The Occidentalist at the DC Metro

By Imran Garda

So tonight, as I was on the way back home from work on Metro’s orange line, a pointless, minor punch-up broke out between two stupid chaps in one of the train carriages. The driver stopped the train and kept the doors closed at the Rosslyn stop, for about 10 minutes, until the police arrived. People were, expectedly and noticeably annoyed. Once the police arrived and sorted it out, the doors opened, some got off, some got on, we continued our journey. Then I got home in the dark, cold winter’s night…

If America was in the Middle-East or Africa or Asia, this is how the incident may have been described by a journalist:

Even train journeys in the troubled country are filled with tension. As we arrived at the Rosslyn stop, where just a few steps away, above ground, stands the military leviathan Lockheed-Martin, a scuffle between two men in one of the train carriages. Hardly a month after the religious festival of Christmas, the possibility of slipping back into sectarian violence was the last thing that the people here wanted or needed, but it was difficult to say if religion played a part in the fracas. Rumours that both men were protestants, young and disillusioned in this country where unemployment sits at almost double digits. Both were known to have recently walked past the Occupy movement’s tents at McPherson Square.

The train driver immediately summoned Obama’s police. They arrived swiftly, at a Stalinist pace with Orwellian faces – and swooped upon the men, who were apprehended. Who knows if they’ll be seen again? Whether they might end up in the infamous “Guantanamo Bay” prison that has marked the past two regimes? The nervousness was apparent in the faces of my fellow train passengers, who refused to make eye-contact with each other, or me. The pain of two wars and an economy in free-fall has taken much from these people, but not their spirit. Underneath the grimaces lay a steely determination to change America, with many hoping that when they go to the polls in November, their vote will be expressed freely, counted fairly.

I reached my stop, and made my way up the steps at the station, watching a homeless man, reeking of urine, sitting casually on a broken escalator, asking passers-by for a quarter, even a dime. Sometimes humanity escapes this place. Nobody looked at him. The station today, looked more run-down than ever, like an abused child calling out to the outsider asking for help after years of neglect.

I walked into the cold, and noticed that so soon after sunset, people were scurrying home. These streets may not be as safe as they used to be. An eerie tension, an awkward calm, an unofficial curfew seems to be imposed on this part of the capital. I crossed the road hurriedly, a locally manufactured car, called Dodge, appropriately, almost ran me off the road. On its bumper, a sticker: Bush/Cheney 2004. It’s clear that the people here want change – even if it means turning to the past, to chart their future.

In the distance an ambulance wailed, it might be a long night for medical workers here. I held my coat closer to me to avert the chill, hastening my footsteps to my apartment.

 

About the author

Born in Johannesburg, Imran Garda has over a decade of experience as a journalist, writer and TV personality. He currently lives in Washington, DC and hosts The Stream on Al Jazeera.

 

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NEW YEAR, SAME LIFE

by Catarina Antunes

Some people would say that this is our year to make mistakes, other
people would say that this is the year to stop messing around and
recover our bad years. Some would say that this is a year to fall in
love or get married, on the other hand, others would say that this the
year to have a break in the love department and find out how different
our life on our own can be.

Well, how about this? I think it’s a year to live our lives like it
was the last one, to do things that we never expected to do, to fall
in love a hundred times, to lose our mind a thousand times, to screw
up everything a million times and maybe again… All you’re wishing
for, this year, is what you already wished for the last year, and the
one before… Stop thinking about what you’re going to do, what you’re
going to be, to find out, to dream about, to cry for, TO LIVE FOR.
Just enjoy your present more than the past and expect that your
future is going to be better, without making a list, without thinking
too hard when a shooting star comes around, without making a wish when
our watch reads 00:00, 11:11 or 22:22. Your life is only going to be
“well lived” when you stop thinking about how you can “live it well”.
Instead of beginning with the right foot, why shouldn’t we begin with
the left foot?

All I’m saying is be alive, feel alive. That will only happen when you
take a risk for something that is worth risking it for, for somebody. Be
curious, be strange, be funny, be stupid, be crazy, a liar, a stalker,
a know-it-all, stubborn, naive, cool, happy, in love, a joy kill, a
good student, an excelent son/daughter, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend,
best friend, be you, be yourself and don’t care about what other
people think.

You’re big, bigger and the biggest.

Give presents, buy a dog, break up, make up, make out, wear high
heels, stop wearing glasses, drink cold cofee, dance in the rain, ride
a horse, feed a lion, write your own thoughts so you can’t lose them,
think clear, drink beer to save water, buy a new computer when you
already got one, catch a butterfly, make money singing in the streets,
love someone, cry for someone, break someone’s heart, be someone’s
best friend, go to church, make prank calls, have a party at your new
place, help someone, save someone, quit your job, swim in cold water,
get undressed dancing, stare at the sunset, sleep in a boat, make
music, spend 200$ on candies, sing to someone in public, miss
university classes, travel around the world, touch an elephant, a
lion, a cheetah, a crocodile, win a medal, play tennis, meet new
people, paint your room, buy a house, smoke weed and get drunk. So
many things you’ve been missing while you were thinking about how to
have the time of your life, when you could have had it just a while
ago…

Just live the life you love and love the life you live.

That’s the rule.

Introducing The Doha Review

The Doha Review is here.

It brings together innovative writing, photography and arts.

Create. Dare. Write. Read. Think. Inspire. Break barriers. Find solutions. Exchange ideas. Change things.

You can now enjoy the fantastic works on display, or submit the best of your writing, photography and artworks to this online magazine which serves as a gathering point of different worlds, words, ideas, and artistic visions.

See the ‘about’ section above to submit your work.

Named after the birthplace of founder and editor Matthias Krug, The Doha Review aims to bring together noteworthy, funky, fantastic ideas expressed through writing, photography and art. Doha, a city where cultures and religions come together from all around the world, serves as a symbolic starting point for this international forum of fiction and creativity.

Whether visiting as a reader or writer, viewing or displaying your work, The Doha Review awaits your creative impulses.

So don’t wait. Create.

New Year, New Writing Talent

2012 is here and I feel a continued passion for writing as I work on a new pair of exciting novels for publication this year.

In writing and teaching it daily to receptive and talented students, I enjoy showing what can be done by putting together simple and meaningful words.

They show what happens in life every day, recording our hopes as they are born, dreams as they are thought out, record injustices, social follies, capture happiness, little and big failures, and limitless triumphs.

The latter was undoubtedly the case last month when one of my students handed me the following delightful composition as part of our writing workshop.

Enjoy reading this piece by talented Portuguese writer Catarina Antunes, with all the dreamy fantasy and creativity of the last paragraph. To all of my students; keep writing and reading with delight and passion in the coming year!

NEW YEAR, SAME LIFE

by: Catarina Antunes

Some people would say that this is our year to make mistakes, other
people would say that this is the year to stop messing around and
recover our bad years. Some would say that this is a year to fall in
love or get married, on the other hand, others would say that this the
year to have a break in the love department and find out how different
our life on our own can be.

Well, how about this? I think it’s a year to live our lives like it
was the last one, to do things that we never expected to do, to fall
in love a hundred times, to lose our mind a thousand times, to screw
up everything a million times and maybe again… All you’re wishing
for, this year, is what you already wished for the last year, and the
one before… Stop thinking about what you’re going to do, what you’re
going to be, to find out, to dream about, to cry for, TO LIVE FOR.
Just enjoy your present more than the past and expect that your
future is going to be better, without making a list, without thinking
too hard when a shooting star comes around, without making a wish when
our watch reads 00:00, 11:11 or 22:22. Your life is only going to be
“well lived” when you stop thinking about how you can “live it well”.
Instead of beginning with the right foot, why shouldn’t we begin with
the left foot?

All I’m saying is be alive, feel alive. That will only happen when you
take a risk for something that is worth risking it for, for somebody. Be
curious, be strange, be funny, be stupid, be crazy, a liar, a stalker,
a know-it-all, stubborn, naive, cool, happy, in love, a joy kill, a
good student, an excelent son/daughter, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend,
best friend, be you, be yourself and don’t care about what other
people think.

You’re big, bigger and the biggest.

Give presents, buy a dog, break up, make up, make out, wear high
heels, stop wearing glasses, drink cold cofee, dance in the rain, ride
a horse, feed a lion, write your own thoughts so you can’t lose them,
think clear, drink beer to save water, buy a new computer when you
already got one, catch a butterfly, make money singing in the streets,
love someone, cry for someone, break someone’s heart, be someone’s
best friend, go to church, make prank calls, have a party at your new
place, help someone, save someone, quit your job, swim in cold water,
get undressed dancing, stare at the sunset, sleep in a boat, make
music, spend 200$ on candies, sing to someone in public, miss
university classes, travel around the world, touch an elephant, a
lion, a cheetah, a crocodile, win a medal, play tennis, meet new
people, paint your room, buy a house, smoke weed and get drunk. So
many things you’ve been missing while you were thinking about how to
have the time of your life, when you could have had it just a while
ago…

Just live the life you love and love the life you live.

That’s the rule.