As a foreigner travelling in Pakistan, you will often be in the limelight, and people will come up to talk to you. This encounter gives you a chance to win the hearts of the locals and possibly make strong bonds of friendship, especially if you respond to them in some simple Urdu sentences like the ones mentioned below.
Maaf kijeah – Pardon me/Excuse me/Sorry
You can use this term if you want to be excused from a formal meeting or apologise in a situation where your phone shouldn’t have rung, such as during prayers, or when you want to ask someone to repeat what they said.
Khuda Hafiz – Goodbye
This phrase literally translates to ‘May God be your protector,’ but it’s commonly used in Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Bangladesh and India as a parting greeting, which is what makes it similar in use to goodbye. The phrase ‘Khuda Hafiz’ is a combination of the Persian word Khoda, meaning God, and the Arabic word Hifz, meaning protection.
Shabba Khair – May the night pass well/Good Night
Shab in Urdu means night, whereas khair translates to well. People in Pakistan typically use this phrase when saying bye to someone at night, along with ‘Khuda Hafiz’, but mostly in formal settings.
Ap se mil ker khushi huwi. – I am pleased to meet you.
This phrase can be used to express that it was lovely to meet someone who may be a new friend, a colleague or a stranger.
Meri madad Karien. – Help me.
Madad itself means help, but unlike in English where one can simply shout ‘Help’, in Urdu, you can’t use the word Madad on its own. So, it is used as the word ‘assist’ in English.
Eating and Shopping
Iss ki Keemat kitni hai? – How much is this?
Many local shops don’t have prices written on their merchandise, be it fabric, jewellery or general items. This question will surely come in handy.
Bhot mazaydar – Very tasty
When you eat or drink something that is delicious, you say that it’s mazaydar, which means tasty, or you can add bhot for emphasis. When dining in someone’s house, the person who cooked the food may ask you ‘Khana kesa laga?’ or ‘How did you find the food?’ So, you can reply with ‘Bhot mazaydar.’
Ek karak Chai hojaey. – Let’s have a cup of strong Chai (Milk Tea).
No one in Pakistan is ever going to say no to a cup of chai. Pakistanis love chai, and if you take an interest in this national beverage, they are going to love you for it. Chai is something that the locals drink at any and all times of the day, sometimes for a good reason or none at all.
Zaberdast – Excellent!
Zaberdast is a strong complimentary word that you can use for anything – whether it’s food, service, an event or time spent in the country. It’s one of the longer words, but it’s full of zeal and zest.