Stories about Chicago

Rampage may be illogical, bizarre and outlandish, but it is definitely entertaining

In June 2015, when it was announced Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was going to star in a movie adaption of the classic video game series, Rampage, I was thrilled to say the least. Why wouldn’t I be? After all, who doesn’t want to watch The Rock go face to face with giant monsters? I would argue only those who don’t like to see things that are visually pleasing. To give you a little insight on Rampage’s source material, it is basically an arcade game where the player gets to control a giant monster to destroy cities, all the while ...

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Why I’m not fasting this Ramazan

According to family legend, I first fasted—for a day—at the age of four. I have no clear memory of this fast, although I do have the vague recollection of walking into the kitchen while my mom prepared iftar and her asking, “If you’re fasting, why are you sucking on a lollipop?” Ramazan in our house was a big deal. Ramazan meant we could—at least for a month—pretend we were adults. I insisted on fasting the entire month starting at the age of seven.  My parents agreed, but with three stipulations: I had to wake up for sehri, eat whatever was served during sehri (generally, ...

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Don’t ask for a soda can on United Airlines if you are a Muslim

A few days ago, I came across a post on Facebook by Tahera Ahmad. I was left dumbfounded. Tahera Ahmad was an ordinary Muslim passenger on board a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Washington DC. Ahmad, a well-educated Muslim woman from North-western University, was travelling for a conference, aimed at promoting awareness between Israeli and Palestinian youth, when a rather disturbing incident of racial profiling took place against her during the flight. Her crime? She asked for an unopened can of diet soda. Photo: Screenshot Like any other passenger, Ahmad, for hygienic purposes, asked the flight attendant for an unopened can of diet soda. ...

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Why is Barack Obama’s religion our business?

Sitting by the television this morning, going about my morning rituals of brewing coffee and toasting bread for a quick breakfast, I came across CNN running a blurb, advertising a documentary series titled Finding Jesus. I couldn’t resist mumbling to myself, “Jesus Christ, really? Is this 2015 or 1515? Are we living in times when mankind was still groping in the dark, trying to outline the philosophical basis of divergent faiths or hoping to find the Supreme Being using some historical, hypothetical evidence to prove that all the luminaries of religions did indeed exist?” Why will an established news network like ...

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Mr Prime Minister, do you support religious bigotry?

Dear Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, I hope this letter finds you well. I am sure you are busy; so let me cut to the chase. You know well that Pakistan’s Ahmadi community has long faced the wrath of extremist religious clerics. Despite succeeding in hijacking Jinnah’s vision, and pressurising the state into incorporating anti-Ahmadi bigotry into the Constitution and law, these clerics have continued to demonise, spread hate and incite violence against the Ahmadis. The group currently at the forefront of this witch-hunt is Pakistan’s Khatam-e-Nabuwat organisation. Whereas this organisation claims to uphold the honour of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), it does everything under the sky against his ...

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Karbala and universal truths

There comes a moment in our lives when we realise the ‘Great Truths’ around us and this happened to me a decade back in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, India. I was taking part in a Muharram procession when I stopped to talk to a Sikh cloth seller. His shop’s porch was being used as a pulpit to read a eulogy of Imam Hussain (RA) and when it finished, I asked him why he allows the mourners to block his store’s entrance. “Syed Sahib, it is because of Hussain that we earn our living. If it was up to me I would ...

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Be pro-Gaza, not anti-Jew

Repeat after me: “All Jews are not extremists.” “All Jews do not hate Palestine.” “All Jews do not want to eradicate Muslim identity.” Each “Jew joke” you share with your Whatsapp friends’ group insults the religious sentiments of at least 13,854,800 people in the world. Each ‘gas-the-Jews’ holocaust meme you forward reduces the inhuman slaughter of 11 million innocent people killed in one of the worst genocides in human history, to a derogatory laugh. The persecution of innocent people in Gaza is the direct result of a horrible territorial conflict. It has very little to do with the teachings of Judaism or Islam ...

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The Prado effect

Adam’s story I backed out of the driveway, closely monitoring the environment around me. This was the first time I was driving such a large vehicle and it was safe to assume that there was a very steep learning curve with regards to keeping the jeep on the road. “I need to pick up something for Natasha.” Amir squeaked from the backseat. There were around five people sitting atop each other. I nodded, glancing towards the road ahead before putting the jeep in gear. A slight tap on the accelerator and the monstrous engine roared to life, launching the vehicle onto the road. Sitting behind ...

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Once upon a time, there were two travellers – one Pakistani and one Indian

It was a late Friday evening in Chicago. After working the full day, I rushed to O’Hare International Airport, to catch a flight to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on my way to Delhi. It was a short impromptu trip to meet my parents and I intended to be back within five days. The past few days had been very hectic at work and I was half hoping that I would be able to catch some sleep in the 14 hours of the first leg of my travel. Of course, an empty middle seat next to mine would be even better, ...

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The infamous ‘Muslim Room’ and other travel horrors

Recently, I boarded an Etihad Airways flight from Islamabad to Chicago. On a stopover at Abu Dhabi, the plane filled up with a lot of South Asian people; approximately 95% of my fellow passengers were brown. Not being a frequent flyer to the US, I was unaware of the desi population that infests Chicago. 14 hours later… We finally landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. I was tired, worn out and my body ached – as did everyone else’s, I’m sure. After a long wait, I finally made it to the immigration officer. He asked me a few general questions: “How long will you ...

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