Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Practice Blogging...

So I'm not really a writer, although I aspire to get good one day, and I am definitely not a blogger. So like with writing, I'm going to practice blogging by writing another entry about this past weekend.

So I got off of work at around 6 or 6:15 Friday night at which time I walked over to meet Shari at the Wollman rink in Central Park. This was her first time back in New York City after a long time and last I saw her was back in high school during our shared Red Cross days. So I get there and I happen to be the only non-Brooklyn Tech friend of hers, which I guess I should feel honoured about. I'm glad she invited me to her little reunion shindig.

In waves from Wollman Rink, we went to this hibachi place on 34th Street. I was the last wave that went down with her since I had to leave early for this wedding that my mother told me was on Saturday night but was actually Friday night. She told me this an hour before I left to meet Shari. Now I was planning on hanging out with them the whole time, but ended up having to leave at 8PM so I could make the wedding by 9.

So I get to this wedding that I don't know anyone by the World Fair Marina near Shea Stadium at 9 to only find that my family isn't there yet. So I'm forced to pull a "Wedding Crashers" scene and just pretend to be a part of the family since I honestly did not know anyone there. I didn't even know which function I was suppose to go to, so I just entered a random ballroom and it happened to be the right one. I didn't know which side of the family I belonged to so I began playing along as I met this fellow Stuy kid that knows my brother. I attach myself to his family, whose on the groom's side, for as long as I can until my family arrived about an hour later. At this point, I realize I was mixing with the wrong side of the family, since my family is family friends with the bride's side. So I switch over to the other side of the ballroom and pretend nothing awkward happened. I continue enjoying my appetizers since they are indubitably my favorite part of a wedding.

So with my family's arrival was Karen's arrival. Karen is another one of my mothers. She helped raise me and her other son when we use to live in the same apartment building. She then moved to the Midwest and thus, I only now see her sparingly. Surprisingly though, she was in town for the weekend and so my mother brought her along to the wedding. It wasn't actually the wedding, but the boa bhat, which is apparently the reception that the bride's family throws. It's the fourth and final night of partying according to traditional Bangali weddings. I guess we had to go since we missed the first three.

Anyway, it's always good times hanging out with my little brother at weddings, especially as we scheme to get to the front of the line in buffets or as we scheme other things. However, since it wasn't the actual wedding, we couldn't do things like steal the groom's shoes or stop him at the gate, but I still had a good time after I understood where I belonged. My mother helped me realize that I actually do know the bride and her family and thus, I no longer had to pretend to be Count Chocula. At the end, there was some funky Punjabi dancing and the girls were being shy, kind of typical of some conservative Bangali weddings. However, the music was too loud for my parents and so we headed out.

We got back home late, but the night continued on. Karen and I ended up talking about life and religion until 2:30. Good times, but she had to go to bed and so did I since we had a semi early morning the next day.

I woke up at 10 to get ready to head over to Jamal's Birthday Party at his new Westchester house. That house is amazing, but is in too remote of a location. We took a wrong early exit and ended up in the most circuitous of roads, at the end of Croton Lane. It winds around this huge body of water and give me a headache just thinking about it now. We were basically on Croton for the longest of times with no cell phone signal since it's the woods. Then, I see the car start blinking since I'm driving and I find out we don't have gas anymore. So I make a U-turn at this baptist church/cemetery to get back to the main road, which was a fair distance since my little brother did spot a small gas station. So now our first priority was to get some gas, get a phone signal and then make our way to Jamal, otherwise we'd be screwed for a while. Luckily, most cars keep a reserve of 50 miles before running out and we made it to Jamal's.

On our way there, we got hit by a small torrential thunderstorm, which did affect their BBQ. Despite it all, the food was great. I love meat, especially steak, especially grilled and BBQ-ed ones.

We chilled there all day with the family and once the DiColandrea family came, it just got better. We played ping-pong, caram board, Halo 2, Social Promotion Badminton, frisbee, and played music with the guitar and drums. Overall, it was a phenomenal time, especially that Social Promotion Badminton.

Joey, Jamal, Joel, and I created the game last time we were all at his house. Since they didn't actually have a net, we used their driveway and high stairs to create a game in which the winners of each round get promoted to the next level of the corporate ladder. From each position, we snap derogatory remarks about our social class to each other. It's good times for us New Yorkers that have probably seen it all. We left with quasi sad faces, hopefully, it not being the last time I see Jamal before I leave to Cairo. I don't think we both realized that, but I just did right now.

As we got home at 1:30AM, Karen and I were going to continue our conversation except I realized I'd have a more tiring day on Sunday, and so I went to bed and woke up at around 11. I was trying to catch up on sleep since I didn't really sleep the weekend before and this past week was killer in terms of events and so forth. Anyway, I was slowly catching up until I hit Dragon Boat practice at 12. We hit the water straight in the torrential rain storm. It was an intense practice since it was our last practice before the big races next weekend. We kept paddling until we were forced to take the boat back to shore since there was too much lightening. We succumbed to the thunder and then just took some team pics.

Once we got home, I ate some, but then had to head back out in the rain to help my aunt move some stuff from house to house. It was a little stressful, but it's life. If you can't even help your family, how are you expected to help the world. In Islam, help and Zakat is always first given to the ones closest to you and if they don't need it, you spread out farther and farther in your community until you reach the global village. It's a beautiful system.

I got home, took the second shower of my day and headed to my uncle's BBQ. We played regular badminton there and got home for a quiet night. Like usual, I had work the next day. Once you start working 50 hour weeks, you realize the weekends are never long enough. Luckily, or maybe not so much, it's my last week of work. Clutch time. Doing the most and best I can with my time here.

More Practice Soon to Come,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Last Weekend in DC

So this was my last weekend in DC before going to study abroad in Egypt. I didn't come down to relax for a vacation or anything, but to maximally spend some quality time with some awesome people.

So I started off by emailing a whole bunch of people letting them know I was coming down. I picked up a random traveler who ended up not being so random, Mr. Muhamed Gendy. I met him Thursday for dinner through our mutual friend, Joe Essex. He was telling me how unfortunate it was that he wasn't truly seeing America, experiencing no culture shocks while here from Egypt. So out of the blue, I let him know that I was going to DC that Friday and he was welcome to tag along. And so we found ourselves headed to DC, along with my best buddy from the city, Jamal. Through an unfortunate series of events, Gendy caused me to miss the 7:30PM Chinatown bus after work and Jamal missed his bus from Wesleyan and wouldn't be in NYC until 8:35. So Gendy and I were going to catch the next Chinatown bus, which we were told would leave at 8:30, and Jamal would just come the next day. So we got on the bus and as usual, the crazy Chinatown bus lady of New Century Travel, the infamous one that unnecessarily bangs on the side of the bus, lied to us and the bus left after 9. Whatever, we sucked it up and got into DC at 1:30 in the morning. Luckily on the bus though, we met my buddy from work who went to GW and who I've given ballroom lessons to (not worth the price, as Kim and others would insert now).

Also, behind us sat this awesome awesome couple. The young wife was an alumni of GW and just recently graduated from Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Together, the couple were going to use the power of the pen to help liberate the chains of their people living in Western China. As Muslims from Western China they were persecuted for following any sort of religion and thus escaped to Turkey, wherein the wife admitted to being brainwashed by the fascist secularism there. However now, she is working against it all, and I am extremely proud of her. We need more people that will stand up and say no to injustices.

So we got off the bus and headed straight to Ivory Towers, the summer abode of our beloved Host, which is what he will be named from hereon out. The Host gave me a warm welcome and began inflating two air mattresses for us. As this went on, at around 2:30AM, I discovered this Christian brethren of mine recently became a full-fledged Zionist after returning from Israel earlier this summer. And thus, since I brought along an Egyptian straight from Egypt, the three of us ensued having a peaceful discussion in his living room as his 3 Hindu roommates slept peacefully. This lasted until 4:45AM at which time Gendy and I had to pray our morning Fajr prayers. We decided to postpone the discussion and ended on the good note that Gendy would be travelling to Church on Sunday with the Host.

A curse and a blessing of my summer job: giving me a strict biological clock that won't let me sleep in. I woke up at 9AM, gave Gendy directions to the White House and monuments so he can go be a tourist and then I tried going back to bed. I ended up waking up in an hour, so I was like, dangit, what am I going to do until then. I went to the gym. In between sets of the butterfly, I called and texted people to set up lunch. Saturday lunch was when I was going to meet everyone. At 12:30, I got back, showered and headed for lunch at Tonic, this new awesome rustic yet sleek place at GW. Around the table we had Jamal, Gendy, Kim, Brand, Omar, Drew, Samantha, Faraz, and Monica. The ten of us had a healthy breakfast at 2PM, I'm guessing a typical lazy weekend day in DC. All of us flustered about for a couple of hours, hit up the Marvin Center for prayer, hit up Coney Island for ice cream, and then ran back to Omar's dorm to iron Jamal's shirt so he would be presentable in front of Maggie's parents. Jamal came down this weekend to greet Maggie as she returned from studying abroad in Germany this past semester. Then, Faria met up with all of us at 5PM after work.

We all went over to the new Johnny Rockets to get dinner. Afterwards, Monica dropped off Gendy, Faria, and I at the monuments and we chilled there until 10:30PM at which time I called Faraz to see what was going down tonight. He said they were all at the Jumpoff so I stopped by but they were all going bar hopping. I opted out but asked Gendy if he wanted to check it out so he could see American culture, but I made sure, and asked Omar to watch him, to make sure he doesn't partake in the festivities. So as Gendy went off, I chose to instead hang out with Faraz, Palo, and Gadget at Faraz's apartment for some Xbox 360. It was freakin awesome, all of us playing Halo 2. I'm not a video game geek at all, but that was a phenomenal night. Playing until we became dysfunctional, which was around 1:30AM. We all decided to head out. Faraz walked us out since he needed to pick up his Chinese and so we waited with him at the corner of 21st and F. With nothing better to do, we continued our conversation, spitting out funny quips of people we knew, reminiscing about old-school Phi Psi and their antics, and just plotting the most stupid pranks, like pulling the Dutch Oven and every variation of it on Imran. Man, do I have to note now that Gadget is one mothereffin' funny mofo. This boy is so gruesomely witty, it's unbelievable. I can't wait to hang out with him more often. Luckily, he's only going to Georgetown Law, so he'll at least still be close by. So we shot the breeze for at least another hour until we really had to go home because Faraz's Chinese was getting cold.

At around 3AM, Gendy, the Host and I found ourselves all in his apartment under almost the same conditions as the night before. However, this time, the Host had a little whiskey in him and so the conversation progressed a little rougher. We settled down at 5PM which was when we realized the Host and Gendy had to wake up for Church at 9AM and so did I if I wanted to meet Raj with Monica. So Gendy and I prayed the morning Fajr prayer and passed out. The Host's air mattress is one amazing device.

At 9AM, I found myself waking up the others, let alone myself. I promised Monica I'd be ready by 9:30 but she decides to come early. I protest, get ready at 9:30 on the dot, and then go down to get some Dunkin' Donuts. We drive over to Raj whose showing his campers Arlington Cemetary that day. After living in DC almost two years, I had never been there until that day. Seeing rolling hills of gravestones pushes you back a bit. It was Sunnah to visit graveyards, probably because of the humbling effect it has on individuals. We watched the Changing of the Guards and the Wreath Laying Ceremony for the unknown soldier. I got in trouble there for having my Dunkin' Donuts coffee which I forgot to throw out but luckily, there was a garbage can nearby. We then jumped onto Raj's tour bus at which point one of his interns began hitting on me. I played along and then walked away. (A joke! ha ha.) We wished Raj a farewell and then walked back to the Kennedy family's grave site and that hurt even more, to see the deaths of his two children by his side. Monica and I walked back to the car, a little more disillusioned by life.

Monica dropped me back to base at the Host's wherein Drew, Gendy, Monica, and I decided to grab lunch at Mehran's one last time. Mehran is Drew's favorite restaurant and I'm the only brother willing to go with him. Plus, Monica's never been and Gendy was craving some halal meat, so we all went and got some Butta Chicken! Oh, the butter chicken, good times. We stuffed ourselves and began jetting for the Chinatown bus since we were aiming for the 2:30PM bus. For some reason, because of Omar, all three of them decide to see us home from Chinatown. So Omar, Drew, and Monica took us all the way to Chinatown. Since the trains were on a weekend schedule, we were obviously late, missed the bus, but were fine since there was another bus at 3:30. Jamal was saving seats for us with Maggie. So Jamal kind of made us miss the bus on the way down and we did the same for him on the way up. It was fine, since I got more time to chill with my buddies watching funky anime in the Chinatown bus office and Jamal got to spend more time with his Maggie. We said our farewells and off we were to New York.

As usual, I met an interesting individual sitting next to me on the bus. She was a UPenn second year med school student. Her friends went to GW Law and she was visiting DC so I got some more insight into the law school. In addition, she has some friends that are into the financial services industry since she was a bio and finance major in college. We connected in between conversations Jamal and I had. We got into New York at 9PM and I got home at around 10:30PM at which point I prayed, got ready for work, and passed out since I had to wake up for work at 6:45AM the next day. And there you go, having one of the most awesome weekends ever despite the doldrum summer days of DC. If you're surrounded by awesome people, that will just make up for everything else. Thanks guys, to everyone that made my DC weekend amazing. Sam and I finally caught up. Faraz and I were no longer strangers. Gadget is my new shooting the breeze partner. Drew's finally listening to me about life. Omar seeing more truth. The Host posing more barriers. Faria being un-talkative as usual. Kim and his brilliant cheapness. Raj and his new earring, which you should take off buddy. I lost a bet and thus you must take off that thing. Not cool buddy, not professional. "Take it off", said Monica. Thanks and God bless all my friends. You've truly shown me how much we mean to each other, with your cliff analogies and your patience regarding the final Harry Potter book that came out that weekend. Thank you for everything. Yallz the best! I'll so definitely miss you all when I'm off in Egypt, but I hope you all continue reading the chronicles of my life. It starts off with this post as practice, but hopefully I'll get better. And of course, I hope to be up to date on all of your lives as well. Post up and remember to let me know how things are going.

With Love and Patience,