From war reporting to burger making

Kamran Khan is from Pakistan, he used to be a journalist. Now he lives in Sigmaringen, a small town in southern Germany. Every once in a while he will share experiences and encounters from his new life with Zweitaufnahme:


Not long ago I used to work around the clock, covering the war against terrorism in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and tribal areas (FATA) – one of the world’s most volatile regions. The value of being a journalist in a region, which remains in the limelight of international media, increases manifolds. Despite the danger of hourly bomb blasts and in the face of the many lives claimed by them, the journalist has to remain impartial. My task was to cover the grey zones of a conflict, which is constantly being painted in black and white and to refrain from choosing sides where there are only friends and enemies.

Such was my life before I became a refugee. Suddenly being forced to wait and sit around all day wore me and many other refugees down. Since my family depended on me, I accepted any daily work offered to me. Whether it was gardening, cleaning or any other kind of work, I was grateful for any chance to escape the dullness everyday life and support my family.


“Ohne Gurke bitte”

Then on a summer evening in May 2014, one of our friends came rushing to our room and told us that the McDonald’s branch in Sigmaringen was looking for new staff members. When I went there the next day the manager immediately filled out my contract and within two weeks I stood in a McDonald’s kitchen wearing my new uniform.

Working in the fast food business was whole new experience for me. My work was divided into different tasks: making a variety of burgers in accordance with strict standards, cleaning the lobby and toilets, helping to load and unload deliveries and closing down the place late at night.

I hasn’t been easy for a foreigner like me to survive in a situation where the new language and culture confronts everything you do and say. It was hard to grasp everything at once and especially the weekend shifts were exhausting. I still remember my roommates laughing about me, because I would wake up in the middle of the night shouting “ohne Gurke bitte’’.



Two years have passed and today I have no difficulty making the new burgers introduced to the menu and teaching my new colleagues. Working in a team has helped me to deliver according to the expectations of the “Sigmaringers”. I am thankful to all my teammates including the owner who put his trust in me by giving me more responsibilities. My German has improved much as well and I got used to my new daily life as an employee in the fast food business.

However when I have a quick chat with my colleague from Gambia over the political situation in their country or with one of my other friends from India I feel that my appetite for the developments of international politics is still alive. Despite stressful work and the plethora of issues confronted by me, I still catch myself dreaming of a future that allows me to satisfy this appetite.