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My Teen Years

Fasi Zaka   

Most of Us enjoy Fasi Zaka's witty sarcasm on TV channels and in newspaper articles. Fasi Zaka is a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University. During his prolific career, he has almost done it all. He has also been a consultant to the World Bank and the British Council, and has taught at the Institute of Management Sciences (IMSciences). His first media appearance was as the host and scriptwriter for 'On The Fringe' which appeared on Indus TV and later MTV. He has a radio show called the Fasi Zaka Show, and is currently the host of the satirical quiz show 'News, Views and Confused'. He also writes extensively and has three columns in different units of the print media. He is also an advertiser, who was part of the team that won three national Aurora Awards for creative campaigns.

 

Star and date of birth

Libra, 9th October

 

The best thing about being a teenager

That's the time when growing older hasn't made you less optimistic and cynical about life. In that age it feels really free to be who you are, especially since being practical is not a consideration.

 

Life as a teenager

My teenage years weren't so great. I was a chronically shy teenager who liked to be alone a lot. I was lucky to have a penchant for reading books which made up for my closeted existence that was confined to school, college and back. I wish I had more confidence in myself back then. I feel I missed many opportunities in learning things that I could have had, like being able to relax at a gathering or a party, which I still have difficultly doing. I think the chronic and debilitating shyness had to do with a very loving but overprotective mother and being overweight, the fear of criticism or ridicule would make me try and keep a low profile. In teenage life is difficult, but don't be in a hurry to grow up. You can fast forward you childhood but never rewind from adulthood into the naiveté of your youth.

 

I was always listening to

I loved the music of those days, grunge had just come in and it was an unbelievable experience to see the music I had enjoyed for so long (glam rock and the hair metal was popular in those days) be exposed for being shallow and emotionally insincere. I still listen to the Guns'n'Roses' album 'Appetite for Destruction', reminds me of those days when I was trying to memorize the lyrics of the album.

 

I was glued to the T.V. for

We didn't own a dish, so I was always glued to PTV and STN in those days. I used to rent VHS' of music videos and watch them for hours. Watching the weekly Urdu classic film on Fridays was something I really looked forward to, as well as the weekly Pashto soap.

 

My favourite movie was…

In those days my favourite films were 'Gross Anatomy' and 'Dead Poet's Society'. Looking back at my taste then, it's not surprising that I liked those films since they are both about student life and how some people manage to overcome odds that are embedded in their personality and start to do what they want to do - to finally live a life that is fulfilling for them.

 

My favourite actor/s…

I think I would wait a lot in those days for the films of Michael J. Fox and Mathew Broderick. I recently watched those films again and cannot believe that I enjoyed them so much back then, they seem really clichéd now.

 

My room was full of

Books, magazine and newspapers. Had a huge TDK collection as well! I used to love the experience of rewinding the song I liked and trying to estimate where to press the stop button at the point where the song I liked started.

 

My room walls carried the posters of…

Bon Jovi, Metallica, Cinderella and K.I.S.S.

 

My closet was full of…

Not really! I had a very limited wardrobe which consisted mostly of white, black and blue plain kameez shalwars. Most of the closet was full of books anyway.

  

My friends were…

I had three close friends back then: Naveed, Adil and Taimur, all of whom are now somewhat distant. But they helped me a lot in being able to connect with people slowly and overcome my shyness. But other than these friends, the really close friends I made were at Peshawar University and then at Oxford University. I think at that time I had overcome my shyness and was able to open up more to people. Usually, for most people, it's the opposite way around; their closest friends are made earlier in life.

 

My first crush

I think my first crush was on Madhuri Dixit, then Juhi Chawla and eventually Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles. My first real crush was on someone I met at university.

 

My dream was…

To become a doctor. But both times, in my O-levels and F.Sc, when I had to dissect the animal (and eventually watch it die in the process) I couldn't bring myself to do it. It was at this time I started entertaining daydreams of being a writer, which I am doing now regularly for the press, but still not in the sense of the non fiction novel I dreamed of writing.

 

I wish I had known then

That there is no need to worry what others think of you, that the fear of getting embarrassed is what can kill you - not the embarrassment itself. Do silly things; don't worry about failing at them, that's confidence.

 

Relations with siblings

I just have one younger brother, and he is only two years younger than me and is currently doing his PhD in Business to Business Channels in Holland. We have always been close and also the greatest of enemies when we were growing up because our personalities were so different. My younger brother is far more conventional, hot tempered and in many ways very naïve - a recipe for conflict. At the same time we always shared a lot of the same beliefs on things and bonded over our circumstances in life.

 

My school

My school was Edwardes College School in Peshawar. I absolutely loved it there. It had a lot of British Missionaries teaching there who were very committed to teaching. In some ways, some of the strangest characters I met there were my teachers, and they brought a good deal of inspiration to the classroom. Before that I never really enjoyed my education. At Edwardes College School I could finally be the geek I was always meant to be. It was such a family environment! I remember doing my best to avoid the marathon one year, and then finally was forced into running it. I came in last, but all the teachers and my friends were there to cheer me on at the finishing line – not to make me feel as if I had failed.

Ragging at college/university

We didn't have any ragging in school, but in my first year of college there was a lot of it. I just couldn't understand the behaviour because some of it was violent. I remember the first day of college we got into a fight because we decided we would stand up for our self-respect. Eventually, when I was a senior I decided not to repeat that behaviour and did my best to make sure people felt welcome.

 

I couldn't stand

Waking up in the morning; it was always a nightmare, and also the obvious lies that our text books were crammed with regarding our post 1947 history.

 

My favourite hangout

I grew up in Peshawar, and there was no place I liked more than Chief Burger. It had this unbelievable combination of the friendliest service and the best food. Whenever I go home, I make sure to visit it there even now.

 

Your message to the teenagers today

Try not to be absorbed only by yourself, your friends and family. It's easy to live in Pakistan and distance yourself from the world and the poverty in the country; don't do that, you will become an insensitive human being.


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