Location: San Francisco, California
One of the greatest gifts that my nomadic childhood bestowed on me is an appreciation for how small the world actually is. We really do have more in common with each other than we realize, and even the simplest gesture or encounter can unite us.
Yesterday, I walked to dinner in downtown San Francisco but I decided to take a Lyft ride back to my hotel. I got in the car and I could tell that my driver was a bit taken aback that I was sitting up front. He turned down the music that was playing and apologized for it. I assured him it was fine and that it reminded me of my childhood in Pakistan. His whole face lit up. “You have been to Pakistan?” I explained that I used to live in Islamabad. He told me he was from Afghanistan, but had also lived in Islamabad. He couldn’t believe we had Pakistan in common, and he was even more flabbergasted when I told him I also love Afghanistan and that my dad took many photos of his beautiful country.
I still have a smattering of Urdu stuck in my brain and I shared what little I remember. It was enough. He nearly cried with delight. He just could not stop marveling at the fact that we both love garlic naan, that we both know the words to the one song I remember in Urdu, and that we both know that his country is not defined by the Taliban. He has had a tough time of it since moving to the United States four years ago. He tentatively told me that Trump has not made him feel welcome. I told him that Trump may be our President, but he does not represent the way most of us feel about a lot of things, including people like him.
It was a short ride, but he was still grinning from ear to ear when he pulled away. It takes so little to make someone’s day. I know we can’t all whip out some phrases in Urdu (although my mom, a linguist extraordinaire, probably could converse with almost anyone in their native language!) but we can definitely make the time and effort to connect. I truly believe that there is more that connects us than divides us… and I am pretty sure that Sohrab agrees!