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South Asian Heritage Month: Soniya Zeb

When asked 'What country do you love travelling to the most?', I answer 'Pakistan' 

My name is Soniya, Senior Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisor. I am an avid traveller and professional photographer. I am a second-generation British Pakistani and have spent the last ten years travelling the world, but most exclusively Pakistan.  

Pakistan is not the travel destination that springs to mind when searching Skyscanner, but my annual trip has seen me visit the highest mountain ranges, oldest temples, and largest forts in the world. Pakistan, contrary to western media portrayal is steeped in history and is natural beautiful, and every time I visit, I learn something new about myself. 

 

Soniya Zeb, Senior EDI Advisor

Soniya Zeb - Senior EDI Advisor

Pakistan is not the travel destination that springs to mind when searching Skyscanner, but my annual trip has seen me visit the highest mountain ranges, oldest temples, and largest forts in the world. Pakistan, contrary to western media portrayal is steeped in history and is natural beautiful, and every time I visit, I learn something new about myself. 

My childhood memories in Pakistan include flying kites with my cousins on the rooftops of Lahore, being at awe at the monumental size of Badshahi Masjid, and eating hot jalebi in the bazaars. Growing up, I was always conflicted with my identity, am I British, or am I Pakistani? As a thirty-five-year-old woman, I have learnt to accept I will never be fully accepted in both countries, I will always be too 'Pakistani' for the British, and too 'British' for the Pakistanis. 

My most recent trip in 2022 was a little different, as I took my one-year-old son, Hishaam. We visited Kartarpur, where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak established the first Sikh commune, and many Hindu temples as well as intricately tiled Mughal mosques.  

Seeing him interact with family and rickshaw ride through the old Mughal cities listening to qawaalis, filled me with immense pride and slight anxiety at the same time. Would he also feel this conflicted about his identity growing up? 

Regardless, this internal conflict does not stop me from exploring one of the most diverse places on earth. Pakistan really is a hidden jewel and being able to photograph its beauty is an honour.  

Below are some photographs I have taken over the years. I hope you enjoy them and see Pakistan in a different light after viewing them. 

a clay pot
a monument
blossom outside house
boat with people in it
clay pots
clouds over mountains
clouds over a mosque
the ceiling of a building covered with patterned tiles
inside architecture of a dome
inside of a dome
person praying outside a mosque
mountains and river
Overlooking market stalls
Pakistan flags
sky and a building
A person sat on a doorstep that is covered in bright and patterned tiles
sunset over temple
Corridor inside a building, decorated with patterned and colourful tiles