Ramadan and a Request for My Beloved Country, Pakistan

Dates filled with nuts & ‘sar shir’, a Persian-style cream; the ‘skin’ from boiling milk.

Switzerland? No, this is the Naran Valley in Northern Pakistan. Photo taken by my husband’s cousin, Suraiya Khalid Anvery this summer.

One of my favourite memories of Ramzaan (Ramadan, in Urdu), are from uni days when my best friend Shameen and I would take the train to London to stay with our Aunt, Nadia Khala on weekends. We’d be perched up on our stools in the kitchen during iftar time, when the fast is broken, while Nadia Khala’s housekeeper, Bano would be frying coriander and green chili pakoras in the wok. Watching them bob up and down in the oil, we’d wait impatiently to have a pakora before Bano could transfer them on to the plate lined with a paper towel. Too keen to break our fast, we’d grab a piece straight off the spatula, whilst burning our fingers. We were supposed to break our fast, as per tradition, with a date, but this hot savoury tempura was more tempting. Nadia Khala would chop soft dates for us and mix them with Marks & Spencer double cream. Toffee flavours slathered with creaminess. That would be our dessert. And then mugs of hot, milky tea would be passed around. We hated leaving Nadia Khala every weekend. Ramzaan just isn’t the same without family.

A village in the Sindh province. Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images, from Boston Globe.

Ramzaan is not the same this year given the devastation which has taken place in Pakistan recently. The number of those suffering from the floods exceeds 15 million- a number far above those affected by the tsunami, Kashmir and Haiti earthquake.

My two preferred organisations are Behbud and Unicef, for those who would like to donate. Relief4Pakistan is also running a fantastic campaign, donations will be channeled through MercyCorps. For any donations, we would be very grateful…

Men and livestock wade together. Photo by REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro, from Boston Globe.

Flood survivors. Photo by A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images, from Boston Globe.

Children. Waiting. Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images, from Boston Globe.

Naran Valley, July, 2010. Photo by Suraiya Khalid Anvery.



  1. Shayma, you have a heart of gold. The situation in Pakistan is so devastating and imagine us complaining about the long rozas here when our fellow Pakistanis are suffering beyond belief. I hope with all my heart that the story changes for Pakistan some time soon, the country has suffered enough. My prayers this ramzaan are for Pakistan.

  2. Ramadan Mubarak Shayma. I stuff dates with a mixture of grated coconut(toasted sometimes), cream and a drop of rose water.And then top it with pistachio or other nuts.

    The pictures are heart breaking. My heart goes out to all those suffering in this holy month of Ramadan. May Allah bless and place His mercy upon them.

  3. You are right it can’t be a festive Ramadan… since Pakistan is not experiencing floods but a Deluge. The suffering is unprecedented and photos you post melt hearts like the glaciers which caused it all!

    Hope the rich in Pakistan, the more fortunate Diaspora, and the international philanthropists can pitch in to rehabilitate the lives of the vulnerable.

  4. Donating now xx

  5. Knowing my nation, I know we will pull through InshaAllah. Our national resolve and fortitude always peaks at the time of adversity (Allah knows where it goes to during normal days?). Already in Lahore, every day truck loads of aid are going out. People have opened their hearts and pockets just like in 2005. One of my friends ended up giving away his whole month’s salary, his wife half of hers. When I asked them how they’ll manage the rest of the month? Her reply, with a 1000 watt smile was ”We’ll manage with Allah’s help. Somebody needs that money more than we do.” Now it is up to the Godforsaken govenment and beaurucracy, as ngos and ordinary people can only do so much.
    Have a blessed Ramazan.

  6. @Nadia My prayers are for Pakistan, too. And as @Gourmand has pointed out, let us, the more fortunate Diaspora be there for our country.

    @KSalty Thank you, my lovely. x

    @Umar It is so immensely cheering to hear a story like that-to forego your whole month’s salary. There are many Pakistanis who are generous, now we are just hoping the international community shows even more support.

  7. Ramadan Mubarak & my prayers are with Pakistan! We have donated through UNICEF & will continue to support as much as we can! Thanks for the lovely post!

  8. I have been hearing about the torrential rains and flood in Pakistan and these pics almost moved me into tears. I hope the people in Pakistan recover soon from this calamity

  9. @Sara Thanks, Sara. Ramzaan Mubarik to you, too. x

    @Radhika Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by.

  10. My heart goes out to the people of Pakistan. May their peace and prosperity be restored to them soon.

  11. Wow, Its heartbreaking what humanity has to go through! The pictures and your post is so touching. God is with all the people in Pakistan.
    Although I’m not a muslim but I still have memories of Ramadan which we used to spend with our close family friends. Even-though we would not fast but we still waited eagerly for the evening when we would be called to break the fast with them 🙂

  12. The tragedy unfolding in Pakistan is absolutely heartbreaking, a magnitude that is unbelievable. The desperation and the helplessness comes through in verey picture, here and all new channels; these are very trying times. The hub has donated for Pakistan through Cathay Pacific as they are equally matching all staff donations. I do hope things get better soon …

  13. A catastrophe of this magnitude makes you speechless and feel utter helplessness; I have seen pictures of beautiful Pakistan, its mountains and coastline. I am now seeing pictures of its suffering. So sad and so right of you to stir us with these pics Shayma and prompt us to help out, even if a tiny bit.

  14. @gluttonforlife Thank you, dear Laura. x s

    @Deeba Thanks for your support, that’s so wonderful-our neighbours from across the border are with us- so cheering to hear. x s

    @Prerna Thanks for your wishes and for sharing those memories. x s

  15. Shayma dearie, my sister….I feel for the people of Pakistan and the effects of the flood. May it go well with them.

  16. @TasteofBeirut Joumana, thank you for your kind words. We are simply not getting enough media coverage. I hope the donations start to trickle in. x s

    @KitchenButterfly Thank you, my dear. x s

  17. Prayers to the people of Pakistan. Thank you for sharing this very personal and moving post about not only your Ramadam memories, but the unfortunate situation in Pakistan.

  18. Happy Ramadan, Shayma joon. My heart goes out to the people of Pakistan during this extremely difficult time. My heartfelt prayers are for Pakistan.

  19. The tragedy that has befallen Pakistan is heart breaking. Our prayers are with all those struggling through the aftermath of the floods. Thank you for your touching post and call to action. – S

  20. The devastation is so heart breaking. Your post however is heart warming and touching…Our blessing to all that are suffering.

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