Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Reluctant Fundamentalist: A Review

The Reluctant Fundamentalist's main character is a Pakistani man that is torn between his love for his native country and his newfound love for his current country. My own life's main character is an American teenager, born and raised in Florida, and still in Florida. Despite the fact that I've never even been to another country let alone detained at international airports, and that myself and the novel's main character are clearly very different, I am still able to make a personal connection to him and to the Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Man's greatest fear, contrary to popular belief, is not public speaking; the greatest fear is being alone. A subsequent matter is not fitting in, feeling out of place, not belonging. The narrator of the novel often felt this way, belonging neither here nor there, in a sort of limbo between a place he naturally fit in, and a much different place he learned to fit in, leaving him fitting him in nowhere.
Now, as I think of myself an introvert, I often enjoy the tranquility of silence and solitude. I enjoy being alone. However, I do not enjoy feeling lonely. It's a much different feeling to be by yourself for a period of time physically compared compared to being by yourself all the time mentally and emotionally. Often times, this derives from not belonging, or in some cases a delusion that arises from insecurity in which someone is convinced they don't belong, and therefore do not try and do not belong. Perception is reality. Whether loneliness is real or imagined, the feeling is always quite real.

In my previous high school, the stereotypical girl was catty, shallow, self-absorbed, snobby, and all the other synonyms Merriam-Webster can provide. Now, I don't pride myself on being "better" than others, no not at all, rather I hold myself to different standards. Simply because I did not fit the stereotype. Of course I found others that did not fit it as well, and we bonded over that. But the whole time something was just missing. The environment was hateful, you could feel the judgement in the air like humidity after a rainstorm. It's so thick it's blinding. Blinding to the fact that the rest of the world is not like that. Which, I guess, is why I stayed in such a toxic and unfitting environment for 12 years, simply because I did not know anything else. Because of this, I mostly felt as if I didn't belong. As if I was the odd one out for not obsessing over Tori Burch bags and who broke up with who for the nth time. It was all beneath me, not necessarily because I was above it, but simply because it neither interested nor amused me. Like the Pakistani man, Changez, I had a choice. To stay in a place I had known for so long and yet didn't belong, or to go to a new place where I would not belong even more. The latter sounds more bleak, certainly, but there is room for change, and that's why it's the better option here. And that's the choice I made. And like Changez, I chose to tread on a new path. But unlike him, there will be no back-tracking for me, only moving onward.

The writing in this book was, to me, phenomenal. I felt very engaged by the narrator. The author chose to write the novel as a monologue, not one word written is not uttered by Changez. Because of this, I felt as if he was talking to me, and answering the questions popping into my head, rather than his guest. I enjoyed the author's style of writing greatly, it was extremely thorough in expressing the narrator’s thoughts at all times; it was very open writing, the narrator was not timid at all, and as reader I enjoy that because there isn't an opportunity to coerce question answering. The Reluctant Fundamentalist was a book I did not think I was going to enjoy because of the fact I believed I couldn't relate to it as well as the fact the plot seemed uninteresting. I was wrong on both accounts. As explained previously, I could relate. And though the plot wasn't exactly fast-paced, not for a minute was I bored, and I attribute that to the writing. You can take an incredible, action packed plot, but when it's explained with poor writing, it's not an enjoyable read. The opposite is true as well. Take an ordinary plot, write it flawlessly, and create an amazing page-turner. If I took the time to rate this book on amazon, i would most certainly give it five stars.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

More Than An iPhone

Do you love your iPhone? Is it attached to your hip? Or perhaps, your shoe (for aesthetic reasons, please do not try at home)? For most of us, the answer is yes. That includes me.

You often hear the typical question of what your most “prized possession”  is. As I was pondering what I would grab from my burning house, my iPhone buzzed in my pocket almost like a little reminder, “Hey, remember me? The $700 palm-sized computer in your back pocket? Yeah, I thought so.” So naturally, I came to the conclusion that the single, most valuable object I own is, indeed, my Apple iPhone 5.

Now, as someone who resents the stigma that all teenagers cling to their devices, I was a little disappointed in the truth behind my realization. My phone? Not my favorite book? My paintbrushes? Not even the ring my boyfriend gave me? Perhaps I was even a little bit ashamed. But I realized that Apple is a billion dollar company for a reason. The reason is not that their customers are all teenagers, in fact, I know of several adults that seem more attached to their phones than their kids. If all the grandmas out there are learning how to use touch screen, there must be a legitimate reason why it's so popular.

There's the obvious factor of using the iPhone to get connected. To call and wish someone a happy birthday, to schedule a movie date with your sister, or to tell the world what you ate for lunch (not so much the last one). But that's not why I'm running back into a burning building for my phone, no, I'm going back for much more than an iPhone.

Despite what all ten year old kids seem to think, the iPhone is not just for keeping someone occupied, it's more than that. I don't just have Twitter and Temple Run 2 on my phone, I have memories, people, and feelings. For me, my iPhone records and displays my life; the good, the bad, the memorable, the not-so-memorable pictures of my cat that I end up deleting(sorry, Batman). I have pictures with my family, my boyfriend, my friends. Having pictures is a wonderful thing, especially when I moved away from my friends and boyfriend; looking at pictures with them can bring a smile to my face in an instant. I have videos from when my puppy was 9 weeks, to now at 9 months. If I want to I can look back and watch her grow and mature, I can hear as her bark slowly progressed from a baby-like whine to a threatening, deep, full grown German Shepherd bark. I can flip through the pictures and videos from the music festival, Warped Tour, I went to last weekend. 

In addition to tons of memories, I have pictures of the artwork I've created. When I met my soon-to-be art  teacher at school, showing her my portfolio was a breeze, I just emailed her some of my pieces. I have most of my writing on my phone as well. No matter how much I love feeling a pen in my hand and having those telltale ink spots on my forearms, having it digitally is easier for editing and safekeeping. I have poems, scattered thoughts, and even notes and the beginning of a book I'm working on. I also use this application called 1 Second Everyday where everyday I record a one second video and after a year passes, it creates a compilation of all the videos into one 6 minute long clip about my life in a year. It reminds me to pay attention to the little things throughout my day. 

I'm running back into a burning building for things I've created, poems, paintings; I'm running back the for memories, concerts, family; I'm running back for the things I love and things that make me, well, me.

What are you running back for?