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Current Mood: Rotten
Thomas Friedman speaks today of a very particular problem I've been fretting over a lot more since I heard of the bombings in London. For one, the co-ordinated blasts brought back memories of a hot March day in 1993 when Bombay was rocked by 13 blasts, one after another, in one of the worst terrorist attacks ever carried out on a major metropolis.
The locus of my discomfort is my very identity, my name, officially it is Mohammed Ubaid, Mohamed Amin Diyan - a beautiful example of clerical apathy toward a new born and my parents' excitement (inexperience?) gone awry in naming their first baby. If you were paying attention you'd notice that not only do I have two Mohammeds in my name, but also that both have different spellings. I don't know what shackles the name will raise with skeptical immigration officers but as Friedman points out, with the London blasts, everybody in the West loses a bit of their freedom. I won't be surprised if, after scanning my ID, someone gives me a particularly suspicious look, offended and frustrated yes, but not surprised. I detest the fact that I have to actually state out loud how I absolutely hate Osama bin Laden and everyone else of his ilk, shouldn't that be the default expectation from any normal person? Muslim or otherwise? My religious persuasion, or rather the complete lack of it, does not appear on my identification documents but my name does, so though I don't believe in any kind of religious philosophy, the onus is still on me to spell it out for those who doubt my devotion to Salman Rushdie rather than bin Laden. The op-ed points out that though a fatwa was issued against Rushdie, no such judgement has been passed against the man responsible for thousands of civilian deaths around the world and for making everyday life for Muslims a little more difficult. I couldn't agree more, why has no fatwa been issued against him? Actually I don't even know what a Muslim leader is, I don't think the princes and dictators of Arab countries represent me, and the so called Muslim leaders in India are not all that representative of my thinking either. I feel completely helpless right now, I'm not responsible for what terrorists do in the name of Islam, I can't do anything personally to stop them, I don't identify with their ideas or their causes, heck I don't even identify with religion anymore so what recourse do I have except, perhaps, change my name to something more innocuous?
I'm going to India for a month on vacation and my biggest concern right now is what's going to happen when I go to get my visa stamped at the Mumbai consulate, and what happens at the immigration counter when I fly back to LAX. Sigh, this is all so depressing.

Thought I must take a look at your blog.... after an interesting evening of getting to know you through Rushdie and Dickens and many words on love over kebabs and chicken.
Nice, now I can revisit - hopefully you will update it soon!

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