By Waqas Banoori

East and West aren’t different only in terms of culture, race and ethnicity – our sports are also different. Back at home we play cricket, and here I was introduced to this new game: Baseball. When I went to my first baseball game, I was surprised when they told me that a team usually makes a single digit run to win the game. But my American friends were also surprised to learn that players sometimes make more than 300 runs during a single cricket match. Baseball games end in three to four hours, whereas cricket matches sometimes go on for days.

The experience of attending an American baseball game was wonderful. Thousands of people were in the stadium attending  the game and they felt so safe. In Pakistan, the security issue alone doesn’t allow us to go and watch the game live. In 2009, the visiting Sri Lanka team was attacked during a match, and since then no international team has come back. I can recall attending a city-level match played between two different Pakistani departments earlier this year in Islamabad. All the nearby roads were blocked, a number of checkpoints were built and it looked like a barricaded area due to the militant threat.

Also interesting, I could see women watching the game either with friends or alone, without any fear of being bullied or harassed. It is one of the unfortunate realities of my country:  women do not enjoy all of the basic freedoms that men enjoy. For instance, it wouldn’t be easy for a woman to go alone and watch a match in Pakistan.

Overall, I’m finding it quite inspiring and I am sure that I’m going to miss baseball games when I return to Pakistan. But now I am proud to say that I am one of the few Pakistanis who knows and understands baseball. I may not be a very good player, but maybe I can play a bit with my American friends back in Pakistan.

Pittsburgh, my host city, is home of  the Pirates. Truthfully, it seems that they always enter the field to lose, and sometimes win unwillingly. So, while Pirates aren’t that good, I can’t help but ask myself: Am I becoming a Pirates fan?