Just got back home from the first day of immersion (my first Global Learning Lab) and sitting on my bed it makes me reflect on the past week I spent traveling so far away from home. I mean, literally, I am like continents apart from home and I don’t think I had ever imagined. Suddenly, Atlas Corps Fellowship looks way more real from this part of the world.
This past week taught me how to open a bank account in the Bank of America, have bagels and coffee in breakfast and find a metro that leads to my room (which incidentally, it does not), order my j1 sim and of course say ‘Awesome’, like the sun shines for me, in just about everything I hear.
And man do they walk! DC walks like they have nothing else in the world, like we are back to stone-age. Man, what are cars for?! The entire city looks like they need to go somewhere, everyone looks busy and in a hurry. I can’t walk that fast, heck, I can’t walk at all. I am overweight and definitely too pampered at home to be going through all this but here I am!
The absolute beauty of DC is in its diversity of food, culture, people and just the very air we breathe everyday. It’s what keeps me from being homesick when I am out, it’s when I get to my room when the sickness starts. Nonetheless, I am still a newbie here and my body is in a constant war with the timezone outside, how the tap water tastes so much of chlorine and of course of the heat outside and the need to wear a sweater inside the offices.
What really makes it hard is to find one common time when I am free and awake with my family. A time difference of over ten hours is what makes it so hard to find that one link with the outside world to make you feel like you are not alone. By the time I get home, they have already spent one third of the night in deep slumber and I have all that time on my own. And when it’s time for me to hit the bed, their day begins. So it’s kinda hard, really hard to actually be there for one another.
And then I thought I gotta find a find a way to fight this off, to make me stay. So I brought photos of family to make me feel at home. I have them pasted on the wall right in front of my bed so that when I wake up, it’s their beautiful faces I see smiling at me to make me feel at home.
And I brought the sweets that my darling mother in law made for me to eat in times of homesickness to feel that familiar taste again and to devour in that sense of attachment so far away from home.
And apart from all this, I would forever be grateful to WhatsApp, Facebook and Skype for making those miles disappear when I do get a chance to have my loved ones online. It’s like I am just in another room speaking to them, watching them and trust me, what a treat it is to hear my husband’s voice over the phone. I so love being married to him, if it were up to me, I would make every girl get married to a person as nice as my husband and experience this feeling of being so loved and lucky (Ma sha Allah).
The best part of being here in today’s world is the technology. Of being able to keep a record of all your feelings and your experiences so keep a look out for me and my posts since I think I would be doing that a lot (keeps my mind off my homesickness) and I think everyone should do that too. Get in the habit of writing things down, your feelings, emotions, notes, important dates and things-to-do and you will see, how life begins to feel simpler by the day.
So if you, like me, are feeling homesick you should give me a call and let us cry together and curse the day we opted for the fellowship.. Just kidding, give me a call and we can go grab a coke together and exchange our experiences and find ways to fight this homesickness off.
So feeling what I feel for DC right now kind of like makes me want to put up a small verse quoted from a Pakistan Poet I so love, Faiz Ahmad Ahmad and the translation looks something like (although its so much better in Urdu but still)..,
Endless are there, the pathos in a world,
other than love’s resonance.
Countless are, the comforts in a world,
except a union’s preeminence.
My beloved, ask me not for the love,
that once we shared before…
For those who understand Urdu:
Laut jaati hai udhar ko bhi nazar, kya keeje?
Ab bhi dilkash hai tera husn, magar kya keeje?
Aur bhi dukh hai zamaane mein muhabbat ke siwaa
Raahatein aur bhi hain vasl ki raahat ke siwaa
Mujh se pehli si muhabbat mere mehboob na maang