A Travellerspoint blog

4th of July

My first one in the States in 3 years.

sunny 36 °C

Yep, that's right. For the first time in 3 years, I've spent 4th of July stateside. And, unsurprisingly, it felt just like any other day. I don't think I even saw any fireworks.

Ok, that's a lie, I saw one or two. But nothing dramatic.

Friday I went inside a mosque for the first time. My uncle went to go see how construction and remodeling were going; the mosque was actually a former church. I walked around the building and a specific window pane was pointed out to me. I took a look and saw 8 bullet holes in the glass. The bullets hadn't gone all the way through, but the damage was clearly visible. The incident had occurred about a week before. I went inside, though I was only allowed to see the women's section of the mosque. While my uncle was busy speaking to some noteworthy figure from the mosque, I was told to go chitchat with his wife, who happened to be a devote Bengali. After finishing her prayers, she introduced herself, easing my perhaps ridiculously obvious signs of discomfort. Our conversation, though brief, quickly turned to the culture of the South and whether we were racist. And although yes, there are plenty of stupid people in the South, I'm sure there are just as many ignorant and racist folk in the North. Regardless of where anyone was after 9/11, if you were brown skinned, it was going to affect you in some way or another. And it did. I hate referring back to that event as I don't want to sound like I'm searching for some kind of pity. Because I'm not.

She started telling me about how even within Islam, there were difficulties. She spoke of the different sects of Islam, the Sunnis, the Shi'ites. She spoke of how even other Muslims, her neighbors even, didn't know the differences between them and how, in the end, they were still the same people in Allah's eyes. That in the end, if a Muslim, or anyone, wanted to know the teachings, all they had to do was open a book.

I admitted my ignorance to myself, and just as I went to admit it to her and ask for clarification about sects, my uncle came and told me it was time to go. We shook hands and left.

I'm amazed at how many people don't know anything about the world's religions. And I'm not pretending to be educated on this matter, either. But when ignorance turns into rudeness, when it turns into hostility, general dislike for someone, or violence, then it's a serious issue. And that's when I get pissed off. I know there are students even at Hendrix who judge me for having a faith other than Christianity. But do they judge out of ignorance? Do they disrespect me and my faith because they don't know anything about my religion, or perhaps even, because they don't even know a thing about their own? Doesn't their religion state that everyone should be loved?

I don't even know enough about my own religion. Perhaps that's why I struggle to go to the Gurdwara. I cannot understand what they are saying. And I'm not the only one. I know there are many people, Sikhs from America and also Punjab, who sit there without any real idea of what the Guru Granth Sahib (our holy book known as the eternal guru) is actually saying. I don't know what the scriptures state. It's not a fact I'm proud of but I do hope to rectify it.

I cannot seem to remember what my Friday and Saturday consisted of. Although Friday involved a trip to Red Mango and Dick's Sporting Goods and Saturday involved the watching of both world cup games, a trip to the mall in which I was almost successful but not, and later, I trip to Moolala. I've become a recent fanatic of frozen yogurt.

For the 4th, my cousin's fraternity brothers had a bbq party. I don't think I've ever been to a party with so many Punjabi Americans and actually conversed with them. Maybe I'm getting used to this after all.

Posted by ReenaB 16:23 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Half Way Done

...And NOW I'm starting this blog.

25 °C

Yeah, my bad on this one. I meant to, really I did. But somehow, my bloggings just didn't happen. So even though now I have less than 3 weeks left, I'm just going to go ahead and say what I can. A lot has happened already in the weeks I've been here. So much so that I can't even express it. I've been writing letters to some folks and even then, it's a struggle for me to say all that I really want.

I'm finally starting to feel at ease here, although I do have some reservations.

The whole experience here is so completely different. Somehow, the culture shock I've been experiencing has been much more severe than I had expected. I guess my travels have always taken me to far away places like France, Italy, and India, where differences in cultures were to be expected. But I'm not talking about differences between the North and South, big city versus small. I'm talking about ethnic cultural differences.

I'm Indian American. I've always had straight up American friends. Indians have never really been a part of my life. Well, besides my parents, I mean.

But here, it's different. Here I see old ladies in Punjabi suits walking down the street. I hear Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu being spoken in public. I'm around Indian Americans more than I am around any other kind of ethnic group. And it's... different. It's not what I'm used to. And I'm not going to lie, in the beginning, it was really tough.

My office is located in Queens, just 4 metro stops and a bridge away from being in Manhattan. I can even see the Manhattan skyline from the studio. I'm being trained to be a video editor here. It wasn't what I was expecting, but then again, I don't really know what I was expecting. I came into this blindly with no real ideas as to what I would even like to do. So after some awkward moments, I was hooked up with some thousand dollar software and away we went. I've done two main projects and I've been training in between. Actually, I should be finishing up my training modules on Adobe After Effects right now.

Tomorrow's the weekend. It will probably consist of me sitting around, watching the World Cup games, studying for the GRE, working on some stuff. Hopefully going running. And hopefully doing something fun. I'm itching to go into Manhattan seeing as I've only been twice so far. Even if it is just walking around the city, I've enjoyed the atmosphere of it. Though I won't lie, living on Long Island can be rather restrictive.

Now, to go back to my training. And eating this donut with a spoon.

Posted by ReenaB 07:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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