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!

jomi973 said...
Aug. 29, 2011 at 12:13 am
Great article. It was very interesting. Plus, you write very well. I really enjoyed it.
introducingshelby said...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 9:33 pm
 Your humor, gosh, it's so dry. I love it. Keep writing, chica[:
hollyjayne12 said...
Jul. 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm
Thanks for sharing! :)
gigglygillmore365 said...
May 19, 2011 at 7:13 am
i loved your article!! it was so interesting to read about life in pakistan. i loved the humor behind you writing, please write more!! (:
ilovecamping13 said...
May 9, 2011 at 10:25 am
Wow! That is deep Mahnoor. It REALLy makes me appreciate life more here in America, thanks for sharing and I sincerely hope things get better in Pakistan
cieramist This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm
Wow!  Thank you for sharing this! It offered such great insight into another culture! :)
loulou16 said...
Feb. 25, 2011 at 8:40 pm
so good. love the descriptions and this is amazing!!!!
misswindsor replied...
Mar. 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm
WOW, this is beautiful! Maybe our worlds are not totally different as I thought it was. And yes, lets hope that Brennan and Booth from bones make something of it! :)
Laura said...
Feb. 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm
Based on what I was always told by my family and teachers, I thought that Pakistan was a war-torn and violence full country. I had no idea that they had anything in common with us or the rest of the world. I was surprised when I read that, like us, the teens there watch popular american tv shows and have cell phones. While we have many things not in common, there are some things that we do.
EstherGreenwood said...
Feb. 25, 2011 at 9:18 am
I never really thought about what middle eastern teenagers had in common with America. The news and history classes only talk about bombs and weapons and awful things that it's hard not to ally those thoughts with opinions about the people, even when I know most have the same interests and common goals as us. I really like the last sentence. I think it really accomplished the article's purpose-that we're not really that different at all.
jward24895 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 27, 2011 at 7:06 pm
As a self-absorbed American I never really paid much attention to how people in other countries live. I hear that stuff on the news about bombs and things but don't think that it's happening to someone who is my age and enjoys doing the exact same things I enjoy doing. Thanks for opening my eyes. :)
BeccaLynn said...
Jan. 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm
I enjoyed reading this and it was very clear. I live in the U.S and it is always fun for me to hear what it is like in other countries. :)
LaDyElFuNkOe said...
Dec. 22, 2010 at 7:58 am


this is awsum

lovd it

im thankful for my country O.O

SkyDeer This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 5, 2010 at 9:58 am
Awesome article!
xAllegria said...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 6:16 am
Nice piece on an almost completely american website :) Good job
elizabethjoy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 7:23 am
I really enjoyed reading this. It gave me a whole other perspective and you are a very talented writer! Thank you for painting a picture of a part of the world that I wouldn't be able to imagine on my own.
Jakethesnake said...
Nov. 4, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Some day, I will leave America and go to all the countries that I want to go to. (I really don't care about their opinions. As long as a someone doesn't attack America, I'm cool.)


Hapigrl said...
Nov. 4, 2010 at 10:40 am
Awesome, i totally enjoyed it.
WhiteShadows said...
Oct. 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

I liked that.

I admired your style of writing. You were writing as a teenager and it sounded like a teenager writing it (which is a good thing!). It's really cool you live in Pakistan, too. Interesting story, especially about your schoolife. It would have been great if you went more into focus about that, and give more general facts about it...that's just my opinion.

So basically, I liked it!

Katie S. said...
Oct. 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm
Great article, I think it's great for us North Americans to read. (By the way, I cried when Adam lost too, he is totally more talented then Chris!!!)
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