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Why American journalist fell in love with Anwar Ali, a polo player in Chitral?

ISLAMABAD: A few days ago, an American freelance journalist Clair Stephen got married with a Pakistani polo player Anwar Ali.

This wedding became a talk of the town in Pakistan and many wondered how the two met each other and pledged to spend their life together in the mountainous region.

The couple appeared as guests of Aaj News morning show Aaj Pakistan on Friday with the host Sidra Iqbal.

“I think that I knew pretty quickly,” Clair said when Sidra Iqbal asked her when she decided to spend her life with Ali.

Clair met Anwar Ali for the first time during her first visit to Pakistan eight months ago when she stayed at the guest house of Anwar Ali. She stayed in the Booni area of Upper Chitral. Anwar Ali is the owner of a guest house, a known poet, and a polo player in Chitral. He is also a rich man.

Despite going back to USA, Claire maintained communication with Anwar and their friendship finally turned into a romantic relationship.

She realised that they made an “incredible team together” while working on a project to build a library in Booni. It was easy to work with Anwar, she added.

Clair said, “We just laughed so much. We just never fight. We communicate really really well. It’s just that fire this guy has. He just never does anything halfway and so I completely fell in love with his character.”

Ali is a polo player and poet from Upper Chitral, Pakistan. He also runs a guest house in his village where he first met Claire.

At first, he thought that the American journalist was arrogant after she refused his offer to help her when she was tired after arriving at his guest house. But later she requested him to take her to the market.

“I took her to hot springs, Garam Chashma. We went to villages for four to five days. I showed her the culture and let her meet the locals. Everyone was meeting with me affectionately as we have been living here for so many years. Everyone gives respect to each other in the village. She thought I was a big celebrity here,” he said.

Anwar said his friendship got more stronger when she got to know that he also loves animals and has cats, dogs, and horses.

Clair was also asked about her life in Chitral as she came all the way from the US to marry Ali. She shared that the people back home also ask her such questions. “I say it’s actually pretty incredible what we as humans can adapt to. It didn’t take long for me to just sort of settle in. I got used to it. Now even with cold showers, it’s more intentional actually in a way. It’s not difficult to do.”

She went on to add that the most difficult thing for her has been going from a very individualistic society to one that was very community-driven.

“There’s not much privacy here and that can be difficult for me at times. But at the same time, I am never lonely. In the US, I felt lonely often. We just work, work, work and here I have learned to slow down and enjoy the company of others and just cherish the small things in life. I am just so much happier here and more at peace.”

He said his area has everything, he stressed the need for proper roads, internet facilities, health, and education. “We don’t need to go anywhere else. There is nothing more beautiful than this.”

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Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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