Stories about life abroad

Mango mania in the US

Mangoes, the love of Mirza Ghalib’s life, the king of fruit, and the object of many a Pakistanis’ desire, finally landed for the first time in Chicago. After a quick trip to the facility for chemical treatment, the mangoes, boxed up in cartons bearing the US and Pakistan flags, were wheeled into the ballroom of the Hilton, where the Pakistan Embassy held an inaugural event to “introduce the mangoes to the United States”. The event started off trying to be a less classy version of a J&S event and ended up being a wedding. Women from the Pakistani community, clad in their ...

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Fresh Off the Boat: Why shouldn’t I like curry?

Brown:the colour I was assigned once in Canada. Never in a million years had I imagined that I would be considered a colour just like the black, yellow, white, peach and pink people around me. If we get deep down into it though, just to set the facts straight, I am not brown. I am a darker variation of ochre. No, I did not come here on a boat nor do I ride camels as a means of transportation in Pakistan unless it’s a family outing at Sea View beach, where camel rides are forms of entertainment.  Yet, they insist on ...

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What I learned about Pakistan in Muscat

I’m in a new land. Many back home think I am amongst the lucky few who have had the chance to live abroad and see “better days”. But, I wonder, do Pakistanis find happiness in the fact that they are actually home? I was filled with an overwhelming longing for Pakistan as soon as I landed in Muscat. The alien atmosphere, the new faces, the strange dresses, and the various dialects intimidated me. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of being a Pakistani, of wearing our traditional shalwar kameez and bearing the traditional Pakistani look. When ...

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5 things my taste buds miss most about Karachi

For a foodie like me, London is sheer heaven when it comes to cuisine. At every obscure corner is a hidden gastronomic gem: from mouthwatering dill ice cream served with Mackerel tartare, Burford Brown egg yolk and crème fraîche at Gordon Ramsay’s to red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing that melts in your mouth at Hummingbird’s; from perfectly seasoned soft shell crab and salted egg croquette fried dim sums at Yuatcha to crispy on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside fried fish served with chunky chips and yummy mushy peas at pubs. However, indulgence in fancy foods ...

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For the millionth time, Muslims are not terrorists Mr King

Another attack has been made on American Muslims, this time by Congressman Peter King from New York, who claims that the alQaeda is recruiting and training members on US soil. The chair of the House Homeland Security Committee has initiated a series of hearings to probe the so called “radicalisation” of American Muslims in the name of national security. In true McCarthyistic tradition, the hearings are to investigate if Muslims are “loyal” to the state and whether they are doing enough to curb extremist elements. King says the local threat against Americans is real and must be addressed urgently. The Telegraph quotes him as ...

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Teachers tried to make my son stupid

Last September my son started first grade and I decided to enroll him in a French immersion program here in Toronto. He is a shy and quiet child but I had never heard a single complaint from his kindergarten teachers. But within the first weeks of his new class I started receiving notes saying he was not capable of writing and that we should work on his motor skills. The entire family was worried. We helped him with French dictation and math, we begged him to work harder – the pressure for a six-year-old boy was immense. His teacher continued to ...

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Ashamed of the truth on a London bus

London was bathed in sunlight and the sky was a beautiful combination of azure and orange hues this morning. As  I stood at my window, staring out at the city, it seemed to stare back at me. I smiled but I felt London didn’t smile back. This morning I met a lady on the bus. A painfully prim and proper lady, the way most aged British women are. An Alice band was tucked in her hair, a basket of fruit was in her hands, a typically British floral dress peeked from beneath her typically tweed coat. As I sat down next ...

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I have not sold my soul to America

Many Pakistani Americans were impacted adversely when the twin towers of the World Trade Centre collapsed, on September 11, 2001. Many decided to head back home as they felt their American dream had turned into an American nightmare. There were even ill-founded fears that they would be dispatched to concentration camps. The reality turned out to be the contrary. Many who left for safe harbours in Pakistan or the Middle East ended up returning empty-handed to good old America. The horror they supposedly ran from in the US followed them in those countries. There was a common theme that each ...

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Profiling Muslim men is unjust, unworkable

It is commonly understood that mainstream media creates, processes and disseminates information which determine our beliefs and attitudes and, ultimately, our behaviour.  Consistently displayed messages create a false sense of reality and produce a consciousness that cannot comprehend or even worst, willfully rejects the actual conditions of everyday life. Many have argued that these manipulative messages become the ‘instrument of conquest’, by which the ruling elite tries to make the masses conform to their objectives. By using ‘talking heads’ that explain, justify, and sometimes even glamorise the prevailing conditions of existence, mainstream media secures popular support for a social order that ...

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Jobs: The plight of the foreign graduate

Welcome back to the land of the pure.  The one question most recent graduates from foreign universities face while being interviewed by employers and relatives alike is, “What are you doing here? Why did you decide to come back?” The graduate, given he is not the heir to a large chunk of the country’s land or industry, must have been either an idealist or under some form of compulsion to return. Of course, no sane person could have made that choice without being under duress. If the country wishes to reverse the brain drain phenomenon to some extent, now is the ...

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