Stories about American

“So, what’s Pakistan like?”

The old man had the most startling blue eyes, the kind that glittered in a wizard-like way. He was a contractual worker fixing some room in the building where I work, and I met him in the kitchen over my morning coffee. He asked where I’m from and widened his eyes. He didn’t comment on how good my English is, but how American my accent is (which I take no offence or pride in – it’s not the two years of Master’s in St Louis but all those American movies and TV shows I watch). And then he asked me ...

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Is Uber the Saudi woman’s closest taste of freedom?

I was 10-years-old when I saw something I had never seen before: one night, in a dark corner of the desert on the outskirts of Riyadh, my mom switched seats with my dad and got behind the steering wheel. My sister and I watched in awe as she began to cautiously accelerate. But, as the novelty of the situation coursed through her veins, with the sound of police sirens behind us, all excitement quickly abated turning into dread. My dad nervously rationalised why he was sitting in the passenger seat with a woman behind the wheel in a country that, ...

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Breaking bread together: An American convert’s take on Eidul Fitr

When I was younger, family gatherings were the highlight of our year. My siblings and I would don our finest clothes, heading out to these events with so much joy and anticipation, you’d think we were meeting the president. Our family get-togethers celebrated an array of life events both planned and impromptu. My parents, my siblings and I would climb into our beat-up car and drive to our destination, gushing about all the ways we were going to have fun. Celebrations like these are a means for humans to get together, and communal gatherings are essential to our survival and wellbeing. ...

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5 things I learnt after moving to Pakistan

When I made the decision to move to the notorious land called Pakistan, because of my husband’s job, there were mixed reactions from the community (to say the least). My non-Pakistani and non-Muslim friends were terrified for my safety and were keen on reminding me of the short list of communities; their concerns involved my husband’s salary, the tough humidity, and the eternal inconvenience of load-shedding.  Ignoring all concerns, I decided to take on the adventure and assured my friends that I was happy and ready for anything. Boy did I lie. I was terrified – but very much in love. I had ...

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Becoming Pakistani… again

Moving is never easy. Moving away from your home country is, well… at first, the thought of a brand new place, unknown people and fresh experiences feels thrilling and even dangerous. You approach your new home wearing rose-coloured glasses and a surprising determination to discover everything. But then, after the rush of giddy excitement fades, the transatlantic adjustment simply feels tiring. It is a relief to know that you have a home to go back to, somewhere with familiar smells and sounds, with friendly faces and with people who speak in the same accent you do and who understand your ...

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Nightcrawler: How far would you go to make the headlines?

Nightcrawler follows one man’s quest to claw his way up the career ladder, from a life of petty crime to the world of ‘nightcrawling’, a blood sport where stringers capture footage of graphic crime scenes, their motto – “if it bleeds, it leads” – to sell on to news channels. It is in this insalubrious world, bolstered by the media’s thirst for ratings, Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) excels, scheming his way to success. Positioned from the start in an unorthodox situation with this anti-hero, it is precisely because we are seeing the story unfold from Bloom’s eyes that we can suspend ...

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I agree with Sam Harris and Bill Maher

A few days ago, social media went rife with people praising Ben Affleck. “Batman comes to the rescue” was the general sentiment tweeted by everyone and my friends happily posted the link to the clip from Bill Maher’s show. People were ecstatic that an American, a prominent actor at that, finally stood up for Islam on a highly rated TV show. The clip did not just cause a sensation in Pakistan; it opened a debate online with prominent analysts like Reza Aslan and Fareed Zakaria taking up sides and expressing their opinions. As I thought over what Maher and Sam Harris had said, I found myself ...

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Homeland is NOT Islamophobic

Based around an American prisoner of war’s conversion to Islam and his suspected descent into the terrorist fold, five time Golden Globe-winning series, ‘Homeland’ is widely acclaimed by critics for its top-notch political commentary and a devoted performance by the show’s CIA heroine, Claire Daines. It’s not as uncontroversial among the American Muslim community, however; gaining a mixed response primarily because it has been accused of legitimising Islamophobia by portraying many of its antagonists as radical Muslim terrorists. What’s also feared is that Homeland will incorrectly portray Pakistan, the setting of its upcoming fourth season. Yet I personally think it’s unfair to simplify Homeland as an anti-Muslim ...

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Should we have a role model?

Hussain Haqqani had just finished his talk at the University of Boston auditorium and was surrounded by a horde of star-struck students. He was somewhat of a celebrity professor there, famed for his eloquence and sound argumentation, and was sorely missed after having gone on a sabbatical, of unspecified duration, due to his new duties as the ambassador of Pakistan in DC. With a train of excited students behind him, he announced that they shall all have dinner at a nearby restaurant. Seated in front of him at the end of a long rectangular table, I was among the three ...

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Don’t worry Pakistani immigrant, the West will not treat you the way you treat your minorities

Migrating to a Western country has many perks. Considering Pakistan’s current situation, it’s quite natural for people to look for opportunities elsewhere, and migrating to a more developed country is usually one of the most sought-after solutions. Those who can avail it, almost always take the opportunity as soon as it presents itself. So, it is disheartening to see some of those very people crying wolf on the smallest of issues and basing it on the religion they belong to or the country they originate from. Here is an instance where I experienced such behaviour first-hand. One fine evening, I bumped into an acquaintance ...

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