Welcome to my new blog series of ‘Project Love’ where I am going to have random conversations about love, life and experiences with celebrities (not Shahrukh Khan or Ranbir Kapoor types but some amazing people) who are suuupper close to my heart (or your heart), people who might not be very famous but are real life heroes and celebrities for folks around them.
Disclaimer: Your feedback, constructive criticism and thoughts are ALWAYS welcome but I have zero tolerance for batameezi or rude comments. We are talking about ‘Project Love’ here. Show some love or don’t scroll down!
Happy Weekend you guys! This weekend is special because of two reasons: one – I am travelling to this secret place (or places) which I am going to reveal later, two – I am here to introduce you to my favorite, favorite celebrity, who has also been my best, best friend for the last two years, Amna Syed.
I met Amna on my first job and it was literally love-at-first-sight. And since then, we have been each other’s dukh sukh ke saathi. Born and raise in America, Amna fell in love with an amazing Pakistani guy, got married to him and moved to Karachi, Pakistan. She is honest, upfront, talkative, humorous and has no room for bullshit. I can go on and on but let’s just talk directly to Amna and know more about her, her life and her experiences.
P.s. grab a cup of coffee or chai because as I said earlier, Amna loves to talk and this is going to be one loooonng conversation 😉
Hi Amna, can you please enlighten us about yourself? (slowly laughs at myself for being so formal and decent)
I was born and raised in America and daughter of Pakistani parents. I am a recent mommy and currently learning the tips and tricks on how to raise a little human. When I got married I had moved to Pakistan for about two years and now I have moved back to Florida where me and my little family are settled. I have recently joined back as a full time employee at a big corporation and having major withdrawal symptoms from being away from my little human for more than 8 hours a day. Other than that, I am a crazy adrenaline junkie and love to have new experiences in life with my partner in crime aka my husband.
Hmm..so how was your childhood & how was your life at home with your family before you moved out or got married?
Being one of four daughters of my parents, we were brought up with the traditional Pakistani values and customs. None of us grew up to have the angraiz mentality and were very eastern in a sense – speaking fluent urdu, knowing all about desi culture, movies, dramas, food etc. I am sure it was not easy raising four daughters but my parents had done it flawlessly by giving us the best education and tools to have an independent and successful life.
They never made us once feel they wish they had a boy. I am sure it must have driven my Abu crazy living in a house with all women lol but never once had he complained. He always had a sense of pride in his girls. Its actually funny, when I was born, being the third girl, people in the community actually did afsoos to my dad – that ‘hayee larka nahi huwa’ and my dad’s reply to them was ‘aapko kyun afsoos ho raha hai, larki mere haan huwi hai – mujhe koi problem nahi tu aapko kya takleef hai‘. Being girls – our focus was mostly on education and being tameez ke bache.
Our parents never forced us to be in the kitchen or learn typical girly things. They always wanted to make something out of each one of us, making us successful individuals and everything else was secondary. We grew up watching our mom work just as hard as our dad in the workforce and our dad working just as hard as our mom in the household. We grew up seeing equality between male and female roles and that I think is what shaped our outlook in life so beautifully.
WOW! It must be really hard keeping up with two different cultures
So, what were some of the difficulties you faced growing up in a Pakistani household and coping up with angrezi culture?
I was way too desi for Americans and way too westernized for Pakistanis – that was my major struggle. The balancing act of playing with two cultures and mindsets was the most challenging. My school friends would be rapping to the latest Eminem song and in my head bhumbro bhumbro would be playing LOL – that’s where I faced a major disconnect. I was never into the American movies, songs, TV shows, celebrities etc so the common ground of discussion in middle/high school was lost. Things lightened up when I got into university and met my former Pakistani American friends where we related to each other so well in terms of getting permission from parents to hang out etc.. college life was the best life!
Now that we are talking about parents and permissions, let’s talk about motherhood and your experience as a new mommy.
We never understand our parents, their restrictions and their over protectiveness. They say, ‘Jab khud maa baap banoge, tab pata chalega‘.
Now that you are blessed with Haniya (Amna’s little one), can you connect to what your parents might have gone through bringing you kids up?
Absolutely! I completely understand their need for restriction and keeping nazar on us at all times. Now having my daughter, every part of me wants to protect her from this world’s harm. I wouldn’t agree to being so extreme in restriction but I do understand their need for protectiveness. I now realize how difficult it must have been for my mom to be working full time while raising four girls – I am here struggling with just one. Moms are definitely Super Women!
Oh yes, moms definitely are!
On that note, tell us two things that you would follow your mom’s as a mom yourself and two things that you won’t take from your mother and won’t practice with your little girl?
One – my mom would not let us do any nakhra when it came to food, we had to finish every single grain of rice on the plate and eat what is in front of us or not eat at all – her handy dandy spatula was her partner in scaring us while we devour our food on the table. I would definitely want to practice the same when raising my daughter (minus the spatula lol) I want to expose her to different types of foods and let her know to be thankful for what is on the table.
Two – I admire my mom’s ability to handle working full time and being the best mother she can be for her kids – she was the one taking us to Quran classes, making our lunches, picking us up from school and dropping us off and running around doing our groceries. Even though she was a working mom, I never once felt in my childhood that she was not there – that is something I want to definitely learn from her.
One thing I would do differently is give my daughter the space and trust to make her decisions (when she is older of course). Our mom was naturally a protective parent and unintentionally tried to keep us in her ‘mama bear bubble’ – she was afraid to let us drive, afraid to let us travel alone etc – I want to give my daughter the exposure of being able to travel independently and grow as an individual while experiencing different things in life and for that I would need to let loose my reigns a little bit and have full confidence in her.
I also think open communication is very important between mother and daughter, I want my daughter to be able to talk to me no matter what the situation is – if she is afraid to come to me, she will hide things and maybe rebel. There is a certain age where a mother needs to become a friend and that is something I definitely want to practice in the future.
How beautifully and comprehensively you described these parental ways that you want to brought up Hania with!
The most important question of this series, when was the first time you fell in love in its truest sense?
Definitely the first time I held my daughter. When I first delivered her, they placed her on my stomach and I could only see her back and the back of her head. They then picked her up and moved her to the cleaning station and I had still not seen her face. My eyes followed her through the room and although I was in unbearable pain, my eyes stayed hooked on her and I pressured my husband to go stand by her side. While he was there, he was dictating to me how she looked – he mentioned she had colored eyes and she is a mixture of us two. I kept lifting my head to get a view but the doctor was causing me tremendous pain which made me collapse back down. As soon as they brought her towards me, my eyes welled up in tears and that moment was purely magical. Immediately I felt like I’ve known her my entire life – it felt like it was just me and her in that room. Even though I was exhausted and in pain, every ounce of my body wanted to provide for her, protect her and nurture her – that in its truest sense was love for me.
Awww how cute!
We have talked so much about Haniya and on motherhood, I think we are leaving out the most important element of this equation – your husband, Saad.
You guys were together for almost 10 years and in a long distance relationship. First of all, Kudos to you two!
Secondly, how did you guys manage to be with each other for so long and how did it feel to be finally married?
My relationship with Saad has definitely been a roller coaster – an exciting one at that. We were very young when we became close friends and somehow found a life partner in each other. The initial long distance consisted of A LOT of Skype calls and emails and of course was very frustrating because of the distance, yet for some reason we held on. A part of me believed it was worth it, the struggle, the frustration and all was worth it because I would ultimately be with the person I love.
When we finally got married, the first year of our marriage consisted of us asking each other this question repeatedly, “Can you believe we are married????” The feeling of awe and surprise that we made it this far still has not subsided. I could never picture my life without him and Alhamdulillah so far the journey has been great – he is my strongest supporter in life and roots for me on the benches while I am center stage.
This actually left me teary eyed..how beautiful! Millions of Mashallahs for you two!
How are your weekends different than your weekdays?
My weekends consist of a looottt of sleep, bonding with my daughter, doing errands and binge watching Netflix shows with the hubz.
My weekdays consist of struggling to stay awake at work while drowning myself in coffee, fighting traffic and making it home to squeeze my baby girl until she has fallen asleep LOL.
Is there anything weirdly funny about you or you have done previously that most people don’t know? Share with us.
So, I have a very bad condition called road rage lol – I will talk to drivers knowing that they cannot hear me and have entire conversations with them on how bad of drivers they are.
“Yeh tumhare baap ki road hai, tumhai dekhaaye nahi deh raha andhe ho kya, kahin aag lagi hai jo bhujaane jaa rahe ho and haan haan aagey ajao aap hi ke intezaar mai tu thi mai” are some daily conversations I have with fellow commuters on the road.
I also loveeee to blast the music and sing my lungs out like a crazy nut while driving. In other words – I prefer to drive alone so I do not scare away my friends.
Yep, I am not surprised to hear that! Not many people are aware of Amna’s junglee side! LOL
Anyway, let’s try getting serious, formal and decent once again (although I know its gonna be a major fail yet again LOL)
What was the most life changing incident?
It would definitely be moving to Pakistan after getting married. It was a very challenging experience for me as I was not used to the lifestyle and limitations of every day resources in terms of light and water. It was also very different in terms of the work culture as compared to the US. Moving to a new country and not knowing the routes, directions etc was very nerve wrecking but after about a year or so I became a guru and would direct all my uber/rikshaw drivers around *haha*.
I also learned the art of bargaining! If you need a discount, I am your girl! When my sister came to visit, she was surprised at my knowledge and skills in the bazaars when I would negotiate pricing and all. From a tourist, I became a local and people would question if I was really from the States after all. Challenges aside, I think it groomed me into becoming a better person and valuing the little things more. I believe I am now a more patient person in terms of facing challenges after having the experience of living there.
Now that we are talking about Pakistan, tell us any two things you absolutely loathe about Pakistan or your stay in Pakistan, and two things that you miss about Pakistan, now that you have moved back to America.
Two things about Pakistan I loatheeeee are the traffic and heat! #SayNoToLoadShedding! Two things I miss the most are the food and shopping! When will we get delicious food in the rest of the world?
True! How much I miss desi, flavorful and spicy Halal Food 😦 Ye dukh sirf mere Amreekan – Pakistani behen bhai hi samjh sakte hain
Anyway, what’s that one stereotypical thing about our culture that you absolutely hate and that you would like to change?
I absolutely hate the pressure of having a boy in our culture. I think a girl is definitely no less than a boy and whether you have either or, it is a blessing. I also hate the fact that we want a boy only for our “budhaape ka sahara” – the pressure we put on our sons is absolutely ridiculous, they are not ATM machines.
I understand the need to support parents when they are older, it is definitely a part of our religion and needs to be practiced but I believe girls are just as capable of doing that – so why the pressure only on our sons? If I do ever get blessed with another child and it happens to be a boy – I want to raise both my kids equally. Just because he is a boy, he should not have more responsibility as compared to my girl and definitely not have the responsibility to take care of me.
My kids will never owe me anything in life that I have done for them. I chose to bring them in this world and I chose to raise them to the best of my ability, in no way do our kids need to repay us for that.
Intihai khoobsurat baat kerdi hai appne!
I don’t know about my readers, but I am definitely with you on this!
I am sure most of you must have finished your first cup of chai/coffee by now. Grab an allu ka samoosa now because we have reached to our last segment of Rapid Fire Round where we will ask Amna some quick, rapid and fire-y questions.
READY, SET, GO!
Most frequently asked question that freaks you or creeps you out?
When are you going to have another baby? Bhai, bedroom se bahar rahein aunty!
If you were to keep one worldly object with you after you die, what would that be? and why?
Everyone’s goal in life is to enter Jannah – I wouldn’t need anything worldly with me if my aim is to make it there. Insha Allah whatever I want or need will be available to me when I get there (hopefully insha Allah).
What’s one thing that you cannot stand about people?
Their fakeness or ability to not be real with me
What’s the dumbest thing you believed as a kid?
That if I do not eat every single grain of rice on my plate, it will go up to Allah and do shiqayat that Amna did not eat me. Til this day, my plate is spic and span after I finish a meal, you will never see one crumb or grain of rice on my plate.
Thanks mom for your psychological conditioning, I don’t know if I should be proud or join an OCD support group..lol
What’s the best and worst thing about being a girl?
The absolute best thing would be the experience of pregnancy/motherhood, only and only women are capable of feeling this wonderful life changing event and the bond you feel with your child is the strongest ever.
The worse thing about being a girl is pregnancy and motherhood LOL – pushing a 7 pound human out is not an easy task!
What’s that one thing that a guest did in your house that made you hate them?
Hate is a strong word, so I wouldn’t use that but a guest once used our toiled and didn’t flush. Not the best sight to see first thing in the morning…
If you were to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would that be?
Dahi baray and chaat! I am definitely a chatori.
What are you completely over and done with?
The exaggeration and misuse of the word feminism. I think it is being played to an extremist level on social media where it is moving away from its true meaning and purpose.
What’s something that you were never able to do well?
Keep in touch with people – I have a hard time making an effort to reach out to people and check in on them – I definitely need to improve this!
One person you can trust your life with?
My bestfriend – Sonu
One life advice that you would like to give to your daughter
Today, right now, what you are going through may be the most difficult situation you’re facing….but have patience and keep your faith so strong in Allah – everything and I promise everything will turn out to be the best possible version it can be for you. Take everything a day at a time and do not worry about tomorrow, in the end it will all work out.
One love advice that you would like to give to your daughter
Fall in love with yourself first – completely and whole heartedly, only then can you fall in love with another and know your worth before they do. When you do fall in love with another, trust, compromise, patience and honesty are the essential ingredients for a loving relationship.
Oh wow! This bring us to the end of our conversation with Amna. I think its rightly said that you can never know someone completely and today I got to know Amna on a completely different level.
Knowing Amna has taught me that if you are positive, humble and a hard worker, you can survive and achieve literally ANYTHING. If you guys want more updates from Amna’s life, check out her Instagram here.
As for you guys, you can breathe now! I know it was a long read but that’s what happens when two friends meet and talk their hearts out!
We will meet next time, very very soon with another beautiful celebrity to have another amazing conversation about love, life and everything else. See YOU around!