The neighborhood selected for the project is Little Pakistan situated on Coney Island Avenue (Lodhi). The purpose of the assignment was to observe the Pakistani living in the mentioned area and take notes about the activities in which people were involved. The paper presents the synopsis of the field notes that have been gathered. The aspects covered include the location, people, interactions, appearance, and space.
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My first impression of Little Pakistan was quite pleasant and warm. The surrounding environment seemed rather friendly, and I got a feeling that people living there felt that it was their little piece of Pakistan rather than a part of New York. Even though some streets were clattered with stalls, I realized that it was a part of the scenario by which the people lived there. Thus, it looked agreeable, and everything seemed to be in its place.
I spent the first half of the day in Little Pakistan, and I went there on a workday. Thus, I was able to observe how people traveled to work in the morning and how they spent their lunchtime. There was much traffic, but there were no traffic jams. In the afternoon, people talked with their friends at the shops or at neat cafés that served traditional Pakistani street food and drinks.
The activities in which people in the neighborhood were involved were not diverse. Most of the individuals I saw were either shopkeepers or customers. I was able to observe a friendly lunch of several middle-aged men who held an informal conversation. Some of the shopkeepers invited me to visit their stores, and I was able to see a wide range of goods that the neighborhood’s businessmen offered.
Apart from shopkeepers, people in the area were not very talkative. When I attempted to interview one woman, she turned away from me and left. It was also noticeable that men had a higher position in the community. The majority of females were wearing dupattas, and some of them even hid their faces. Men were dressed more conventionally, in casual clothes like jeans, T-shirts, jackets, and baseball caps.
As far as I could see, interactions were shared rather than isolated. Particularly, that was typical of the younger generation who were more open-minded and expressed themselves louder than mature citizens. Shop-assistants were always polite and talkative, which was probably related to the fact that their profit depended on those qualities. A few people whom I managed to persuade to answer my questions told me that they felt very patriotic. At the same time, they admitted that there were some misunderstandings among the leaders in the community (Verma). Because of disputes, they even did not hold the traditional street festival, Mela, in August.
The streets in Little Pakistan were lined with trees, and I even managed to find a small park with a playground where children were playing, and their caregivers were sitting on benches and talking. I did not notice any sculptures or any buildings with architectural value. Signs on the majority of buildings and stores were in English. However, many places offered menus both in English and Urdu.
I enjoyed working on the project immensely since it gave me an opportunity to feel a different community from the inside and observe its life. I wish people had been more easygoing and had agreed to talk to me more. If I had an opportunity to “ask” something of the neighborhood I would probably inquire how it would like the people to find an agreement and arrange the community life in a friendlier way.
Lodhi, Annam. “Little Pakistan ― Finding a Balance Between the Best of Both Worlds.” PakistanToday. 2017. Web.
Verma, Jeevika. “The Battle for Little Pakistan.” The Brooklyn Ink. 2018. Web.