University: A haven for fashion, marriage, and entertainment

Published: December 23, 2012

Although, I am still in my first semester and it might be too early to judge or draw conclusions, I am completely bewildered by these people. DESIGN: ERUM SHAIKH

They were right when they said that university can teach one some of best lessons in life.  In this place called a ‘university’, I have met people that I didn’t even think could possibly exist!

Although I am still in my first semester and it might be too early to draw conclusions, I am completely bewildered by the people I have been fortunate enough to have met. Having been swept off my feet, I would like to talk about a few of them:

  • The bathroom hogger

The original concept of using the toilet has pretty much diminished. The bathroom is now considered a convenient dressing room.

Unfortunately, every time I have actually decided to use the toilet, I have been confronted with eager girls glued to the mirror, in attempts to fix their hair and apply lipstick on their already glossed lips.

To begin with, I just can’t comprehend how anyone can be so dressed up for an 8:00am class! What is even more surprising is that the same bunch of girls are seen heading towards the ladies room after every class; it’s the new hang out spot without a doubt.

Regrettably, all my classes are on the same floor as the bathroom.

  • The judgmental ones

We have all known some of these or been a part of these at some point in life – ‘the judgers’. Comprising mainly females, they believe they are better than the rest.

Their morals, values and ethics are not to be questioned. They decide who to pick on and there is nothing anyone can do about it! Their day is not complete without this activity of sneering, pointing and sniggering at some poor being.

So anyone wearing western clothing is immoral and unusual. The poor girl who decides to wear jeans is attacked by stares, marking disapproval of such clothing.

At the end, not only are you identified as “evil” due to your unacceptable attire but they will also spit the word ‘modern’ out at you, which naturally means you are immortal and a ganday character ki larki!

  • The ones who get married

Within three months, there have already been three girls who have abandoned the university, followed by a dozen who do not wish to continue in the following year. A handful of them are engaged and a significant number are waiting for rishta aunties (proposals) to knock on their door.

So, not only are Monday mornings devoted to exchanging rishta stories but engaged girls take this opportunity to share their experiences, followed by their unsolicited advice.

Whether they get married or not is none of my concern. However, I do believe that they took away this opportunity to obtain a reputable degree from another potential candidate, who may have actually entered the job market.

I don’t see a point in attending university halfway or at all, if you don’t plan on graduating.

  • The one from ‘Defence’

If you are from Defence, you are labelled a “burger” . There seems to be this divide between Defence and Clifton with the rest of the city.

People from Defence and Clifton are labelled ‘oblivious’. They are not considered to be part of Karachi and are assumed to be unaware of the country’s numerous problems. Conversations of loadshedding, CNG crisis, robbery and bomb scares do not apply to them. These things don’t apply to the people who live there.

The only conversation that can be carried out with this lot is about magnificent malls, fancy restaurants and women in western clothes.

A handful of women in my university cover their heads. Amongst these, some of them are not very sincere in their motives. They come wrapped up from home but by the time they reach the classrooms, their scarf is coyly sliding off their heads.

Some of these women even go to the bathroom and intentionally remove the scarves off their heads, flaunting their latest blow dry! What is even more surprising is that if you ever come across their Facebook pictures, they are wearing sleeveless and off-the-shoulder dresses!

I find this funny, but hey, to each their own!

  • The couples

Within the first month of studying in this university, I have seen many new couples emerging. I often wonder how they decide to implement this decision in such a short span of time. However, what particularly disturbs me about this whole situation is their ridiculous behaviour. They will completely isolate themselves, hide behind buildings and stick to each other like Siamese twins.

I mean, grow up!

You’re in university, not in middle school. I understand they may not have the option of meeting otherwise, but still, if you walk with a distance wide enough for a bee to fly in between, it might just make it more comfortable for others sharing this public space with you!

These are the kinds of people I’ve come across so far and as I said earlier, this is just my first semester – and I suspect just the beginning. I’m sure I will be back with more details of the other eccentric people.

Stay tuned!

Maheen Sheikh

Maheen Sheikh

Currently studying law at SOAS, University of London and aspiring to become an advocate. Maheen loves reading, writing and yoga. She participates in charity work on the weekends and tweets @MaheenIshaikh (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • LOL

    Sounds like a desi version of enter name of generic American teenage angst drama series hereRecommend

  • Anonymous


  • PakistaniTeen

    Ha – epic!
    Here’s my conclusion;
    *The Bathroom-Bees? Err…..I find them everyday at our High-school building.
    Judgmental ones?* Ah! High-school is so full of them I tell ya!
    The married ones? Umm, My Principals 18 year-old-FAT-son just got married to my class-mate.
    Two-faced Hijabis? Woah, it’s practice that makes one different.In Pakistan, you’ll even find prostitutes walking around in Abayas.But that’s not what you meant I hope.
    And the couples thing! I better not tell ….

    So, High-school relates a bit too much with the university.Except that you are just a little grown up.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant analysisRecommend

  • gp65

    IS wearing jeans in a city like Karachi, that too in a colleg setting so unusual that it would get judgmental comments? This is a genuine question. No sarcasm involved.Recommend

  • Umair

    LMAO xD I’m in my sophomore year and trust me your observations are totally right.Recommend

  • Ali

    You miss, are a hypocrite with special snow flake syndrome. What do you want for this article? Congratulations, you are you and you are different(you think). Want a cookie? Your lack of intellectual thought and ability to neatly classify others into superficial categories points to a subconscious disregard of acknowledging others as complex human beings with fully functional emotions, dilemmas and struggles. Time to stop thinking about others. Sit in front of a mirror and take a good look at yourself, maybe you can find something deeper, maybe you can start valuing other human beings instead of putting them in little boxes and pasting on labels.Recommend

  • RoshBug

    that should be a sub-category of the “judgmental ones”; the silent observers. The ones who stare at others and take mental notes.Recommend

  • Erum

    Beautifully-described blog about the uni life!Recommend

  • me

    So, what was the point ?Recommend

  • Saad

    All of these attributes are easily found in college as well these days… and as for all the bunch you identified, they are just passing their time in the uni, a time which they will remember. Try to think which group you should belong to cause you cant fly alone there. Believe me, i’ve experienced it for 7 years during my Bachelor and Masters. Without a doubt, some of the best years of my life.Recommend

  • faizan abdul khaliq

    I enjoyed reading it. It is quite true what ever you mentioned having observed this behaviour for almost 2 years. There is a similar piece to be done about the boys in university. good work maheen thumbs up!Recommend

  • Close_enough

    Its too early to conclude!! Recommend

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    Don’t you think you are falling in the judgemental type writing about the “couples”?Recommend

  • Asma

    Im in High School but the situation is no different! Loved it.

    @gp65: Judgemental comments come from judgemental people, no matter what. Once there was a girl in my academy who always passed bad comments about girls with open hairs. But she herself started to leave her hair open when she learned how to straighten em! And yes western clothing is quite unusal in conservative families, therefore some narrow-minded people don’t bear it outside.Recommend

  • Salman

    Concentrate on your studies beta Recommend

  • Hira

    This was funny.

    But I think you meant to say immoral instead of immortal (the jeans wali larkiyan).

    then again, maybe not.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    A very well described scenario of what students at university are like! As you will further observe in your upcoming semesters, boys end up labelling girls as behenjees because some just dont respond to them the way other girls do. Its a hypocrite society where on one hand, men want decent domestic homemaker wives who should be as far away from the other gender, and at the same time they label girls who mind their own business, as BEHENJEES!
    It’s a funny world out there.Recommend

  • Zain Dar

    Good observation of Pakistani University life. A nice read. Recommend

  • Silas

    The two faced hijabis aren’t really two faced hijabis. Actually they face pressure from the men in their family to cover themselves up. And also the women in their family. Therefore they do cover, but who wants to cover up when you’re young and beautiful? You want to look good and you want to show other people how good you look. THerefore, these girls do listen to their parents, and will wear a scarf, but will also do a lot of make up, and wear ‘western clothes’ underneath.

    Although it is true, that some of them are actually two faced. But some. They will consider themselves most religious and will cover their heads as proof of that. But below, they will wear the tightest damn clothes.Recommend

  • naveed khanzada

    amazing……….. your observation and intellectual perception about university environment is absolutely correct and authentic,plz don’t stop your writing skills ever, stay blessed….,Recommend

  • Parvez

    I think you wrote this as a fun read and at the same time putting across your views of what you see around you and you have nicely succeeded on both counts.
    The ‘oblivious’ for the Defence / Clifton lot was a new one for me……….and so apt.Recommend

  • just_someone

    That comment read to me exactly like something I myself had written, right down to the question about the cookie!!!Recommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    Excellent piece girl. You have rightfully depicted what exactly is going on in our universities. More time is being spent on such things and cell phones than on Studies. A point to ponder infect.Recommend

  • Ghulam Raza

    a nice piece of elaboration which i my self observe in university usually but one thing which i want to add is, that there are lots of girls wearing “Burqa” just because of the reason that they don’t need to spend much time on their preparation for their classes.Recommend

  • The Khan

    So another curious question: Do girls in Pak really look forward to a good rishta in their University lifeRecommend

  • GhostRider

    hah the good old days :)Recommend

  • salmanzq

    Maheen – embrace the diversity and enjoy your time at the university. Recommend

  • Waste of Time

    Captivating title but a substandard write-up, in all aspects…Recommend

  • Aleem

    @Ali: Relax mate, I guess the article was written in a light mood and made a good read. These characters do exist in our universities and a commentary on them is not something we should frown upon.

    Even if the writer belongs to one of the groups or is in a league of her own for that matter, she doesnt have to admit that, I mean, come on how many of us would commit to an honest introspection on the national media.Recommend

  • Clarus

    they way you have summed it up all , its beautifully written.Recommend

  • UJ

    You should be thankful to Allah that you are not in some pressure cooker type university otherwise you wouldn’t had time to judge others.
    Just ask boys and girls in NUST, LUMS and GIK, how is life out there. :)
    Enjoy your life and have fun.Recommend

  • RABI

    wow …its completely true i found too in my university days such things specially ” two faces hijabies” Recommend

  • peace

    wearing jeans in IBA Karachi is considered immoral? common this cant be true. i studied from Szabist and no one would differentiate you over there if you wear jeans or western clothing.
    i think the writer has exaggerated some points over her. Recommend

  • x. university canidate

    btw the picture is true for private universities. as there is nothing wrong . ” enjoy the university life”…. the outcome is that they GOT the degree .. which matters..Recommend

  • Zeenia

    While I was reading this, it kept reminding me of IBA n I thought how apt is this. And now I realize u actually study there. LolRecommend

  • Sane

    Exaggerated observation and superficial thinking. People of Defense and Clifton also face hardships of load-shedding, CNG crises and street crimes. How many of those who live in Defense and Clifton you know? Many of them also face financial crunches for one reason or the other. Mostly students specially in IBA are serious about their studies knowing that how much money and time their parents contribute to their education. This is not exclusive to boys. Writer is trying to say that students in Universities come for gossips and leisure activities. This write is baseless and with ill-gotten perceptions.Recommend

  • HBA

    lol…nicely written and based to reality.this is what is exactly found in Universities/institutes here,good observations and let the little exaggerated things go b’coz this is the beauty of writing when reader feel it as he/she’s goin’ through the same. Recommend

  • Girl

    You forgot the perfectly agreeable ladies who mind there own business. Commonly known as “Attitude freaks” :pRecommend

  • uzma ausaf

    A disappointing read!!!Recommend

  • Hunzai

    hey hey!!! come on stop exaggerating things… most of the things you mention are totally wrong…. why dont you just mind your own business.
    actually I didnt understand by writing all this what you wanted to prove??? you think you are the best in the University? no not at all you are one of them also…. besides this i have one question from you.
    Who are you to judge people and write about them??? and about this Hijab girls you talked about. listen they are answerable to Allah only you are no one to point them… Recommend

  • Umair

    In which described category you place yourself???Recommend

  • ovais khan

    such an awsome blog i really appreciate ur observation since i am doing ACCA i miss those fun i could have if choose to study in universityRecommend

  • fizza.

    That was so spot on!
    And everyone calling the writer ”judgemental”, that’s exactly what you are doing too. Recommend

  • touchekarma

    It seems like you yourself belong to the judgemental category. Recommend

  • Nasir

    Thanks, i enjoyed it.

    You wonder for their decision in a short span of time, we call it decision power LOLz, and skills of recognizing / judging some one.

    by the way what do you mean by growing them up.Recommend

  • nyawer

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! Unfortunately this type of behavior is not restricted to one area or city, it’s practically everywhere. Which brings forth the question of quality education, and whether such institutions are actually providing that or simply focused on hoarding money and creating more opportunities for students to waste their time on aimless activities.Recommend

  • Virat Kohli

    Oh wow! This has been exactly what is always going on in my head.Recommend

  • Supariwala

    @ gp65 …Girls in New Delhi get gang raped…and they get gang raped in the public square…and the type of girls that get gang-raped have a family, children, husband and parents..Think about it, shame on India. College setting or not, I wouldn’t be worrying about Pakis when in India their is national embarrassment going on…shame shame.
    -Overseas Pakistani. Recommend

  • Alisha

    Maheen, this is SO good!Recommend

  • Sara

    @peace, I was among the jeans wearing Defence walis when I studied in SZABIST (and this was back in the day when fitted short shirts were in fashion, which I used to pair up with my jeans. Yes people used to pass comments behind my back, and many of the “two faced hijabis” actually passed objectionable remarks to my face. (Long time ago, SZABIST was a much smaller kind of place where we used to hang around the whole day and everyone knew everyone else). The judgemental types (in Defence parlance, the girls from the other side of the bridge) are very much a part of university life – and usually they turn out to be the ones with a boyfriend or two on the side, while the Defence walas get a bad rep for no fault of their own.

    @Sane, yes we Defence walas face the same problems as the rest of the city. Yet we still somehow seem to be stereotyped as “burgers” whose kids party all night , parents always abroad, we roam around in our expensive cars and cant think of anything else but foreign shopping trips and whatnot. Sigh, wish it were true.Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    stating the obvious sumtime works like a charm..!!Recommend

  • Sylvia

    You are absolutely write about it….Recommend

  • S

    Wish I was “modern”. It would mean i would have a “ganda character” but i would also be “immortal”. Sounds like a fair enough trade!

    Do what you gotta do. You wont be able to please all of them and 95% of these people you will never interact with after college. Choose your friends wisely since good ones will make your life fun and bad one’s will lead to a spiral that you wont even realize you are in till its too late.


  • aq

    I study in the west and even though these trends ate more prominent in last year of high school and first year university, they slowly die away the higher up the years u study , I guess its a phase in everyones life to conform to social norms but as you grow older and discover more about yourself and the type of person you want to be u will break away from these restricting societal barriers and be yourself!!Recommend

  • Rehel

    Wow. Your university allows jeans!
    So its a take on ONE of the universities, particularly yours. Not every undergrad student is ‘fortunate’ enough to meet such bewildering people. But I must say, it reminds me of my school. Recommend

  • Qasim

    I absolutely love your post.. I was in the same position when i had my first sem at cbm.. This is very true, just that the bathroom and the gossips girls are much more crazier in cbm then they would in iba!Recommend

  • x

    Not really. Even in lhr, which is a lot more conservative than cosmopolitan karachi, in anyy private university, jeans are quite common and in unis like lums,ucl,nca,pfdc,bnu more girls wear jeans than eastern clothes. however, government universities tend to be more conservative but i doubt this was written about a government uni.
    However, yeah, tight jeans or what they perceive as revealing or vulgar would make the judgmental start passing comments as the holier than thou attitude is a national trait. Recommend

  • a true “iba-ian”

    well one thing for u lady.. iba never asked u to come to it U CAME TO IBA!! u spent 4 months practising for the test.. IBA NEVER ASKED U!! so please now if “unwantingly” ur part of the fraternity enjoy it otherwise just leave… there would be 100s of people still willing and more deserving to replace u!!
    as if this doesnt happen at cbm or iqra or ivs or even at harvard and yale…
    also go learn some basic etiquettes.. u dont insult the institute u plan to be a part of for the next 4 years.. iba is my FIRST HOME DO NOT DEFAME MY FIRST HOME ON THIS PUBLIC FORUM!!Recommend