Tired of all the India-Pakistan rhetoric on news channels and social media? Think that every Indian or Pakistani would rather visit ANY destination around the world than each other's countries? Well, here is some news for you - Pakistanis can visit India without trouble and have a great time on their trip!
Like Dubai-based Pakistani national Sarah Rizvi who jumped at the opportunity to travel to India recently, fulfilling her lifelong dream to visit the country. An advertising professional, Sarah is also a blogger whose love for travel, food and lifestyle is prominent through every post on her social media accounts. Considering it’s no easy task for a Pakistani to apply for a visa to travel to India, Sarah crossed that hurdle with ease, opening up to a world of experiences that awaited her in India. Speaking of her recent trip she says, “The visa process can be a bit long but the process isn't very difficult. I had all my documents ready in November and I applied through BLS as soon as I received the documentation from India (my friend as my sponsor had to send documents too). It took about a month and a half for my visa to come through but luckily it did without hassle.”
THE NINE DAY ADVENTURE
Her nine-day holiday to Delhi/Gurgaon and then Mumbai was the stuff dreams were made of. Sarah not only took part in a typical Indian wedding celebration with gusto in Gurgaon but also did ALL the touristy things that Mumbai is famous for. Of course, being a blogger she dutifully posted her adventures on social media that evoked quite a bit of interest with its unique hashtags. Here is a look at all the fun she had (psst.. and no, she didn't face any trouble or problem during her trip). For all the pics, visit her instagram hande: @asliceoflifebysarah.
She was in Delhi to attend a close friend's Punjabi wedding, and don’t we all know how much fun that can be? Sarah says, “I've missed out on a lot of weddings in India and so it became a personal mission to attend this one.”
Sarah with her mehendi at the wedding she attended
“It was my first proper Indian wedding. I made new friends, I also learnt that Pakistanis and Indians are so alike.” And do we need to speak about the yummy ‘shaadi ka khana’? “The food I had in Delhi was similar to our food! I could easily mistake North of India as Pakistan!” the foodie in her exclaims.
She says, “Women I met kept complimenting the beauty of Pakistani women and their sense of fashion. I was surprised that so many of them knew Pakistani fashion designers so well.”
Sarah then moved on to Mumbai.. “Mumbai felt like Karachi and Delhi/Gurgaon reminded me of Lahore and Rawalpindi!” she says.
Here are some iconic Mumbai places she visited..
Sarah says she was in love with the view from her hotel - Taj Lands End - of the famous Worli Sea Link
Aping Shah Rukh Khan, her favourite actor at Gateway of India, another Mumbai landmark...
“In Mumbai I visited Causeway in Colaba, Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Hotel and Towers, I ate at Brittania & Co (the famous Parsi restaurant) etc. I was staying at Taj Lands End so the view of the Sea Link was phenomenal. I also got to see Mannat (still can't believe I stayed so close to Shah Rukh Khan)!!!” Sarah hoped she would be able to meet King Khan but unfortunately couldn't catch a glimpse of the superstar. Maybe next time Sarah!
And, of course she knew that a trip to Mumbai was incomplete without all the street shopping and the bargaining.
What she describes as the most exciting experience in her life, finally came to an end nine days later. “Walking on the streets in Delhi or Mumbai didn't feel like I was in another country. It felt like I was around people I know, people who are exactly the same as those back home in Pakistan. I wish it would be easier for people from my country to visit India and vice versa,” she summarises.
Are our governments listening?
FOLLOW SARAH ON HER TWITTER @sarahrizvi; INSTAGRAM: @asliceoflifebysarah and FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/asliceoflifebysarah