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half on road, half on pavement

Was I doing this?

Cycling with white people to campus? My headscarf flapped as we swept past a mist-filled meadow, Lloyd’s bank, and too many cars. White people moved too fast. A grown woman, I’d no experience of moving so fast, cycling on a real road, in England, infested with endless cars. I’d landed in London a few days ago. I was raw from the frosty stares of old white women, reminding me I wasn’t home.

But could you pedal for your life while utter desolation bubbled up within, but nobody knew? Glancing right, my eyes caught in a pair of brilliant blue eyes. They belonged to a woman comfortable in her seat, whose eyes in that second gently touched mine, didn’t glance away or frost over like old white women. My heart poured out a tumult of anguish, to be with this woman, so at home in the foggy morning, not pedaling through the mist? Did she smile? At a foreign, headscarfed woman on a bicycle? I loved her. I fell in love with her eyes and smile

In that moment my wheel lurched against the curb. I landed in a puddle of scarf, bicycle, legs – half on road, half on pavement, headscarf flipped onto my eyes, shamed amidst honking traffic. Colleagues clucked over me, helping the foreign student back on her bicycle so she could get on already with cycling into the fog, – she was gone, I was still here.


this was my submission to NYC Midnight, a 250 word micro-fiction challenge. The assigned genre was romance, the verb ‘falling off a bicycle.’ I was instantly reminded of falling off my bicycle in busy traffic on a cold morning in Cambridge – not Cambridge, Massachusetts, but the UK – trying to keep up with English fellow students en route to our department. It was indeed my first time cycling on a busy road anywhere, and my first time as an adult anywhere but Pakistan. I did not of course fall in love with a blue eyed lady as I fell, but I thought the image captured my sense of displacement, loneliness, and yearning very nicely.

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I just wanted to make some daal

This is the maash ki daal I was raised with in Lahore – dry and nutty, with roti and a lemon-cilantro onion salad. I feel comfortable and at home with it!

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I didn’t know the term “udad dal” as another name for maash ki daal (or maaN di dal) until I shopped at desi stores in the US that carried Indian dal. And then I accidentally bought THIS Udad dal which, to my surprise, is sabut (whole) husked udad, which I didn’t know existed.

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So now I have two levels of post-partition udad in my container of maash, and I don’t know how to cook this whole udad. The internet says to make various South Indian dishes, and the Punjabi Kashmiri Pakistani in me says, um, no I am helpless there.

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oh but then i discover that pre-split udad, whole unhusked maash is actually black udad and I’m like, it’s like I don’t even know who you are anymore.

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How about a new series, netflix?

The 11 biggest myths about Israel-Palestine - Vox
2013. SAIF DAHLAH/AFP/Getty Images

I propose a hopeful thriller series: A ragtag group of Palestinian journalists, students, resistance fighters, & children join up to fight Zionist settlers & Occupation forces, preventing them from taking down olive trees, attacking villages, desecrating historic Islamic sites, and demolishing ancestral homes.

The main drama in Season 1 would be the ragtag resistance group protecting the elderly grandfather Abu Ahmar and his West Bank home and flock of sheep. The finale flashes to the US progressive caucus endorsing BDS in the name of Abu Ahmar. By season 2, Israel, is hit hard by global divestment … and you get the idea. It’s local, it’s international, and it’s global, and personal all at the same time.

I promise it’ll be great. It has all the ingredients of success, and you’d be the first to get on it. Imagine the controversy surrounding it. ADL’s clamor alone will turn you into the premier streaming service.

Also: Free Palestine 🇵🇸