A few American brats you know

If you place the typical Pakistani male at an American college, then he’ll be sure to fall into one or more of a few broad categories like the bad boy, late lateef and desi boy.

Morial Shah July 20, 2010
Alarmingly large numbers of Pakistanis are heading to colleges abroad. It’s become a status symbol. Parents dole out ridiculous amounts of money to make sure their kids – especially their sons – get a degree from a foreign college, however bad, or expensive.

Experiencing life at a college in the US makes it easy for me to see what becomes of most of them. Forgive me; I’m going to take the liberty to generalise. The way I look at, if you place the typical Pakistani male at an American college then he’ll be sure to fall into one or more of the following categories:

1) Bad Boy: Meet the bad boy. He’s got a beer belly, mane of long hair, and boasts mastery of American slang and accent. He has made good use of his time. ‘It’s all about the contacts,’ he’ll tell you. And he has plenty of them - every club owner, bar tender, DJ, and party animal knows him. To add to that, the bad boy invests his time in acquiring negotiation and fund raising skills. He adeptly convinces his parents to keep increasing his allowance; after all, they must understand that sky-rocketing inflation increases the cost of living.  More importantly, he fine tunes his name throwing skills. He laces his conversation with the names of a few important people; mentions his army of servants or bodyguards, and his fleet of cars for good measure, till he has the Americans hailing him as Pakistan’s Little Lord Fauntleroy.

2) The Mullah: All hail the Mullah. He's got a beard,  dresses formally, abhors shorts in all forms, eats zabihah chicken and is therefore prescatarian most of the time, hates music, doesn’t talk to girls, and considers the mosque his second home. He utilizes his time preaching to his atheist roommate and telling the Americans how terrible they really are. Usually on the board of a Muslim student organisation, he doesn’t waste his time networking too much. He’s content spending most of his time with a very small group of like minded boys. And his future plans are crystal clear: he wants to go back to Pakistan, find the stereotypical docile Pakistani bride, and teach at a seminary.

3) Busy body: Meet busy body. Wait, you can’t. He’ll get back to you later. Describing him is hard. You can never really get a good look at him. But here’s a try: usually tall, impeccably dressed with a plastic smile, a cunning glint in his eyes and a sharp nose that adeptly smells opportunity. With an overwhelming 2,573 Facebook friends, five hundred Twitter followers, and three boxes full of business cards, he’s the ultimate social maestro. Today, his Facebook status reads that he just met Obama for the second time, and tomorrow he will lead a delegation to Hilary Clinton’s office. He has everyone – including his parents – worried about the rate at which he’s ascending the socio-economic ladder.

4) Late lateef: Most Pakistanis fall in this category. He’s short, plump, lives in shorts and flip-flops, loves cup cakes, and typically Pakistani, he’s lazy with a capital L. Always absent for morning classes, and fifteen minutes late for afternoon ones, he laments about the distance from the dormitory to the classrooms, and extols the importance of sleep. Lateef bhai is always happy, never concerned about pedestrian things like his GPA or resume and turns in most assignments comfortably late. He’ll have you believe that networking is a waste of time which is better used playing video games. Lateef’s parents will be a tad concerned about their son’s lack-lustre outlook but not too much. At the end of the day their cushion of wealth will come to their baby’s rescue.

5) Desi Boy: A whirl of colour, prints, and beads meets your eyes. Yes, you guessed it. It’s desi boy. Chai chugging, pan chewing, and urdu speaking - desi boy attracts attention everywhere he goes. Americans find him a unique specimen. They love humouring him; and desi boy plays his part well. He’s got up to date news about Bollywood, and he tells anyone who cares to listen that Lahore is better than Karachi because Lahore has better chai. Desi utilises his time at college to master bollywood dance moves, lead bhangra teams across the US, and pins his hopes on the promised summer yatra to the desh.

I have tried my best to box some of my more eccentric friends in to five general categories. I’m sure there are many more. Feel free to add your own to the list!
Morial Shah A student of International Politics and Security at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University She tweets at @MoruShah.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Nouman Mustafa | 12 years ago | Reply hahahaha...great post morial..uncle nasir will be proud of you.... listen man whatever you write u just write it... everything is right when it komes to write. ;D ...whatever u write plz post it to me on my email id astronomikle@hotmail.com ...i take ur stuff pretty seriously... afterall we were kind ov three meetings childhood friends... ;D
Does it matter | 13 years ago | Reply I have read up on your work Miss Shah and since you are an undergraduate student who has just finished her freshman year at college, I assume you are one of those many students whose parents are spending millions of rupees to see you study abroad and get a "better" education. These stereotypes may fit well to the students who fit into the elitist atmosphere you seem to have belonged to. The students from KGS, Lyceum and southshore from karachi invariably fit into most of these categories. However, you do forget to mention, that these students do end up being successful, be it in their very own Pakistan, where daddy jee will get them an internship and then their foreign degree will get them a job. I think you should try and focus on the positive side of things. God knows this country has seen enough negativism to last the rest of its' existence.
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