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

May 24, 2009
More by this author
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.

Join the Discussion

This article has 98 comments. Post your own now!

MUSICisLIFE1429 said...
May 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm
this is such an eye opening article into what life is like for a teenage pakistinian. thank you for this fantastic contribution
sunshinesam replied...
May 5, 2010 at 8:08 pm
i agree. it really shows how life there is not that diffrent from ors
liisangel said...
Apr. 23, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I usually start my comments with "Wow" but since this was so amazing I will put my feedback in underline and I don't ever do that ;) Hehe :D

This was really thought out, I loved it!!! :D

Mahnoor Saad said...
Apr. 15, 2010 at 3:53 am

Wow. Nice to know there's another mahnoor out there who knows what I'm talking about xD

And again, thank you all for taking out time to read my article. Its means a lot :)

Mahnoor said...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 4:16 pm
First off, lol, this made me grin. Yeah, I'm a Mahnoor, origin; Pakistan, living in UK. I get what you mean. Nice to have some one with plentiful brain-cells and an awesome style of writing. Keep rocking. ^^.... or writing. Y'know what I mean.
emilyanne said...
Apr. 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm

great article!

a few months ago, i met a foreign exchange student from pakistan.  his family back home was in hiding, just because he was here in America, studying. his story really touched me.  Thank you for sharing yours!

p.s. I shed tears when Adam lost too!

TiberiusPlushenko said...
Mar. 31, 2010 at 2:03 pm

It's amazing how you live


notebookgirl said...
Mar. 14, 2010 at 4:16 pm
very interesting and well written. good work!
E.L.W. said...
Nov. 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm
This is a really well written article! Great work!!!!
Estar said...
Nov. 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm
You are wonderful in your words~!
Cherry said...
Jul. 16, 2009 at 10:01 am
Good Stuff Moni. Keep writing. You are doing the family proud!
Faisal said...
Jul. 1, 2009 at 1:08 pm
Very well written article .Keep up the good work.
Rehan said...
Jun. 25, 2009 at 3:31 am
I've just read the written piece by Mahnoor. Simply fabulous is the only comment I've for her effort. Keep writing!
Kainaat said...
Jun. 23, 2009 at 6:44 am
My friend forwarded the Teen Ink link. Wow! It's amazing to find hundred of well written different thoughts by young writers. I've skimmed a lot of articles, fiction and poetry. Well-done Teen Ink. As far as Mahnoor's effort is concerned. It's brilliant! I wish her to fly high in future.
Shaheryar said...
Jun. 20, 2009 at 3:27 am
Simply thought provoking. The reader has to agree with Mahnoor's experience.
shahab said...
Jun. 19, 2009 at 1:41 pm
a reflection of teenage frustration.very well written article.
shameem said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm
It was so wonderful to read the unwritten message by a young girl. I wish her all the success and sincerely wish people and governements to focuss on those things she has written in between the lines. Well done Mahnoor.
Noor said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 4:36 am
Hi Friends! I've just received this link. While reading the article by Mahnoor's article I'm thinking our young generation have the potential to excell. It is a great attempt. Well fabricated piece. Go Ahead!!
Arshad said...
Jun. 16, 2009 at 8:01 am
I've read the article word by word. It is like a string. It ties your attention from first sentence till last. A great attempt!!!
Afraz said...
Jun. 16, 2009 at 7:18 am
My friend have just introduced the Teen Ink Mag. What a surprise online gift. I must say the magazine really contributing in producing young writers. As saima's guess proved wrong about the Pakistani Writers of Teen Ink, I'm hopeful that one day I do write for the mag as it provides same opportunity to all. Mahnoor's approach is very impressive that can be followed by other teen writers.
Site Feedback