Time Out

stressed-outI need a serious time out. The problem is not that I’m overworked, the problem is that I’ve taken on too many projects at one time and I’m seriously scared that I’m going to end up sucking at all of them because I can’t devote enough time to each!

– My full-time copywriting/web production job
– Journalism courses (which gives me insane amounts of work!)
The Sari-Clad Bride (my wedding blog that I co-write with two other girls and we still can’t get all the things we want done!)
– Freelance writing (I haven’t pitched a story in months because I just haven’t had the time!)
– Sunehra’s Health and Beauty Talk (My Health and Beauty blog)
– Studying for the GRE
– Grad school Apps

Most of this I can handle, but what I’m really worried about is the GRE. I just do not have the time to study for it. I need sleep and a serious vacation!

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Welcome, Ibrahim

Ibrahim: A Miracle

Ibrahim: A Miracle

My childhood friend, ‘B’,  just gave birth to her first child, Ibrahim, this morning. She is the first person that I’ve grown up  that has performed this miracle. Though, I shouldn’t be shocked (I’ve had 9 months to get used to the idea), I am.

B and I have been friends almost all of our lives, having met through our parents at the age of 5 or 6.  We’ve seen each other go through every stage of life, so far. B was the first to get married at 18 and I was her friend, sister, maid of honor all rolled-into-one. She doesn’t have a sister, so she’s always been the third sibling to my sister and I. Our personalities and lives (like most sisters) are vastly different. During our college years, she was setting up house and I was partying and rebelling against my parents. She married the only guy she’s ever been with and I can barely hold down a relationship. There are times where I have been insanely jealous of her life. She’s never known what it’s like to be lonely since she got married at such a young age and she genuinely has the happiest marriage that I know of. But, she is aware of this and grateful for it and although we can’t always relate to each others lives, we’ve managed to keep our friendship alive and kicking through the last 15+ years.

Along with a generally happy disposition, she has tremendous faith, which as of late, I don’t seem to have much of. Islam is a passionate religion and while I’ve grown up in a typical Muslim household, somewhere along the line my faith has wavered. I believe in Allah and am not thinking of changing my religion or anything along those lines but there are many things that I have been taught that I don’t believe in or find contradictory. But this method of living hasn’t proven to be very helpful to my soul or conscience and I’ve been giving second thoughts about my negligent attitude towards Islam; and in the middle of my wavering faith came B’s son, Ibrahim.

B and her husband have always been very pious Muslims but over the last few years, her husband has been more in touch with his faith than ever. B doesn’t wear a hijab (knocking the stereotype that a pious Muslimah must wear a Hijab) but she does dress modestly, pray, fast, eat halal and has never touched alcohol. She’s also well-dressed, modern and a working woman. But more so than all of these things, she has always genuinly been an awesome human being. B. completed Umrah Hajj (A religious pilgrimage) just before her second trimester, and while I admired her for it, I also scoffed at it. My inner Muslimah knew it was a brave and wonderful thing to do, but the superficial persona that had possessed me over the last couple of years deemed it unnecessary.

Ibrahim was born in the last week of the holy month, Ramadan, on one of the most important nights of the Muslim calendar, Lailatul Quadr. Lailatul Quadr is a day of forgiveness and remembrance as its the day the Holy Qua ran was sent to the world. And I hardly think it is a mere coincidence that Ibrahim arrived on this holy day–a full 13 days earlier than his due date.

My questions regarding Islam have been mostly about how far does one have to go to be considered a good Muslim? My other issue has been regarding the fact that many Muslims believe Islam to be superior than all other beliefs ( although most religions feel this way about their own kind). But what I’ve been taught and grew up believing as a Muslim is that we all believe in one God, we just address Him differently. And in the process of criticizing my own kind, I seemed to have forgotten this core part of my belief.

But sometimes a small miracle can do a lot to change one’s mind and that’s what my new nephew Ibrahim is to me; a small miracle. When I got the news this morning that he arrived, I was stunned and there was this other indescribable emotion that crept up on me. I was genuinely worried for my childhood friend–neither of us had either experienced the type of pain and anguish becoming a mother brings on. I hoped in my heart that everything would turn out right and it did and once I learned that both B. and Ibrahim were alright, the significance of his birth on my life dawned on me. It was God’s way of sending a message: You might be rebelling against me in spirit, but you still hold me in your heart and here’s a little reminder as to why you love me so much.

Thank you Ibrahim for bringing your mother such joy, for making me an aunt, for reminding me exactly who I am and what I believe in and for arriving at such a crucial moment in my life.

Bless You.

Teenage fashion bloggers turn coveted editors during Fashion Week

The other day my sister and I were having a discussion on how we’re sort of the ‘in-between’ generation when it comes to the World Wide Web. As a 25-year old and 23-year-old, we’re old enough to remember a world where the Internet did not dominate our lives but young enough to be completely inundiated by it for as long as we can remember. We were young teens during the age of dial-up and we’ve seen AOL Instant Messenger go through various makeovers. We discarded our flashy TyPEd LiKe ThIs AOL member profiles and replaced them with Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, etc. We are the generation of the Internet, but we also remember life without it. We had childhoods without it, where computer class consisted of playing Oregon Trail and frankly, not much else. We’ve typed up papers on Electric typewriters and it was even handed in hand-written essays.

We are the generation that grew up on the verge of the Internet and dove in head-fast as soon as we were able to. So, we wonder how is it growing up as a teenager in this day and age of iPhones, Twitter, Facebook, Photoshop, etc and not knowing life without it. We also wonder whether we’d also be coveted teenage fashion bloogers if we wouldve been born at least five to seven years later?

Or maybe if we were actually able to afford everything Chanel and Marc Jacobs, we’d also get to sit front row at fashion week and contribute our profound fashion ideas.

Whatever it is, we’re damn jealous of these little brats;

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574404681883885344.html

Boy, have J-schools advanced in a few years

lois_lane-copy-794672I started my first day of class as a continuing student yesterday and whoa, have journalism classes changed since I left in ’06. When I entered college in ’02 (which is really not that long ago), my Journalism professors weren’t using digital media and online technology as much. I remember thinking my classes were pretty much useless once I started interning and then working in the real world. In the three short years that I graduated from my alma mater, things have changed tremendously in its journalism curriculum–even the most ancient professors are blogging, twittering and facebooking (joking, joking–please don’t give me a bad grade!). There is also a much better selection of courses and more internship opportunities. I’ve always felt that my undergraduate degree is pretty much useless except for maybe the introductory news-writing courses.

I also had this one professor too many times (mainly because he was the only who taught the courses at the time and he was rumoured to be ‘easy’) who absolutely sucked. I learned nothing from him. He left us up to our own devices most of the time so you never knew what he expected. I remember walking into my first class with him and he took one glance at me and said, “Ah, here comes my Indian student!”

First off, I’m Bangladeshi but that’s besides the point; what possessed him to even make such a comment? Later on, he told me I had a very ‘South Asian’ voice which actually didn’t make much sense because I was born and raised in Queens, New York and do not know how to read or write anything except English and rudimentary Spanish. Having worked at a major  Indian-American newspaper, he thought he had the authority to make this type of judgment about me. He, himself, isn’t South Asian, he’s a mix of Asian and Caucasian.

As it turned out, I was the only South Asian student in my major in my year. I can safely say this because the journalism department at my college was pretty small, even though the University itself was huge. I had classes with pretty much all of the same people and by the time we graduated, we all knew each other, even if it was just by face. All the brown kids were pretty much pharmacy, accounting, business, chemistry or biology students (which is also why I had a total of two Desi friends at college, neither of whom I keep in touch with that often).

Well I’m back at school taking two continuing education courses and am super pleased by how different professors are now (my old professor isn’t teaching there anymore). I’m taking a media graphics course to help me me advance my Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator skills as well as an International Reporting course. For the In’tl Reporting class, each student has to pick a country to concentrate on during the semester. We’ll be making contacts with sources in our country and reaching out to the immigrant communities here. I decided to pick Bangladesh because I virtually know nothing about my Motherland’s politics. What I do know of it’s culture and politics is mostly hearsay, so it makes the most sense that I would pick Bangladesh. My dad’s brother is actually a former award-wining Journalist in Bangladesh and my best friend’s father is also a well-known political commentator as well as immigrant activist, so hopefully they will be able to help me out. In fact, my friend’s dad suggested a few times while I was laid off and looking for a job that I should spend some time in Bangladesh and that he could hook me up with a reporting gig at one of the English-language publications there. Nepotism is huge in Bangladesh so getting a job there would be a piece of cake for me.

Well, I was too busy running around with my-fiance at the time to consider his offer seriously, but I have been thinking about it a lot over the past few months. I’ve been trying to escape NYC for a while and couldn’t figure out where to go without going broke. I love my job right now so that’s definitely a major thing holding me back, but my yearning to explore can definitely override that. With the currency exchange and the fact that my parents own a home in the capital (Dhaka), my living needs would be very minimal.

Well, let’s see what happens in a year 🙂

The evolvement of Journalism Schools: Twitter Classes

I’ve been a twitter skeptic from the beginning. Yes, businesses can greatly benefit from it, but facebook updates and twitter don’t seem that different to me. I use twitter for my wedding blog to garner more traffic and page views but honestly, my blog’s facebook profile gets me more than triple the amount of traffic that twitter does. Though, my opinion of Journalists ‘tweeting’ breaking news did drastically change after Michael Jackson’s death. People were updating more facts about his death than the media biggies were and whether most of it was accurate or not, it definitely kept me in the loop.

But a whole class on twitter–and taught by a intern on top of that? That’s definitely taking it over the top. 23-year-old Chicago Tribue intern and DePaul University alum, Craig Kannally, has been roped in by DePaul’s J-school to teach an Master’s Undergraduate class, ‘Journalism 520: Digital Editing: From Breaking News to Tweets”. Yes, J-school professors should definitely incorporate twitter as part of their lesson plans, but paying mucho dineros for a whole class on it?

I think not.

Read the story here.