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Life in Pakistan is best: Sanam Jung bares all about life abroad

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Visiting Karachi after emigrating to Houston in July 2023, television host and actor Sanam Jung spoke candidly about her “real rukhsati” in an appearance on Shan e Suhoor. Speaking candidly, Sanam bared all, from learning how to cook from scratch without wrecking the kitchen, to the emotional toll of leaving behind her beloved family.

“Life in Pakistan is the best,” declared the Pyari Mona star firmly. “Even after we got married, when I lived here, I never felt that I was away from my parents. Me and my parents and sisters are really close. None of us ever thought I’d move so far away.”

According to Sanam, she and her pilot husband Qassam Jafri had initially agreed to maintain a long-distance relationship when he relocated to the US for his career. However, once Sanam’s green card came through, she made the decision to move to Texas with her daughter so their unit of three could be in one place. Whilst the family was happy to be together again, Sanam could not deny the impact of the lack of help so freely available in Pakistan. 

“I took life for granted here,” mused the actor wryly. “You don’t realise it, but when you move away, even if you run out of tomatoes, there is no one you can call on to run and get it for you. And if you spill something, there’s no one there to clean up after you. You have to do it all yourself.” 

It wasn’t just mopping up spills that proved to be a wake-up call for Sanam, but everything else related to the kitchen. With meals in Karachi always at either her parents’ or her husband’s parents’ houses, Sanam shared her disastrous attempt at cooking haleem, making no attempts to cloak her steep learning curve in the culinary arts. 

“I had haleem all over the kitchen cabinets and the wall,” she recalled with a laugh. “I thought I was being so clever, using a masala packet. But I ended up adding too much water, and what should have taken one hour ended up taking three!” 

Sanam was quick to laud Qassam, who had always encouraged her to outsource the cooking. However, Sanam, who had always kept herself busy in both her personal and professional life, preferred to take on the challenge herself, whatever the consequences. Those consequences showed up in the form of hardened jelly and runny koftay

“I don’t know how anyone can mess up jelly, but I did,” confessed the former VJ. “And my koftay were so wet that I had to get Qassam's friend's mother to fix them.”

Sanam’s other hurdles included re-learning how to drive. “In Karachi, you make it a habit to slow down at a green light in case someone comes barreling through, but you can’t do that here in Houston!” she warned. 

With her ability to laugh at herself having eased her challenges, Sanam shared that her daughter, too, had taken like a duck to water at her new school, despite missing her grandparents in Karachi. 

“Alaya always tells me to get a bigger house so her grandparents can move here,” said Sanam. “But she’s very happy at school. It took her a while to settle because the hours are longer here - her school ends at 3.30, where it used to end at 1.30 in Pakistan. But now she loves it.” 

Sanam went on to commend Alaya’s teachers, who had played a big hand in helping the youngster adjust. “They really appreciate the kids, and she’s in love with her teachers.” 

As a qualified MBA, Sanam attempted to find work in her new adopted city, but ultimately chose to concentrate on her Business instead. “I thought I’d do a course or another MBA, but at the end, Qassam said maybe I should just concentrate on my own Business. I have a whole team here. We’ve just launched a new perfume, and we’re doing great!”

With a Business to run and her daughter rejecting her food, Sanam, with time, has abandoned her cooking adventures after her rocky start, although she promised that she is now an expert at biryani, daal, and aloo murghi. She has also reluctantly accepted the eternal nature of housework, but remained steadfast in support of her husband, who has levelled out what could have been a difficult move. 

“Sometimes, when I’m asleep, I’ll hear him vaccumming,” confided Sanam. “I must have done something right to end up with such a man.”

With a horde of new skills now at her disposal, it looks as though Sanam’s onward journey in Texas highlights how leaving the comforts of Pakistan behind is the great equaliser between mere mortals and the stars of showbiz.

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