I land at JFK airport and my husband and I go to the rent a car section to get ourselves a car for the trip. I hand over my passport to the lady at the counter - seeing my green passport, she jumps up with a laugh and says in her unique nasal afro-american accent...'Oh I love the women in your country, very strong women I must say, you cook up your men if you're not happy with em' and then looking at my husband she says 'You've gotta be careful man, she can be a tough one!'. I was confused, first trying to translate the accent and then the context of 'cooking and men'! (at first I thought she means we cook food for our men, which we do). I got her to repeat it for me and then i realised she was talking about the news two days back about this lady in Pakistan who happened to murder her husband and cook his body to hide the meat. She did it to take revenge from him for eyeing her daughter (his step daughter) for an affair while he was already married to the mother. She was so angry she decided to kill him and then cook him up.
I hadn't seen this news till then, but the way the lady described it, we both had a good laugh about it. Then she looks at my passport and says 'O you've got your husband's name here' and turns to her colleague and says (in her accent again) 'Ya know, in their country marraige is serious business, naught like ours, where ya don know who your husban' is, or who's husban' he might be thamorrow'. I smiled at the fact that an american for once was appreciating the fact that we have our husband's listed on our passport. Usually we pakistani females dread the whole passport changing hassle and this chauvinistic law of having either your father or your husband as part of your identity (as if you, your living breathing meaty self were not enough to prove that you actually exist!). But this lady saw it as a sign of respect, something to go by as a legal and social protection.
This might not be a very unusual interaction between a customer and a service agent, but post 9/11 any pleasant interaction between a Pakistani and a US citizen is definitely unusual now and I took a sigh of relief that one my first declaration of Pakistani identity in the US land, had something light-hearted to talk around it, rather than the monotonous link of terrorism.