Being abroad, working there, as a Muslim is definitely a unique experience. Throw in a hint of Pakistani nationality and you’ve got yourself a roller coaster ride. Here are some of the most cringe-worthy situations I have encountered as a Pakistani-Muslim who has a job abroad:
1. The Wudu chronicles.
When you are trying to speed through your wudu (ablution) but someone walks in as soon as you stick your foot into the sink. Awks.
2. The convertible lota.
When you are filling a water bottle in the bathroom and a colleague reminds you that there is filtered water to drink from in the community kitchen and/or on the department floor. Yes thank you, Karen, but this is to condemn the rise of a Bubonic plague, one Sphincter ani externus at a time. Petition to have a bidet spray installed in public bathrooms across the globe so I can avoid this conversation.
3. Explaining your dietary restrictions.
When the company hosts a BBQ and you have to explain that you can eat chicken but just not their chicken. And no we are not even a little a bit tempted to try bacon. Shout out to vegetarians and vegans for providing the zabiha-eating folks with more food options.
4. Using Islamic terms in a conversation.
Your manager asks you to submit a report by tomorrow morning and you reply with “okay, Insha’Allah.” Then you both just stare at each other until the earth cracks open and swallows you whole. Dramatic™.
5. Fasting for Ramazan.
Telling your co-workers you will be fasting for the whole month from dusk to sunset and they respond with, “not even water.” Or them assuming you are on a hunger strike for a full thirty days.
6. This is followed by requesting time off for Eid.
Telling your manager you need a day off but you are not sure which day you need off. Or when another Muslim colleague requests a different day off than you.
7. When they find out Pakistan is not in the Middle East.
A co-worker of mine assumed Pakistan was in the Middle East because I am a Muslim who wears the hijab. The next ten minutes were spent on schooling him on the geographical location of Pakistan. Nonetheless, he did apologize for his ignorance.
8. The Azaan app going off.
Nothing synchronizes the whites more than the sound of Allahu Akbar. Heads turning to look at you as you scurry to turn the notification of your Azaan off.
10. Excusing yourself for prayer breaks.
Do not get me wrong – nothing is awkward about praying. It is having to explain yourself every time why you cannot take a prayer break during lunch or a “bathroom break” because each prayer time is different and changes almost every day. And everyone just looks at you like:
10. Having your name butchered.
I have been called Leeba, Libya, Lybee, Luba, Luna, Liba–basically everything but Lyba. I mean that is what happens when the Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos. But that’s none of my business.
11. Your colleagues asking you if you know the one OTHER Muslim they know.
Yes, Josh, I know Mo from your elementary school that lives on 42 Wallaby Way. Woh toh meri phuphu ka beta hai.
These are some of the awkward, annoying, and weird situations I and several other people have encountered. If you have faced similar situations that I have missed do share with us in the comments below.
Cover image via dawn.com