Sunday, September 28, 2008

"nostalgia was their crack cocaine" - mohsin hamid's the relunctant fundamentalist.

so i went to philly this weekend, to spend time with the familia. and then on saturday, we went for taraweeh prayers at a school converted into a mosque. one of the biggest islamic schools of the country. after a long time, i felt quite spiritual and connected to God. I think the fact that you follow along with the words during prayer really makes a difference. your mind doesnt wander and for that moment you understand. anyways, being the new kid in the mosque, my sister warned me of the stares and the glances and the 'casual' inquiries by the aunties "woh kaun thi" ( insert the song woh kaun thi). my sister and her friend have devised a seeminly innoncently devious plan when they are accosted the next day with questions about me to dodge it with a kaun aunty, humnei tau kisi ko dekha nahin, koi bhin nahin tha. Muhahahah.

anyway, after maghrib prayers we headed to the iftari area and ended up randomnly sitting with people from the interfaith program. people from other faiths, who sometimes fast for a day in ramadan, and come to an iftari and maghrib prayer, observe and learn about islam. needless to say, i felt the most comfortable among them, far more so than with my muslim peers and random muslim aunties. topics of discussion were , the presidential debate, how obama is actually a muslim (not), deep literary references to harry potter (thanks to my sister's wit), math, professors boring students, kids who are scared of santa claus look alikes and how being a quant is no more the in thing
whereas with my muslim peers its mostly restricted to a. am i married? b. how old am i? c. and then my siblings age and because they are married, do they have kids?. ok, seriously WHY do you care, you probably will never see me again, why do you care? my brother in law thinks its just a mindset and its the equivalent to asking an unknown kid their age. for the record, i have done that. i have asked the standard questions that one asks a kid, what age, what grade are you in, what is your name, whats your brother's name. But, I have asked a lot more questions that that too.

so on the bus back, i reread the relunctant fundamentalist. i tend to reread a lot of my books, like i rewatch a lot of crap movies. everytime i reread i find something new in it. somehow there is so much i can identify with it. the confusion, the fitting in then not fitting in, the what-do-i-really-want-from-this situation, the suddenly scary moments where you just dont care.

anyways, i momentarily put the book back in my bag, when i had to transfer to the train station. at the train stop, i was shifting my duffel bag on one arm and trying to take out the book from my handbag, when just like that from a scene they show in movies, the duffel bag falls, not beside me, but on the train tracks. The train platform is so much higher than the train tracks and there is no way I can reach for it without actually jumping down to get it and possibly getting a high voltage shock. and even if i did jump down, and survived the voltage shock, how do i get back up again? For a moment im shocked coz I cant believe that this has happened. I curse myself for standing so close to the edge and Im even going "shit shit shit". outloud. A small crowd starts gathering around my area, everyone including me is watching my duffel bag like its going to miraculously airlift itself from the tracks. Finally some guy breaks the silence and is like you will have to ask the station head. And Im like great so much for reaching home in 2.5 hours. the usual why do these things happen to me, whats the most i can lose few clothes? thankfully it wasnt my handbag (the bright side of things), there are rats that scurry around the tracks, i have to do the equivlent of lysoling my bag, blah blah.

I tell the lady at the station counter, while trying to be the i-cant-believe-this-happened-i-really-dont-know-how-it-did. someone then starts yelling "miss miss someone retrieved your bag". i think i gave my brightest 100 watt smile then. and thanked the lady at the station counter and the lady who gave me this news and i see the train coming as well (less people will be staring at the dumb girl who dropped her bag on the train tracks once im on the train). i run towards the platform, and reach just as the train has pulled over the station. the lady who initially gave me the good news, goes this guy retrieved your bag. i look at him to thank him, but he has already disappeared into the crowd and i only now see the back of his head for a split second. I take my bag, wondering who he was, and board the train.

hah. ok i kid, the last part is just a scene for my potential movie. what actually happened, an alternate ending if you will, is some guy retrieved my bag with his huge umbrealla, this is the last time, i will crib about rain, all hail rain. And I thanked the good samaritan.

today's word of advice : dont stand close to the edge of the train platform.


Ashraf's Pen 12:33 PM  


Welcome to the 'PRETENDER' group. You have just satisfied the eligibility criteria of feeling like an outsider where you are actually supposed to feel at home.

The thing is this happens when we merge in with a crowd where we never really feel comfortable.

I never feel comfortable with the brother/sister mode of addressing some holier than thou and pious people start even before we are introduced.

Anyway u r lucky you got the bag back. Normally one would have to leave it lying at the tracks.

And yup those moments of spirituality feel great. The moments of solitude in the mosque fill us with strange and deep emotions. Maybe its the fact in the absence of smalltalk we get the chance to introspect.

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