A koonj is a crane. In Punjabi poetry, the koonj cries in pain because it has strayed from its flock. The image is similar to one in Rumi’s poetry: the reed, that sings of separation, the soul that sighs for the One.
Shabana Mir – a/k/a Koonj – has been blogging indefatigably since 2005. She started blogging and feverishly completing her dissertation in the summer of 2005. Now a Ph.D., a mother to Raihana, and an assistant professor, she is engaged in a struggle to become fully a part of academic life … and trying to come to terms with the reality of working motherhood and the compromise that is childcare.
Koonj was born in London but spent most of her childhood and early twenties in Lahore and Islamabad. She is one in the long list of distinguished alumni who sprang from the loins of Kinnaird College, which is less a direct credit to Kinnaird itself than the fact that she attended the Convent of Jesus & Mary school, and her friends went to Kinnaird. After an M.Phil. in Education at Cambridge, Koonj eventually made her way to the U.S., where she met and married her other half, and did a PhD in Education Policy Studies and Anthropology at Indiana University. She did her research in Washington, DC, and was a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University and a Pluralism Project Affiliate.
This blog connects Koonj to her roots and to her online community of friends, whose existence Koonj admits somewhat shamefacedly (since she still subscribes to the old-fashioned notion that one probably has ‘no life’ if one belongs to an ‘online community’). It also affords her the opportunity to put a human face to the image of an Overeducated Feminist Sufi Muslim woman, amused and shocked that she is married, a parent, an immigrant in the US, and no longer in the 1980s and no longer in niqab.