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The Pakistani fear of being ‘paindoo’


The Pakistani fear of being ‘paindoo’


An interesting phenomenon of the Pakistani middle/upper-middle class is the fear of being labelled a ‘paindoo’. The term is a slur that roughly translated means ‘villager’ but is typically used within elitist circles in a derogatory manner to refer to individuals who lack a certain level of sophistication.

The term ‘paindoo’ is oftentimes used to reference those who are not ‘modernised’ or ‘westernised’ to the level that elitist Pakistani circles admire. It is also used to refer to individuals who exhibit values or traits that can be deemed ‘uncivilised’, when in reality, these traits are often just characteristics of our traditional culture. It is interesting to examine what factors make give an individual the ‘paindoo’ label.

The root of this distaste towards traditionally Pakistani attributes comes from colonialism. We have been trained to believe that anything associated with the Western world is greater and more evolved than anything associated to Pakistani culture. While this may have some truth in reference to social, economic and political issues in which Pakistan is incredibly lacking and can probably benefit from taking a page out of the Western model’s book, the same shouldn’t apply when it comes to more light-hearted aspects of our culture. This includes clothing, dialect and food preferences.

Moreover, the advent of globalisation has resulted in an unprecedented rise in elitism. Now, it is not uncommon to come across men and women who exclusively do their shopping from abroad and own a plethora of designer items. The pressure to conform to this weighs on most, but the ones who choose to ignore this and lean more towards being traditionally ‘Pakistani’ are looked down upon. This takes shape in several ways.

One such way is the distaste towards exclusively speaking in Urdu, and more so, incorporating Punjabi as a part of your lingo. Our education systems, billboards and restaurants are all in English and people who can speak English fluently are lauded and preferred for job opportunities and social circles. Schools, colleges and familial and social circles have also adapted this elevation of the English language above our mother tongue; Pakistani’s are now trained from their childhood to interact in English rather than Urdu and much less so Punjabi.

This is not to mention the value we place on a foreign accent. Those with foreign accents are automatically considered as more educated, civilised and preferred to be around. This is because there is certain level of ‘classiness’ we have associated with a foreign accent, no doubt another result of our internalised colonial past. In contrast, having a strong Pakistani accent is looked down upon and accents that lean more towards a certain dialect can be considered ‘paindoo’.

Another attribute of being ‘paindoo’ is the way one dresses. Western attire and particularly, designer labels, are the sign of elitism and progression. Tradition garments, such as shalwar kameez and chappals, are considered a sign of being ‘paindoo’. Even this association is ridiculous; with the advent of local brands we should be proud to don our traditional attire yet we fear this irrational association with it in our own country.

Being ‘paindoo’ even extends to food choices. Having a preference for international cuisines is preferred. This would also explain the explosion of new restaurants in Pakistan that cater to international taste buds as well as the declining number of local food eateries in the country. An individual who chooses to mainly eat local food, and that too with their hands, is considered ‘paindoo’.

Sadly, we have associated aspects that are common in Pakistani culture as ‘paindoo’. This phenomenon indicates a major disconnect from our traditional roots and an obsession to be like ‘the other’. We should work on breaking this stigma at an individual level, after all, being ‘paindoo’ is just being Pakistani. This is label we should be proud to flaunt, regardless of where we are and who we are with.

Keep up to date with more news at ProperGaanda: Mental health and Pakistan’s unique stigma surrounding it

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  1. Zeshan Ahmad January 14, 2020

    Many of my friend fear to labeled this word, some time i am also, but i like pindu and i am a pindu.

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