulations of an another country but she didn’t consider her country good enough for its rules to be followed?
She thought too low of her country to not even consider how her actions mirrored our reputation?
And she surely thought too low of herself because it felt unnecessary to her to project a better image of the place where she belonged to.
I saw her sitting idle and found it a good opportunity to talk. I strolled towards her.
She seemed to busy thinking to notice me.
“A penny for your thoughts?” I asked.
“Never mind, I’m Alina” I extended my hand.
“Oh hi! I’m ____ ! “ she shook my hand.
We were jawing about random things.
“Want some?” I asked as I grabbed a bag of chips from my bag.
“Uh no! I’m full!” She said.
“Okay, as you wish” I smiled.
I continued munching on my chips. Soon I was done with them. I purposely put the wrapper on the seat nearby and acted oblivious to the situation. She frowned at me and asked me to go and put that in the dustbin.
“Forget it, they’ll pick it up! Let’s get back to our gossip” I feigned ignorance.
“Hey! You should follow the rules of the country where you are right now! Shouldn’t you?” She asked.
“And you should follow the rules of the country where you were born and where you belong to! Shouldn’t you?” I asked finally coming to the point.
She looked at me as if I had grown horns. A mixture of shock, regrets and grief found it’s way on her face. She looked down, ashamed of what she was pretending to be. I shook my head and got up from my seat, grabbed the empty wrapper and turned on my heels, ready to stride out. I stopped and turned around to ask her one last question. I cleared my throat to get her attention. She looked up slowly:
“By the way, where’s the dustbin?”