Archive | religion

The Violence Is Always Now

Last week I wrote an article for The National about the newly ironic question of “where do you feel safe?” That’s the second question people ask when I tell them where I live, as if Abu Dhabi is some terrifying city “over there.”  But this question in the context of America’s gun insanity, now has to stand on its head.

I was in a movie theater yesterday, watching Ghostbusters (yay, women are funny! and smart! and don’t need a boyfriend to be successful! IMAGINE THAT), and herd of loud teenagers walked in: big kids, unlaced sneakers, yelling and teasing each other.  There was some kerfuffle over who was sitting where, and you know what went through my mind?  “Oh, shit, I hope no one has a gun.”

Yep. Sitting in a movie theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, at 11AM, with my kids and father-in-law, I thought for a split second that maybe we were all going to become statistics.

Ask me again where I feel safe.

And then, the day my column came out, Nice. With the additional irony that when you write the name of the city, it looks like, you know, nice.

Another tragedy–what an empty word–another instance of ideology trumping respect for human life (and god, it’s awful to have to use the word “trump.” We are going to need some synonyms, stat).  More bombs, more death, more loss. Endless loss.

It’s an entire summer of loss, of memorials and funerals and devastation.

The violence seems never to recede, only to accrue; it billows outward, covering everything.

It’s a sunny day in New York City right now, but somehow the light seems very far away.

prayer flags in Bhutan

prayer flags in Bhutan


Continue Reading · on July 16, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, Politics, religion, The National, UAE

Share a Fridge

Eid mubarak! The long days of Ramadan have passed, and now it’s the time for celebration. We’re in New York already, and still in the hazy fugue-like state of jet lag (compounded by having been in Bangkok ten days ago); I wake up in the middle of the night and am not entirely sure which continent I’m on.  In the Union Square farmer’s market this morning, however, I heard people speaking Arabic as they picked over some gorgeous tomatoes; I expect there are Eid feasts happening all over the city.

Last week in The National I wrote about a great community service endeavor that started, as many great ideas do, with a really simple gesture: a few women in Dubai found an empty fridge, put it in a easily accessible place, ran an extension cord to it, and began stocking it with juice, laban, fresh fruit, and water, for the men who work outside in the steamy days of full summer.

The idea caught on and before you know it, there were “sharing fridges” everywhere. Some of the fridges will be decommissioned after Ramadan, but some of them may stay in place, stocked entirely through volunteer efforts. I wonder if such an idea could ever catch on in the States? Would people honor the idea that the fridges are for those in need, not just any random passerby?  You can read my article here, and check out the Sharing Fridge facebook page here. Could your community support such a project?

Continue Reading · on July 6, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, religion

In the suburbs no one can hear you scream

I live in the suburbs now.  From the maelstrom of Union Square in Manhattan to the slightly more sedate “urban” experience of highrise in downtown Abu Dhabi was one shift. But in a weird way the shift from one cityscape to another wasn’t as big a shift as the move from city to the ‘burbs.  It’s so quiet here . . . and when I walk around at night I’m always slightly on edge because my footsteps echo in the emptiness.  But the thing I miss most, weirdly, is hearing the call to prayer, which had become the regular punctuation for my day, when I lived “in town,” as we say now.

In The National today, I wrote about my sense of suburban displacement. You can read the article here and don’t be afraid to share it around: show The National a little social media love (and me, too, while you’re at it).  Thanks.  Would love to hear your thoughts in comments.

IMG_6736

I took this photo of the Grand Mosque last winter during an unusual rainy day

Continue Reading · on November 22, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, environment, expat, NaBloPoMo, NYC, religion, The National, Travel, UAE

mosques

Just at the afternoon adhan today, I was out walking in the neighborhood near my office, searching for candy a nutritious snack to carry me through four hours of back-to-back meetings.

I am struck always, in Abu Dhabi, by the juxtaposition of glassy office towers against the ancient worlds summoned up in the call to prayer, the way the modern quite literally bumps up against the old.

IMG_7479

IMG_7477

I am struck too by the dailiness of religious practice, which I suppose to someone with a strong faith (in any tradition) would not be at all striking.  I don’t mean “daily” in the sense of praying every day (although of course people do, and five times a day, to boot), but in the sense of being ordinary, comforting, homely: the trusting pile of scuffed shoes waiting outside the plain door of the mosque.

IMG_7480

 

Continue Reading · on November 12, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, expat, NaBloPoMo, religion, street notes, UAE

Everyone Goes to Vesuvius

Did you know that Vesuvius is still considered an active volcano, and a dangerous one? It could blow at any moment, theoretically.

That thought gave Caleb the added impetus he needed for the hike to the top of the caldera, a task that sounds more impressive than it was: you drive (or are driven)  to the base of the trail and then walk the 800 or so meters to the top.  Caleb expected to look inside the volcano and see molten lava, maybe a few boiling gas bubbles, but alas, no. Inside the bowl of the mountain were just innocuous trees and bushes–the only hint that we were seeing something other than a standard mountain were the wisps of steam wafting up through a crack in the rocks.

A few intrepid souls biked up the twisty mountain road to the base of the trail, but most of the rest of us tourists took small mini-vans or big huge motor coaches. Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a ginormous bus coming down a tiny switchback road, bicycles weaving alongside, and your little minivan chugging up the switchback in the opposite direction–and all the drivers in question are Italian. TONS of fun, many Italian words that were probably not suitable for children, plus traffic jams.  Here’s hoping all the seismic monitors along the edge of the mountain work in tip-top condition, or one day…kaboom…and all the motor coaches will be suddenly airborne. Or carbonized.

Anyway. The whole world, it seems, comes to Vesuvius, including monks from other countries, like this fellow, snapping a picture of another religion’s shrine.

IMG_0906

**

It’s November 1 today and you know what that means: NaBloPoMo! That translates to: National Blog Posting Month, in which those of  crazy enough with nothing better to do serious about writing write a post a day for November.  I’m taking the NaBlo challenge along with all the other writers at yeahwrite, and at Blogher, too.  If you’re a writer, join in –and if you’re not a writer, then do us all a favor and read these posts so that we know someone besides our mothers is paying attention.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Continue Reading · on November 1, 2013 in NaBloPoMo, religion, Travel

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes