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Life from Pakistan to U.S. as different as night and day

A Taste of Pakistan at Great Earth restaurant, May 10

by: Photo By Susan Matheny - Ghazala Jabeen, left, and her daughter Ambreen Iqbal, are dressed in silk saris Ghazala made from material like that in the foreground, sent to her by relatives.


   The chance to try Pakistani foods and teas, and visit with Ghazala Jabeen of Pakistan will be offered at "Taste of Pakistan," from 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, May 10, at Great Earth Natural Foods.
   The event ties in with "Three Cups of Tea," this year's book selection for Jefferson County Community Read.
   Jabeen has gotten together with Troy Boyd at Great Earth to share authentic family recipes and show Boyd how to cook the dishes that will be served at the event.
   Finger food samples will include vegetable rice with garbanzo beans, samosas (stuffed dumplings), and pokoras (a potato dish), kheer (like rice pudding), along with teas from the Himalayas.
   A resident of Madras for the past four years, Jabeen and her husband, Azhar Iqbal, have two daughters, Ambreen, 20, and Mehwish, 16, and one son, Moin, 12. Her husband works at Bright Wood.
   She said she moved to the United States from Islamabad, Pakistan, to join her parents, former Madras residents Mansoor Hussein and Manawar Suldan, who operated the Space Age gas station until the station was eliminated during the Highway 97/26 intersection revision. Her parents, who have been in the states for 20 years, now live in Redmond with a son.
   "I moved here with my whole family. I wanted to give my kids a good education over here," she said.
   Her husband told their neighbor, Manuela Wickham that he wanted to bring his family here where it was peaceful. In Pakistan he never knew if they would be safe.
   "I learned English after we moved here," she said, noting she was born in the country of Qatar and educated there. "We learned to read and write English, but we didn't speak it," she said.
   She had gotten a GED in her country, and after they moved to Madras, she took classes at COIC to be able to work as a teaching assistant. She worked in the schools until taking a fulltime job at The Dollar Tree in Madras.
   Jabeen said things are very different in the United States.
   "As different as night and day. Even the light switches operate the opposite way, up is on and down is off," she laughed.
   Produce is sold by the pound instead of by the dozen, an here we build houses out of wood, while Pakistan uses concrete and rocks.
   "We make houses for chickens and birds with wood in Pakistan. When I saw our house I said to my mother, `We are going to live like a chicken,'" she recalled.
   Back in Pakistan, she was a housewife and her husband worked in an office with computers. She spent her days ironing, washing and cooking meals.
   One of her favorite things about being in the United States is that she has been able to work outside the home. "In my country, most of the ladies stay at home. This is my first time to be able to work," she said.
   Daughter Ambreen said her favorite thing was "going shopping here, especially at Wal-Mart." Ambreen is eager to have a job like her mother and has been turning in applications around town, and hopes an employer will call her.
   There are also some things they miss about Pakistan. "I love my country -- the air, the cloudy days when the first cooling rains come, my mosque, and my community," Jabeen said, noting in Madras they are pretty much the only Pakistanis.
   Through satellite TV, they are still able to watch Pakistani TV programs, listen to music, and hear their native language.
   Jabeen used to buy material and hire a seamstress to make the beautiful silk gowns she, her daughters and her mother wear. But since there is no one here that knows how, she makes them herself out of material relatives bring her.
   Another major accomplishment for her in Madras is that she is able to drive a car.
   "I studied the book and took the test three times in Madras, but I think the man didn't like me. I took it the fourth time in Prineville and passed," she said.
   When asked if she drove before in Pakistan, Jabeen exclaimed, "No way! It's too scary over there!"
   David Oliver Relin, author of "Three Cups of Tea" will visit Madras at 7 p.m., May 16, at the Rodriguez Annex. Copies of the book are available to check out at the Jefferson County Library.
   Community Read Events are sponsored by the Jefferson County Cultural Coalition, Adele Rodriguez, State Farm Insurance, Great Earth Natural Foods, and Jefferson County Library District.