Nadia Rehman, 26
“I’m having dinner with my family at a Pakistani restaurant in the city of Karachi – about a two-hour flight from the capital, Islamabad. In Pakistan, dinner is usually eaten quite late – around 9pm, and can stretch to two and a half hours. Most locals, like me, hang out with friends or family for meals on a Saturday night. That’s because Karachi has strict laws that disallow events like beach raves and dance parties, while bars and clubs do not exist. There are some under-the-radar parties, but these are highly exclusive, so eating out is one of the few mainstream entertainments.
Karachi is expanding rapidly in all directions, but it’s in the southern part
– close to the sea, where there has been land reclamation – that new restaurants, cafes and eateries have mushroomed. It’s almost 13km away from where I live, but it’s still a spot I frequent. We just avoid no-go areas in the city, like those where gang warfare may occur.
Working at a local pharmaceutical company means long hours, so I reserve Saturdays for family time. My immediate family usually eats with my uncle’s family. It’s a great time for us to catch up. We like trying different eating places, including burger joints and Chinese restaurants. Usually, my dad and uncle pick up the tab.
Living at home with my parents, I do not need to pay rent or utilities, so I’m fortunate in the sense that savings aside, most of my income of about US$1,000 (S$1,363) is used for socialising, shopping, a gym membership, and travelling about twice a year. My job provides me with health insurance and a car too. Some of my colleagues have stayed in the job for the last decade and seem happy, which makes me feel I can do the same – contrary to the belief that millennials can’t hold down a job for long.
Still, one of my biggest concerns is job progression and security. Prices of medicines have been dropping, and this, coupled with fewer pharmaceutical products being registered, has led to many companies downsizing or shutting down their operations.
Being a single woman in a country where most people are married by 25 often leads to insensitive remarks by older members of society. Arranged marriages are still very common – you might even meet your future spouse for the first time at your engagement ceremony! But it’s really not for me.”
Dinner with family and friends is usual on a Saturday night in Pakistan, says Nadia (far left).