These posts on social media are disappointing, “The people behind last night’s attacks weren’t Muslims. They were extremists using religion as vindication for their cowardice.”
Oh really? Ummmm, but they were Muslims. They don’t represent all Muslims, not all Muslims are “terrorists”, but these pricks WERE Muslims. Yes, your Muslim taxi driver doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Yes, the Muslim gas station attendant is just trying to get through the grueling workday. Yes, my Muslim family and friends came to America to have a better life and do their best to live according to the ideals of a civilized society. Yes, these people who obliterated hundreds of innocent people were Muslims. Are we not intelligent enough to discern that all these statements can be true?
If you’ve observed the faces of people commuting to their jobs on a Monday morning then you probably noticed that they look like cheap deflated air mattresses that are being dragged down the street against their will. You’ll pass one person that is skipping down the street, extremely enthusiastic, with a big smile on their face, and a pin affixed to their lapel that reads “#HappyMonday”. The rest of us, however, are so cranky that we want to snatch that person’s lapel pin and stab them in the face with it until they bleed to death, because, #FuckMondays.
When a friend told me suicide was not the answer, I looked at her like she didn’t understand the question. How would I have taken away the pain? How? How? How? I couldn’t handle it! Did she really think that I wanted to fucking die? No, I didn’t, but I needed that feeling to stop 😖!
Death is a difficult topic to discuss with another person. As humans we are so obsessed with immortality and survival that our fears regarding the end of life are projected onto others. This aversion to the idea of suicide can also stem from our religious upbringing as well as our deep seated insecurity. It’s not till we face anguish in our own lives that we have empathy towards others that prefer dying rather than soaking in physical or psychological agony.
Malta was a pretty place. Some of the architecture was cool. The beaches were decent. That’s about it. The food was average and they made espresso with Nescafé instant coffee granules. Legit.
While planning our vacation to Malta, my girlfriend was super excited about the upcoming adventure. It would occur at the end of my two month trip to Scandinavia (read more about it) and London. My girlfriend joined me for my last few days in London, and we took a short flight to Malta. While we were there she was underwhelmed by the experience because of the average food, watered down coffee, poor transportation and mediocre beaches. By the time we returned to New York she felt that Malta wasn’t worth the visit. If I charted out her enthusiasm prior to visiting Malta in comparison to her feelings after we left it would look like a plane plummeting from 35,000 feet.
We had just arrived to America from Pakistan and my dad gave my brother a quarter so that he could play the Pac-Man arcade game. I wanted to play too, so I asked my dad for a quarter and he said I could have one of my brother’s Pac-Man lives. I kicked, screamed and yelled, “I want my own quarter!” I cried, and I cried. My family didn’t budge. I was 7, and with my brother being 10 years older, I was the baby of the family with three guardians around me. I was also a spoiled
I remember being confused as my tears dried up while my brother played Pac-Man. In Pakistan I usually got whatever I wanted. I didn’t really have to share with anyone because my parents had a solid income coming in, at least for Pakistani standards. My dad owned a tiny take out joint under a movie theater where he served Indian-Chinese fast food. My mom is college educated and had a nice job at a bank. We owned our apartment, a car and a scooter. By deciding to move to America we had to give up everything. We had to give up our property, careers and lifestyles for the American Dream. Being that a US quarter was like 5 million thousand billion Pakistani rupees, I understand why my parents couldn’t afford to give both their children a quarter each to play a video game. We were poor immigrants.
After my piece about Iceland, I figured I would write a separate article about each Scandinavian city I visited. However, I realized that all these cities are very similar to each other in terms of culture and point of view (though they probably wouldn’t agree with me) so I figured I would just write one article and try to encapsulate the unique aspects of each city.
I visited Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen, and Stockholm (click on the links to go directly to the part of the article regarding the specific city) to conclude my Scandinavian trip. These Nordic cities, and their respective countries, all share similar values. They all believe in equality for all. As long as you are happy with the choices you’re making, without it affecting others, you should be allowed to live within society without harm. They don’t like individualism in society. It’s all about WE. No one person is better than another nor better than society itself. It’s a way of thinking called the Law of Jante.
The first night I was in Reykjavik (you’re probably pronouncing it wrong) I headed to bed around 1am. I am awoken, in a groggy state, by heavy bright light peering from the edges of the thin beige curtains that were covering the windows. The curtains themselves were glowing white as if there was an angel standing on the opposite side blasting it with magic powder. I reach for my phone. It’s 3am! WTF!
If you want to go to a place that has normal daylight hours, you probably shouldn’t be visiting Iceland. During the spring/summer it’s light out most of the day and then in the fall/winter, expect complete darkness. I was there in May, so I had to put on my sleeping mask every night I was there and had to continue doing that as I visited other Scandinavian cities (more on that in future posts. Sign up for the newsletter to be in the loop yo!) because they are very similar to Iceland when it comes to daylight.
“Guys…guys! Check this out, he’s about to pay with his watch…” I twist my hand and align my watch’s screen with that of the payment processor as the eyes of all the employees are on the little piece of constructed aluminum that is being held onto my hairy wrist by a white sport band. (beep) “Oh my god, it worked, that is so cool. What is that, the iWatch? I’ve never seen anyone pay like that.”
That was the common reaction I’ve been getting as I travelled through Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and England. People are just blown away that someone is making purchases with a timepiece.
Even people that look as if they are having the shittiest day at work and that the last thing they want to do is to serve a latte (no I’m not off the drug yet 😕) to a prick like me, see me pay with my Apple Watch, and are caught off guard. The neurotransmitters in their brain, which had laid stagnant throughout the day as they went about performing menial tasks, start rapidly firing while they marvel at the technological progress stemming from this tiny gadget. Then their mouths slowly open in wonderment: are we already in the future?
Last night, Friday, the start of the weekend, I decided to take a stroll around Shoreditch, which is the London neighborhood I’m residing in while I’m here performing. The area’s style is akin to Lower Eastside in NYC, Wicker Park in Chicago, Kreuzberg in Berlin or Södermalm in Stockholm. Part artsy, part hipster, with buildings plastered in graffiti. White people graffiti though, where it’s considered art, not colored people graffiti where it’s considered gangsta. Everything around here has a bit of an edge to it, and it captures the type of places and people I’m drawn to.
I don’t have many friends in London. I have more than most out of towners would, but not enough who I’ve made close personal relationships with. Since I’m only in London for a limited time I want to go do something whenever I’m free, but I find myself not having many friends here that would be down if I called. I guess since I travel a lot by myself it’s no different than most of the other cities I’ve visited. I’m used to it.