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 teens and charity : ‘Like OMG, I work for an NGO’

Areeba, not her real name, is a bright, conscientious 18-year-old off to college this September. She works on and off rebuilding a girls school in rural Sindh in an effort guided by her school. “I know all the girls names, they teach me Sindhi and mark my progress, I distribute sweets,” she says, her enthusiasm apparent. But then comes this observation: It’s something I’m really into, not like, I don’t know, wannabe hipsters who’re just in it for the certificate and the photo ops. Wannabe hipsters in it for the photo ops? I told my father what she said and his first ...

Read Full Post

Let’s hope your heart keeps going on and on

If you were Jack and I was Rose, you would have sacrificed your life to save mine, said a woman to a man sitting on my right at the cinema. Arif, you would have saved me, right? It’s a Friday and I’m watching Titanic in 3D.  I’m slouched in my cinema seat, trying desperately to blend into the surroundings – anything — in order to avoid the romance unfolding on my right. Onscreen Jack is convincing Rose not to commit suicide, but all I could think, “Way to put Arif on the spot, woman.” Picture the same cinema an hour later. ...

Read Full Post

It’s something unpredictable but in the end it’s right, I hope you’ve had the time of your life

School is over. No, I don’t mean it’s over because of a strike or bomb blast. I mean it’s over in the sweetest, most beloved of ways the end of year party. Eighteen-year-olds from A-Level institutions across the city suddenly cleaned up, straightened their ties, and ironed their dupattas. Mascaras were lost and found, bathroom mirrors were overtaken, and poses were struck in airy gardens and sleek white studios. Jimmy’s and Dossani’s probably made a killing this week. And Facebook won’t let me forget it. Suddenly, everyone’s cover photo is that of them with their friends, eating halwa puri at Boat Basin ...

Read Full Post

Connecting our cities not just with flyovers but with people

What do you want Islamabad to look like in 2042? If there’s anything the geography component of O’ Level Pakistan Studies taught me, it was to appreciate my city. One of the chapters was “Population in Pakistan”  full of sketches of villagers moving to new cities. A friend underlined one reason given in the textbook for rural-urban migration: Bright lights. “Of all things, that’s why people migrate?” she asked with a bemused laugh. But that is true to some extent as Karachi is a city of bright lights. Take a ride at night and the billboards will prove this. Is your ...

Read Full Post

Why you need to cut us some slack

Stress is hoping against hope that the History notes you have been reading till 1 am, with your brain telling you to go to sleep, will somehow show up on the examination paper tomorrow. Stress is a row of kids sitting in an examination room, suddenly turning around in their seats to laugh – nobody has any idea what the numbers swirling on the Math paper actually mean. Stress is the sleeplessness of many a youngster, whose parents expect them to churn out just as brilliant results as their older siblings have had done in their student life. Stress is trying to ...

Read Full Post

The real lesson you learn from school teachers

It starts with a ruler. It is tapped against the black board in a repetitive, sardonic manner. The class is silent. Someone was talking before but now isn’t. We sit uncomfortably, confused about the almost mocking drumming of the ruler. There’s a scowl on the teacher’s face but it isn’t translated into an actual response. This was in the eighth grade. The teacher didn’t like us. It wasn’t because we were ‘bad’ children, or someone skipped their homework… She just didn’t care. At least that’s what we thought when we were 13 years old. Never mind that we studied about the lack ...

Read Full Post

‘If I delete this message, would it be a sin?’

I am 18 years old, and I am a regular receiver of Faiza’s Islamist text messages. Every other day, I can be sure of being forwarded a Hadith, or a prayer or advice, sometimes about the path to happiness or in other cases, about maintaining modesty. Whether I read them, delete them, forward them, or watch as they pile up in my phone inbox, is irrelevant. This electronic message is not the kind of message carried by a paper flyer from a mosque, or a dars pamphlet invitation from a relative. They are mass produced, more old-school, and definable events. These ...

Read Full Post

Suffering through Humsafar

It’s Saturday night and this room full of 18 year olds could be doing anything, anything at all. But instead we are squashed up on the sofas savouring our Magnums, because we are hungry and have no social lives. We discover, however, that neither does anyone else because the boy in the corner checking Facebook suddenly cries out: “The Humsafar finale just ended!?” Each head whips around to look at the grandfather clock on the wall. It is 9:05pm. One girl lobs her half-eaten Magnum at him. “You idiot! Why didn’t you tell me when it was 8 ’o clock! How could I ...

Read Full Post

The 101 on how to survive an admission test

Overheard at Regent Plaza last Sunday… “These pagals who give the Scholastics Aptitude Tests (SATs) and get their 2400s,” said girl A, “Bar bar daytay hain, aur phir LUMS Common Admission Test (LCAT) ka grading scheme mess up kar day tay hain” (they take the test over and over again and mess up the LCAT grading curve).” “I swear yaar…,” said girl B. That was the weekend the Karachi Literature Festival kicked off at Carlton Hotel while a rally was taking place at Mazar-e-Quaid to protest against India, drones and everything in between. It also happened to be the weekend that the Opal ...

Read Full Post

LUMUN: Students learn the truth in a language they can’t debate in

What’s the point of debating if the person opposite you can’t understand a word you’re saying? In my previous piece, how at model United Nations (MUN) some kids were shaken by the sheer scale of competitiveness – a rampant obsession with coming first across the country. This is why events like these, which bring together such a diverse group of people from across the country, are so useful. You can glean so much from the way people interact, or in this case, don’t. I’m going to talk about the Lahore University of Management Sciences model United National (LUMUN) again, because this ...

Read Full Post