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".

Study abroad or not : Double standards of the young and smart

There is an excellent strategy to make anyone shut up during an anti-American rant, if they are 18 or younger, that is. Right in the middle of their ‘the United States of America (USA) is controlling the International Monetary Fund to turn us into beggars’ or ‘the USA is plotting with India to annihilate us’ speech, look these people straight in the eye, and very calmly say, yeah, that is great…so how was your Scholastic Aptitude Test? Someone once said that they would stop believing America was great when the immigration and visa lines outside US embassies start decreasing. I would ...

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Is it asli? : Eating ‘Karachi’s mashoor Peshawari Ice-cream’…in Peshawar

Rather go to Lahore than trek to Nazimabad for Hardee’s? Rather wait for the rush of people to subside than wait for 50 minutes in the line outside? Not a problem — the best feeling of watching the golden star installed on the top of restaurant is that somewhere, somehow, a knock off golden star is being constructed. And there’s nothing the real Hardee’s can do about it. Welcome to the barely there-copyright land. “Hamari sirf eik branch hai” is about the best you can say to stop it. Actually, it’s about the only thing that people end up saying. It’s printed on every ...

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Are you a part of Slackistan?

“You should talk about the film Slackistan.” The clock on the wall strikes 11 am: the boy behind me is watching the second hand tick by, his head slumped against the desk. The girl next to him is using her dupatta as a pillow-cum-blanket. Its the cliché free period, but today is too hot and humid to talk, let alone work. The only person wide awake is sitting right next to me. “You know, Slackistan?” she reiterates. The film Slackistan? What else could possibly be said about that one year old film? Article upon ...

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September 13, 2011
TOPICS

Drowning and helpless

There are many ways in which you can feel helpless. You feel helpless when you think about college, you feel helpless when you realise that very few people around you actually remembered that Thursday was International Literacy Day. And it doesn’t help when someone tells you that 35,000 Pakistanis have been killed since 9/11. One of those times, and the most recent, involved a car, submerged in waist deep water, stuck while reversing over a ditch, with the water level inside the locked car rising exponentially, the rain thundering outside and leaking through the crack in the window, and with ...

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Eid Mubarak, from Jinnah International

There is a visitor’s terrace at Jinnah International airport in Karachi. Its entrance is almost hidden behind the tuck shop off the domestic departures gate. You pay ten rupees to a bored-looking moustachioed man and climb dark, suspicious-looking stairs to reach an equally dark, suspicious-looking security check point. But beyond that point you’re suddenly on the transparent overhead bridge, looking over domestic passengers at the check-in counters and weighing their luggage. Cross the bridge and you’ll suddenly become aware of the familiar humming of airplanes, so comforting to someone who had to travel very early on in life to visit ...

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Great grades mean nothing if you don’t have a chaperone – or a Y chromosome

Meet Maheen*: a hardworking final year A’ Level student. By hardworking, I mean that when Maheen received a B in Chemistry, having lost out by a mark, she stayed back in the library for hours on end every day for three weeks, to finally get an A in the finals. It’s that kind of hard work that translated into 14 As in her O’ Levels, seven of which were A*. Naturally, she had straight As in her AS Levels. She is the kind of girl that you assume will apply to the best colleges. But Maheen is not calling the ...

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A product of the 2000’s tries to make sense of 1980 Karachi violence redux

When Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi, my family and I were in one of the last cars to cross the Islamabad motorway toll booth before the city went into total lockdown. In the midst of the shock, anger and fear felt in the capital as it nervously eyed its neighbour, one image would particularly stick: the receptionist at the hotel leaning forward across the counter saying in a terrified whisper, “Aap log… Karachi say hain?” [Are you folks from Karachi?] The TV was on in the background, and for the first time we were forced to tell frantic ...

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Aisee zameen aur aasmaan

Happy birthday, Pakistan. I hope you have good one. I hope the next 64 years of your life are completely uneventful and trust me when I say you need the rest. I thank you, I love you, I’ll get some schoolchildren to wave flags, look, what else do you expect me to say that hasn’t already been said by Ufone, Telenor, Habib Bank or Dalda oil? Well, I could sing to you instead. Singing translates to waking up at 7 am to belt out that national anthem, day in day out, all year long. It means staying back after school practising ...

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Rozas and results

The Cambridge International Examination results will be released this week – have you prayed for success? There are two very important things that you notice in Ramazan that actually have very little to do with the holy month itself. One: making fun of that kid who sacrificed a goat just before his O-Levels results wasn’t a very good idea, considering that you’re contemplating doing exactly the same thing before this Thursday (Cambridge International Examinations announces its results on Aug 11). Two: going through a list of prospective college tuition fees suddenly makes you wish that your father was the emir of some ...

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The disservice of forgetting

With school beginning in August, one plucky senior decided to send a farewell note to the new A-level final year class. He talked about how everything that would happen in the last year of school – petty rivalries, exams, and college applications both in and out of Pakistan – were completely pointless. There was no need to lose sleep over them. This much was standard high school speech protocol, except that he learnt all of this on the first day back to school, which was directly preceded by the AirBlue crash. It’s hard, he figured, to worry about those sorts of ...

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