Burka Avenger: An American Pakistani Mom’s Dream Come True

 

My 2 year old and 4 year old are in their superhero stage.

This means that their  constantly  shooting webs at me with their tiny fingers,  flying around the kitchen island with their palms turned out (Iron Man) and randomly yelling out “Super Heroes save the day” when I’m on the phone trying to make a good impression with a potential employer.

So when my newsfeed started buzzing about this new Pakistani kids show called “Burka Avengers” I was interested. My first thoughts were:

1. Wow!  a female superhero that wears a Burqa

2. Positive coverage of Pakistan in the news

3. Where do I watch this show?

This Pakistani animated kids show had gotten some great media coverage, I had read the Huffington post article, seen a piece on BBC and heard an interview with the creator of Burka Avenger on NPR. That same night I watched the first episode.

 I was impressed. It was smart, tongue in cheek, entertaining and it has a super catchy title song.

The main story of Burka Avenger is that of an orphan girl, Jiya, who was raised by a kind man (Kabbadi Jaan) who has taught her a fusion karate form called Takht Kabbadi. This martial art style is based  on education and karate moves. Jiya is a teacher at a school but she is most fearful of the mayor and villain Vadero Pajero ( oh yes the stereotypical corrupt Pakistani politician) who is constantly trying to disrupt the education of women in his city.

As a first generation American Pakistani mother I want to raise my boys as proud Americans but I also want them to have a understanding of their Pakistani heritage as well as their Muslim identity.

Burka Avengers may just be what Parents like me need to help us accomplish these monumental goals

The show manages to teach our kids Urdu, take away the stigma and negative sterotypes of the Burqa, expose our  kids to Pakistani culture and raises important issues about gender equality.

So while my boys will still continue to transform into Octomus Prime and have superpowers like  Captain America its refreshing to know that they will grow up with a female superhero who wears a burka and battles bad guys with her Takht Kabbadi.

Kuddos to the Burka Avenger team we look forward to more episodes!

English Medium Dude

I was watching the ‘Lux Awards’ with my mom, something like  the  Pakistani Oscars.  They give out awards for acting, fashion, makeup and other things.

A good portion of the award show was conducted in English which I thought was weird.  Urdu is the national language and is spoken in offices and businesses.  So what could possibly be the reason for speaking in English?

This brought me to another trend I’ve noticed which is when I come across an aunty or uncle who insists on replying to me in english, despite the fact I am speaking to them in Urdu.  I refuse to believe the fact that that is what they are comfortable speaking (especially if your English has a thick Desi accent).

I can understand how English may be a sign of modernity and literacy.  Convent schools and Pakistani’s attending universities abroad give the locals a ‘classy’ and a ‘distinguished’ impression.  But does being educated or amongst the elite mean we must drop the core of our culture, our language? Or does it mean that speaking Urdu is a sign of backwardness or of being low-class?

After thinking about all this I started to carefully notice how much Urdu  I use on a daily basis.  There are only a handful of people with whom I speak solely Urdu to.  This thought made me sad and question why I don’t speak Urdu more often.

I feel very comfortable conversing in Urdu, as a matter of fact I feel Urdu has a wider selection of descriptive words.  Therefore at times it is easier to pinpoint or talk in grave detail in Urdu.  Sadly, my husband feels more comfortable talking in English, and it has been a work in progress to shift to Urdu…slowly but surely!  If I don’t speak it then I certainly can’t expect my son to speak it.

So I can understand that American-Pakistanis born and raised here may naturally feel more comfortable speaking English.  However, why the natives of Pakistan?

I can imagine the youth thinking its the ‘cool’ thing to do, but it is rather silly when you see grown adults giving interviews and comments in English.  It may perhaps be the issue of an inferior complexity?

I recall an incident in Pakistan when I was waiting for an order from McDonalds.  It was taking far too long and I had gone up twice to ask about the order and would instead receive a prompt and rude reply.  The third time I went up I decided to switch to English, “Excuse me I have been waiting forever, when will my food be ready?”

Off the workers went and brought me my order in a jiffy.  Had I known English would jumpstart my order, I would have resorted to it in the first place.

Urdu is one of the few things I like about my Pakistani culture, it is something I wouldn’t want to lose.  I think it is something we should all hold on to and try to speak it as much as we can.  In my opinion if we can carry both English and Urdu, then that is a sign of both intellect and balancing diversity.

Imagine if our grandchildren knew only English? Meaning in this generation we have a fair share of people who ‘understand’ it but can’t ‘speak’ it, but just imagine if they couldn’t even do that.  How boring would that be?

I was visiting Pakistan and my 4 year old cousin requested I say something in English, so of course I asked her the basic stuff such as name age etc. With a tone of disappointment she asked if that was all that I knew….I nodded and asked her how much did she know?

In response she said, “tube light, spoon, table, fork, books and dolls”.  I gave her a look of astonishment and a big “WOW!”

Sochnay ki baat hai….(something to think about…)