The New Normal

Sometimes I am shocked by how normal my life is in Islamabad. Go to meetings, work in front of a computer, hit the gym, run by the grocery store for a dozen eggs and some broccoli. On these days I think, other than wearing pants under all my dresses (=how to turn American clothes into shalwar kameeze) and having my own driver, I could almost be living in a U.S. suburb.  Except for nights like Monday, when I had dinner with Eve Ensler at my friend Dania’s house. Ensler was visiting the region as she often does as part of her campaign to end violence against women around the world. She is most famous for writing the play “The Vagina Monologues” and, although I did not ask her about them, is friends with all sorts of famous women like Susan Sarandon and Oprah who star in productions of her play. She is an extremely cool woman and someone you would definitely want in your bookclub, your yoga class, or your extended family (although it rarely works out that way). After dinner, Dania gave us all an impromptu belly-dancing lesson and I had an extra thick piece of delicious date cake with custard for dessert (okay, so some things remain constant). […] Read More

A Beautiful City

I just got back to Boston today from a few days in Washington DC. I was there for a conference, some pre-Islamabad meetings, and a visit to my naturopath so she could tell me the best way to fend off parasites from Pakistani street food. It was a beautiful weekend–so warm we could have drinks outside at Sequoia on Sunday afternoon and pretend it was June. Being there made me think about moving and living in a new city and change in general. Right after college, I moved to Washington DC for two years, and I can’t say I loved it. I was broke, working an entry-level job, and shell-shocked by my switch from sunny Santa Barbara and the luxury of college life. All of a sudden I was getting up early, wearing nylons, and wrestling with parking meters, winter clothing, and a fridge crammed with the food of five roommates. I missed California, the easy measure of academic success, and not talking about politics. I think I overlooked some of Washington’s beauty in the process. I remember thinking it was cool that I could see the lit dome of the Capitol outside my bedroom window and that I studied for my GREs in the gorgeous Library of Congress reading room. But I always knew I was going to grad school and would be off before too long, so I never settled in as much as I could have. My friends and I had lots of after-work drinks on the roof of the Hotel Washington, we watched Fourth of July fireworks from the office balcony of whichever Senator someone we knew was working for. We […] Read More