Curious Onlookers, Part 1 by Zainab Umer
We asked teens around the world: How are strangers treated in your community? Zainab Umer, a member of the KidSpirit Satellite Editorial Board in Pakistan, responds. Read essays about authenticity, truth, and much more on the Global Beat group page or on Facebook.
How is it that a simple word instantly propels an image into one’s mind?
I see a tall, lithe silhouette prowling down a moonlit alley, wearing a top hat. I never manage to explain this; perhaps it is the work of some long-forgotten children’s story.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I will ever come across such strangers, partly because nobody wears top hats anymore, and seldom do sane people venture down deserted alleys at night.
Pakistanis living abroad often complain of feeling alienated, so I can only imagine how those visiting Pakistan feel. Islamabad, which is our capital and thus accommodates various foreign embassies, finds ‘strangers’ fairly commonplace. The same cannot be said about my community, Lahore– it is difficult to fathom how a foreigner could speak Urdu, or how a visiting lady could wear the traditional Pakistani shalwar-kameez.
Although it would be an exaggeration to say that foreigners are stigmatized, it cannot be argued that they are conspicuous. In one of our marketplaces, a bustling conglomerate of shops for buying, dying, stitching, trimming and doing everything one could possibly do with a scrap of cloth, a young Chinese woman was out for some Sunday shopping…
Come back next week for Part 2 of Zainab’s story!