Saturday, April 20, 2013

Careful Dude, You’re On Camera

The terrible Boston Marathon bombing instantly gives me bad jitters; here we go. Again. Lunatics perhaps, probably from a Salafist country in the Middle East bringing their deviant loco beliefs of killings and mayhem so very close to home. Or, it could be homegrown extremists, who bloody know? But I pray hard nevertheless, wishing the murderers not be Muslims, well, at least not with Muslim sounding names; real, practicing Muslims will not, cannot, take innocent lives.

Living a cheery life or commuting carefree is not easy here in the US to begin with; I stick out like a sore thumb, especially accompanied by a Hejaabi family. It is even worse when I fly, something I do quite frequently. Uff! The check-in person at the airport will take twice the time scrutinizing my passport, the security guy will ask me to remove my hat so he can view his reflection on my scalp and if there is a secondary check before boarding, I will be picked out and searched, one hundred percent. I try console myself this is inevitable and good for my own security. Still, it irks me to death, sometimes, to be picked on like this.

It is astonishing how fast and well coordinated the police and FBI work in this country. The bombings occurred on Monday evening, the perpetrators identified by Thursday. Today, Friday morning, I hear refreshing news one of the two identified bomber is dead and by evening, the second one is cornered, and then arrested. Even better news is the guys are not from Middle East, not Arabs and don’t have Muslim sounding names; they are from Chechnya, Russia or Kirgizstan. This, I dearly hope, will go some way in reassuring jittery Americans with jaundiced views on all Muslims; terrorists can be crackpots from any country.

One sure way to reassure general public and cynical people in particular that Islam is indeed a religion of peace, that we am harmless and genuine Americans, and for overall da’wa, is to have a ready smile on our lips all times. So says our good respected maulana Baig at HIC center. Wonderful idea! So I begin going around with a big bold smile on my lips. Mind you, it’s not easy! You try it; it’ll hurt and tax your facial muscles. Until I encounter an irate policeman on a bicycle. I am stopped at a STOP sign, inadvertently blocking his way on a pedestrian / bicycle walkway when he rides up and blows a whistle. Startled, I roll down my window, my smile still intact, albeit a little nervous.

Sir, he says menacingly, any reason you are blocking the walkway?

Um, I gulp and momentarily lose the smile, but bring it back full force, remembering maulana’s advice, ready to bear the pain for da’wa sake. Um, I am sorry officer, I did not realize there was a walkway...

Why are you grinning at me like an idiot for? Please move along Sir, you are obstructing my right of way.

I move all right, fasta, fasta. So do my lips, back to a scowl, easing ache from the need of a permanent smile. I fume; can a cop call me an idiot? I am about to turn around and confront the dude but change my mind. With the current situation, he’d probably accuse me of terrorizing him and have me arrested.

The technology at play in tracking down the Boston marathon culprits is phenomenal, namely cameras; still-mounted ones at every storefront, bank, public office, name it. And cellphones, in our pockets and purses; the handy helpful ones, nearly everybody has one. The probability someone is taking a picture or video at an event any given time is guaranteed, almost. Why, an amateur, helping law officers, I’m sure, recorded the actual bomb going off.

But wait a minute, what about personal privacy! I’m not sure I want my actions recorded on people’s cameras and shown to the world, in case I am nearby an event and get taped or snapped. What if I am picking my nose? What if I am extracting wayward underwear caught between cheeks? Worse, what if I am satisfying an itch down under?

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