Trayvon Martin

We have a 17-year-old kid pleading for his life while a half-wit like Gerlado Rivera is left worrying about him wearing a hoodie? History went from people with hoods on killing us, to now getting killed because we are wearing hoods? Everyone has the right to protect their family and property, if that’s what they are doing. Nonetheless, that law in Florida is due for repeal because not everything that is “legal” is moral or right. There is a big difference between a “neighborhood watch” and somebody “watching the neighborhood!”

Malik Yusuf, Songwriter and Spoken Word Artist

It has been a month since Trayvon Martin was killed. A month. How does a justice system not even take a simple action after the public has made a storm in the headlines demanding justice. He was 17 years old. Attached a “neighborhood watchman” (not a policeman) who has a history of doing things he is not supposed to. Furthermore, the fact that Martin was black has been the talk to media- and rightfully so. Blatantly being thought of as suspicious for wearing a hoodie and being black walking in a dominantly non-black residential area cannot be a concern for the neighborhood self appointed watchman with a gun.

Apparently, Zimmerman said that the boy attacked him first and exchanged hostile words and he acted on self defense. How does anyone, especially a child in this case, not be concerned and start running if a large man in an SUV was following him that night? How is it possible that Zimmerman, twice the size of Martin, be “attacked” by the skinny 17 year old who apparently managed to get on top of him, and furthermore- how can he shoot the boy who cried for help and asked to please not shoot him? Black or white or whatever race- a boy was shot by a man twice his size after he cried for help and begged to be left alone.

Given the nature of the story, and people involved (and not involved), and the media’s reaction, as well as the issue of race involved (seriously America, its 2012), I do not see a ‘fair’ trial anywhere written here, jury or no jury. And it is true- the entire story has not been out there yet. What exactly happened is not clear. But in this day and age, the play of race, gun laws, and communities of complex relationships between authority and citizenship makes this case all that more important and demanding of answers.

Where is the accountability?

Gabrielle Giffords will and has to return.

The recent declaration of Gabrielle Giffords’ departure from the House of Representatives may not be the end of her political career.

Anyone listening, watching, and observing the politician may view her heartfelt speech as a real goodbye. However, I think that it may just be the beginning of what may be a very interesting few years to follow. Gifford’s emotional recovery from her gun wounds in the last year has captivated Americans and international followers alike, Democrat or Republican- this was the story of a real person struggling with real life consequences. Her story brought a very public politician’s profile down to those of, well, people she serves. It was a sudden backseat for an otherwise rising and thriving Democrat politician- and even further, a young female at that.

I first met Giffords in 2007 when I interned for her Tucson office. It was my first internship after a year at Wellesley College, and at nineteen years of age, I had already found reasons to like her and want to be like her (this is my nineteen year old voice, after all). She attended Scripps, another all-women college, she called Arizona her home, and she was young, good looking politician, and a Democrat in Arizona of all states. She was on one of her short trips to Tucson and she was dressed in a baby blue suit which hugged her very perfect figure, with a very wide smile and blonde, highlighted hair. Very politician-like of course and she thanked me for all my hard work though I am sure she did not exactly know what I did there and what my name was. Either way, her team was energetic and I knew it was where I wanted to get some political exposure right before my sophomore year when I would declare a Political Science major.

The image of Giffords is very different today, but the same political flair still exists. On her Twitter she wrote: “I will return & we will work together for Arizona & this great country.” She never seemed to me like one to give up. She knows her assets, her stories, and she knows how important it is to hold onto a position in a traditionally all-boys club. “She was one of these people, one of the few left in Congress, who could work with people across the aisle and kind of rise above the bitter partisanship that you see in Washington,” said Jeff Rogers, the chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party. That is no surprise given that she comes from a traditionally red state where the last time it voted blue for a president was in 1948 for Truman. Let lone taking on the role of such a figure as a woman is admiring enough.

I hope that she does return to politics and specifically Arizona politics. I could say that she has a responsibility to do so as a female leader who has worked hard to gain the trust of traditionally-Republican constituents in a state struck my bitter debates on immigration and border control. And I do believe that the public will back her up again upon her return, whenever that may be.


People, when they first come to America, whether as travelers or settlers, become aware of a new and agreeable feeling: that the whole country is their oyster – Alistair Cooke

at Haymarket, Boston.

The oyster, to me, is something to eat- it is most likely out of my price range but I have to have my fix, in those rare moments. After being abroad for a year and having this short visit to Boston and DC, one of the things I wanted to eat were raw oysters, slipping them into my mouth from their griny shells with a splash of lemon, tomatoe dressing, and a drop of tabasco sauce. It has the most fishy taste and the most slimy texture that easily slips through you so that you are only really enjoying it for a second. A short lived high.

I had this high first in Boston where me and my friend were going through the historic Haymarket and as we passed the aisles of raw vegitables, we stumbled on a 4 for $5 deal, on a stand, with buckets of oysters anf mussles sold by two very Italian residents from the North End.

While commonly consumed as a high-end product, found in the nicer bars and restaurants, oysters are perhaps known better as a figure of speech, folktale, and proverbs. The most common of which is the saying that the world is your oyster- whatever that means.  Perhaps it has something to do with how the oyster’s essential price is not associated with its exclusivity in the menu, but its purpose of making the pearl after a long period of growth and waiting (though it must be noted that the kind of oysters consumed are not the same as those that make pearls).

Oysters have the tendency of being health-hazard-seeker’s target. Hepatitis A infection was first traced to the consumption of oysters in 1961, drawn from a series of cases in Alabama and Mississippi. Seventeen years later in 1978, a sudden outbreak of gastroneteritis in Australia was linked to oyster consumtion from the area. A decade afterwards, the hepititas A link with oysters were revisited from an outbreak in Florida. While oysters have been presented as a delicacy, served on a bed of ice and specialized thin forks on the side and rumored to be an aphrodisiac (for its large quantitiy of zinc), they have also been a subject of the popular investigations to link shellfish to, if we wantd to be direct, death.

My love for oysters this year stems from being far from it in the first place. They remind me of the summers and the sea salt scrub that I am inevitably gifted every Christmas except that last one. The inaccessability of it in South Asia led me to happily order a dozen at a bar near U street in D.C. at 11:30 pm last week, when the $1 oyster happy hour began. Me and my friend Bev came early and sat, looking at out cell phones every few minutes, wondering how strict the men behind the dark lit bar were about ordering.  We sat in the tall oak booth with out large metal platter of two dozen oysters, consumed by both of us in ten minutes, garnished nicely with chopped horseradish.

I could use many words to describe this again, but no one really does it better than Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast where he wrote:

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
$1 oyster happy hour in D.C.

back in america.

Currently sittin at the airport in Baltimore, waiting for two of my best friends from college to pick me up. It has been over a year since I saw them, a year in which I spent in the urban cities of South Asia. I have been in the U.S. for over a week now, first in Boston and then last night in Providence. People keep asking me if I am culture shocked. I am not sure that I am- sometimes I am taken aback that I am back to the place that I have missed, every now and then. Most times, I feel as though I had never left in the first place. It may be because after leaving Bangladesh on September 17th, I spent a week in Jubail, Saudi Arabia and then a few days in the cold London, U.K. before landing in the States, giving me ample time to slowly experience the West. I had my first Starbucks in London (soy milk latte, I have missed you) and my immigration was completed in Dublin, Ireland where the American officer wished me a safe journey home.

On the red line, a random train stop in Boston.

The steamed broccolli in my pasta on Sunday morning at Mike’s  Davis Square did me in. It was Octoberfest in Cambridge and while I ate with my cousin, people were drinking beer and cider in the daytime streets, and bad music played on. Halloween decorations were slowly coming to the storefront, and sweet potatoe fries were being given in clean white paper cones nearby. Having broccolli, after so long, in an otherwise ordinary Italian cafe brought me to the realization that I am indeed back. They were fresh, cut perfectly, and not overcooked, and tasted like something just good.

Movement, from being able to walk in walkable side roads of Cambridge and taking the subway on my own accord led me to use the subway abundently and sometimes, unneccessarily this week.

And then you miss things you never cared about before. Having a thankgsgiving sandwich last night at Providence made me love the taste of turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce, though I never cared for any of it while growing up in Arizona. I was excited by the grass, though I always preferred to sit in benches. Wooden floors, even though we had carpet growing up. Things like that.

Meeting friends. Seeing familiar sights.Wearing the once familiar clothes. Being cold outside. Taking hot showers that for some reason just feels clean here. Visiting Wellesley College as an alumnae and walking across the campus that was my home for four years was uncomfortable, and yet a sense of closoure was there. It sometimes is like I have been here all along.

And here, as I wait for my friends whom I am eagerly waiting to see in D.C. will be the continued icing of this short trip home.

the thanksgiving sandwich with turkey, stuffing, cheese, cranberry sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions with a side of potato salad in Providence, RI

Our Thanksgiving Dinner in Dhaka.

Nevertheless, delicious and wonderful prepared by Ms. Tarfia F., another Fulbright Fellow in Bangladesh.

Amazing roasted chicken, beans with pichtachio nuts, mashed potatoes, samosas, cheese spreads, and great drinks.
The smallest tangerine ever.

Missing America.