Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Social Change Creeps In?

Weekday mornings, my son and I grab a cab to his school. Grabbing a cab in Abu Dhabi is probably even more common than grabbing one in NYC, because you don't have a convenient bus or subway system. Plus, taxis are (relatively) cheap. So I've interacted with a lot of Abu Dhabi cabbies. If you bother to chat with them, they may or may not welcome the opportunity.

The demographics are mixed, although Pathans still predominate (can I use that word like that? augh I hate that I don't have room for my dictionary near my computer...ok, yes I can), there are a fair number of South Indians and Filipinos, and the occasional Arab driver. The Pakistanis are almost always Pathan, many of whom speak very little Urdu.

Today's driver, though, was from Bahawalpur. So we exchanged the usual pleasure at recognizing a humwatan, and chatted a bit on the way back home. 

All of the above is by way of preface. The man asked me whether I was in Abu Dhabi because I work here (we had agreed a minute before that this was no place to live, that Pakistan was an infinitely nicer place, but that one had to earn one's daily bread, etc., etc.), and I told him no, my husband has a job here. To which he responded "Ye ghar ki duty bhi naukri hoti hai, balke zyaada sakht naukri" ("oh house duty is also a job, in fact a much harder job"). I laughed, said wouldn't it be great if more people understood that, and was getting ready to get out of the cab but he was telling me about his wife and how hard it is for her to take care of their two sons on her own in Pakistan, so I listened.

The conversation got me thinking. It's not the kind of opinion I expect from a middle-class Pakistani male. But perhaps that's unrealistic of me. There are probably lots of men out there who realize that the homemaker's role is a really tough one. The real change would be if they were to take on some of that role, which only happens in a small minority of the homes I've seen.

So maybe there's nothing of note in this conversation after all. Other than it being seen as polite to acknowledge that stay-at-home-moms are not living the easy life.

"I raise my hands to frame the light,
Raise my voice in the middle of the night,
I close my eyes when I start to sing,
It's a way of, way of praying"
               - Carrie Newcomer, The Yes of Yes

1 comment:

Maria Stahl said...

No, I think you were right the first time. He sounds genuinely respectful of what his wife is doing for him and their boys and, by extension, what you are doing for your hubby and son.