Pakistani lessons in relativism

Since the dramatic killing of Osama bin Laden, Pakistan is increasingly in the news. According to the bulletins, it is the land which may yet fall into the hands of absolutists, terrorist fundamentalists. I understand what the reporters mean, of course. However, I also smile at the irony.

My visit to Pakistan took place almost three years ago. I must admit that it was a sustained lesson in relativism.

The glamorous, rich and populist Benazir Bhutto had recently been assassinated. I had an inner feeling that if I wanted to visit Pakistan I should do so when it was still relatively safe.

The taxi driver from the airport was in a talkative mood. As soon as he found out my nationality he surprised me by mentioning the name Agatha Barbara. He remembered a visit I had long forgotten.

Being interested in history and the origins of words, I knew that the word “orange” had its roots in the Indian sub-continent and later entered the European languages through Iran.

But my driver, an Iranian, told me that one of the Iranian words for orange is “Malta”. And it is the juiciest and sweetest of the several kinds available.

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Categories: Malta, Pakistan

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