Yank-bashing over a cup of tea

Published: June 29, 2011
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We are oh so proud of Dr Shireen Mazari for creating a scene because a man bumped his chair against hers and did not apologise PHOTO: QAZI USMAN

Our pancakes had just arrived when we heard a loud:

“Who do you think you are, you bloody CIA agent?”

This was followed by a chuckle in a male voice and an accented:

“What makes you think I am CIA? How can you even be sure I’m an American?”

What followed was a ten-minute long loud rant, in the first hoarse female voice, complete with expletive ridden language and name calling.

My mother instantly guessed it was Dr Shireen Mazari.

“Who the f*** do you think you are? How can you treat a Pakistani this way? Get this man out of this restaurant or I will call the Police!”

I, the patron of the same restaurant, did not hear another sentence out of the man. I am sure he must have spoken, but he was not loud enough for me to hear, on the other end of the restaurant.

In an article in another newspaper about the incident, this man was described as “military looking.”

Yes, this Caucasian man was tall and burly, but I cannot say whether he was military or not.

According to the US National Health Statics 2006, the average height of white American men is 5 feet 10 inches. So he could be military, or he could just be one of those adventurous people who enjoy treking Pakistan’s gorgeous mountains. Or, a volunteer with the Red Cross.

The restaurant manager advised this couple to leave, and they did, but only after paying for their meal. The manager waved them away, but they insisted on paying. And when the woman turned around to leave, I saw the streams of tears flowing down her face.

Dr Mazari left after the next couple of minutes.

Yes, we are oh so proud of Dr Shireen Mazari for creating a scene because a man bumped his chair against hers and did not apologise; for using the F-word more than a few times, in a public place in a loud enough voice that every the patron heard it; for making a woman cry – a woman who was a visitor in this country – our guest.

It is not “burger” of me to also think of this American as a guest instead of a villain.

It is sane of me.

Just as I believe that every Muslim is not a terrorist, I believe that every US citizen is not a CIA agent.

Imagine if one of us, a Pakistani, was called a terrorist and threatened with calling the police by a citizen for not having good manners in the USA – if, instead of taking our side and telling the offending party to shut up, the managers asked us to leave. And imagine if, instead of being disgusted by that countryman, people publicly extolled her virtues.

I am not proud of Shireen Mazari. And I am certainly not proud of myself – because I got scared and did not stand up to a bully.

Maryam Mushtaq Mian

Maryam Mushtaq Mian

An undergraduate studying management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who loves being back in Islamabad and trying out all the new restaurants.

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