Fatima is a Visiting International student from Pakistan. She spent the Fall 2013 semester at the U of A. She shares her experiences in a series of blog posts.
III Baseball Game
Most countries have their one sport to compulsively obsess over. Pakistan has cricket. The European countries have football. America, apparently, has baseball and football.
On our Dallas trip, our hosts thought it would be a good idea to take us to a baseball match. There would be a fireworks show later, they told us, which is why we got what are called nosebleed seats.
Not such a good idea.
Not only did I not understand much of what was going on (my friend Michelle tried to explain, but all I remember now are the words innings, fair, foul, home run, loaded bases – most of which I cannot remember the significance of). We were watching the Texas Rangers play against the Minnesota Twins, and towards the end something happened that was apparently ‘every baseball fan’s dream’ – all 3 bases were loaded and, well, something else that I also do not remember. Texas Rangers won.
But what did interest me was how involved people were with the game. Halfway through the game, a tiny voice from somewhere in the crowd started chanting ‘let’s go, Rangers, let’s go’. I strained to look, and found a little African-American kid held up in someone’s lap urging the players on – ‘letsgorangersletsgo’. People began to join in. Soon everyone was chanting in unison (I too joined in – mob mentality at work). Someone added a clap to it and soon we were all chanting to a beat. You could still hear the little boy above that roaring cheer.
I was also amusing myself by observing the two men sitting in front of us – burly, heavyset, full-blooded men – who would on occasion scream at the players. They had a little kid with them. Between the innings, when music would play, they would robustly join in, nudging the little kid playfully, ruffling his hair, head banging intensely to the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, standing up in exaggerated silent reverence when the national anthem was playing, etc. At one particularly bad play, the bigger of the two men jumped up and shouted at the players’ ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!’. His shorts were riding low at that point. ‘He’s cracking,’ my friend Michelle said to me as I tried to suppress a snort and looked away.
There were no fireworks that night. We were very disappointed. People left the stadium in surprisingly non-excited groups (of course, I say this in comparison to the hyper-excited masses that storm the streets in Pakistan after a cricket victory). Tim, our group guide told us he had tried to get a booking for us at one of the many halal restaurants in Dallas, but they were had all closed at that point (it was really late). We were really touched though, and told him we appreciated the thought, but he did not have to go through that trouble on our behalf. We ended up going to IHOP at midnight (another American cultural experience, to be fair) and had pancakes and cheese sticks.
IV Bikes Blues & BBQ
There are some things that can shake up even the Americans here sometimes. Thousands of unkempt, wild-looking bikers all clad in leather from all over the United States driving into Fayetteville – long, wiry hair and all – for the Bikes, Blues and BBQ festival was one of those things.
For one long week, the peace and quiet of Fayetteville roads and streets were pierced by the loud vrooming of Harley Davidsons and other Bulky bikes. You couldn’t sleep. You couldn’t walk anywhere without sighting a couple of these threatening-looking bikers and their women clinging to their backs, riding around town and disturbing the calm that is specific to small towns like Fayetteville. If I had a dollar for every time an American nervously told us foreign students ‘Americans aren’t like this’, I would have probably had ten dollars by the end of the week.
I was excited. I had never seen anything like it – I guess this would be the American equivalent of Pakistani Truckers driving around in groups around Islamabad, disturbing the somber gray of the city by their flashy, gaudy artwork. Taking my roommate and her friend, I went down to Dickson Street to see the bikers.
Dickson Street is a usually happening place, but it’s never crowded. You can walk up and down it without running into a lot of people – on normal days. Those days, however, if you could take five steps without someone ramming their elbow into you, it would be a miracle.
Big, shiny bikes were lined up next to the pavements. Sometimes people would stop and take pictures next to them. There were food stalls – the Turkey Leg was a huge hit and I also had my second encounter with the funnel cake here – and there were also other souvenir shops.
One time I was on a bus that week, and two guys were talking about the festival. One of them wondered about how these run-down looking bikers could afford such expensive bikes, and the bus driver answered him that most of them were normal people with blue-collar jobs like dentists and bankers and biking was their hobby – the get-up was all part of reinforcing the vagrant biker look. I found that fascinating and luring and made me want to abandon my blue-collar education and go biking around the country. Maybe one of these days I will.
Greetings from Fatima the Future Biker!