No Nazar: South Asian weddings and podcast debuts

Standard
No Nazar: South Asian weddings and podcast debuts

I feel like I’m constantly falling in love with new people. Not romantic love; don’t be weird. But that kind of “oh my god I love your style/intellect/skills/what you have to say” love.

I recently met a woman named Zainab. From a Pakistani family, Zainab hails from Toronto, but her accent gives away the fact that she’s also got roots in the UK. She reached out in a Facebook group, looking for South Asian women (or non-binary/trans folks) to share their stories for a podcast she was starting called No Nazar. “Nazar” is the Urdu/Hindu word for evil eye, a concept that exists in nearly every culture… but has a very special place in ours.

The funny thing is that I had literally been scrolling through iTunes for the past few days, looking for podcasts by and about desi women. I had found a couple, but none with the same radical political/social beliefs as me (I’m sure they’re out there, I just couldn’t find them). After a few seconds of self-doubt and staring at her post in awe, I pushed myself to reach out to Zainab about my then-recently published article about South Asian weddings on The Tempest. I was honestly more excited to find out more about her project and when I could listen, but I figured, desis love weddings. My article and the discussion around desi wedding culture might be a perfect fit for her show.

Turns out, she’d actually already read it… a cousin had sent it to her. She invited me onto the show, and I spoke with her via Skype audio.

The podcast was fun as hell. Talking to Zainab about her vision for the show got me so hyped that I was eagerly awaiting this debut before I even found out I’d be the guest featured in it.

I’ve posted the episode above. Please do give it a listen, and share on social media where you can. It’s on Soundcloud for now, but I’ll update once it’s finally up on iTunes as well.

[Update: You can find the iTunes version here. Or just find No Nazar in your Podcasts app.]

I always fall in love when I meet a Pakistani woman who is unafraid to talk about the things that need to be said.  No Nazar is one-woman show, and that one woman is absolutely someone worth following. Put this on your list of “Podcasts to Watch”. Zainab did a fantastic job with every aspect of the show, and she is such an insightful, intelligent, and creative person that it’s only going to get better from here.

Nazar na lag jaye.

 

Advertisements

A tribute to my SJP days

Standard
A tribute to my SJP days

Had another article published on The Tempest a couple days ago about some of the most common questions I heard while arguing with Zionists in college. It was one of the most fun parts of being in Students for Justice in Palestine, to be honest. The arguments were almost too easy, but it’s fascinating to watch people completely brush aside stone cold fact.

I shared it in a few Facebook groups and got some good feedback. One person shared their own blog post about their experience as a Palestinian taking a Hebrew class. It’s actually really thoughtful, and I totally recommend reading it. The best narratives are always of those directly affected by an issue.

I used my writing to not-so-subtly send my wedding guests a message

Standard
I used my writing to not-so-subtly send my wedding guests a message

My wedding isn’t for another year, but people have been constantly asking us about it since we got engaged a few years back. I guess your current life checkmarks tend to be good conversation starters, but when you’re desi, there’s definitely some people who are just interested because wedding. And there’s been so many things that have bothered me about people’s expectations, as well as what I’ve witnessed at the weddings I’ve been to over the past few years (and my whole life).

I started an editorial fellowship at The Tempest last month, and my first beat was Culture + Taste (both subjects going under Life now, as the site made some changes just this past week). One of the first things I wrote was basically a venting session about everything I’m refusing to do at my wedding or trying to prevent.

You can check it out here

I’ll admit, I did also write it because I figured it’d be a popular subject with people… and apparently it has been, as it’s currently one of the top articles on the site. And yeah, I’m proud of that…

But honestly, I’m mostly just glad that most of future guests have probably read it by now. Is it tacky to print it out and stuff into the invitations too?

How one tweet changed my life (actually, just my day)

Standard

Trump’s meltdown and the subsequent media (particularly social media) reaction kind of made the world feel sane again. I feel like more people are finally giving all of this the freak-out it deserves. My favorite freak-out last night, however, was my dad’s over my tweet being featured in a Huffington Post article.

But apparently my come up isn’t over.

 

Thank you, Sara Haines. I’m (very, very) available for hire.

As for my newfound fame, here’s a list of my next steps:

  • Book deal. “Gola Ganda Dreams” has a nice ring to it, don’t ya think?
  • Disney World. I’m in need of a vacation from my chronic underemployment.
  • Reality show. (No seriously, I’ve got a wedding coming up and my family’s drama makes the Kardashians look like C-SPAN.)
  • Pretending I don’t know people when I see them (I can do passive aggressive better than you).
  • I get free tickets to Warped Tour now, right?
  • Finding someone else to update my blog for me.

I made it, Ma! Now I should probably sit down and explain Twitter to you.

Sorry, ‘legal’ Muslims aren’t safe… even if they’re doctors

Standard

This one’s for my doctor family members/friends.

The topic of the Muslim ban has been a rollercoaster for American Muslims. The 9th circuit shot down its reinstatement after Trump saw them in court (heh), but there’s talk of it going higher up and people are concerned about being asked about social media passwords, more countries being added to the list, wedding shopping being put in jeopardy, CBP officers just being all around jerks (seriously, click on that link, you need to hear it). In my own neck of the woods, there were reports of people being harassed for proof of legal status in certain neighborhoods that were clearly racially targeted.

Regarding all of this, a relative of mine stated that those who haven’t done anything wrong have nothing to fear and that if the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is giving someone with a green card trouble, then there must be a reason.

It’s always so, so hard to see your loved ones forget where they came from.

The fact of the matter is that no, this country does not treat us all equally and with liberty and justice for all. No, working hard is not enough nor is it the monopoly of those who “came here legally.” (Why, this entire country was founded on “illegal immigration,” my dears.) Undocumented immigrants work just as hard as the rest of us, and often times, harder than many of us. That being said, doing things the legal way, the right way, following orders and keeping your head down is. not. a. guarantee. Especially when you are a person of color.

Just ask the hundreds of unarmed black people shot by police, the dozens taken down by a bullet in the back.

Just ask the 26 (confirmed) people wrongfully detained after September 11th when their only crime was being Arab/Muslim.

I’m not one to beat the “If you’re a doctor, you’re a paragon of citizenry and humanitarian good” narrative (sorry, Mom, you tried), but one must admit that most immigrants who come to this country and break their backs putting themselves through the physical, psychological, and financial torture that is residency tend to be good people. Whether or not there’s parental pressure involved, once you go through a few months of getting coughed on and yelled at and sticking your fingers in places you’d rather not stick them, you can’t help find yourself in it for the long haul. The men and women that go through the grueling process of immigrating here and then dedicate themselves to serving their new countrymen and saving their lives… well, those are the kind of the people who help make our country great (although, I guess we could blame them for keeping the Baby Boomers so healthy and able to destroy our economy and morale, but that’s another blog post). We’re all agreed on that, right? Right.

Well. Not all.

 

Are all immigrant doctors fantastic people? Nope. (Sorry, Mom, some of the people I’ve met in your social circles suuuuuck.) But they’re not going to waste their time going through medical school, taking the USMLEs, getting a visa/green card/spouse, going through immigration, going through the hell that is the match process… to plan a terrorist attack or spread Sharia law. (Although they won’t say no to a new halal joint close enough for them to grab a late night snack on call.) Speaking of that hell, the match process is like the Sorting Hat on Steroids Even Lance Armstrong Would Not Go Near. Cleveland Clinic, one of the best hospitals in the country, probably knows this woman’s childhood cat’s middle name and what her dad ate for breakfast (and how all of that will affect her ability to practice medicine). Basically, the fact that she’s even a doctor at Cleveland Clinic means she’s been vetted and she’s a good enough person to stick her fingers in patients at one of the toughest places to get a residency.

Unless her dad ate the plain Cheerios over the Honey Nut, she didn’t do anything to be forced out of the country except be a Muslim. And we’d do well to remember that.

Trump rumored to add more countries to ban list, including Pakistan, Egypt, and Afghanistan

Standard

Hearing through the grapevine (the immigration lawyer grapevine, to be exact) that there is a draft of an executive order which adds the following countries to the current ban:

  • Egypt
  • Lebanon
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Southern Philippines
  • Trans-Sahara (Mali)
  • Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral

Rumor is that this executive order is to be given tomorrow. It is uncertain whether this will affect green-card holders (as in, permanent residents who have already been extremely vetted) and dual citizens. The last executive order did/does not apply to dual citizens who hold US citizenship, but no word on whether this one will be the same. (This is of particular importance to my family and me, as most of us are dual citizens of the United States and Pakistan.)

Note that a few of these are not Muslim-majority areas (the Southern Phillipines do have a sizeable Muslim population, however). I’m not sure whether this is specifically designed to make it seem as though this is not targeting Muslims, but Rudy Giuliani has already confirmed for us that a ban on Muslims has always been Trump and his administration’s intent. There is also the fact that the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv has assured Israel that its (Jewish) citizens holding dual nationality with one of the banned countries would be exempt.

I hope these rumors are mistaken. But as my fiancé just noted, “it’s starting to feel like Trump just executed Order 66.”

Making America racist again (even though it never really wasn’t)

Standard

Trump’s Muslim ban is having consequences for more than visa and green card-holders from the seven listed countries. My best friend and cousin, Faiza, was returning from her honeymoon in Belize Saturday evening, when she was held for hours at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. I caught sight of her husband’s Facebook post while at a birthday party (her brother’s 40th, incidentally):

I saw the post not long after he put it up, so my jaw dropped when I saw how widely it had spread the next day. What amazed me even further was how many people in the comments were accusing Javad of lying. I know the people involved personally… Indeed, very closely. I can assure you that they are both U.S. citizens; Javad was born here and Faiza lived here her entire life (the only reason she wasn’t born in the US is because her mother was visiting family at the time of her birth). Both of their families are from Pakistan, a country that is not even part of the executive order.

I’m not sure what part of this does not “add up,” as I saw multiple people on the post claim. Muslims and people of Arab and/or South Asian descent have been harassed and intimidated at airports consistently for the past 15 years (yours truly included). What happened to Javad and Faiza isn’t surprising to me in the least, but it’s alarming all the same. While speaking with Javad, he pointed out how the customs personnel did the maximum they possibly could to harass these two and get away with it. The CBP kept Javad and Faiza long enough to cause them distress, but not long enough for them to miss their flight. Had they missed it, the airline or airport would have been forced to accommodate them for a new flight as well as lodging, which would have required a report as to why they had been held so long (the reason being none).

While my cousin did make her flight in the end, this isn’t something to be brushed off. Children were detained at these airports, and I can’t tell you how many petitions I’ve seen for international students being kept from returning to complete their studies (many of them on scholarships). Even if your country of origin (or your family’s) is not on the list, what’s to stop Trump from adding them overnight? What’s to stop him from adding all Muslims, regardless of nationality overnight? Honestly, what’s to stop them from escalating it to camps? A Trump crony did mention the Japanese-American internment camps as precedent back in November.

Just as an executive order like this emboldened those customs personnel to harass my cousin, the executive order— indeed, Trump’s election itself— has emboldened bigots all over to harass, intimidate, and even attack Muslims. Take the shooting at a Quebec City mosque last night. Richard Spencer, despite being punched in the face twice already, had this to say in response to that tragedy:

Don’t kid yourself by thinking that Spencer or those who shot up the mosque are outliers. The fact is that they’re not not, and that there’s a reason the alt-right movement is taking so much power. You need to take that power back (yes, you). Figure out how to contact your representatives and tell them about your concerns. Demand they take action. Here are a couple different scripts you can try if you’re stuck on what to say (along with some good ideas from Laura Silverman’s Twitter feed):

It’ll only take a few minutes of your time, but it could affect us all for far longer.