My biggest fear on this trip was how the in-laws would behave. If you've read the beginning pages of the blog, you understand that my in-laws could never be considered "fans." I kept running scenarios through my head where I was separated from my husband for too long or where they were just plain mean.
I convinced myself that this was the absolute best trip we could have ever planned. The baby was eleven months old (and terribly, terribly cute.) I figured there was no way they wouldn't like her, and thus she would turn all of the negative energy they had for me, into positive energy for her. Since it was my first intercontinental trip, we were to visit for only ten days. This was another thing that worried me, since M's last trip (scheduled for two weeks) lasted nearly five months. M did not tell them how long we were staying, and this scared me. I had this nightmare that they would push M into staying longer or refuse to take us back to the airport causing me to miss work and/or lose my job.
What actually happened was amazing. When we arrived, Karachi International Airport was not nearly the huge, busy airport I had imagined. M had told me stories of the separate lines for returning citizens and for foreign citizens, and those lines were nothing like what he had described. The officers spoke a funny kind of English asking jumbled up questions that they expected me to understand. M finally tried to just talk to them in Urdu and they resisted, jumbling up more English phrases. One example, "What is your good name?" It literally took me four repetitions to understand what he was saying. I mean, when was the last time someone asked you for your good name? I had also been up for hours and must have looked like I had been run over by a train.
I had changed into salwar kameez on the layover in Dubai and felt very, very out of place in my sandals. It did not matter that everyone else was wearing salwar kameez, I felt like an elephant in my bright, new shiny outfit as compared to the normal everyday wear around me. This is always exacerbated by the fact that my husband insists on wearing western slacks and outfits, EVERYWHERE, our home, our wedding, PAKISTAN.
Each officer was dressed in green uniform that resembled the Pakistani army uniforms I had seen on television. The biggest surprise was that one of the customs agents was a hijab wearing woman. When we got to the desk, in my muddled Urdu understanding, I could tell that the male customs agent next to us, while interviewing someone re-entering Pakistan, was on his cell phone, trying to finagle a visitor's visa to the United States.