‘Domesticated’ scholars

Jan 31st, 2012 | By | Category: Latest, Pakistan, Social

During our undergraduate years, we often used to ask our foreign qualified professors in Pakistan about life away from the country. Most of the time, we heard the stories of their cooking ventures. One of our teachers was well known in this regard, and whenever we asked him about his experience during his Masters, we ended up listening to something like recipe of ‘making biryani using a rice-cooker’.  It was a source of fun and humour for us, while being in Pakistan. Things got changed and I realized the importance of cooking when I landed in Korea to pursue my Masters.

Korean food was shockingly ‘different’ in taste. I had no experience of cooking whatsoever and had to live on biscuits, chocolates, bread and milk for a couple of weeks before I met few Pakistani fellows to learn the cooking skills. For the first time I ate tuna-palak (Tuna and Spinach) and the ‘chef’ told me that there was no special recipe he followed. He literally ‘threw’ into the cooking pan whatever he got in his kitchen cupboard. It was his way of consoling me as to not to worry too much about the recipes. His quotable quote for me was, ‘Don’t be afraid of experimenting’.

I watched my friends cooking chicken-aalu, chicken palak, tuna kebabs and a lot of other ‘emergency’ dishes. A friend told me that I need to be domesticated and if don’t start cooking, I won’t survive. The idea of cooking once in a week and eating the same dish for rest of the week was terrifying. Also, cleaning and dishwashing after cooking was even tougher. It was an immensely time consuming activity definitely had an impact on the studies too. A friend, who happened to be a ‘pakora expert’ once said out of frustration, ‘banda ya tu bawarchi ban sakta hey ya phir parhai kar sakta hey’ (A person can either cook or study). I experimented with daal for the first time, and honestly, I ruined it.

It wasn’t a gender related issue. A lot of female students, who go for higher studies, face a lot of problems in cooking. A fellow Pakistani girl student was telling me about her ventures with dough and chapaati. It is very difficult for females even to start cooking if they have no experience beforehand.

The problems aren’t limited to cooking and dishwashing either. Laundry is another issue. Typically, the laundry of socks is a highly technical matter and ‘scholars’  have sometimes been seen wearing different socks, but who cares as long as they aren’t visible.  Keeping wardrobes tidy and cleaning the rooms are also gigantic tasks. They consume time and time is money.

As the time goes on, these Pakistani scholars get domesticated; mastering the art of cooking, cleaning, laundry and other chores. Those who are living outside dormitory in private accommodations especially get trained in all domestic affairs. When asked whether these eminent scholars will continue doing house chores after returning home or getting married, the response is mixed.

A ’roti-expert’ friend who has returned to homeland told me that he does not help his wife even with simple cooking because he is tired of kitchen jobs. One commented that he can now criticise his wife in the kitchen, while another one was happy that his wife cannot threaten him with ‘no dinner would be served tonight’. Very few were willing to actually help their better-halves in the house chores.

Life teaches us a lot. All we have to do is to implement it at the right time and place. Why do we associate social taboos with men doing house chores?  Does our religion stop us? Or is it our culture, which is different from our religious teachings? We have learnt in our schools that Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) and his companions used to help their wives in the domestic stuff, but we are not ready to implement it in our society. And, why do our mums tell the potential in-laws with pride, ‘hamari beti ney tu kabhi kitchen mein qadam hi nahi rakha’ and your son would have to arrange a cook or a maid. We have learnt very well that Hazrat Fatima (RA) did all the household chores herself.

Through my experience abroad, I have loved and missed my mother more every day. Women should be respected and loved for the marvellous full-time jobs they do which we only come to know when they are not around. Our men should be thankful and more helpful to them following the ways of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWW).

 

Muhammad Saad Khan

About the author

Muhammad Saad Khan is a Biomedical Engineer with a diverse background of engineering and management.

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11 comments
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  1. Saad… interesting article…I will surely ask my hubby to read it carefully….:D After all i want my hubby to be a Pakistani Scholar too…:) WellDone…!

  2. Nice and very helpful specially for the Pakistani husbands…My hubby is one of example of it as he knows all cooking and always helped me in my domestic affairs because as a working woman sometimes i could not get full time for him or the family but he used to care about all little things ..like if i have not cooked any thing he will make some thing and every one should be like this ….both should work side by side….:)

  3. The people travelling abroad for study or job, and living in common room,can judge the 24 hour non-stop job. Anyway nice article,female will appreciate your effort.

  4. Good read. Yes, living abroad had a similar effect on me. I was a good cook before visiting Korea, but the many products that Korea lacked taught me the art of self sufficiency. I learned how to make my own sour cream, how to bake a cake on the stove, hair conditioner, shampoo, and don’t get me started on the tricks I learned the handle some clothes and shoes because I’m “big sizeee”….I can attest to having been domesticated while abroad. it’s something that I like and am struggling to maintain in the US.

  5. Good read. I can relate…
    It took me a while to learn…and when I did, I felt accomplished!
    I think we all need to be self-sufficient at home, regardless of our gender/education etc. I think in the households where female stays at home, she should be responsible for the daily tasks (husband of course should assist when possible). And in the households where both work, both should equally be responsible for household chores.

  6. Kudos Saad on a good article, I went through the same hell that you describe now i am Alhumdollilah the Local “nana-bhai” ha ha ha. Anyways when you come back and get an opportunity to teach do relate these stories to your student who are thinking off pursuing their studies abroad. better they take some cooking classes before before leaving their homes.

  7. Saad…. I think the true aspect of Pakistani men or women who are studying abroad or on job……These things they normally suffer…if he/she lives permanently, then life becomes easy…….

  8. interesting terminology,domesticated scholars!

  9. Asalam alaikham brother Saad! Another excellent article. I really enjoy your writing style! Yes, I believe that it is important for anyone to learn basic things around the house, especially cooking! My husband never spent time in a kitchen before we got married and now, thanks to my tips and tricks in the kitchen, he is a gourmet chef! I’ve also taught my son to cook and MashAllah, he even cooks dinner for me sometimes when I am tired after work.

    Thanks again for your post and keep up the good work! ~A

  10. Nice writing with experience and observation sharings

  11. Hmm….every one of us who has been the so called ‘ domesticated scholar’ can easily relate to all you have mentioned here. Such a shame, we still dont learn…. but then this domestication is fun too…:))
    Take home message here should be…..Appreciate all those females in our lives who have been the god gifted chefs in our lives…be it mums, aunts, grandmas, or even the amma or maasi who are hired for domestic help. All need to be shown the due respect. And all the mothers should learn try not to spoil rot their sons expecting those princes in their lives to be served forever. Those princes of yours suffer alot dear mothers!
    And all the girls should not feel like a low life while learning the art of home keeping! This is the best job which only a woman can perform. 🙂

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