The Middle-Eastern Teen Scene | Teen Ink

The Middle-Eastern Teen Scene MAG

May 24, 2009
By Mahnoor Saad BRONZE, Islamabad, Other
Mahnoor Saad BRONZE, Islamabad, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I live in Pakistan. That's right, sound it out: Pa-ki-stan. You might have heard of it on the news – 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 “cool” or “dorky” 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.

The author's comments:
The grass is just as green on the other side...

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This article has 100 comments.

WhiteShadows said...
on Oct. 17 2010 at 5:19 pm
WhiteShadows, Ocala, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 38 comments

Favorite Quote:
You've gotta work like you don't need the money/love like you'll never be hurt/
Sing like no one is listening/ and live like it's heaven on Earth.-Anonymous

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!

on Oct. 15 2010 at 4:20 pm
lightningscar- BRONZE, Stratford, Other
3 articles 0 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
There are many causes for which I would die for, but none for which I would kill.

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!!!)

A.J.v12 BRONZE said...
on Oct. 13 2010 at 8:48 pm
A.J.v12 BRONZE, Littleton, Colorado
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments
I thought it was interesting. This is a great piece of writing. You were very descriptive. Very neat.

WAGARH said...
on Oct. 13 2010 at 2:13 pm
i think that this was an amazing peice! you are an inspiring writer(:

on Sep. 24 2010 at 3:57 pm
deus-ex-machina14 BRONZE, Stewartsville, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 439 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are two main tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde

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!!

on Sep. 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

on Sep. 17 2010 at 8:47 am
Coucou petits amis soleis

dfdfewDQW said...
on Sep. 14 2010 at 2:03 pm
YO, I think is a comment...

on Aug. 11 2010 at 12:48 pm
ForeverFelix PLATINUM, Catasauqua, Pennsylvania
30 articles 2 photos 207 comments

Favorite Quote:
Daydreams can be worse than nightmares, but that never stops me.

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

Mahnoor Saad said...
on 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!

gdfoff said...
on 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

on Jun. 6 2010 at 8:18 pm
Imaginedangerous PLATINUM, Riverton, Utah
31 articles 0 photos 402 comments
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.

on Jun. 1 2010 at 8:05 pm
Koala123 BRONZE, Tampa, Florida
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching.

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 GOLD said...
on May. 20 2010 at 6:20 pm
songbird GOLD, Norwich, Vermont
15 articles 1 photo 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"He who chooses me must hazard all he hath"-William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

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...
on 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 GOLD said...
on May. 11 2010 at 10:50 am
sundancer GOLD, Reston, Virginia
10 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you only have two loaves of bread, sell one and buy hyacinths to feed your soul.

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...
on 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...
on 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 GOLD said...
on May. 5 2010 at 9:38 pm
ikinz101 GOLD, Chicago, Illinois
17 articles 2 photos 5 comments
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...
on May. 5 2010 at 9:06 pm
wow i totally agree!! same world round