After an eight hours flight I finally arrived to New York. I was lucky to have a friend wait for me at the airport. When I travel abroad I usually meet my friends in the city but having a friend waiting for you at the airport makes a huge difference. It makes a difference in the way you walk through the crowds at the arrival gate. When no one is waiting for you, you walk as fast as you can to avoid eye contact with the “audience”. But when someone is there waiting for you, you walk out, you stop, you look around, you dare to look at people, you see happy faces, and more importantly you feel part of this happiness when you finally detect your friend. Fadi was my classmate and partner in crime at the university – on my diary I wrote my partner in craziness to avoid the word ‘crime’ practicing an auto-censorship affected by my presence in the US. I have not seen Fadi for more than 5 years but we were in contact through Facebook which didn’t leave much for us to talk about.
Fadi lives in New Jersey and came to New York to pick me up, have coffee together and go back to New Jersey. Only a real friend can do that.
Over a cup of coffee Fadi gave me updates of his adventures in the US. At 8.30 pm I had to take the bus to Washington DC. Fadi insisted to pay my ticket but I refused. The lady selling the tickets looked at her colleague then looked back us and told me “dear, next time when a gentleman asks to pay your ticket let him do it”. Then I explained that he came to see me from New Jersey and that was priceless, but she didn’t seem convinced.
At 8.20, I was waiting for bus. Then, an American African man, who was taking the same bus, asked me if I were Muslim. When I confirmed he said it was obvious because I’m wearing the veil. Then he interrupted a conversation I was having with myself about why he’d ask me if he had the answer, by asking another question. His next question proved that the first question was just an introduction. He asked me if it was true that Muslims were not allowed to marry non-Muslims. Then added that if this was true then it’s discrimination and that there is something wrong with God. I started explaining that indeed as a Muslim woman I’m not allowed to get married to a non-Muslim man. Then he interrupted me repeating that it was discrimination. I was neither interested to know what his religion was, nor had the energy to explain that Islam is not the only religion emphasizing on same-faith marriage. I’ve apologized for misunderstanding that it was a question while it was rather an argument, then added that after an 8 hours flight that was the last topic I’d like to discuss. I looked away ending the conversation and noticed that the two girls behind me were laughing discretely, then I told them ‘Welcome to New York I guess”.