Tuesday, November 29, 2005

my friend's father passed away today. i have no idea what to write/think/feel and cannot imagine what M is going through. but M you are in my thoughts and if i could help lessen your grief, i would jump at the chance.

my posts in these situations are always the briefest- i'm not much of a writer at these moments.

we all care about you so much.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

carry it with me

at the masjid a few weeks ago, we were talking about our experiences in india- namely, the fact that no matter how traditionally we are dressed, despite our obviously indian skin and hair, we cannot pass for indian-born when we visit that country.

my friend said that she was in a salwar kameez, with her indian-born cousins and her father, at a ticket booth. she hadn't opened her mouth, she was standing among other girls her age, and yet the ticket seller gave her cousins and father the local's price and gave her the foreigner's price.

i can believe that. in pakistan two years ago, at taher's brother's wedding, i was out shopping with taher's cousin, dressed precisely as she was dressed, and i was called out as an american time and again. i wasn't speaking- i was simply standing or walking or examining fabrics. every time i have visited india, the same thing has happened.

i know that my friend and i are not alone in this experience- i have heard so many people say that they cannot pass as anything other than an american.

if you look at me, i look unmistakably non-white. which is, for many people abroad, the mark of western-ness. what then, am i giving off, that labels me as the american that i am?

i think it's interesting that i carry this nation in my stature, in my body language, in my gestures. i wouldn't think so, but i am told time and again that even without speaking, i act like an american. i am not singing english lyrics or waving a flag; i don't have to, apparently, to stand out as distinctly a product of the u.s.

i don't think this is a negative thing. not at all. i am an american and i am indian. and i'm comfortable in a shirara and glass colored bangles and mehndi-ed hands, and i do not think that my accent contradicts my skin.

but i am surprised that america is so enmeshed in the aspects of my self that i cannot control; and i rather like the fact that i am bound to the variety of other girls of american birth, girls not only with indian skin but every other type and color of skin, by the american bias to our actions and gestures.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


i had a great eid- everyone was in a perfect mood and i felt a real appreciation for my family and friends. taher took his exam and thought it went very well. and i got a new client, the kind i've been looking for and hoping for for a long time.

i have been trying to contact this lead for two months, and he called me on tuesday and dropped a huge project into my lap. i am writing a newsletter for a non-profit organization that tells of the situation in pakistan after the earthquake. i am writing of the people, their suffering, their stories. i am including pictures that are incredibly real and won't get out of my head.

this assignment will, inshallah, be a permanent monthly assignment- i will, as the months go on, cover different programs that this NPO develops. and i believe, after only one day of working on it, that it will be different from any other writing i have ever done.

it is not difficult to write poignantly when your topic is suffering. but it is difficult to do justice to your topic when you know that something significant and weighty rests upon the quality of your work. i must deliver, because like all NPO's, this one needs me to touch people's hearts and turn them into donors.

i worked on this assignment for hours yesterday, on eid. i didn't keep the plans i had originally made for the day because i wanted to do a good job, and i think i made some progress towards that end. i was told, later, that many of the people i had been writing of didn't even celebrate eid. of course. they were too busy looking for their missing relatives and waiting in line for supplies of food and water.

anyway. this post is about shukur, so before i tangent off irrevocably, i will end here.

mubarak to us all.