When you change cultures, the cultural rules change. You do things differently depending on where you’re staying and who you’re talking to. Like prank calls. In the US, a prank call begins with Hello, and goes something like this.


Hey, is your refrigerator running?


Well go catch it then! Haw haw!

Pakistan, however, is a Muslim country, so we begin our pranks calls with the tradition Islamic greeting- AssalamuAlaikum. For example:

Me: Jee?

Caller: AssalamuAlaikum

Me: Walaikum Assalam

Caller: (In English) Do you want to talk about &@*?

Which brings me to another rule. If you want to say something inappropriate on the phone, you say it in English, and you pronounce it badly. And maybe since English isn’t your first language you recite the pre-practiced line deliberately while reading it off of a piece of paper. Or at least sound like you are. And there’s a good chance that your pronunciation may be a little off, so when the person you’re prank calling goes ‘wha?’ you repeat it a little slower and a little more nervously. And when they hang up on you, you hang your head in shame and lament having paid more attention to eating paste than doing your English lessons as a child.

Or you could just spare yourself the hassle of trying to be filthy in another language and go with your mother tongue, Urdu. (but don’t forget to say salaam first) For example:

Me: Hello?

Caller: AssalamuAlaikum

Me: Walaikum Assalam

Caller: Aap soi nahin? (you’re not asleep yet?)

Me: Kia? (what?)

Rule number three, don’t call English teachers at 2:55 am. They’re likely to scream at you, like the time when you put a live lizard in the teacher’s desk and the reprimand left your ears ringing till recess.

Me: Kaun ho? (Who is this!)

Caller: (sounding less confident) Um, Waseem?

Me: Kahan say? (From?)

Caller: Islamabad?

Me: Kyoon phone kia? (Why’d you call?)

Caller: (meekly) Mujhay neend nahin araha tha… (I wasn’t sleepy)

Me: Kya tum pagal ho? Baysharam! (are you nuts? Shameless person!)


And, although a follow-up phone call may be considered polite in most cultures, it isn’t always necessary with a prank phone call. After the fifth time you call in three days, you are likely to be greeted by a less-than friendly male, possibly a father or brother, possibly very over protective and given to profanity. On an interesting cultural side-note, it is possible that you may be sworn at in either Urdu or English depending on:

-the education level of the angry male

-the time of day, English being the language of work and therefore daylight, Urdu being the language of socialization and therefore night-time.

-whether you begin you call with hello or AssalamuAlaikum.




Abez is a 50% white, 50% Pakistani, Muslim hijabi Momma of Khalid, a special little boy with autism, and Iman, a special little girl with specially big hair.

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