We moved to the UK from Pakistan in 2014. Initially, we had no social circle and I only had a few relatives here. They lived in other Cities.
When we had been here for six months, we decided to visit them. It was a very relaxing trip, as I thoroughly enjoyed being a guest – sitting idly and doing very little. We enjoyed their hospitality!
As time went on, I started to get to know a few people in my new Town (through both my husband’s contacts and ladies at the mosque I had started to attend). Therefore, I thought it would be a lovely idea to arrange a little get together at my home.
It was a surprise to hear how everyone was insistent that they brought along some home-cooked food. Although I assured them it wasn’t necessary; it was just a small affair, they were not convinced! One of the ladies, who had lived here for a long time, kindly added me to their WhatsApp group, and very quickly others were sending me messages about what they would cook and bring to the gathering. There was a beautiful menu and I was left to make only one curry, salad, pickles, chutney, raita and arrange the drinks. I was left with a feeling that I was not going to prove to be a good host.
When the day finally arrived, my guests arrived with beautifully prepared dishes. The ladies happily descended on my kitchen, as though it was not their first visit. They all assisted me with preparations. This was a strange but pleasant experience – a contrast to how it is in Pakistan. There I had hosted many parties, and even when I was pregnant, there were no offers of help (with the exception of my husband and maid). Then she would charge me overtime for any extra help!
On this occasion, I sat with my guests and ate as well as everyone – something I was never able to do back home. Unfortunately, I would always be busy serving and making sure our family and friends had all they needed. This was the first party where I was able to really enjoy my food, as well as the other lovely cuisines.
Even at the end of our time together, my guests helped me to clear up and put the leftover food away. Kindly, they left me some for my family too. To my astonishment, they also helped to vacuum the sitting room; it was all left spotless!
During these last five years in England, I have attended a lot of get-togethers. It is lovely that people take food and drink to share, so it is not always the host who is responsible for the cuisine. I love how we can all share different types of food and flavors. I have been lucky enough to enjoy a variety of these, including South Indian, West Indians, Sikh Punjabi,, Chinese, so many lentil and vegetarian dishes. This is very different from home where if you were to serve vegetarian food, it would affect your status as a host. Thanks
Another wonderful thing that I enjoy is how we happily celebrate each other’s festivals. I have friends from different cultures and religions. The beauty of it is that people buy meat and chicken from the same Halal shops as we do. Here it seems humanity comes first.
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