October 28, 2005

'Harbor' - Lorraine Adams

'Water never warms in American harbors'
This opening line in Lorraine Adams's first novel 'Harbor' captures the essence of the story; that of an illegal Algerian immigrant trying to make America his safe harbor after fleeing the harsh reality of a civil war that is consuming his native country.

Aziz, a soft spoken, educated, and honest human being rides through a series of horror coasters while trying to lose himself in the Boston suburbia trying to evade the FBI. He and his relatively harmless compatriots are constantly hounded by the fear of getting captured. It is within this terrifyingly opaque and stifling environment that Aziz finds himself longing for "a person speaking to him, and ..someone's eyes meeting his own".

Adams empathetic portrayal of an illegal Islamic immigrant community trying to eek out an existence in a foreign land under the threat of underinformed, narrow minded, and prejudiced Intelligence and Surveillance Forces, is a very thought provoking novel. Though the setting of the story is pre 9/11, the profiling and the discrimination that is meted out to this small community of Algerians is reminiscent of the post 9/11 scenario.

Yet, the novel is not about terrorists or terrorism. This starkly naked tale of ordinary human beings, uprooted from their native land and in desperation trying to make this new land their home, is both terrifying and heart rending. It forces any rational minded individual to reflect on his prejudices; especially those pertaining to religion. Does a person's religion make him less human or less deserving of human kindness? Will our religious differences prevent us from communicating with each other as human beings? Will our religious affiliations divide us irrevocably such that there will be no bridges left that would let the milk of human kindness to flow? Will humanitarianism in this country be forever drowned in a deluge of post 9/11 suspicion and hatred?

Finally, can Aziz's story have a different middle and end?

October 26, 2005

It's never too late.

How do I thank someone who has always been my benefactor, but unacknowledged to date? A one man cheer leading squad who didn't tire applauding my meanest achievement; be it my first step as a one year old, getting a driving license at seventeen, or then reaching an academic milestone along the way. One who kept giving at his end, regardless of my response; kept forgiving me my selfish and callous acts while rendering unconditional love and support. My all-time security net that took the brunt of my rash doings. Pulled, ripped,and beaten, yet always resilient, despite its wear and tear, to bounce me back one more time to put me back on track.

Unfortunately, this net is mortal and it's this reality that has shocked me out of my complacency that now makes me want to say,'Thank you for being there for me'.

This person celebrates his eightieth birthday this week.

October 17, 2005

Manhattan by night; a heightened view

A treat alright!
in flagrance of darkness
blatant, buoyant, and bright
breathtakingly beautiful
a voyeurs delight

toweringly tall
amidst it all
benignly billowing
the wispy whites
that churlishly curled
extending their flight

close to touch
yet so afar
a game 'twas
playing hookey
with the moon'n all

Myriad metal, in monotonous motion
ruby white necklace bordering the ocean
an endless stream of stars
that threatened to hypnotize
a harmony, that description defies

October 13, 2005

Voices in the rain; NY and Muzaffarabad

Will school be out tomorrow due to all this flooding?
Did the earthquake bring down my school or is it still standing?

Rain; my plans are in trouble!
Aaah water to parched lips; trickling through the rubble

Mom, soccer game's cancelled due to rain.
Only ten some miles to walk so don't complain.

What, another detour! I'm already late.
Wading through the water coz the bridge's swept away.

Couldn't call you hon, telephone lines are down
Can just someone hold my hand,... anyone?

Tires skidding, got to go slow
Why don't I feel my feet anymore?

Relief! Rain at last; my lawn'll grow.
Death toll'll rise and relief'll come slow

Visibilty is low so the plane won't land
What's this I feel, a leg or a hand?

Lazy rainy weather, just right for a slumber
Faint cries for help, there from down under

Cookies with a hot cuppa cocoa, and a blanket for my feet
orphaned corpses; no one to bury them; a scavenger's treat.

All's right with the world, good will's reigning
All's wrong with the world, there's nothing remaining.

October 11, 2005

Oil Crisis

A perspective on the recent oil crisis that hit the USA. This letter, written by a 14 year old, got published in a local newspaper.

Gas prices soar, hopes of driving sink
Home News Tribune Online 10/11/05
Only a few days ago, while gazing out the window of the family car, I saw something so incredible that it actually held my interest for more than 30 seconds. Gas was selling at $3.18 a gallon!

As a teenager, looking at gas prices at the $3 mark made my future as a driver rather bleak. Only a couple of years away from getting a drivers license, the thought of not being able to have my own car because of the soaring gas prices is depressing to say the least. I may never be a car-driving senior in high school. At the current rate of events one can only imagine what will become of cars, people who drive them, and of course those already over-pumped oil wells of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia does have the most petroleum reserves in the world; with 260 billion barrels, about 24 percent of the world's total. It also ranks as the largest exporter of oil, mostly to the U.S.

The leaders of the Saudi Kingdom are claiming that there is no lack of oil and that they have enough oil to last a "very long time." However, if this is true, that there is such abundance of oil, why are the gas prices still escalating?

Saudi Arabia may not be lying, they really may have enough oil to last a while, but will not be enough for everyone.

Given the present consumption rate of oil around the world, and given that the Saudi oil wells may not be able to produce at the same capacity for very long, we have to face the reality which stares us right in the eye; no longer will there be enough oil for everyone to share. That is the start of the post-oil age.

At present, the world needs 84 million barrels a day, and this necessity is barely being met. With the recent rise in prices, and the predictions for little improvement on the current conditions, there is every reason for gasoline prices to exceed $5 a gallon or even more. Peter Maass, ajournalist in the New York Times Magazine makes you think about how close this post-oil age is, "The start of the post-oil age does not begin when the last drop of oil is sucked from under the Arabian desert. It begins when producers are unable to continue increasing their output to meet rising demand. Crunch time comes long before the last drop."

That crunch time is what we are facing right now.

October 10, 2005

Columbus Day. A celebration?

Am I 'celebrating' Columbus Day? The American holiday that honors the mariner-discoverer Columbus who came to this land some 600 odd years ago in quest of a passage to India, and opened up the route for all future immigrants to this rich and beautiful land.

The dictionary defines him as an "Italian explorer in the service of Spain who determined that the earth was round and attempted to reach Asia by sailing west from Europe, thereby discovering America (1492). He made three subsequent voyages to the Caribbean in his quest for a sea route to China".

Undoubtedly, Cristopher Columbus epitomized the spirit of adventure, the ability to take risks, and also the ability to persevere in the face of all odds. He deserves to be commemorated as a hero. However, as is always, there is a flip side to this; the colonization of the Americas that happened thereafter. Columbus's successful endeavor initiated an exodus that displaced and brought immense sufferring to the indigenous population of 'the new world' that he had discovered. The native americans, who so far were living in peaceful coexistence with nature in this land of plenty were now expected to share their land with peoples who had no intention of ever returning to their own lands. In today's terms it was a 'forced occupation' which eventually took away the controls from the indigenous population of the occupied country.

History in a new perspective can be unforgiving. Columbus's quest, and his accomplishment of it, made way for Spain to conquer the Americas, which in a present day context is not viewed favorably. Thus, the 'Day of Discovery' in Venezuela was renamed the "Day of Indegenous Resistance' last year, and a 100 year old statue of Columbus was toppled and then dragged through downtown Caracas by a mob. Even in the USA there are groups that protest the Columbus Day holiday and the sentiment is gathering momentum despite the existence of the much loved large Italian American population that inhabits this country.

As for me, I celebrate Columbus the entrepreneur, the adventurer who went 'where no man has gone before'. However, I choose to dissociate him from the events that he became a harbinger to, or else I'd also have to denounce Einstein for being a harbinger to the tragedy that was Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

October 04, 2005

'Blogaholic'- Are you?


Definition: One who is addicted to blogging and reading other blogs

You know you're addicted to blogging when:
- You become frustrated because you can not think of anything good to blog about
- You have to take a break from blogging
- Something interesting happens, your partner tells you, " you should blog about that!"
- You check your blog for comments several times a day
- You check your blog for comments before you read your e-mail
- You have drafts saved for future posts...you know, so you don't forget those interesting stories
- Your family catches up with what's going on in your life via your blog
- You add your blog as a source of reference on your resume
- You are concerned about your online friend because they have not updated their blog

Blogaholics are also those who read other people’s blogs with an unhealthy interest.

Copyright © 2005 Times Internet Limited.