The Middle-Eastern Teen Scene This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

May 24, 2009
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I live in Pakistan. That's right, sound it out: Pa-ki-stan. You might have heard of it on the news ‚Äď the place where the whos-its are throwing bombs on the watcha-ma-call-'ems. And no, it's not Iraq or Afghanistan, but we're getting there.

What is it like, really, to be a teenager in a third-world country? Well, for one, we know all about life across the seven seas, thanks to the friendly neighborhood cinepax (yes, that's what we call our movie theaters), Hollywood, and Hillary Duff. But since our films haven't yet evolved very far, and Bollywood doesn't really give our side of the story, let me fill you in. Consider this the East's version of the Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.

Everyone loathes getting up in the morning. However, I am not as fussy about it as my brother, who, despite being in medical school, still refuses to set his alarm and depends on the entire household to wake him. It is considered a family success to get him out of bed and into the shower in less than 30 minutes with minimal shouting and zero water throwing. And blessed is the day when we get to our respective workplaces and schools on time because said brother got ready with a few minutes to spare.

And that's just the start of my day.

I share the school bus with a bunch of kids whose brains have progressed from peanut-size to walnut-size during their 12 years of education. On a good day, they may discuss the merits of constipation over diarrhea. On a bad day … well, I won't go into that. You'll just have to take my word for it when I say that it's a relief (no pun intended) to arrive at school.

School is a whole different ballgame here. For one, our teachers do not give detentions. Also, there is no designated lunch time. Hence there are no ‚Äúcool‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúdorky‚ÄĚ lunch tables. You just grab a bite to eat whenever you can. Third, we have no mascots or (gasp) cheerleaders. There are some groups of people who hate other groups of people, but the worst that happens is generally a cold war.

On the downside, our yearly grade isn't based on a series of exams throughout the year. To be sure, we have tests and midterms, but they don't count toward our final grade. That hinges on one big exam at the end of the year that's created by Cambridge University in England.

After school I'm faced with the age-old question: How do I spend my time not being bored today? Starting my homework, until absolutely necessary, is simply not an option. But neither, it seems, is hanging out with friends at a place that isn't home.

You see, teenagers worldwide have the same basic problems: pimples, chemistry assignments, measly allowances, and a shortage of clothes. But there are some problems that we face in Pakistan that you couldn't even imagine. Our parents don't let us go out with friends, not because they think we might drink or do drugs, but because they fear a bomb may blow up at any minute. That's hard to argue with.

And so I, along with my friends, find solace in ­television, our cell phones, and the Internet. You'd be surprised how enthusiastically we follow American Idol. I shed actual tears when Adam Lambert lost! Not to mention how miserable my whole school was when Michael Scofield died on Prison Break. And Rufus and Lily from Gossip Girl, and Brennan and Booth from Bones, had better make something of it, because everyone on this side of the globe is rooting for them. And House … well, all he has to do is go on being brilliant.

Life is busy and full. Here, everywhere. It's funny how we forget the problems of our country. Most of us in Pakistan don't want to worry about ­Talibanization, the government, and the ­economy. And that's one more thing we have in common with most of the civilized world.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 98 comments. Post your own now!

DodecaDragon said...
Apr. 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm
Do teens in Pakistan have this self-centered entitlement attitude that you see portrayed in American shows? Do they whine about how life is so unfair? Or are they more grounded in reality?
Zorro8696 said...
Jan. 14, 2014 at 5:43 pm
Most Americans can't quite get their heads around the fact that people in Pakistan aren't constantly ducking bombs. I have enough of a worldview to know that this isn't necessarily true. I find it refreshing to hear from someone that understands the flawed view that most Americans have and openly refutes it. And refutes it in such an easygoing, relatable tone. 
sunshine said...
Dec. 19, 2013 at 10:45 am
Wow! Nicely done. It helps me feel that we have a lot in common even though we are from other sides of the world, and that there are often less differences than one might think. 
arina.bykadorova This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm
Very well done. Lively, clearly written, and personal and universal at the same time. Keep writing: we need stuff like this.
Isabelle_ said...
Mar. 3, 2013 at 10:13 am
I thought this piece was great and gave a real insight as to what life must be like for you whilst also being funny and extremely well written! 
Zingara said...
Sept. 28, 2012 at 9:04 pm
I absolutely adore this, and the first things I did when I finished reading it was to give it 5 stars and add it to my favorites! Having a boyfriend in Turkey, while I live in America is challanging not because our relationship is strained or anything like that, but because of how people judge me for it and make assumptions. Everyone seems to think it's a third world terrorist country that has no structure or civilization, simply because it's in the middle east. To say it's frusterat... (more »)
purpledreamflower said...
May 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Loved it! Really brough out Eastern life, in a way. 
Lindsey31 said...
Apr. 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm
I love your humor about the TV shows. You gave me a real insight on what it's like to be a teenager in the Middle East, which I love to learn about. This is awesome! You are a great, simplistic writer! (:
IntrepidRose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm
This piece is excellent. It's balanced and enjoyable.
GabriellaKittyShines said...
Feb. 10, 2012 at 9:32 am
I loved this so much, it's so great to hear what it's like. I hope things are going well. And what ever you do, DON'T STOP WRITING! ;)
cloverleaf144 said...
Dec. 24, 2011 at 9:49 pm
I loved this so much. :) it made me smile, laugh, and wonder all at once. great job!
SeasonalFog said...
Dec. 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm
The opening was very condescending.
otherpoet said...
Dec. 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm
HA! loved it. House is my favorite show ever, thanks for including it ;) on a more serious note, living in the US, I'm not exposed to the hard ships of a developing country. sure, i see everything on the news, but what's that to actually experiencing it? Thanks for writing this, you've made a lot of people think twice about their stereotypes.
Rhinos said...
Dec. 7, 2011 at 12:24 am
Wow, i thought communism was at the bottom but there's actually more fear in your country than in communist countries (0_0) .... amazing, a real eye-opening story...
laloush-bunny said...
Nov. 19, 2011 at 9:55 am
heyy...this was a real eye opener...i was amazed...completely in awe...i live in bahrein and we had our fair share of problems recently..i can only imagine how it must be for u ....
LilyKrishnan said...
Nov. 3, 2011 at 3:57 am
Wow! really loved it. I am from India though i dont live there and it is pretty interesting to know about the live of people belonging to different nationalities. 
jemter This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 27, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Okay, this is totaly, TOTALY random, but...

Oh my god Adam Lambert.

AND Bones.

You are officialy Amazing.

sweetxluv said...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm
an eye-opener!
sweetxluv said...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 10:48 pm
An eye-opener!!!
Keana B. said...
Sept. 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm
man i kinda know how you feel only in a different country
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