One year on at The Express Tribune

Published: December 30, 2011

What followed was nothing short of a life-changing experience.

“It’s an alternate universe, we’re all vampires who work late into the night,” would be the first thing I’d hear from a would-be co-worker. The whimsical quip didn’t help much, so I made the plunge, not quite knowing what to expect.

Clichéd as it may sound, what followed was nothing short of a life-changing experience. Not in my wildest dream had I anticipated what one year at The Express Tribune could potentially offer. A little dazed, I learnt the ropes slowly yet surely and made some wonderful friends along the way.

Work is only part of the package. Perhaps what stands out the most is the smooth transition in terms of independence; driving my car and all the dents to prove it, tickets on the highway and my media card not helping. Blinding rainy days, overworked parents, the list goes on really.

A shift from the overprotected lifestyle of a stay-at-home freelancer to driving home as late as midnight or beyond, getting lost in this shoebox of a city, taming my dragons, exposure to the ‘real’ world, blending into the culture and finding my voice.

I remember working on my first story, eying Mukhtaran Mai and realising with mounting unease that I didn’t have the slightest clue on what to ask her. Or going up to an eminent literary figure and asking for his ‘designation’ only to be greeted by a friendly grin. So many firsts.

Above all, it’s been a humbling experience, where I learnt to take criticism in my stride, step out of the comfort zone and see things from an altogether different vantage point. Little did I know about the world of news or politics or anything remotely outside my limited bubble. But the cacophonous newsroom, the people, the crunching deadlines, the late nights, the moments of inspiration and discovery changed all that for the better.

All of this and so much more, has definitely changed me for the better. And I’d happily do it all over again.


Maryam Usman

The author is currently working as a National Reporter at The Express Tribune newspaper in Islamabad and in the past, has also worked as an Arts, Culture and Life & Style Reporter and a Sub-Editor for the newspaper. She tweets as @mittzbitz (

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