Meet and Greet

I’ve realized my posts are fewer and farther between but hopefully the ‘quality over quantity’ rule applies here. It’s just hard to write down my thoughts since I am all over the place. From DC I went to STL where some major relationship developments happened and then I was off to LA for two weeks. I’m just now able to catch my breath and really sort through what’s going on.

As far as DC is concerned, I don’t think the east coast is not for me. It’s charming and fun but the people, weather and overall vibe make me prefer the mid-west or west coast. I had a few days in St. Louis after I finished up in DC; T$ and I decided to take advantage of the rare time I’m back in town by having our families meet. For the first time. In 8 years.

Needless to say I was extremely nervous, more nervous than I had been about my family meeting him, any job interview, or exam or all three combined. I was a shakey mess because in my head it went only one way: awkward. T$ said it’s important to him that the families meet before we get engaged. Which is opposite of me because it’s not super uncommon in our culture that parents don’t meet until engagements or right before. So from my perspective, if this didn’t go at least decent then there was no way we could move forward at the pace we wanted. A lot had been leading up to this moment.

T$’s mom is a 45 year old single, fun loving, lively woman while my parents are in their 60’s, conservative, happy and family oriented immigrants. As much as I can keep pointing out their differences, there is a common thread that is probably the saving grace in all of this. That being, they both love their kids more than anything. T$’s mom, sister, me, my little brother and my parents had a good time. Everyone laughed, shared food, talked (about casual things, nothing serious) but it really was amazing.

After letting my parents digest what was going on I asked my mom how she felt. She did so well during dinner that I fooled myself into thinking she was supportive but she said she still needs more time. My mom emphasized how she’s not going to be rude to nice people but that she was more so putting on a brave face because she loves me and was really struggling on the inside. I appreciate her effort, and I’m glad she was able to gracefully navigate dinner, even if she needs more time.

My two weeks in LA flew by and I got to bond so much with my sister. I’m headed back to the west coast in a week so I’m excited to see her again soon.

Hope to have more developments on the career, family and love life soon!


Float on,
Rosh

Washington D.C

I’ve been in Washington D.C for about a month but haven’t had time outside of work to do the fun things this city has to offer. D.C is unique, filled with rich history and if you come at the right time of year there are beautiful cherry blossom trees everywhere. Even though it’s ranked under L.A as having the worst traffic I would have to argue that it is worse here because drivers don’t know what they’re doing, roads go every which way and the harsh winter has a toll on road conditions. The good thing is that the Metro system here is so easy to navigate; it’s cheap, fast, reliable and anything you could want for public transportation. Luckily, my hotel is less than a minute walk from a metro station.

Everything I’ve done so far can be done in a weekend so here’s a quick run down of what I did in one cold Saturday on the National Mall. I hopped off at the ‘Metro Center’ metro stop, which is conveniently attached to a Macy’s (if you need to buy a jacket before spending the day outside before spring has sprung). Starting off, I walked over to the Lincoln Memorial and from there went through the WWII memorial, then all the way passed the Washington Monument. Since all the museums are all located close to one another I visited the Natural History Museum, then went a few buildings down to the National Gallery of Art, then grabbed lunch at Busboys and Poets and went on to the Air and Space Museum. I spent too much time there because by the time I got to the Library of Congress, it was closed. After warming up at the hotel I made my way back towards that side of town and went to a really nice dinner at the Capital Grille. My favorites were the Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum, I could easily spend of full day at those two.

It was overall a super productive day and I wish I had done it sooner. I started at 9am and ended at about 9pm with a total of 33,000 steps and about 12.7 miles walked total. Safe to say I spent the next day doing a whole lot of nothing. My favorites outside of that day include going to Union Market and walking around Dupont Circle. I have a few more days left in D.C and will be sure to make the most of them.


Float on!

Rosh

A la la love story

These past couple of weeks I have been in sunny, beautiful Los Angeles. I was so excited for this trip because my sister lives in LA and I get stay with her instead of in a hotel. There’s something for everyone here and if you want the best of that something you’re likely to find it in a city as big/diverse as Los Angeles. Between the beaches, hiking trails, shopping, galleries, restaurants, other major cities that are close by and overall weather I’m not sure how someone could ever be bored here. My favorite thing about LA is that if you’re in the city you can look up and see an absurd amount of planes flying into LAX which I think is pretty cool to watch (especially when you’re stuck in traffic). So enough about Los Angeles, I’ve put off writing about T$ and I so I’m just going to jump right into the synopsis of our story…so far.


The Beginning:
T$ and I met in 10th grade in Mr. K’s study hall. Soon after we becoming friends and some high school drama subsided is where our story begins. Innocently enough we really liked each other. We wrote each other notes, hung out at football games, hockey games, went to the movies…all normal stuff. This all sounds pretty standard so far, but one huge thing was that my family didn’t know he existed in my life. My family is a traditional and religious Pakistani family, so I was raised with immigrant parents. I was terrified that they would essentially disown me for not only dating, but dating a white guy at that. Plus we were so young, there’s no way they would let it happen. Still to this day I feel like I had no choice but back then I was crazy and dramatic (what teenager isn’t?) so who really knows what would have happened. We weren’t totally in secret though, his family knew. His mom was supportive, mostly because he was happy which is all she wanted. Shortly before we started dating, T’s dad passed away. It was a life shattering, world-upside-down time in their lives. He also has a little sister who was young at the time but very much present. So when his mom said he was happy it truly was what she cared about, because so much was going on. T’s dad passing away was really just the tip of the iceberg when it came to his family. A lot went on over the course of the next 8 years. He really didn’t have the easiest life,no one does but damn, his story is something else. We made me a plan that if we wanted to do this, it would be 10 years in the making, just to get to the finish line.

The Middle:
Fast forward a couple of years and we’re both going to the same college (not because of each other) but because it’s where we wanted to go. We coasted through, made awesome friends and somewhere during my 3rd year I couldn’t take it anymore. The secret was just gnawing at me, I had to do something. After fighting and tears (hey, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns) I told my sister. I sent her a Facebook message and just came out with it. Just like that. She asked a lot of questions and I answered them the best I could. I asked her to not tell anyone in my family, which to my surprise she agreed, for two years she didn’t say anything. She dropped hints here and there to my family but nothing major, at least not to my knowledge. Her and her husband were surprisingly supportive. T and I rode high on this for so long, it was just the fuel we needed to keep going. I talked openly with my sister and her husband about T, they asked about him frequently and I was at peace, for the most part.

Fast forward to senior year of college where nostalgia hits you hard. You realize you’re leaving soon for the real world and all sorts of stress comes out of no where. I needed to get a job! Where was I going to live? The scary part being is that you can actually be anywhere, doing anything, but not having a clue to what life will be like was kind of scary. This produced another freak out moment. Could I really do this, a life with T? The way my family is? I thought I couldn’t. I had become very close with them while I was at school and could not bear to disappoint them like I knew I would. So we had a rough patch where I really didn’t know what to do. I went home and had some one on one time with my dad, which was very very rare. Short back story, his sister married a Chinese man and everything turned out fine, she passed away so I never got the chance to ask her about it but I brought it up to my dad. This was the route into me telling him about T.  Our conversation was long, and slow…filled with lots of questions. I thought my dad would handle it well, because of his sister. And he did, for the most part. Somewhere towards the middle of our conversation he stood up and just started pacing the house, sometimes we were talking while he was upstairs and I was downstairs, he seemed very nervous. Look back on this I still laugh, can you imagine having a serious conversation like this? After our talk I told him I wanted to “come out” to everyone else in the family on my own. Next would be my older brother (a huge father figure when I was growing up) and then finally would be the hardest egg to crack, my mom. He didn’t necessarily agree but he said he would wait.

He didn’t wait.

All hell broke loose. He told my mom, who told my brother and those two months are honestly a blur. Everyday there were tears, my mom pleading with me. Arguments with my brother. Overall just a lot of emotions. And the worst part of it was that I felt so alone. T  and my friends were there but there’s no way they could fully understand what was happening. But their support changed everything. They listened when I was frustrated and went on and on about everything that was going on, many times they gave me a shoulder to cry on and helped me see the light in what I thought was a terrible situation. T helped me through panic attacks, freak outs and talks with my family. Without him and my friends I would not have been able to get through it.

Eventually things calmed down, a little. My mom was in denial, there were still tears and fighting but it wasn’t daily, maybe bi weekly. This changed the dynamic between my older brother and me, we had a couple huge fights. Some that I didn’t think we would be able to get passed. T and I had a plan, being so young we didn’t want to rush anyone to feel comfortable as soon as possible. We wanted to give them time. Once my family knew that this wasn’t a question of “if” but a question of “when” then they started coming around. They genuinely felt bad that I didn’t feel like I could come to them for years and years. It took my 6 years to come clean.

So they met. We did a movie and ice cream. The movie was a documentary that our local Muslim/Pakistani community was screening, my dad invited him. This was huge, not only was he meeting my family but he was being exposed to the community. I don’t remember the movie, I swear I blacked out from nerves alone but I remember it being crazy that he finally heard my dad’s laugh, my mom’s adorable accent, saw how tall my little brother was, and how nice my older brother and his wife are. After the movie we got ice cream and it was great, he brought my mom flowers which she accepted and thanked him for. Surprisingly it was never awkward, no silences or no weird questions. We did, however, run into some family friends and just kind of glazed over the fact that T was there. We said our goodbyes, my mom gave him a hug and we left.

After this meeting we were riding pretty high, I couldn’t believe it. We had a family meeting afterwards, everyone went around in a circle and said how they felt. My mom said she’s unsure, it was too soon to say but that he was nice. My dad and younger brother essentially said the same thing as my mom. My dad expressed how he wanted to have a more serious talk with him eventually, but that it was a good first meeting. My older brother listed off good things about him just from the first impression but expressed that being nice overall wasn’t going to cut it, he had to see more. That was disheartening, to say the least. The last thing I wanted was an expectation that T would have to jump through hoops to be with me.

The second meeting was during a muslim holiday, Eid. Eid marks the end of Ramadan which is a month of fasting and overall good behavior. The place where the Eid prayer was taking place was walking distance to T’s super nice and new apartment. So he invited them over for some breakfast afterwards. I wasn’t there for this. Yes, he had them over for breakfast without me. My whole family was there, so this time it’s a bigger group because my sister and her husband were in town. My parents brought him some sweets, he also had sent them some from their favorite bakery in Chicago the week before. I heard this went great, another casual meeting, nothing serious but still major at the same time. After this we were riding pretty high again. My whole family was impressed by his place. Shortly after, my brother bought a house and asked T if he wanted to move in to take care of it. My brother and his wife were to move in the following summer. The logistics didn’t work out but it was huge that he even asked.

I was back in town during late November and I asked if T could come over to dinner one weekend while I was home. This was a bigger deal because my parents would be inviting him into their home, my mom would be cooking him a meal and it just seemed more serious. My dad was all for it and my mom went back and forth for a couple of days but then she reluctantly said yes. Dinner was great, no awkwardness again and my parents sent him home with leftovers and some extra treats. That was right before I left for Qatar and it was a great note to leave on. Towards the end of my trip, T’s mom had some health scares and my mom actively checked up on her (through me) which was really great. So that’s pretty much the story so far, my moms still probably a dull red light (she says) my older brother is probably a yellow light and everyone else is a green light to get this show on the road.

So back track to before the good parts to where I was first telling my family, that feeling of being alone, is partially why I started this blog. I kept Googling “how to come out to your parents” but obviously that wasn’t quite right. Although, I did borrow a few tips from those articles. When I first told my sister about starting this blog she goes “well don’t you want to wait until you’re at least engaged?” which is a point I thought about too. What if we go through all of this and nothing comes from it? It would be terrible. But even if that did happen, if we didn’t end up together, that doesn’t mean we didn’t happen. It doesn’t discount everything we’ve been through for the past 8 years. I also just wanted to keep track of life, so much is happening and my memory is terrible, I wanted a way for me to reflect back on this time.

We think that the next few steps should include T having a serious one on one with my dad and brother, having our families meet and then taking it from there to the next big step. I have a feeling that more tears and fights will break out but I hope I’m wrong. Also, small disclosure: so much more happened from high school days to now but I just wanted to hit the key events that are more pertinent to what’s going on. Again, not everything was always great and romantic, aside from the big stuff there were still other highs and other lows, just like anyone’s life and relationships. I’m really excited to see what this year will bring.


Float on,

Rosh

USA! USA! USA!…and Abu Dhabi

Traveling is amazing and very exhausting. It’s worth it but there are times when coming home is the only thing that sounds appealing. Since the last post I went to Abu Dhabi, then back to Doha, and finally traveled the 8000 miles home. After 9 days straight of working I got a 5 days off to hibernate then worked for 3 days to get another 4 day break. During the last 4 day break a few co-workers and I decided to visit Abu Dhabi (my visa was expiring so it was also a visa run).

We had so much fun! I personally liked Abu Dhabi more than Dubai. I don’t know if it was because of the group I went with or the overall vibe. In Dubai everything was for tourists, nothing seemed genuine. Abu Dhabi seemed to be more real and trying less to impress. The two cities are just a couple hours apart so they’re not vastly different. During our first day we went to the beach, played and lounged around. I tried wake boarding for the first time…’tried’ being the key word. I don’t know how people get up on those things, it seemed impossible. We also went to the mall, that was of course gigantic, it had everything you could want and so much more. On another daytime adventure we went and saw the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. That place will take your breath away…it is the definition of grand, both the inside and outside was so beautiful. We were lucky enough to get there around a prayer time where we heard the call to prayer echo through the mosque, very very cool. If I ever got to go again I would go at sunset, the views and lighting would be amazing plus there would also be a call to prayer around that time too. Admittedly, we spent a lot more time on the night scene than anything else. The first night we made our way to Yas Island to try to go Rush, an upscale club that over looks the race track. Little did we know it was closed one day out of the week, of course the day we decide to go. Rush is located in the Viceroy hotel so we went to a rooftop area there for some hookah and casual hangout time. We ended up taking a cab back towards our hotel (30 mins away, nothing is close to Yas Island) and went to Etoiles inside the Emirates Palace. We loved Etoiles, so much that we went back almost every night. They played upbeat music and had great prices for everything. Eventually, we made it to Rush on a Friday night and it was less than impressive. Based off of what we heard we thought it would be the to be, but it was underwhelming.To sum it up we had pretty relaxing days, then would dance the night away.  The beach and the mosque are a ‘must see’ during the day and Etoiles was the place to be at night.

After Abu Dhabi, I returned to Doha to finish off the last couple weeks of work. I made one final trip to the Souq to get gifts for loved ones and eat my favorite meal at Le Gourmet (best hummus I’ve ever had). I said my goodbyes, knowing I’d see my coworkers again. I was more sad to say goodbye to the staff that made Doha feel like home, they are truly great people.

Now I am actually home, St. Louis by no means is the greatest city on this planet, or is on a list of “must see” places but it is home. I could have cried tears of joy when I touched down in America, not because the Middle East was terrible or I didn’t enjoy it. It was AMAZING! I had a great time! But it’s not my home, for some people it doesn’t matter but I feel like I have a strong sense of home. When I’m away for too long, I miss the way my mom smells and my dad’s laugh and all of my siblings. I’ve learned so much about myself over the past two months, I’m so thankful for that. Luckily, I got a week off when I came back to readjust. Next trip is to Los Angeles for 3 weeks! Lately, I feel like this blog has focused on travel which is not my intention but I’m just going with it. With Valentine’s Day coming up I do want to stray away from travel and towards a pretty cool love story but we’ll see what life has in store until then.


Float on!

-Rosh

International Birthday: Round 2


Word of the Day: Rooted


This time last year I went sky diving in Queenstown, New Zealand to celebrate my birthday. This year I am lucky enough to spend it in Qatar soaking up sunshine and eating endless amounts of cake. I turned 23, which seems like a weird age to me. It’s not really considered mid-twenties yet but doesn’t really feel like it belongs in the early twenties category. Regardless, I felt the idea of ‘being in limbo’ creeping up on me again, so that’s why the word of the day is Rooted. In almost every aspect of life I feel unsettled. I am not sure what the future holds for my career path, my relationships, where I’ll live and if I want to continue my education. Traveling and living in hotels does not calm that feeling so I’ve decided to root myself to the present. The future will always be unknown but if I commit to what’s going on now then the future will figure itself out. This will be a struggle because I am constantly day dreaming but a balance of both will be ideal. I want to enjoy these younger years as much as I can and be very present because time is flying by.

I’ve made a couple really close friends on this trip. It would be impossible not to bond considering we’re all pretty far from home. On the morning of my birthday, one of my friends left Evian water bottles and treats at my door. We can’t drink the tap water here in Qatar and the bottled water leaves you thirstier, unless its Evian, so that surprise was awesome. I treated myself to a nice breakfast and went off to work. When the day was over, I came back to my room filled with balloons (blown up by my water bottle friend) and a delicious cake provided by the staff. Water-bottle-friend went through enormous amounts of trouble to get the balloons in my room but I’m glad she did it. After inhaling cake I went for a walk on the Corniche with another friend. We talked about almost everything and laughed about old Disney Channel and Nickelodeon movies. I came back and went to the executive lounge where there was another cake and more balloons. The night ended with dinner at an amazing Lebanese restaurant, where there was yet another cake.

Here’s a video of the restaurant staff singing to me:

If you can’t tell I’m insanely happy and feeling very 23.


Float on!

-Rosh

Dubai


Word of the Day: Celebrate


It seems like everyone is celebrating Christmas, New Years and birthdays (mine is soon) with family and close friends so it’s hard not to miss home. Also, it’s easy to forget to celebrate, especially with our work schedule here. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in the hours my coworkers and I are putting in to this project. That’s why the word of the day is celebrate. I realized that just because I’m not celebrating big days with loved ones doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate life in general. Despite the lack of sleep I’ve been getting recently there are so many little victories that happen along the way. If I add those accomplishments to the holiday’s it feels like I should be celebrating something 90% of the time. And I learned that celebrating doesn’t always mean ‘doing it big’ but can be anything out of the ordinary.

A few coworkers and I decided to spend our Christmas holiday (2 Days) in Dubai! We had so much fun and definitely kept busy. On the 24th we went the Mall of Emirate where we got our ski tickets squared away for the 25th and had a full feast for lunch. From the Mall of Emirates, we took the metro to the Burj Khalifa, since you have to buy tickets ahead of time we weren’t able to go up…but we had something better in mind for the evening. After walking around the Burj Khalifa (and even sneaking inside for a little bit) we walked over to the Dubai Mall to see the fountain show. It was 5 minutes long and had the Burj Khalifa in the background, it was so beautiful especially against the sunset. The Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas blow me away more than this one did but it was still very cool to see. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel and I made arrangements to have drinks at the top of the Burj Al Arab. I didn’t think we would actually be able to get a reservation on Christmas Eve but somehow it happened and it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen. The inside of the hotel is indescribable and it was well worth the $100 to enjoy good company, great drinks and awesome views. Next time I want to come during the day so the views are better. I thought nothing would beat that experience but the next day we got to celebrate Christmas in the winter wonderland inside the Mall of Emirates. We purchased the full experience which allowed us to touch and hangout with penguins (the best day of my life), ski, zip line, sled and so many other activities that we ran out of energy for. By the end of the day we were exhausted. We came back to the hotel and decided to order a movie to end Christmas night the right way. We ended up watching The Purge, which didn’t really go along with our festive mood at all, dumb idea but hilarious in retrospect.

Dubai gave me a much needed break, I hope the work-life balance becomes more manageable once the first few weeks are out of the way and more associates are coming in. I want to be able to enjoy Doha more and take it all in, I can’t wait to see what this city offers for New Years!


Float on!

-Rosh

Happy National Day!


Word of the Day: Silence


A majority of my coworkers are very personable, confident and interesting. We all have amazing stories to share about something or another. Lately it seems like we’re subconsciously playing the ‘one up’ game and before you know it, people are competing for the “Wait you did that? That’s so cool!” affirmation. Silence goes a long way, I’ve realized that sitting back and watching the show is more fun than being the center of it. Being more observant and quiet helps in the listening department too, which is good because I could learn a thing or two from everyone’s experiences.

Today was Qatar’s National Day! Celebrations were going on all week but December 18th is the official holiday. Cars were decorated with flags, streamers and important Qataris. There was a parade, airshow, and a flawlessly executed fireworks display, which spanned a half mile over the water. About halfway through the show some jet ski’s went out and shot fireworks off the back. It was synchronized perfectly and it was really cool to see the entire night sky light up.

The wealth this country has is unreal. The celebrations for the holiday clearly showed that, they spent months preparing for it. The city seems like it is perpetually under construction with some of the most beautiful and intricate building designs I have ever seen. Everything is so new and luxurious, they go all out and don’t hold back. I can’t wait to see how different this place will look 10 years from now. I really feel like I would be happy living here, except I’ve heard the summers are “offensively hot”.

Aside from National Day, today also marks day 10 of being in Qatar! The days just melt into each other, especially when trying to keep up with the time change back home. Work has been great so far, there has been a lot to do with little free time so a weekend is much needed. All the local professionals I’ve interacted with are so genuine and welcoming. The next round of associates are coming next week, which is exciting because I’ll see some familiar faces. Hopefully it keeps going well over here. Sometimes I do get pangs of homesickness, yesterday I had a dream about my mom and woke up hugging a pillow. 😦 Back in the Midwest its been snowing and the holiday season is in full swing, it is completely opposite here. Staying busy is definitely the key to not feel like I am missing out on life back home. My coworkers and I are trying to plan a small getaway for Christmas, so stay tuned!


Float on!

-Rosh