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A bloody good Friday

April 14, 2017

I did absolutely none of the things I had wanted to do. I was hardly productive. And yet, it was an absolutely amazing Friday. Ironically enough, as I write this, this was also the Good Friday – the Christian kind. However, I had a good Friday – the Bengali kind, even the non-Christian kind.

I forgot that it was the Bengali New Year- Pohela Boishakh. My IFC friend D took me to the IFC Pohela Boishakh rooftop party at the IFC. We had great company and hearty conversations. Even had laddu and shonpapri that the country officer had brought from Dhaka. A taste of the Desh on Pohela Boishaakh. That wasn’t the end. After party, D and I walked towards Dupont Circle, sang our heart out, laughed till we hurt, bought hot chocolate and green tea from a boy who was so pretentious that he spoke French to us the whole way. We ended  up at Kramer’s bookstore. Almost bought Junot Diaz’s ‘This is how you lose her’ until decided against it at the last minute.

On my Uber ride back home, the driver played some classical music. The DC scene looked surreal. As my tired body leaned against the back seat of the car, I struggled to look out the window to find the top of the Washington Monument against a beautiful spring sky as the car drove on 14th street. I thought about my life – I have no idea where I am headed. For a moment I wonder if I needed to have any idea about where I am headed anyway. Life is good, no?

I thought about this girl I saw in Dhaka about four years ago. I was stuck in traffic jam on my way to the Northend. I was on a rickshaw, and she was in some store. I was sweating from my head to toe. She was relaxed. My rickshaw was on a standstill. I decided to chat it up with the girl. I asked her in Bangla, ‘How old are you?’ She shrugged. And smiled and then said, “I don’t know”. As she said it, I realized how stupid a question it was! How would we live our life if we didn’t constantly have an artificial deadline on ourselves to find perfect career, perfect love, perfect home, etc. etc by a certain age? Perhaps, we could just stpo paying attention to how old we were.

I kept on thinking about that encounter. That girl had an impression on me. Every once in a while, when I get deep about where I am headed in life, or feel like a loser, I think of that girl.

My drifted back to DC. Now, I was on 395 south towards Virginia. I decided to Google Junot Diaz’s quote. As I was going through his quotes, I immediately regretted not buying the book, ‘This is how you lose her.”

And, then I still said to myself, this was still a bloody good Friday.

(I can’t feel the creative juice flowing in my writing right now. But I don’t care. I just want to get back to writing.)

Farewell Obama

January 10, 2017

Just finished watching Obama’s farewell address. I am in tears. Not sure how to deal with everything.

Today was a notable day. My orthopedist cleared me to come out of the boot on my left foot. I had a closed non-displaced fracture on my cuboid bone, when I sprained my ankle and fell while running. It on Nov 10, within 48 hours of the election. I had a pedestrian equivalence of a road rage as I thought about a certain Trump supported within my network. I was on my way home from work. On the bus, I was thinking how I would tell of this Trump supporter. I got off the bus, crossed a major intersection and took a sprint for no conceivable reason. Within seconds, I rolled my ankle inward, and fell violently. I hurt both my palms and knees. A couple of young men in hoodies seemed to be laughing at my misery. And, then, from out of nowhere, two strangers came. A couple from my apartment building. They carried me into the building, and then took the moving cart from the front desk and wheeled me into my apartment. Allah sent two complete strangers to help. I had called 911 but the paramedics went back saying they didn’t think I broke anything. But my ER visit 48 hours later with my friend (God bless her till the end of time), who’d stayed with me for 5 straight nights to take care of me, proved to be more dismal as they took an x-ray and determined that I had a fracture. Then had an appointment with an Orthopedist who gave me a boot. I mostly worked from home for an entire month. Again, I had amazingly kind hearted boss who allowed me to do so. So, my post-election-trauma induced boot finally came off on the day Obama also gave his farewell speech. His speech brought me near tears.

Earlier at work, two of the colleagues were chatting about the whole political situation. Both of them young white men. One talked about how his grandfather believed Obama was Muslim and that he wasn’t born in the US. And, that he always called Obama by his middle name. I explained, ‘Hussein’ means beauty by the way. ‘Must be the liberal media’, he jokingly said. ‘No, it’s my Egyptian Arabic immersion program,’ I smiled and replied. We spoke about another colleague who’d worked on John Kasich’s campaign. And then realized, instead of dismissing him as a Republican, he actually worked more to stop Trump than any of us.

On the day when the Obama administration didn’t veto the UNSC’s resolution to condemn Israeli settlement, I went to Jordan. And a couple of days later, on December 27, I was in Jerusalem. We were held up by the Israeli border folks at the Allenby bridge. That is a separate story altogether. I had been apprehensive but I was glad that I ended up going to visit Palestine despite having a broken bone. After seeing the settlements with my own eyes, I wished Obama had done something sooner/earlier, which would have made some real impact. But in any case, I am glad that the administration took some steps in their lame duck period.

I am proud to call him my President. He’s had his flaws, but despite everything, he showed good leadership. And, today, I found myself in near tears as he gave one last speech addressing the nation. Thank you, Obama.


December 14, 2016

Will have to write my reflections on another day. It’s been busy this week. I had a beautiful day. The uber driver was a South Korean gentleman who made small talk. At work, the holiday lunch was big. And of course, two friends came and M. made a cake for me!

Healing a wound

November 23, 2016

I canvassed hard for the Hillary campaign. We fought, we lost; I wasn’t surprised nor shocked. Even in our highly targeted GOTV (Get Out The Vote) campaign, I ran into Trump supporters even though according to our analytics, we shouldn’t have.

Two days after the election, I think as a secondary effect of the horrible, terrible, no good election outcome, I sprained my ankle and fell on the sidewalk still about 200 ft away from the entrance of my apartment. There was a deep abrasion on the palm of my right hand. Both knees and the other palm also had abrasions but nothing too big.

While it seemed two teenagers thought this painful fall was somehow funny, a couple appeared from out of nowhere. A middle aged man and his wife. They asked if I lived in the building. They told me that they also lived there and that they had seen me before. They practically carried me to my apartment. They were God-sent. I don’t think there is any other way to explain it. It is simply mercy of God- He sent them my way, exactly at that time, to take me home.

My pain was so intense that I called 911. I thought I had broken my foot. The paramedics came; they poked around my foot. They left after doing some first aid saying it’s unlikely that I have a broken bone given that I didn’t complain when they poked around in my foot.

A friend came and stayed with me for good 3 days until we went to the ER. They did some x-rays; and the doctor came and said, ‘it seems that you have a fracture. You may need surgery.’ I was freaking out. I had no visible sign of a terrible wound. But that was the verdict? My parents decided to come from NY to be with a me.

Two days later, I went to the Orthopedist. I made the most desperate dua’a during those 36 hours prior to my appointment. and the specialist looks at my x-ray and goes, ‘I can’t find any fracture. I don’t see anything.’ Then I showed them the note from the ER. And the specialist was in disbelief. I came out with a boot, no fracture, and a follow up appointment in 4-weeks time.

I have been resting for the most part. It’s been made possible by my parents being around. And, that friend who decided to stay with me for the first 5 days – the most crucial time.

Everyday I am watching my wound on my right palm. I see the new skin growing. I see the wound getting smaller. I can see the healing process. It is a rebuilding a process. After every damage, you heal again. You rebuild. Life has a beautiful way of continuing.

My God is infinitely merciful and generous. I don’t deserve all the love and yet here I am, being taken care of, over and over and over again. I want to believe with the last bit of blood in my body that my God will take care of me until my last breath. I am writing this as I am anxious about my future. I don’t know where I am headed. I don’t know what I am doing with my life. I feel directionless. I feel aimless. But I continue believing that God will guide me, show me the way, and make me content with my fate.

Ameen, ya Rabb. Have mercy on this sinful servant of yours.


October 24, 2016

As I walked into my work building today, this sign made me stop and pause. A pain of regret hit me harder than a brick hitting my face. 

I always wanted to be in the foreign service. It was kind of a childhood dream for me. And, when I saw this sign, I felt that why am I not there? I never took the FSOT because I was negotiating with everything else in life. Wanted a family; wanted to remain flexible for others; so on and so forth. Now, here I am- feeling like the ultimate failure I had never thought I would be. Among many other things, I still wonder how come I never chased my dreams?

This Ramadan is about facing myself

June 8, 2016

Ramadan is here, and it’s already been our 3rd day. I just got back from Fajr at my local mosque. My heart yearns to go back to Makkah. I cannot explain the thirst… the wistful tears… the sense of emptiness. I just want to be back there, looking at the beautiful black cover of the house of God. Just stare at it without track of time. Just stare at it… from afar, from near. Touch it, smell it, hug it. I just want to be back there. Dear Lord, please enable me to go there.

I got back from Australia less than 48 hours before Ramadan started. The travel experience was smooth, where I was able to make all the trickiest connections. It was interesting how I left Sydney on Friday at 10am and arrived in LA on Friday at 7am. My first time travel. Of course, I experienced a heart break in Sydney and I was trying to “escape” from my own life this Ramadan until something dawned on me last night during Taraweeh as I was having hard time concentrating despite the beautiful recitation.

I cannot escape my own life. I am stuck in my own body and in my own life. I cannot switch, change, alter, or trade my life with anything else. I am here; these days are meant to live by me in my own body. Come hell or high water, I am going to make the best of my time. No, I won’t take a drive just to escape from living my life. I will schedule things; and get things done.

This Ramadan – I will embrace life, to the fullest, with all the pain, and joy, I am going to LIVE. Because, Allahu Akbar – I am alive.

Off to Adelaide and no one checked my ID

May 26, 2016

I got off the train at the Domestic Terminal here in Sydney. Printed my boarding pass to Adelaide.

As I walked through the security line, I didn’t notice anyone checking ID or I just fell through the crack. I don’t know the Australian protocol. The security guy at the scanner asked me to just put my bag through the scanner. I asked if I needed to remove the shoes. He said, nah- just throw in your back pack there. Make sure you pockets are empty. I exclaimed, “you guys are so much more relaxed than America!”

“Yeah- we are chill! Why not make this your new home then?”

I said, “why not?”