I have been meaning to write this blog for the past seven weeks but couldn’t bring myself to it. May be 24 hours are not enough for a day, it should be longer than that. Or may be we should find a way around that and invent a device that would count two or three 24 hours span as one day. I remember as a child, days used to be so long with long afternoons where my parents would struggle with putting me to sleep and now it just passes by so quickly. My childhood days were more like how Marquez describes them in his One Hundred Years of Solitude where time moves in a circle instead of on a linear path. My stay here in DC made me aware of time and how its not something abstract, its there all the time like the sword of Damocles hanging on my head. The highligh of my Atlas Corps Fellowship experience was joining The National Democratic Institute. It almost ties up all my previous work experiences in a beautiful knot and now it has some meaning and a shape and a pathway ahead. I love my work and I look forward to be at work. From Iowa to NDI via bus #70 is my typical work day summarized. Bus # 70 is not just another bus, its unique, it has a character but in a slightly different way. The experience of riding 70 everyday is not the same, it is different each day. I have seen people singing on that bus and there are days when I see people cyring on 70. Now I really wanna intervene and tell them “who cries on bus 70 of all the buses in the world? that is not fair” but I stop myself as bus 70 is a mini replica of the US for me, a melting pot of all sorts of people who at least do what they choose to do regardless of where they are and where are they headed of to. Its actually a bus with a very democratic ambience and is a mini world actually. So I sat next to a man once who had really kind eyes and looked a little lost. We started talking and he confessed to being a neurotic and I zoned out, not because I was not interested in what he was about to talk about but becuase it made me think of Sylvia Plath and how she defined neurotic as someone wanting two mutually exclusive things at the same time and I thought why is he making it sound like its an abnormal or less than normal condition. Anyways I started talking to him again and he said I should be happy, that my time here is limited and that probably I’ll still be sane when I leave and it made sense to me. I told him what Kundera said in one of his books in my own way: “Being in a foreign country means walking a tightrope high above the ground without the net afforded a person by the country where he has his family, colleagues, and friends, and where he can easily say what he has to say in a language he has known from childhood.” He started looking outside the window and I got off of the bus at my usual stop.
By Nafeesa Mushtaq September 20, 2013