Immigrant from India makes new life in Utah

Friday, Aug. 24, 2007
Immigrant from India makes new life in Utah + Enlarge
Aziz Hasnain (center back) teaches a tatting class at the Sandy Senior Center. Tatting is a technique for handcrafting a particularly durable lace constructed by a series of knots and loops. Tatting can be used to make lace edging as well as doilies, collars, and other decorative pieces.IC photo by Christine Young

by Jessica Blake, intern

Intermountain Catholic

SANDY — Aziz Hasnain, although not a refugee, has had a peculiarly transient life, an arranged marriage, and now weaves baskets out of pine needles and teaches tatting.

Aziz was born in 1924, in Lahore, India. While that part of India is now considered Pakistan, Aziz would never label herself anything but Indian. She spent most of her childhood in Dehradun. At the age of 19, she had an arranged marriage. As marrying within the family is a tradition, her husband’s father and her grandfather were brothers.

Her husband was in the army and was soon drafted into World War II. Just as the war ended, Aziz had her first child at the age of 23. She had five children. As soon as her husband became a major in the army, he decided to retire. They received no pension due to the fact that he only served 19 years and did not complete his 20 year service time.

Aziz and her husband moved to Iraq. Her husband got a good job in journalism from 1960-1972, when they decided to move to Beirut. In 1975, a civil war broke out in Beirut, so they decided to move back to India. Her husband finally started a magazine and wrote for three or four years.

Aziz’s first son was married in 1946. He and his wife decided to move to Washington to have their first child in 1983. Aziz moved in with them to help with the newborn. She attended a senior center in Kent, Washington. There, she met Claire Baldwin, who taught her to paint and make baskets woven from pine needles.

In 1996, her son lost his job and found a steady job in Utah. Aziz moved with her son and his family to Sandy. She soon joined the Sandy Senior Center’s visitors.

In 1998, she began to teach a pine needle basket making class and a tatting class at the Sandy Senior Center. Both classes were extremely small and were canceled until more students were willing to learn. In 2002, Aziz began teaching the tatting class again and is still teaching seniors to tat.

The pine needle basket class was forever cancelled, "because it takes too long, and people don’t want to take the time to finish baskets," said Aziz. "Making pine needle baskets is just a hobby. If I sold my baskets for a dollar an hour I could not take the money, it would be too much."

Aziz’s younger sister and her daughter still live in Pakistan, but all of her sons live in the United States. Aziz wishes she could visit her family more often in India, but it seems to be too taxing. She visited India in 2001, and in 2005, she visited her daughter in Pakistan.

Aziz said there is a big difference in the culture of the United States and the way of life in Pakistan.

"So many things we take for granted here in the United States, and we fight the government for it," said Aziz. "The big difference in America and Pakistan is the pace of life. Life in India is very peaceful and laid back.

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