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!

Volleyball10 said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm
I thought it was interesting. This is a great piece of writing. You were very descriptive. Very neat.
WAGARH said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm
i think that this was an amazing peice! you are an inspiring writer(:
Macx14 said...
Sept. 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm
First, this is extremely well written and explained. Second, as a young American girl, its fascinating to know and learn about how teens are pretty much the same across the globe despite the people and places that surround us. GREAT JOB!!
anonymityisbest said...
Sept. 17, 2010 at 10:33 am
i am from india and it interests me to know that teens are pretty much the same accross the border
soleil-soleil said...
Sept. 17, 2010 at 8:47 am
Coucou petits amis soleis
dfdfewDQW said...
Sept. 14, 2010 at 2:03 pm
YO, I think is a comment...
CallMeFelix said...
Aug. 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm

This is really good! =) as a typical american teen, i have to say that I enjoy learning how other teens live across the world. To me, different is exciting....not to say I'd like to experience the different ways they live (I'd rather stay nestled safely in my tiny town), but I love to learn about it, especially from their own perspective. Great job!

By the way, I definately agree with what you said about House and Brennan and Booth. xD

gdfoff said...
Jun. 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm
i am soo proud that someone actually wrote something like this. If you would allow me to, i can try and get this published for you in the Dawn Newspaper, just give me a go ahead. You can email me at the above address. Thanx
Mahnoor Saad replied...
Jun. 17, 2010 at 7:55 am


thank you so much for your interest. yes, I would love to have this published. Your email id isn't visible to me, so do leave it behind in the comments!

Imaginedangerous This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm
I would love to read something like this for every country in the world. I think too many teenagers (especially American teens) know only about their own lifestyles and too little about other people around the world. There's a lot of misconceptions out there. Good article.
Khawla B. said...
Jun. 1, 2010 at 8:05 pm
That is terrible. But thank you so much for sharing your story. My mom is constantly telling me to appreciate life because others have it worse than me. I hope life gets better for you.
songbird said...
May 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm
I have been listening to a radio program on the National Public Radio on Pakistan, and I am so glad I have been able to read this and learn the views of Pakistani. Thanks for this great experience!
Mahnoor Saad said...
May 13, 2010 at 4:03 am

Thanks a million =)

and bjbunny, I would love to read about Bulgaria!


I will definitely keep writing for the mag. I'm knee deep in exams now, but you'll probably see a new article in a few weeks. ^_^

sundancer said...
May 11, 2010 at 10:50 am
This is an AMAZING article. VERY well written!!! Thank you so much for sharing a slice of life, so different from mine...but  not so different from my mother's childhood in communist hungary...this brought back memories of seeing bullet-hole riddled houses in Bosnia. Don't stop writing! You have a gift.
bjbunny said...
May 6, 2010 at 6:29 am
very well written. i enjoyed the humor and sincerity. i can understand because I too live in anothe rplace othe rthan the US. maybe not pakistan, but Bulgaria has its own adventures and frightening happenings. keep up the good work!;)
--really-- said...
May 5, 2010 at 11:40 pm
It is amazing how the younger crowds in all these countries can find peace within eachother yet our leaders still see Red. That is great you can share your everyday to others and for someone like me who is young and with child i will share the story with him so he will keep on with an open mind and heart.
ikinz101 said...
May 5, 2010 at 9:38 pm
All I got to say is WOW. Thank you for sharing your story! It's very interesting learning about a typical day in Pakistan. I have to say I find it pretty sad that you can't go out because of the bombs. Sad, but true. I'm glad your parents and other parents are concernd of your well-being. Well, thank you again for sharing! I appreciate it!
kirby~bug said...
May 5, 2010 at 9:06 pm
wow i totally agree!! same world round
Alaintia said...
May 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm
Thank you so much for providing this piece for us to read. I live in the U.S. and i am always wondering what other kids, around the world,  have to go through that is both similar and different to my culture. Keep on writing because you definitly have a talent for it.  
zsally55 said...
May 5, 2010 at 7:23 pm
i usually don't read anything like this or comment for that matter, but something caught my eye about this article and it really fascinated me. thanks for showing the similarity between teens all around the world because i think most of the time people stereotype teens based off where they are from. this was refreshing to see how kids are kids....and nothing like the time in history or location will ever change that
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