Hamza Iqbal : Communism, Qatar and Masala Biryani

Today marks my 18thday in Doha and not owning a thobe yet is probably the only thing that differentiates me from a lifelong resident of Qatar, thanks to the Freshmen Orientation. I really do want a thobe.And a car, or a friend who has one (we’re going to be bros, Louis).





During the 4 days of orientation, I’ve chugged shots of molten chocolate (caution: choking hazard, NOT recommended), photo bombed multiple pictures that would otherwise be the stuff of framed living room wall hangings (see below) and have met one of the most diverse, accomplished and ambitious group of people that constitute the Class of 2016 at Georgetown SFS-Qatar. Orientation started with the division of freshmen into 9 groups that celebrated the most prominent agents of societal evolution in the 1920s.The main atrium was elaborately themed, complete with jazz music. I was a proud member of The Communists for the next 4 days until I wore the group T-shirt to the mall which attracted a lot of attention from puzzled faces who just found it downright odd.





Comrade Malik and Comrade Saleh guided us through the information sessions with ice breakers which allowed us to interact more closely with our peers and win some great Georgetown merchandise. It really does seem like a great idea to befriend your future rivals, doesn’t it? That’s you Mido.  *Death stare*




The great thing about SFS-Qatar is that one day, you wouldn’t even know what falafels are, and the next day you make 90 of them with your comrades for a group meal with the entire support staff of the campus. It made me realize that both cultures and socioeconomic barriers are not as difficult to break as we think of them to be. It instilled in me a sense of belonging in both a cultural and a communal way. In all honesty, mistakes were made. For all those who ended up with far too less tahini in their falafels, Comrade Phil Wang is to blame.




At Georgetown, you’re not considered a real Hoya unless you take the Honor Pledge that takes place at the Convocation. The ceremony began with recitation of religious scripts from Islam, Christianity and Hinduism which all carried similar messages of peace and love for learning. The President of Georgetown University,John J. DeGioia joined the ceremony from Washington D.C. over video link and shared his views about future challenges the world may face ,and how our time at Georgetown is crucial in helping us understand those problems and may potentially empower us to be part of the solution one day.



During the past week, I’ve discovered desert scented air freshener, learnt 4 different spelling of Hummus (or just misread 3 times) and have strolled around Souq Waqif without getting lost (I told you I knew the place, Jiwon) . It’s a great start, but what struck me the most is how every single one of us belongs to a different background yet we come together as one, with respect for each other’s roots and a genuine curiosity to learn more. My Bulgarian suitemate ,Sami Wehbi doesn’t understand Urdu, but every time I speak in Urdu, he replies with a polite “Masala Biryani, Masala Biryani”, hoping that might be the correct response one day. Well, at least he’s trying.

by Hamza Iqbal  Sep 9th, 2012
Post your Comment
aljohara , 12:44am on Sep 15th, 2012
good job hamza that was beautifully written
Saleh , 12:05am on Sep 11th, 2012
Hamza, that was wonderfully written, I really enjoyed reading your blog. Please keep it up and continue posting more of your exciting adventures in Qatar. Good luck comrade.
abood , 8:33pm on Sep 9th, 2012
my friend ur the best, just don\\\'t disturb me while I\\\'m doing the math assignment, my school is not easy as urs
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