‘No problems!’ Nice words but…. Run away when someone tells you this or disaster will come.
‘Don’t feel sorry for anyone‘ – local friends warn. They can badly hurt everyne. Remember, nobody can hurt you if you don’t let them hurt you!
They like to look like serious business people :). They have business cards, even the jobless ones and those who have nothing to offer had these cards. They share them generously.
Luckily I didn’t expect much, so was not too disappointed. The locals love white skin, so everyone looks for reasons to meet foreigners, to invite to parties, to show that they know foreigners. Curiosity guided me to meet different people, to try different activities. I wish to share some experiences below. Here you will find just stories that I and my Pakistani friends experienced.
It’s really hard to find a good job in Pakistan. Salaries are miserable and often workers are misused. A job as a consultant earns about 100 Euros. A well qualified graphic designer with experience earns 130 Euros salary. Some telecommunication companies propose to pay just 60 Euros per month! It’s really nothing!!!!
Once I came with local friend to District courts Rawalpindi to ask about opening a buiness in Pakistan. one of the first questions was – how many millions you want to invest? As I was not going to invest millions, they were not interested in talking to me.
One embassy worker was looking for a local to (for example) repair/clean his shoes. A local tried to cheat him, asking too high a price. The worker asked to give him the right price, to keep him as stable client but the local refused. It was more important to cheat on someone and get once more money and be proud of it, than to give the right price and keep stable clients who bring stable income.
Some of the best jobs are in the embassies. Not so hard work and well paid. There was one worker in an embassy. He was lucky to be taken but he didn’t value it. He did a bad job. The embassy gave him 4 warnings but he didn’t care, so he lost his job. Shortly after he went back begging for his job back, as he had to feed his family and had no money even for his motorbike petrol. The embassy didn’t take him back. Some don’t know how to value what they have.
Usually lots don’t give back borrowed money. lots locals are proud to get to borrow money, and their family is proud too. It means that he found a stupid person who would give money. Even police can’t help to get money back.
One borrowed big money from his friend. The friend helped him with a good job at an embassy, which is really hard to get. That guy promised to give the money back within 1 week, but after 1 year still was promising tomorrow. His friend was insisting, so that guy gave just a small part of the money saying that has no more. It took weeks to make him pay just a part of it. Then the friend had to tell him that he will tell the embassy to stop collaboration with the cheaters. The guy knew perfectly that his job and future depends on his friend, but still tried to cheat and not give all the money back. He kept treating him like his best friend just like nothing bad happened. Hypocrisy at every step. No feelings of shame and no drop of respect while he had a good business aside and really had money to pay. Another guy from who he borrowed money was living in another city, and he kept ignoring him too, to avoid giving back his money. Friendships gone when they got what needed.
I met a business guy. He had to come to Nadra to close all his business in Pakistan. He had a good friend with whom he was developing a good business for 8 years. When his partner got a chance, he stole 20000 Euros and ran away. He gave up his friendship, business, good salary, and future stability to get richer for 1 day. More than 8 years pretending to be a friend just to get profit from a friend! That business guy wrote an accusation on his ex partner’s fathers name, as he was the only one left in Pakistan and it was the only way to make police do something. Police had rights to keep that old man arrested till he pays, but his son didn’t seem to care to help his dad, even though he was arrested because of him.
There are lots of stories like this. Be careful! Nobody will help when you find troubles, unless you are really lucky meeting the right people. Cheaters are on every step. When I came to Pakistan, First 1.5month I stayed to explore Lahore and enjoyed my free time there. Didn’t look for any job there but as locals were offering different activities, I was going for that. I was too curious and interested in trying new things.
I was proposed to take part in the ‘Blink it on’ festival in Lahore. Lots of designers were displaying their creations and models were walking the runway wearing the newest designer creations. I had a chance to walk on a runway too.
For sure, I’m taller than local girls. My size is M. Upper part of a body is just as models have but local designers complained that I am too fat. I hardly could put upper cloth on. It was too small and skirt was too big – 10 cm larger than needed and so long that even being with heals I had to put it up. How it could be created for local models? How?
The girls backstage made huge dramas when didn’t like something. They were very impulsive and really know how to shout really loud. My leather jacket and ones girl’s shoes were stolen. Administration didn’t take any responsibility, even didn’t apologized. Nobody even said thank you for taking part in it. I never even saw the promised pictures. I tried to contact lots of people, and even wrote to the organizers to share photographers, contacts or pictures, nothing, complete ignorance. They didn’t need my services anymore, so no point wasting any time on me and others.
Once, one of organizers of the festival wrote to me, asking me to model for free (with the pictures as a gift) for their shootings. A girl was preparing her portfolio to be a make up master for the rich Pakistanis as the weddings are well payed job here. I agreed, some new memories and activities are always welcomed. We made pictures. Everyone seemed so kind, friendly but I never got any of the pictures I asked for. They created different stories putting all the time responsibility on others. I have some pictures just because that day, I took them from camera screen. The stylist told me that they can share just a few pictures that were edited. I asked the photographer to share some other, not edited ones but he didn’t. Later he just ignored my messages. Not a big loss, just a waste of time on the wrong people and lost trust. Still, I couldn’t use these pictures for my profiles or showing them in public as their makeup was complete disaster – changed my personality, didn’t suit at my character at all, and in such images I looked much older.
Asia star channel called me, inviting to their office. They showed me around, asked to give a short interview promoting their channel. They promised to share their pictures and video later. For sure, it never happened and I was simply ignored. But at least I had an interesting visit and saw how they work.
I met a couple of famous Lahori fashion designers. They wanted to collaborate. Interesting . They invited me to their place. They were talking about me to their photographer, friends and partners. They wanted to use me as a model for their collection and make clothes collection together too. They were even making plans about all the process, about this, about that…..for sure, they ignored my calls and messages a few days after, when I called to ask about how it’s going J. Another waste of time.
Met a talent manager. He found my contact and asked to meet. He wanted to use me as a model….he took me to parties, introduced me to lots of people, photographers. It was a waste of time. Then he got angry at me and didn’t talk anymore. Why did he got angry? It’s simple. For Friday he arranged a meeting with a photographer. I informed him that Tuesday and Wednesday I will be outside the city and won’t be available online. He didn’t mind. He was informed. Still, he called me Wednesday to ask if I didn’t’ change my plans and if I still remember about our Friday meeting. I found his missed call. I called back immediately, but he didn’t pick up. He answered on the Friday accusing me of irresponsibility, ignoring him and not treating our collaboration seriously. The meeting was called off. Not being available exactly when he called made such a drama.
And why did I go to Pakistan? Now I’m not sure either. Maybe because I was too naïve, and too trusting of the locals :).
in reality my plan was to develop colaboration with my local so called friend who was working on learther production and maybe to find other good ideas. I thought I had a friend. We met during my first trip to Pakistan. He owns a leather shop in RWP. We used to talk a lot about our business projects and collaborating. we had plans. I found him a few clients abroad, we started to put in alive our ideas. I went back to collaborate seriously. It took me time to find a place to live. I expected to sign a contract with him so I could legally stay and work. He for sure care to send me not related to work or friendship messages but it’s not the most important. After 3 months he asked me what do I want, and that I have to give him a reason to want to collaborate with me! I went there, wasted time just to be treated like this?! After 2 years of creating plans, projects and helping him… I gave up. I didn’t need him anymore. I tried to find a new one but nope. Lots locals are simply afraid of foreigners, and others just give lots of promises looking for opportunities easily earn from me (any foreigner). I decided to do something on my own, in aim not to waste my time till I’m there. Something productive, and hopefully find someone to collaborate with in the future.
I was too naïve. Until you try something for yourself, you will never pay attention to all the warnings. One so called friend, a big business guy, an organizer of conferences proposed to collaboration, calling me his partner, taking me to different business meetings…. . I was preparing work, all needed information, but later he just gone, making excuses for being always busy. But still kept calling me his best friend, and checking online what I was posting. Anyways, I decided to look for more while I was still staying there.
They have lots of leather. There are a few steps to preparing leather, the last step it is often done in Italy, as Pakistanis don’t know how to make unique leather patterns, colors.
Each time I was looking for textiles to buy, I tried to not ask for sellers for help, as each time they kept showing completely different textiles, explaining that it was exactly what I was looking for. They produce cotton but the most beautiful, chic comes from China or Italy. You need to buy textiles for western clothes from Pathans, as they import it from China to Afghanistan, and then to Pakistan, to avoid complications at customs and paying so much taxes.
I was lucky to being advised of some of the best tailors in Islamabad. I tried Merino women tailors…..expensive and not good quality. They seemed to take measurements but still managed to not correspond to the exact size. I had just 3 orders with them and quit.
Then I was recommended Al-Sheikh tailors. The first clothes they made for me were good quality and, the price was ok. Finally I had found a tailor! I made new orders. My joy however did not last long, as the next dresses failed. It was too small and so badly stitched there was no point in remaking them. Another dress they stitched was not done according to my design. They decided that it was better to make it their way, and were not happy when I wanted it remade, and made my way! They often decide by themselves even without telling you! No problem, no problem. That no problem, always mean huge problems. This word is magic, always run away from those who use it. They had lots of similar skirts to do too. No idea why some first were well cut, and others badly I paid just when cloths were made). They probably got lazy after impressing me with good job. Some skirts needed to be remade even few times. They never did things in time, but no problems, it is on time (few weeks later). I always needed regularly to pass to see how they work and create stories to make them work to respect a schedule. They always finally said that they understand my indications, but still kept doing it their way. Some details that were fixed incorrectly needed to be replaced. No problem. Instead of reusing the same ones, they told me to bring new ones. They destroyed my items and wanted me to buy new ones, all from my pocket. I was always wrong, as according to them I kept changing my mind, while my paper sketches were completely ignored by them! We wrote everything on paper to be sure how much to pay, what to do. Useless. They tried to make me pay for supplementary skirts, saying that they forgot to add something to the list, and that they calculated wrongly. Here I didn’t give in. No payments for a job not finished. In my opinion, part of these skirts should have been free, as they were not made to my designs, and were low quality. what’s the most intresting – they don’t understand that they make bad job! On the pictures sample from one of the dresses – shitty metal fixators that are useless and fix nothing, placed without any logic and right composition, bad quality finishing details, lining is made for hiding all stitchings but they put everything out on visible side! Left a sample of a leather jacket, they cut it completely different style, a bit too small and without place for boobs!!!! Really? you are women tailor and neither in dresses or a jacket as left place for boobs what means that all cloths look bad on a womans body.
Another tailor named Adnan was at Golden Market in G7. When I finally found him, he was very interested in creating western clothes, being bored making the same cuts every day. He called me his sister, a big friend. He used to collaborate with local fashion designers. So I left him my designs. Again, the first one he made well. He had 3 months to finish everything. In 1 month he did one jacket with pants – they seemed OK, but the M size was probably XS, as none of my slim friends could put it on.. ‘No problem my sister, it’s all as you wanted, no problem‘. The other things he was going to do in the next 2 months. However I saw that he was not really working, leaving everything for the last month. ‘No problem sister we will make it in time.’ Lots of jobs were waiting. Then he and his workers were not happy that I gave them too much work, and that they had to work till late. They were in a hurry, so almost all the clothes were stitched in low quality and wrong cuts, although they had samples of well stitched jackets. They destroyed textile and lost money. Unfortunately they wre doing lots jackets at the same time so couldn’t stop the process seing that it was badly cut. ‘No problem! Everything is made as you wanted. We are in time‘…… Just half was made in time and the main jacket which I asked to make first, was left for the last day and they didn’t finish it. My friend later couldn’t ship it to me as customs wouldn’ let ship such leather and the tailor knew that! Other parts of the unfinished job my local friend promised to ship to me when they were done. It was too late for me to ship them by myself as the post offices were closed a few days before my departure and the tailor didn’t deliver anything at time though I asked everyday to keep the schedule. When I finally got that parcel back home, and saw what they did, I kept it a few months untouched. I couldn’t look at it – low quality, bad cuts, wrong design….. everything failed. Complete crap. good that my local friend didn’t give them all money they asked. I asked that tailor about it and got just his justification that they made their best, all as I wanted according to my designs. ‘No problem, you are my sister. You are always welcome.’
Unfortunately, tailors hardly know how to cut women clothes, even when I was leaving them an already made sample. They even didn’t manage to copy given samples!!! Some jackets had too short lining that had to be replaced to make jacket look good on a body. M size were made as XS or L. Specially they destroyed sleeves part, as you see in the pictures, so some jackets were impossible to repair. in one jacket sleewes are too narrow why? Sleves were standard, the same as they do for men jackets and they managed to fail making them….. . In some jackets they didn’t cut, on the back side, a place for a neck like if the body would finished before it so the jackets were pulling up and requesting on remaking completely that place, though for men jackets you make same cut. I left one blouse sample, they had purely to copy the design. Nope. They made other blouses too short and badly conenected linings that had to be removed and they never made a waste part right always leaving it straight like if womans body would be a bag of potatoes or as if it was made for a mans body. My old, natural fur collar was completely destroyed, left with lots holes. No idea how they managed to destroy it so badly. Lots other mistakes that even don’t want to remember now. From all orders, they made just 2 jackets right! Few examples you can see in the pictures. Unfortunately there were 2 jackets that have to be thrown away as impossible to repair them. here I add 2 blouses pictures….. that yellow one – sleewes completely different design than ordered, it’s dams too narrow and textile is not stretchable so why haven’t put zip in there? I had to cut it in the back to have a possibility to put it on and still, it’s way too narrow, XS size while they took my M size measurements!!!! Plus that wrong sleeve is cut badly so on back side you see how it looks. By the way, they don’t know that women have BOOBS!!!!! All clothes are made for non-boobs women!!!! Another blouse (didn’t try it on yet as it’s way too narrow and can’t cut it directly). has a zip. seems they though about it BUT what a hell to make a zip in the most wide plart where blouse can be put and without a zip and finishing this zip just when the narrow part of a blouse starts and where is a real need of that f*cking zip?!
Local women’s fashion is mainly a large tunic/camise and just embroidery changes. That’s all fashion. Maybe there are good tailors in Karachi, as they have huge factories for international production and locals prefer dress in a more European way. This I will never know for sure. I’m glad I’m not collaborating with anyone from this country anymore, disappointments, less headaches, destroyed moods and finally more expensive (low quality work) that in Eastern Europe, plus shipment problems they have.
There is a shoe maker called Modern footwear in the blue area Islamabad. Ali and his dad are the owners. The only serious, respectful guys I ever collaborated with in Pakistan. They took all responsibility. Some mistakes were made but they corrected them fast, so I got 3 pairs of shoes just as I wanted. They take their job seriously and care about their reputation and their customers. They make shoes that are full leather, but sadly without any metal decoration or unique heel designs as they don’t collaborate with such providers and never had orders which would require it. They are cool though and the prices are reasonable. I highly recommend them. Yes ! I found shoe makers there and have a feeling that they are the only ones who I will keep contacting again.
I met a jewelry maker in Lunda bazaar. I sent him a picture of what I wanted, and another picture of a ring showing what stone to use. The bracelet was very minimalistic and not complicated. It was simply a bronze tube with 2 stones on its end. He resent my ring picture for confirmation it’s that design to make. I told him that I need that stone but the bracelet is like the previous picture. He explained to me that it’s not a bracelet, but a bracelet of xxx tribe. He himself called it a bracelet. ‘Ok, no problem, I will check in a bazaar for something like this’, ‘No no, it’s an unique design so you won’t find it in the bazaar, need to make it’, ‘No problem, I will check in the shops’, ‘No, you have to do it by yourself just as on the picture!‘. Then it took time to explain which metal to use. The next day he sent me pictures of cheap Indian bracelets, saying that he found what I wanted. ‘Nooooo! The same as on the picture please!’, ‘It’s similar‘. It was nothing like my picture, materials, design, style. Nothing! Then he was sending pictures of some pendants, rings he makes saying that they are similar. His creations were completely different. He kept sending me them, though I asked just for an exact copy of a bracelet I loved. Again he started to send me pictures of cheap, highly decorated Indian/Pakistani bracelets. Plus he was showing the stones that were far away from what I ordered. I ordered African ruby. It was pointless.
Then I communicated with Pashto from Peshawar. ‘No problems, we will do it’. Damn it. It’s possible to find wonderful thing to buy there, already made creations. They make beautiful rings, but when ordering something, be sure that you won’t get what you asked for. This guy also started to send me pictures of Afghan necklaces, rings and never anything that would be about my bracelet. I tried to explain in simple English what I wanted. My Afghan friends even made a translation to Pashtoo. It was in vain. I just got lots of new pictures of traditional Afghan jewelry, saying that this is what I wanted, pointless. Maybe I’m just not patient enough and don’t know how to communicate with people. Never mind, I’ll make such bracelet in Europe. It will be a bit more expensive but I’ll get exactly what I want.
The Pakistan government wants to bring in investors and new business. It’s a good idea but too hard to do it in this country (talking about fashion). The prices are not cheaper than in Eastern Europe, it’s not good quality, and there are no beautiful (classic patterns) textiles. Everything needed I had to buy abroad, even elements for clothes as in Pakistan I mainly found just cheap, shiny glittering ones, silver or gold color. To import textile, clothes, shoes, jewelry to Pakistan you have to pay taxes up to 150% if not more. I got some chains from china. They were heavy but not expensive. Pakistanis decided that they cost much more and from that created a price and they calculated 100 Euros of taxes!!! Much more than my order cost! But I had no choice but to pay, otherwise I would lose it. Pakistanis don’t ship back parcels, either you pay taxes and take it back or they confiscate it. You lose either way. Taxes are high to make people use local producers. Sure, but if there is no required local producer, no variety of choice, what then? It’s a closed shop, plus it happens that parcels and letters get lost. Once I shipped 2 big parcels home. They didn’t scan these parcels, but they opened them, destroy a box, checked everything inside and took what they liked. Only then they shipped everything, in white textile bags. When they see a ‘suspicious’ item in a parcel, they call you to come to take it back, or they confiscate it. You go and take it and pay 10 Euros more to get it shipped. I couldn’t bear that my personal stuff was checked by someone else’s hands. No respect of privacy and not using scanners which show perfectly what is inside. Once they found paper wings decorated with some swan feathers, which were made in China. They stopped my parcel and told to take it away, as it’s forbidden to ship such things from Pakistan. I was speechless. So many troubles just because of cheap wings for the kids, so ridiculous. Another time they wanted to confiscate my leather jacket as it’s forbidden to ship such leather, even though that leather was Italian. But they didn’t care, just causing more troubles. How can you do business with them if you can’t even ship personal things without troubles?!
There are no concentrated places where it’s possible to buy everything in one place. You can buy nice textiles in one place. Leather is maybe 15km away in a Lunda bazaar, and then items for jewelry will be another 10km away. Zips and buttons in other faraway place. It’s the same with food, fish is in one bazaar, daily staple foods and vegetables are in each district. If you want an avocado then you need to travel to 1 specific place 20km away. If you want cheese or something specific, then it’s onto another town part. I really had no wish to cook there at all. It was cheaper and easier and faster to eat at restaurants. No problem. And if you wish to…….I wished and went back home to my dear Europe.