9/11-Aftermath

I clearly remember that day. I was in Ms. Zaroffs fourth grade class; 417. She received a call from someone, a plane hit a building in the city where he worked. He wasn’t working in the World Trade Center or the Twin Towers; he was okay. But then we were told to go to the Auditorium and the whole school sat there confused, and excited. We were all chattering unaware of what actually happened.

Then I saw parents coming to get their kids. I wanted to go home too. Then I saw my mom; and wondered who had called her. I asked her what was going on and terrified she looked at me and gave me the tightest hug. We walked in silence until we got home and then I saw the news. I watched in disbelief.

A couple of days later; we were back in school almost back to normal. Almost.

My best friend had barely spoken to me. I confronted her about it and she told me that her mom told her not to be my friend because I am Muslim. I was so dumb founded. No one has ever told me they couldn’t be my friend because of my religion, I didn’t understand the concept. I spoke with my mom and she told me that this wasn’t going to be the first time, and that times are changing. She explained to me that no matter how people treat you, never act like them, never spit out the same hatred. Don’t believe them and to protect my self.

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Dead.

I’m dead not dying
Hurt not hurting
Forgotten
Lonely
And used up
I’m fat
Ugly and
I’ve lost the will
The strength to love myself.
I’m finished trying to look past
The pain. So from now on I will endure it,
Get lost in it. Succumb to it’s dark folds.

I had a dream last night, some one had
Slit their wrists. I’m runnin around. Asking people if they’re okay. And then I stop in front of someone and she holds out her hand I hold it looking at the blood dripping down the cut. And as soon as I reach for it trying to wrap it up with my scarf I realize I’m holding my own hand.

This dream was following the many dreams I’ve had of being burned alive. I just dont want to exist anymore.

Imagine

The day was sunny, air was brisk, people in bicycles zoomed past me and business men and women cladded in expensive suits and shoes walked off at the opposite directions. I walked by a memorial site, a bicycle attached to a pole, covered with flowers and pictures of a young girl. I decided against taking a picture. I read the poem the mom wrote and walked towards my destination. I might visit it some other day.

 

As I approached Strawberry Fields I was disheartened, I was hoping there would be no crowd and I can maybe enjoy a few chapters of Rollo May’s Courage to Create, but there was too much noise, especially from the tourists who were standing around the mosaic in a circle. I read the dedication on the benches and took pictures to the best of my abilities. It was really hard considering the amount of people. But expecting NYC to be quaint on a Saturday was my mistake.

In Pakistan’s emerging MMA scene, a woman among men rises

Before reading please be advised this is a story is not written by me. The site is linked to the title.

In Pakistan’s emerging MMA scene, a woman among men rises

She’s, 22 years old, 5 feet tall and 114 pounds. Her father told her to follow her passion and now she’s known as ‘the arm collector.’ Meet Anita Karim

Just four months ago, Anita Karim, 22, stepped into a fighting ring for the first time in her life in Singapore. She is all of 5 feet tall and 114 pounds. She stood across from a female opponent from New Zealand who was far more experienced than her. Because of her nervousness, she says, she lost the match. But just the fact that she took part in a tournament at international level is a tremendous achievement for Anita — she is Pakistan’s first and only professional female Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter.

It has only been a year-and-a-half since Anita joined her three brothers Ehtisham, Uloomi and Ali Sultan Karim in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, from the remote, northern Hunza Valley. Anita, a small but fierce woman with a side shave, had no previous experience in MMA. It was her brothers who inspired her to take up the sport — they are the founders of Fight Fortress, one of the first MMA training facilities in Pakistan.

MMA, an extreme combat sport that mixes techniques of grappling, boxing and martial arts such as judo and karate, has recently become very popular in Pakistan where it is still a relatively new sport. According to Anita’s brother Uloomi, who is now one of the most famous MMA fighters in Pakistan, there was almost no awareness of the sport 10 years ago. But between 2014 and 2016, Uloomi’s international fights started attracting media attention in the country and subsequently, more and more people wanted to begin competing.

When Anita first got to Islamabad, she was supposed to begin studying for a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but MMA stole her heart. “When I came here and saw the gym, I stopped my studies there. I can’t provide time for both,” she recalls.

There was one problem, however: There were no other female fighters for Anita to train or compete with. But this did not deter her. “First time it was so difficult for me [to train with men]. But I think girls can do everything. Many people think that we are weak but we can’t lose our hope. So I continued.”

“They hit me more,” she laughs. “They hit me like a boy.”

Although MMA can be brutal, Anita is not afraid of suffering injuries. “I can’t get scared. I have to make my mind strong,” she says.

Since there are no other women to compete with in MMA in Pakistan, Anita must always go abroad to take part in tournaments.

“There is no awareness here in Pakistan. People can stop their daughters from [taking part in MMA] because we train with men,” she explains.

Whenever she manages to defeat a man while training, she feels like she has achieved something. “I’m so happy that I can do better,” she says.

Her brothers believe making women train with men is good for their self-confidence. “We actually want women to train alongside men so that they don’t feel inferior to men. Or that men in this society don’t feel superior to women,” Uloomi says.

“[In Pakistan], there’s a lot of stereotypes about male and female interaction and it’s considered a male dominant society,” Uloomi continues. “Our concept is that if men and women can live together, they can work in the same environment in offices and go to colleges and universities together, why not train together?” He adds, “Women should be doing the same things at the same level as men. That’s what women’s empowerment is all about.”

Now, with Anita’s rising popularity, more women have, in fact, taken an interest in the sport. “We have seen a lot of women and girls who come to us who want to get trained like Anita and want to be like [her],” Uloomi says.

But pressure from society and families makes it difficult for many women to pursue a professional fighting career like Anita. Nevertheless, according to Uloomi, there is a high potential that more female fighters will emerge from Pakistan in the future.

“It’s all about the mindset and this culture that we have here, that the typical men think that women should stay in the kitchen, stay at home and do nothing all day,” he says.

Such attitudes are especially common in rural areas and in families with low literacy levels. But people in Pakistan’s larger cities are much more progressive, and Anita has not had to deal with too many negative comments. Still, her short hair and boxing gloves can be a shock to many, even some of her friends.

“They say, ‘Wow, you cut your hair and you look like a boy! We can’t believe you’re doing these things,’” she says.

Anita has been lucky. Her parents have been very supportive of her and never questioned her choice to leave her studies. “[My father] said, ‘Follow your passion,’” she says.

In fact, it was Anita’s father, himself a martial artist, who signed her up for Taekwondo classes when she was 12 years old.

But even more important was her mother, Yasmin Karim, a women’s rights campaigner and recipient of the Human Rights Defender Award by the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2012, who influenced both Anita and her brothers.

“She encourages us and gives us a lot of ideas on how to empower women as well,” Anita’s brother Uloomi says.

By setting an example, Anita hopes to challenge rigid attitudes about women in Pakistan. “I always wonder, why is the environment of our society [such] that people think that girls can’t do anything,” she asks. “Why [do they try to] kill our dreams?”

Anita says that even though Hunza is a liberal area, there were still some people who questioned her choice of profession.

“Now people realize that I’m doing a good thing.”

Aside from being a confidence boost, Anita believes MMA can also be extremely useful for women in real life situations. Like in the West, sexual harassment of women has been a widely discussed topic in Pakistan lately.

“MMA gives specific techniques and the belief that we can defend ourselves in any situation,” she says. “We can believe in ourselves and go outside independently.”

So far, Anita has not faced a situation outside the ring where she’s needed to defend herself. But if something were to happen, she would not hesitate to take matters in her own hands. “I will punch them in the face,” she says confidently.

For someone who has earned the nickname “Arm Collector” by breaking two of her opponents’ arms in a grappling challenge, any man who might dare accost her on the street would be advised to be fearful.

It is Anita’s dream to no longer be the only female MMA fighter in Pakistan and she hopes to inspire other women to join in. After having won five gold medals in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in Pakistan, she now aims higher in MMA, setting her sights on becoming an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter one day.

But before that, Anita is going back to Singapore in February. This time, having now experienced her first fight in a ring, she hopes she will be able to let go of her nervousness and make her country proud.

Below, watch a video of Karim in action working out and in the ring delivering a knockout punch.

DISCOVERING HOME

Lived in this concrete jungle for over 20 years now, and yet I’m still unfamiliar with it’s streets. Taking an hour out of every Saturday I plan to look around New York City. Maybe discover something new. I see all these tourists looking around, but I’ve had my head down at my phone or my nose in a book. Maybe instead of reading a book on the train, I can read it at a  new spot in Central Park. Maybe really look at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the architecture. Discover the MET museum all over again, sit on the steps like Blair Waldorf and sip coffee on a chilly morning.

I’m coming up with a list of places to see all on my own in my own home; The Big Apple.

  • The Strawberry Field (Central Park)

Strawberry-Fields.jpg

 

First stop of interest, The Strawberry Field in Central Park. What makes this stop so great is that it was designed by Bruce Kelly and was dedicated to John Lennon by the then Mayor Ed Koch and Yoko Ono (Lennon’s widow) who also funded the project. The entrance to the memorial is located on Central Park West at West 72nd Street, directly across from the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon had lived for the latter part of his life, and where he was murdered in 1980. 

The Mosaic is at the center with the word Imagine; one of Lennon’s songs.

I’ve always loved the Beatles even if they were before my time. So I can not wait to go and see this. I didn’t even know this place existed until today.

 

Social Media Political War.

I like listening to the news here and there, but when it comes to politics it gives me anxiety. Especially our recent presidential election. Trump Beats Hillary. The frustrating part for me was I did not want either to represent us. I found that both were incapable of running this country exactly how it was meant to be run, the way it’s written in text books or our Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence. What we have here is a country that is beginning to not become “Great Again” but getting worse. I’m not talking about numbers and jobs, but people all in all. I’ve read so many hateful articles and comments online. It hurts to see people so up in each others throat like that.

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It’s not just one sided. It’s not only the Republicans or just the Democrats. It’s both. Of course I need to educate myself on this a lot more, but from what I’ve seen on social media is that us as humans don’t have capacity to hear and understand the others opinions. We no longer listen to understand, we listen to reply back. I get anxious posting a comment on an online article, because I don’t know who will pop up in the reply section trying to socially kill me.

There is just so much information about everything it becomes overwhelming. Who is telling the truth? Which source is reliable? I think my whole mistrust in the system began when they lied to us that Christopher Columbus discovered America. What we later find out is that he was set out to go to India. And just by luck found this place; “The land of the free” and then found out he killed all those Native Americans whom we celebrate on Thanksgiving. Let’s appreciate the natives gave us food, but let’s also kill them, give them syphilis and diseases, rape their women and try to take over their land.

 

The Nun

So a few days ago my friends and I went to go see The Nun.  We ended up driving 15 extra miles to Long Island to the Roosevelt Fields AMC theater, since opening week meant no seats near by. We were able to get five seats, a bit closer than we would’ve liked but it added to the thrill.

I believe the timing was perfect to go see a horror movie. I mean who else enjoys getting scared shitless at midnight?

 

The movie opens up with a bang! Seriously, it grips you from the very beginning. Two nuns are trying to get something out from a locked door; clearly where the demon resides. The first nun gets killed the second nun is then seen running and jumps off the building. A local farmer finds her when he’s delivering food.

I’m trying my best to not give too much away since it’s still fairly new. So let me not dwell too much on the details just yet.

What I thought was that this movie could’ve been so much better. The acting was great, the characters were believable, the setting was eerie and perfect for a demonizing nun to appear, but the demon itself… I went in their expecting we will know the origins of THE NUN. We find out that it’s actually a demon from hell named Valak summoned by a twisted Duke. It was the fault of my expectations, we thought there would be an actual nun who became this entity. Like in Insidious, the man in the woman garments; his mom wanted a girl so she made him wear girl clothes.

Well either way it was a good jump scare movie, with great cinematography and characters. I recommend people to watch it at least once. For Frenchie’s sake. For the people who have seen it know exactly what I mean.