The Cyclone and the Saudi Prince

It's Tuesday, and one of those rare weeks, where mercifully, I get to go home early and be with my family. I'm leaving work early, from my client in Sayre, Pennsylvania, going to spend the rest of the week, working from home in Dallas, and visiting friends. Black Friday's coming up, I made a list of stuff I need to get, new laptop for Sonia, new hard drive for me, and other stuff I'll look for online - there's no way I'd ever wake up early and stand in line. I think anyone who does is nuts!
Patargata - 125 miles south of Dhaka, Bangladesh. There's little left of the huts along the coastline. From the the wake left behind the cyclone, Azahar Ali climbs over heaps of destruction, barefoot, wearing a yellow undershirt and a "dhoti".
Flight 4336, from Elmira to Philadelphia, the plane has left an hour later, and when I land, I'm stuck in Philly for another couple of hours. I left at 1 pm, and will get home tonight at 9 pm, this really sucks! They're reporting that this will be the worst day in the year for air travel because of the Thanksgiving crowds, guess I should consider it lucky if I get home at all. It could always be worse.
Patargata - Azahar Ali looks like a farmer, his skin darkened by years under the sun. He must be in his 30's. Beads of sweat cover his head and body. He's searching among the debris, and heaps of garbage for signs of life. Who's he lost? Who's left? He emerges from a small hill of remains, and is carrying a frail old man. The old man's face wears a look of fear and shock. The old man clutches Azahar, his white hair cropped close, and long white beard flowing. In his other hand he hangs on to his cane. Azahar is almost as skinny as the old man, and struggles to hold him in his arms as he navigates through the carnage.
We're finally in the air, I push the seat back. I'm happy there's no one sitting next to me. USA Today, I grabbed a copy from the hotel on my way out this morning, I'm flipping through the paper - what's up with the nation today? Stewardess comes by, "I'll just have a water please". That's about all that's left for passengers, unless I want to dish out six bucks for some crackers, and a chocolate bar, and the airlines are having a great year financially. Is customer service inversely tied to company profits, I wonder?
Patargata - Is the old man, Azahar's father? What's left of his family? Nearby, Dhalan Mridiha, a farmer runs from one pile to another, listening for familiar voices, he struggles to hear over the din of the moans and shouting of the dying.
I flip through the paper, recent Gallup survey says that 78% people feel the economy is heading into the gutter - hmm, that's not good, I guess gas prices being at the prices they're at doesn't help any. Another of Bush's aide's resigning, Fran Townsend - never heard of her. What is it with this guy? Republican or not, it's never a good sign, if your friends are walking out the party. A snapshot poll by the Administration for Children and Families, indicates that of all the caregivers, mothers are the highest percentage of abusers to children, almost 40%. Wonderful! More good news. I'm assuming mothers are also the largest percentage of caregivers, so that statistics would be somewhat expected. Am I rationalizing this?
Patargata - Dhalan Mridha went to sleep the night before, like any other night. In the hut, his wife and mother fell asleep, only to be violently shaken awake. The earth and water were in a fierce battle, and the village disappeared under their feet. Now, Dhalan runs between the debris searching and listening for the voices of his wife and mother. He hasn't heard or seen them all morning, but he doesn't stop. He runs, and searches, and then runs again.
Flip the page. So the mystery shopper for the new largest commercial airliner turns out to be a Saudi prince, he's making the biggest private purchase of an aircraft in history, they aren't telling what the final price will be, or how much it'll cost to rig it with all of his requested modifications. Interesting. I guess it ain't that big of a surprise after all. Musharaf's been cleared of any legal disputes, by a hand picked Supreme Court - echoes of another country. The 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 is out, nice piece of machinery. 600 ponies under the hood, 0 to 60 mph in four seconds. Damn! That's some serious attitude! $84,745, sticker price - my 3000GT's 10 years old, I could afford this, maybe it's time for a trade-in? Maybe if I keep thinking it, I'll convince myself, convincing Sonia - well that's another story.

Patargata - Dhalan finally stops running, he's found both his wife and mother. They are both now lifeless, their corpses hang on some uprooted brushes. Dhalan is now weeping. Dhalan is no longer running.

On the ground now in Philly, wish I had internet here, oh well, I'll work offline, answer a few emails, maybe grab a bite, read some more. M&M's now let you customize printed messages on them - huh, pretty cool. Steve Martin's got a new book out, about his life, before he got famous. Big review on the new movie based on Stephen King's old novel, "Mist". The review says it's pretty good. Haven't seen a good horror movie in a while. Well that might have something to do with the two foot little guy living on our house, who takes up all our time. I doubt he'd make it through the whole movie, without throwing a fit. I'll have to rent it on video. Kay Jewelers' got a sale going on diamond jewelry. Do I need to buy any jewelry? Any big anniversaries coming up? I think I'm safe for now. "Every kiss begins with a Kay" -not if I can help it. Britney Spears' driving again, without her license - I actually feel sorry for her, she's burning and falling, and we have front-row seats. Dominoes is advertising their new Oreo pizza - I can't believe anyone would actually eat this stuff. I mean, I eat junk food sometimes, but a pizza covered with Oreos? That is quintessentially "American", it's taking junk food to a whole new level, might as well, just give your kid a bar or butter, and a bucket of sugar.
Patargata - From above, Azahar Ali and Dhalan Mridha, are lost. They are multiplied, their stories lost among the others, dozens join them, each lost in their own search - then hundreds, each scrambling to hang on to a disappearing past. The hundreds become thousands, each voice breaking for prayer, hope and survival. All are waiting.
I put the paper down. Patargata - never heard of it, it sounds like a Thai dish. Do I need to worry about it? I've got enough on my mind.
In the distance, my plane is flying in from the rain and storm. At the gate, I am waiting.
Islamic Relief USA
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About Naeem Randhawa

Naeem Randhawa is a filmmaker, travel writer, and IT project manager, living in Dallas with his wife and baby boy. He has been writing about travel for over 12 years, and made his film directorial debut last year, with a film about fasting called “American Ramadan.” Having traveled almost every state in the US, Canada, as well as international destinations, his travel writings cover everything from adventure trails across White Sands in New Mexico, exclusive resorts in Quebec, Baja trekking in Mexico, to the many travel destinations in the US. He is currently developing a diversity based travel show, to premiere later this year. A self-starter, he taught himself filmmaking, to add a voice in countering the current media bias and void of Muslim representation in mainstream media. Last year, the film was picked up and broadcast by Link TV, Geo TV, Bridges TV, as well as international networks. This year the documentary will air across 50 PBS stations this year, and reach over 70 million TV US homes. He has also shot, and produced over 70 field television reports for a national satellite network, reporting on the Muslim community locally in Dallas, and at large. Highlights include coverage of on-the-ground reporting from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and many others. He is currently working on research for his next documentary projects, about Hajj, Muslims in the US Army, Faith conversion stories, and a PSA for a national organization. His media website can be viewed here at

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