Meiryum Ali

Meiryum Ali

A freshman at an ivy league school who writes a weekly national column in The Express Tribune called "Khayaban-e-Nowhere".

Of cricket and Slims in the US

On September 30, Pakistan will play against India in a cricket match. As in any other life defining event such that this will be, I will spend my Sunday glued firmly to the television and dressed as if everything green and white in my cupboard threw up on me. I shall fight over the bowl of popcorn or chips passed along the row of friends as we alternate between offering shukranay ki namaaz every time Pakistan hits a six, and yelling slurs at the Indian team, everything from their hair to how they bat. Except for the fact that I’m not actually in ...

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So long, farewell: College really isn’t that far off, right?

What makes a bunch of kids pack up a lifetime (albeit a short one) worth of belongings into a suitcase, say their goodbyes to family and take last-minute pictures with friends, and then quite suddenly, leave? When did going to college become so dramatic? It begins, as it ends, in drama. Last Monday’s A’ Level results involved the usual pre-result splitting up of students into the overly religious (no goat left un-sacrificed), the annoyingly hyper-worried (I’ve failed, I’m doomed, I am a blot on my parent’s izzat), and the blasé (wake me up when it’s over). But there was also an ...

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‘Pack-is-tan’ stereotypes in the US

When I was 12-years-old, I visited my aunt in the US. During this trip, I tagged along with my cousin, who is barely older than me, to participate in a very American pastime: we hit the mall. There, we bumped into his desi American friend and I was introduced as the cousin from Pakistan. His friend turned to me and said, “Aap ko angrezi ata bhi hai? (Do you even know how to speak English?)” He enunciated every word loudly, as if I were deaf. I was 12, and this made me bristle with anger. “I’m not stupid,” I replied very stupidly. The boy ...

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London Olympics 2012: Why didn’t we smile?

A lot of things were inherently unique about the Olympics opening ceremony: the forging of the Olympic rings or the winged cyclists cruising to the sound of Arctic Monkeys. The fact that my friends and I recognised a good chunk of the bands and books mentioned made me wonder how much Britain has influenced us. But that is not why you stay up till Sehri. At around 4ish my brother yells: “Quick! Oman is on air!” I mentally go through the alphabets LMNOP and scream “Pakistan!” That is the real reason: to catch a glimpse of Team Green, even for just 10 seconds. Team Pakistan ...

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Saaen to saeen, let the Mohajir also be saeen!

A bunch of the loudest possible 15-year-olds had crowded a tiny fro-yo eatery. As one of them cracked a Pathan joke, on a table next to them, my four friends and I immediately turned our heads to gauge the reaction of our own Pathan friend. “Dude, he just cracked a Pathan joke!” she yelled. “Mashal, you’ve never even been up North and you know like five Pushto words. So calm down,” commented my Sindhi friend Noor. But two minutes later, the same bunch cracked a Sindhi joke and suddenly, she stood up and all hell broke loose: “Say that to my face jaahil!” We ...

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How I learnt to appreciate Ramazan- by hitting the mall

You’re kidding yourself if you don’t sometimes see Ramazan as a month of blatant consumerism. From humungous iftars with endless samosas, to the last-minute orders for Eid clothes to chaand raat lights and mehndi stalls – people will clearly be dishing out the cash. This traditional yearly boom is even more evident now when you realise there’s a new, very different kind of consumerism springing up. And the best example of that is certain mall at Seaview, Karachi. This past summer, Dolmen Mall has been invaded by ‘the youth’. Some Saturdays all you can see everywhere are 15-year-olds walking around aimlessly ...

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Learning how to drive

“Speed bump ahead,” the driving instructor says. I should probably do something I thought. I wait a bit. “Speed bump ahead,” he repeats, this time a bit more urgent. I can actually see the speed bump now. On the Sea View road, out my right window I can see the beach. It’s 11 in the morning and families are already out, lazily enjoying Cornettos (ice cream) and camel rides… Bahir nahin, saamnay dekhay! (Don’t look outside, look ahead!) Speed bump! Clutch! Brake! It’s a tiny speed bump, so I don’t experience the car-flinging-in-air kind of thing I think I’m going to have when the ...

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A Pakistani songs playlist for a foreign friend

It all started with a question. “This Columbian friend of mine is asking me about Pakistani music,” asked Ali,“What do I tell him?” I opened my mouth and shut it again. Columbian. Not Pakistani. Foreigner. Clueless. When you ask people to list their favourite Pakistani songs, they reach back to their taste honed over years, sometimes decades, depending on how old they are. Atif Aslam and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are both gifts to mankind, depending on who you’re talking to. But this was about first impressions. What possible playlist could we make for this Columbian so that he’d be completely blown away? It ...

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The curious case of an American cousin

Imagine you’re the parent of a Pakistani teenager. Focus on the last word there, which signifies rebellion, obnoxiousness and other ‘growing up’ clichés. Who do you blame when your child acts out? TV? Their friends? Aaj kal ka zamana? But not once will you say “Stop acting like the goray children do”. Goray children – welcome to the world of immigrant parents. There’s enough talk of Pakistani immigrants to amass a small library – from ABCDs (American-Born Confused Desi) to terrorists in Britain, from the Green Card queues to the Canadian cold.  But that’s not what’s bothering me. As I write ...

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Yes, I don’t watch TV

The last time I took a five week break from writing my exams, Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in Abbottabad. The whole world oohed and aahed. Did anything that exciting happen this time around? Nope. Same old, same old. The chief justice’s son accepts bribes and we all get out our popcorn buckets for another showdown. Becky Anderson wins the prize for the most loathed CNN anchor in Pakistani CNN viewership history. And I won a bet with my Dadi (grandmother), who was convinced that Mubashir Lucman was the fountain of all TV holy wisdom until he finally, ...

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