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Moving back to the city

Lahore is trying to become cosmopolitan, or perhaps ‘Paris of the East.’ Or, is it the new Istanbul? For you, it’s still Lahore. Just larger, grimier and less green

Moving back to the city

You move back to Lahore after a decade of working in London. You move back because you want to live near your parents. Your husband moves back because he wants to join the family business. You look forward to raising your girls in your own culture and near family.

You start to settle down in Lahore, set up a daily routine and put the girls in school. The husband starts to work and begins to make sense of things. You catch up with old friends and realise you have been away for a long time.

Luckily, you’re still able to have those heart-to-heart chats you value.

You get used to living in Lahore: the late lunches and dinners, load-shedding, and roads and shopping malls being constructed everywhere. There is a metro bus service up and running and a contentious Orange Line being set up.

Lahore is trying to become cosmopolitan, or perhaps ‘Paris of the East.’ Or, is it the new Istanbul? For you it’s still Lahore just larger, grimier and less green.

In London, you had a meaningful job, you were conscientious, you enjoyed your work and even had an occasional promotion — now you seem to have nothing. Your family and friends tell you there is enough time for a career, and for the moment you should concentrate on bringing up your girls. You tend to disagree. You would be one of those women who balance a family life and a career.

Your family suggests you try teaching at a school. The truth is that you barely have the patience to deal with two girls at home and another 20 or so. This could cause a meltdown.

There is a possibility that you could work at your alma mater as a freelance research assistant or case study writer but you are too old for that role. A job in the corporate sector is out of the question as you like being there to feed and chat with your kids when they come home. You wonder if you will ever get a shot at working again.

You get used to living in Lahore: the late lunches and dinners, load-shedding, and roads and shopping malls being constructed everywhere. There is a metro bus service up and running and a contentious Orange Line being set up.

A couple of months down the line, you set up a profile on Upwork and Freelancer. You take some basic high-school English language and grammar tests, apply day after day for about two months, and slowly small writing jobs start to appear. It’s usually simple tasks which a secretary could do but you feel grateful to have them.

After six months you have some form of steady work coming in. You begin to understand how to apply online and how to hone your profile. Occasionally, you get to write something meaningful or something which may make a difference.

A year later, you are a freelance writer and editor with a handful of regular clients. You still look around for more writing work. You ask friends who work in newspapers and research centres if they need a contributor or someone to work part-time from home.

Slowly, ever so slowly, people ask you to write articles, blogs, or help with research papers. You get busier and have less time for knitting and embroidery and generally fretting.

Another year goes by and you have just enough time to look after kids and your husband. Your work flow might be uncertain and of a varying kind but you feel happier, productive and have less time to fret. Life is good.

Mehreen Chandan

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