Shahzeb Anwer left his home in Pakistan for surgery in the U.S. and says he found more than medical help in Birmingham, Alabama. The 31-year-old found his ‘home away from home’ in the southern city, and now considers it—and all its 211,000 residents—part of his family. He was so enamored by how welcoming people were he invited the entire city to his wedding.
Anwer, who suffered from kidney stones every year or two, needed a surgery that he found could be done effectively and affordable at UAB Hospital in Birmingham. He decided to do his homework on the city he had never heard of before. He posted on a small Reddit group for the Magic City asking things like what to wear and the best way to get around. He was taken back by the southern hospitality he received.
He said “People responded in a way that I wouldn’t even expect from my own people in Pakistan, it was very unexpected.” People in the group made recommendations, helped to facilitate his trip/stay by making sure he had rides to places and were cheering him on. One Birminghamer, Andrew Harris would drive him around, take him out to dinner, and ensure he got to try as many foods from other countries as possible.
He said Anwer always tried to pay him, but that he never accepted because it was like he was making a great friend out of the South Asian visitor. After the surgery was a complete success, Anwer was set to return to Pakistan. After returning to Pakistan, Anwer felt that since Harris and the rest of Birmingham had become such a positive part of his life, he wanted to invite them to his upcoming wedding.
He posted in the same Reddit group that all the members to the thread were invited, and they could bring anyone from the city. Days after his wedding he posted an update- “Hello home city and its people. I hope you’re all fine. Just a glimpse of one of my days though marriage is a multi day celebration here.” Once again he saw the southern hospitality as the group rained well-wishes on him and his fiancee.