Thursday, February 26, 2015

All the Amreeki glitter is not Gold

All the " Amreeki Glitter " may not be "Gold "



I am a big fan of a Pakistani drama "Jackson Heights " being televised currently on Urdu -1 network, maybe because I am a Pakistani immigrant myself , maybe because I have seen immigrants struggling around me or maybe because this drama focuses on real life issues rather than the typical Romeo Juliet story quite popular in our dramas .

In one of my other blogs I wrote about Pakistani dramas : Pakistan"s most precious export . Yes it is true Pakistani dramas which are watched by people all over the world are very close to reality and are beautifully made . These dramas are our finest export products.

 Jackson Heights tells the story of Pakistani Americans living in USA.
Jackson Heights is a Desi corridor in the Queens borough of New York City . It is a blue color area where you can find many Indians and Pakistanis walking across the streets lined up with Desi restaurants , clothing shops , immigration lawyer offices , salons and cafés .

Like Devon Street , Chicago or Gerrard street Toronto it is a " typical Desi muhala" outside Pakistan.
Such cross cultural areas has a big immigrant population living there .

Director Mehreen  Jabbar and writer Vassey Chaudhry have done a great job uptil now unfolding the stories of main characters which are Imran Bhatti a local taxi driver, Michele a restaurant owner , Jamshed a young Pakistani who has come to America after getting his visa ,Salma a hard working lady who works at a salon and Sikander her abusive husband who just want to become rich very easily and very quickly .

All these characters live or work in Jackson Heights , NY . Being a Pakistani American myself who has enjoyed a Pakistani meal several times in Jackson Heights,NY and who is well aware of problems faced by Pakistani immigrants I think the writer and director have done an awesome job . The characters and their stories are very close to reality .

It is a common belief in Pakistan that life is very easy , very luxurious in America ......or Amreeka as it is called in its Desi version .
It's true the United States of America
is one of the most developed countries in the world which offers free education up to high school for its residents and medical assistance to the elderly . There is relatively very few issues of power outages or shortage of water "But "there are so many other hurdles faced by immigrants .

Adjusting to life in the U.S. can be difficult for any newcomer .......learning the language , the way of life , finding a job , feeling of home sickness when you are away from family and friends can be highly excruciating for a human being .
The character of Mr Bhatti which is beautifully played by Nauman Ejaz is of a Pakistani taxi driver who migrated to USA in search of a better life . He has been living in NY for 15 years is still not a legal US citizen even though he married a much older American lady to expedite the citizenship problem. His daily routine is hard work during day time and listening to sarcastic remarks and criticism of his wife in the evening .
On the other hand Salma a character played by Amina Sheikh is of a very hard working salon worker who migrated to the US after marrying her cousin .She is the sole bread earner in her family which compromises of an abusive husband , a fussy mother in law and a step daughter who is the only one who loves Salma in the family . Salma is a victim of verbal and physical abuse .

I have been living in the United States , I have heard many of such stories of hard working immigrants who work two or three odd jobs a day to survive in this country . Many of them have been living in suburbs of New York or Chicago or San Francisco for 15 to 20 years but still are not US citizens . According to a recent survey there are approximately 3.5 million illegal Pakistani immigrants in United States . Most of these people work two or three odd jobs at a time so they can financially help their family members back home . They all are heros in the eyes of their aging parents but it is very hard to imagine the hardships endured by them .
There are also many women who have been victims of domestic abuse in America which is a foreign land for them . Such women may have problem speaking and understanding English  language and the social and judicial system.

Among all these characters there is another powerful character that of "Nani Amah ", who is Bhatti "s mom . She doesn't care about money or gifts she just want her child to be happy . She is happy in Pakistan , is not interested in going to America and like any other mother she prays that her sons and her grandson live a happy and healthy lives.

Even though racial discrimination is not very common in America yet some people face it .
I think the drama Jackson Heights is written beautifully , well directed and wonderfully acted .
The drama which will end next week depicts beautifully the struggles , the frustrations faced by immigrants .

Nothing  is as easy as it sounds. America maybe one of the best country in the world, but it's not heaven on earth. It's still filled with real people and real problems.

The character of Mr Bhatti summed it beautifully in the beginning of the drama when he talks about the immigrants and their problems ".... in sab main  eik cheez common hai, majobori…kisi ki majboori behter zindagi, to kisi ki majboori hai inkey  khawb......"