Friday, August 31, 2018

A Pakistani Perspective -- Duluth: Best Place for Meditation

by Umme Kulsoom Naqvi

Umme is a Content Producer and Researcher in Islamabad. Her hometown is Taxila, an ancient city of Pakistan very near to Islamabad. She and 27 other journalists visited different cities in the U.S. for four weeks in July. Umme Kulsoon and Sherdil Khan, a news anchor for Pakistan television, were in Duluth for much of that time. What follows is an account of her visit here.

Duluth: Best Place for Meditation
(L to R) Sherdil,Umme, Ramona Marozas and friend.
Albert Einstein once said, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” If you visit Duluth, Minnesota you can feel this practically. Duluth, Minnesota in St. Louis County is basically a major port city in the U.S., situated on the North Shore of Lake Superior at the westernmost point of Great Lakes. The city is named for Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, the first known European explorer of the area.

Duluth is not a populated area like other big U.S. cities. I am saying this because I was staying in Washington DC before coming to Duluth. But here in Duluth night means night and everything sleeps here. Roads are empty and businesses close after 9 p.m. max. Saturday night is like party night here. You will find folk gather at Bayfront Park and enjoy music in summer. Summer is the attraction of Duluth but winter is a vicious beauty here.

In our pre-trip orientation we were told that U.S society is very different from Pakistani society. They are punctual in time, very practical in their every field of life. And I found them the same when lived there for four weeks. During my stay in Duluth, I explored not only the land beauty but also the beauty of the people. They were more welcoming and friendly than our expectations. I am not here to praise American society at all but I found many attributes which are acknowledge-worthy. They are far ahead in technology from Third World countries and utilizing it very appropriately. But the main thing I saw was how they stick to ethics. Though they have a high crime rate and homeless people in many states, collectively they are practicing moral values. Greeting everyone is very common in U.S society, whether you know the next person or not. Keeping a door open for the latter is a very little thing but it appeals.

St. Louis County Courthouse
Duluth is not a big industrial or commercial city so it is quite different in its culture. People have a family system here. They live with parents and also they are religious, too. On Sunday most business is closed here in Duluth. One thing surprised me when I went to church I saw mostly elderly were attending the prayer session. I found a very low number of young there, Maybe it is the case of one church where I went.

I learnt there in Duluth that beauty can be managed even in hilly areas. A matter of fact is that Duluth is having heavy construction on roads during summer, but still there are so many tourists there and they have no problem with this forbearance process.

Meeting in City Hall
In addition to having beautiful people Duluth has many other attractions for newly landed persons. If you are here to explore nature and want to have some peace of mind, you are not a lone spirit on this planet. Many tourists come here to enjoy their summer vacations. You have many attractions in Duluth like the all-freshwater aquarium, the Great Lakes Aquarium; the Aerial Lift Bridge, which spans the Duluth Ship Canal into the Duluth–Superior Harbor; and Minnesota Point (known locally as Park Point), the world's longest freshwater baymouth, spanning 6 miles. I got piles of promotional stuff while walking through the Skywalk which was one of my favorite things in Duluth because I never have a sky walk at my home country.

The city is surrounded by much natural beauty.
If I talk about the professional life in Duluth, it is more like other parts of world. They are very committed and dedicated with their work. As I visited many media houses, met administration officials, doctors, professors, artists and social activists, I found one thing common in a majority of people: they are not stubborn. They guide you in whatever field they are. They do not stop your way if you want to know something about their profession. Americans are talkative in nature overall so in Duluth, too, they like to do long conversation sessions about culture, weather and world politics. Most of the above I observed. I also observed that they are fond of cheese just because they are have so many big dairy forms in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

I want to mention some words which are very common in daily conversation like Awesome, Sounds good, Yeah Yeah! I really enjoyed these words and now after a month stay there I am also used to it.

Ed Newman with Ramona Marozas
A month stay was not only about exploring nature and land but I also met many talented and well-known people there. Now I have many friends in my Facebook list and my life, too. I can never forget Dan Paglease and Ramona Marozas, my friends forever. Ed Newman is a famous blogger whose writing is full of color, culture and art. He is also a great harmonica player. He arranged an evening where me, Sherdil my Pakistani fellow, Jason Dean of the Philosophy Department at UMD and his wife Clare were invited to Ed’s friend Eliot’s home. Eliot is a multi-talented creative-minded artist. He drew my sketch, which featured me perfectly. I will always keep it with me.

Then I have Adeline Wright and Allen in my friend List. On my first day in Duluth, when I went to Enger Park Tower and it started thunder storming. I was not aware of Duluth weather at that time. I was walking on the side of the road, having gotten wet due to heavy rain, and suddenly a car stopped in front of me and Adeline was sitting on the driving seat. She said she will drop me to the hotel and I was like I will not sit in a stranger’s car, but she convinced me by introducing herself and insisted I get in. I sat in her car and there our bond of love and friendship started. Adeline Wright is well-known in Duluth because of her social work and her hair spa. Allen is a documentary maker and very talented guy. On my last day in Duluth, they both invited me at their home and I made Pakistani food for them. My Duluth trip is capsulated with this Adeline and Allen encounter.

Sherdil's "selfie" group shot. Adeline, center of group, directly behind Umme.
There is a long list of friends whom I cannot forget and their love will remain with me for whole my life. My love for Duluth and its lovely people is increasing day by day and I feel Duluth to my second home now.

Last but not the least it was great to visit the Duluth News Tribune because we really wanted to observe the working environment of a newspaper team. We found that newspapers are doing more effort as they are now supposed to be fast like News TV channels, so they are working hard to grab the news and then do online news reporting, too. The most fascinating thing was having our names on the Welcome Sign at the reception of DNT.

I have so many Good Memories in my backlist along with me. Although I am back to my home now, Duluth is still with me, running inside my spirit and it will always remain with me. Love from Pakistan!

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Thank you Umme & Sherdil for enriching our city with your presence.

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