MARK Twain’s proverbial saying –East is East and West is West, and the Twain shall never meet— was said some 128 years ago, in 1889. Difficult to submit that the quote derived from a Rudyard Kipling’s poem, could still be held true in spirit. Whether it still retains that spirit remains a moot point, but with the world changing into ‘global village’, traditions are fast acquiring new meaning, new definitions. Traditions, life styles, are or have already been revolutionized.
The spirit may not have been lost, but meaning certainly has. To dismiss the quote as obsolete, would be too harsh an observation, but times have changed, drastically. A great example of this was pre-marital ‘mehndi’, and ‘dholki’ performed on a British lady, a diplomat, head of UK mission in Karachi. Belinda Lewis, ready to be tied in wedlock on 18th March in London to an American Marines officer. She was gracious enough to heed to the wishes of her friends to go through rituals, alien to her, but lavish in grandeur. Eminent businessman, gem of a person, Kalim Farooqui and wife Shaheen, lived fully to their reputation of being generous and hospitable, dressed her in typical Indian or Pakistani bridal costume of glittering, white and pink mix ‘Gharara and shalwar’, with hairdo, and jewelry , good heavens, could never be erased from guests memories, or may be of her own. She tasted the oriental touch or what a bride should look like, indeed a momentous occasion for her . Guests who included US consul general Grace Shelton, close family members and friends, a select gathering ,were entertained to semi classical dances by professional group of young men and girls.
A Londoner, Cambridge-educated, banker-turned-diplomat, was the happiest lady of the evening, Grace and Shaheen, the ever-smiling hostess, flanking her throughout the evening. Then ‘mehndi’ a ritual, or custom, now an essential part of any wedding in Karachi, elsewhere in Pakistan or even in India, was performed on her. Hena added charm to her two hands.
Credit goes to Kalim Farooqui, but more than that 500 percent marks to Belinda for accepting all that and enjoying it too. Not in my memory atleast, a Westerner or European lady was treated to such ceremonial greatness. Also prominent among guests were the consuls general of Bangla Desh Noor-e-Helal, Germany, Rainer Schmiedchen and wife Annie, Japan Takoshizu Isomura and wife, number two at the British Deputy High Commission, Steve Crossman, and a couple more.
During the week , the deputy consul general of Peoples Republic of China, Dr Mu Yongpeng, bade farewell to his media friends at a sumptuous Chinese dinner at one of the well- known restaurants famous for that. He spoke his heart out to reassure on behalf of his mission in Karachi and also on behalf of his country, that China treated Pakistan its friend from the depth of the heart of the Chinese people.
He dwelt on the 57-billion dollar on-going China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which on completion in few years’ time, will surely change the face of the region, lead to a revolution of economic prosperity for Pakistanis, the Chinese themselves, and countries in the region. He repeated the famous saying that Pak-China friendship is higher than Himalayas, and deeper than oceans, stronger and harder than Iron, and was the heart-beat of every Pakistani and the Chinese.
Dr Mu who served in Karachi as number two at the Consulate for almost three and a half years, said he felt sad at leaving Karachi and Pakistan, but was looking forward and praying for the day when he is asked by his government to be back in Pakistan as consul general or ambassador to Islamabad. He disclosed that he had himself requested to be posted to Karachi. He was lucky that the Chinese foreign ministry accepted his request. He had lovely time here, and was moved by the hospitality, love and passion for him and his country by the Pakisanis. Mu is now posted at European Union (EU) headquarters in Belgian capital of Brussels.
Reciprocating his sentiments, this scribe on behalf of the media colleagues, said ‘we journalists too were sad on hearing the news of his going away, but were moved to tears by his emotional speech at that night. He recalled that Pakistan was a member of SEATO, and Cento against our two great Asian States, but then late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,as foreign minister, broke the shackles and built a new relationship with China and former Soviet Union. Prior to that Pakistan had provided a window to Beijing (then known as Peking) by starting its airline services to China and onward to Tokyo. The farewell dinner turned into an emotional moment. We all will miss Mu, but wish him well and all successes in life.