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London, United Kingdom
I am an engineering academic at University College London where I work on the sustainability of urban water systems. I am interested in the role of engineers and technology in sustainable cities.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Things I like about Pakistan

I am in Pakistan. This is my fifth visit, and the second this year. When I tell people about my trips here they often ask if I like it. Of course the answer is yes. I usually say that I like the food, the weather, the fashion, the hospitality and the work. Now that I am here I am remembering some of the other things I like about this country. Here are three:

Cricket.
Cricket is not my favourite sport. It is not even in my top 5, but it appears in my list a long way ahead of football (soccer). After many years of exposure, I have come to the realisation that football is my least favourite sport and I have developed an affinity for any country where any other sport dominates. Personal happiness seems more attainable in a country with endless 20:20 cricket than being bludgeoned by 24:7 football coverage in the UK. The Pakistani's love cricket so much, they even show women playing it on TV. Coming to Pakistan to see the British women's cricket team on TV is not ironic. It is the sign of a dysfunctional sporting media at home.

Chai.
Tea might be my favourite drink. It is definitely in my top 5. Pakistanis drink a lot of it. It tends to be served with powdered milk. Powered milk is underestimated as one of the great inventions of the modern world. It reminds me of picnics and shearing. Powdered milk has been displaced from my life by fresh and longlife products, and whenever I come to Pakistan this feels like a loss.

Prayer calls.
I am not a religious person, but I definitely like singing. The call of the muezzin injects a little bit of singing into life in Pakistan several times a day. I am by no means a fan of religious intrusion into secular life, but starting every conference with a prayer sung by a devout young person is a nice reminder not to take ourselves too seriously. Our work is important, but there are more important things.