Month: February 2015

Chapel Hill Shooting—let’s talk about what was lost.

February 10 2015 was an unfortunate day in the history of the US. On this day, at around 5:11 pm at Chapel Hill North Carolina three Muslim students Deah Barakat 23, his wife Yusor Abu Salha 21 and her sister Razan Abu Salha 19 were all shot dead execution-style by their neighbor Craig Hicks 46, an atheist—motivated by hate crime. I say ‘hate crime’ in the light of the interviews and comments provided by the immediate family and friends to the media, as opposed to a crime motivated by a ‘parking dispute’, an impression given by Hicks’ family (and some media outlets).

According to firsthand accounts of family and friends of the three students, Yusor had been worried about their neighbor for some time, who had appeared at their door several times carrying a gun in his belt and showing annoyance at them. Yusor had also raised her concerns regarding Hicks to her father for Hicks’ attitude towards them for being ‘different’ (implying their faith) from the rest, since both the sisters wore scarves to cover their heads.

But I don’t want to talk about what motivated Hicks to murder the three young, bright and amazing individuals. They were Muslims—which was the major problem—but more than that, they were human beings killed in cold blood depriving the community of the goodness, optimism and exuberance that reflected in their young personalities. I want to talk about Deah who was a basketball fan and student of dentistry at UNC, filled with a passion of helping the Syrian refugees, who was going to embark on a trip to Turkey this summer with donations to help Syrian refugee kids with oral hygiene. Deah, who was 6’3 tall and youngest in his family; Deah, who had recently married Yusor in December 2014 and it had hardly been over a month that both were murdered. Deah, a genuine human being who liked to tweet, post on facebook and instagram and create vines just like most of the kids that age. Deah had a secure and bright future ahead of him. He did not have to die. But he did.

I don’t want to talk about Hicks who thought wearing a scarf was an excuse convincing enough to pull the trigger on the head of a beautiful girl who was too naïve to call the police the first time Hicks appeared at her door with a gun. Her friend Amira Ata had warned her against him but Yusor had debated against the idea. I want to talk about Yusor, who is described by her friends as the sweetest and one of the most helpful people in the community. Yusor, who had also been involved in providing food to the homeless in the community; Yusor who was also helping Deah collect the donations for the Project Refugee Smiles. Yusor did not have to die. She had just been accepted at UNC dental school and was going to begin her new journey this fall. It doesn’t make sense.

I don’t want to talk about self-motivated holier than thou individuals who want to cleanse this world of people belonging to Muslim faith just because they exist. I don’t even want to give any thoughts to those bigots who applaud this condemnable act just because the three students represented a faith. I’d rather talk about the youngest victim Razan, 19, Yusor’s sister who was lively and creative, studying architecture at the University of North Carolina. Razan, who was an exemplary student at her university and was in the dean’s list for the fall semester 2014. Razan, who was working with Global Deaf Muslim to provide free access to Islam for the deaf. Razan had yet to graduate. She had only come to visit her sister when they were all shot dead.

These young people were just like the rest of the Americans, happy, chasing their dreams. And yet they were different—making difference in other peoples’ lives. And they have made a difference, for, the campaign Deah was working for has received donations over $120,000 after his death which was at a brief $16000 till some days ago (as reported by his sister Suzzane Barakat). While some people might have chosen to look at them differently because the sisters covered their heads symbolizing Islam, they were different because honestly, how many young Americans are involved in community social work and charity?

They have made a difference, letting the world know that not all Muslims show tendencies of ISIS or are terrorists. The anger and uproar caused on the social media which led to trends such as #ChapelHillShootings and #MuslimsLivesMatter even days after the tragic incident throughout the world, shows that even though Western Media tended to ignore the issue, the people around the world recognized that the young Muslims lives were not lost in vain and shall keep on lighting the beacon of hope and peace for their families and Muslim communities around the world.

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Book Review: Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown

I remember the time when I graduated a year and half ago and was extremely depressed about leaving school and coming back home. All of a sudden the world was expecting me to start acting as all grown up, find a job (as if they are offered on a platter) and get settled somewhere, anywhere where they pay excellent salaries, you have a healthy work-life balance and you could somehow manage to meet your friends and family (read all the relatives) on a regular basis. That was certainly too much to ask since I had not even gotten over my graduation and the post-graduation-trip-with-friends nostalgia. I lot of my friends and class fellows were going through the same feelings around that time.

It was during that time that I found the book ‘Adulting: How to become a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps’ by Kelly Williams Brown and started reading it. Needless to say, this book is one of the funniest and engaging self-help books I’ve ever read. This book was also nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2013 in the category of Best Humor.

Adulting is Kelly Williams Brown’s debut book and the idea of writing such book came to her after going through the period of Adulting (Adulting describes acting like an adult or engaging in activities usually associated with adulthood—often responsible or boring tasks)–when she started learning the art of acting like an adult through trial and error method.

Even though this book is relatively more suitable for Western kids graduating from colleges, who have to move out of their parents’ house to make everything on their own, I believe it is helpful for our kids as well, as there is has been a growing trend of moving out of parents’ houses (especially for kids from smaller towns to bigger metropolitan cities) in search of better jobs and careers.

Starting from the time one has graduated, and is depressed of leaving school and best friends behind to moving out and finding a place to live on reasonable rates, to learning to cook and clean your part of the house, the book describes in detail, every minor step of these adulting milestones. From tips to effectively packing your stuff and suitcases, to teaching easy recipes to cook, to domestic tips on how to clean your kitchen and bathroom, everything is elaborately discussed with witty monologues and funny diagrams from the author which keep the one-way dialogue interesting. There are even dramatic discussion questions at the end of every chapter which keep the reader engaged.

The chapters progress further to discuss faking etiquettes— the author believes that until you can’t fake it, you can’t make it—to getting in the line for one of the most difficult jobs in the world: getting a job. This chapter provides steps to networking with people (friends, friends of friends, friends of parents, parents of friends, etc.), scheduling your interviews and how not to screw your schedules of interviews to finally negotiating your salary and signing your job offer. There are further steps on how to dress and how to socialize with your coworkers.

Money is another important concern for newly-turned-adults. From politely refusing your work colleagues from hanging out, to splitting your dinner bills and managing to shop cheap but trendy clothes and accessories, Kelly offers easy and doable solutions to saving money and managing one’s budget.

Chapters following money include tips on making new friends at work and neighborhood—who might not be your age, but one of the best things about becoming an adult is that the age range of your friends starts to expand and you begin to enjoy the company of relatively older people—handling emergency situations and most important of all, managing to take out time for your family.

With a growing trend towards moving out of parents’ houses in search of better jobs, readers would certainly find this book helpful and entertaining (and even if it doesn’t help you much, it would make you feel better that you’re not the only one struggling).

One of the drawbacks of the book that I came across while reading was the fact that since it has been written from the perspective of a woman (Kelly Williams herself), it is more catered to the needs of women (or girls as you might want to put it)—especially in fashion trends, clothes choice, etc.

Nevertheless, ‘Adulting: How to Become a Grown up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps’ is a fun read and would get you out of your stressed state if you’re just out of college.

Average rating: 3.5/5

Seasons

Some people remind us of seasons—of the changing time and everything that changes with it.

Monsoon rains that would come in June some time ago when they were with you, have now disappeared, just like they did.

When leaves dry up, turn into yellowish green, and orange and then blow in the streets with howling wind in the fall, that’s when you get a glimpse of them. It’s a depressing scene but when were they ever cheerful? The voice of the winds is harsh but why is it that you always found them considerate and thoughtful even after they left?

Some people remind us of seasons.

A lonely walk on a snowy path in December and they accompany you with their warm hands in yours. They don’t say much so that you can listen to the silence of the snow and the beat of your steps on the ground, but their smile is as warm as a blanket. They might have left the place but have made their mark on your heart.

Some people remind us of seasons.

Of rain and rainbows and then the long awaited sunshine. They are those who dance with you in rain, look for rainbows during the pour, get bored and take them with you. They are those who await sunshine just like they had waited for rain and you.

And when the sun comes out, they would come out and follow its route, but never leave you behind. They would get tanned, burn in the sun until they’ve lost themselves but they would take a part of you with them.

Some people remind us of seasons. When they change, the world changes with them so that nothing remains the same.