meeting madeline

with the lovely madeline del toro churney at druthers coffee today. yes, it was a sunny day but a lot of what u see in this picture is madeline, full of knowledge, humor and light. one of my life’s greatest accomplishments is the connection/friendships with extraordinary people, esp women of color. thrilled to continue that tradition here on long island. madeline teaches anthropology at stony brook and i am excited to say, will be one of the panelists for a post-screening community discussion related to a new short film i will be working on next year. more soon.

part of nature

i try to take breaks in between editing (which requires sitting at a computer for long periods of time, staring intently at a screen).

it’s super windy today, so much so that temperatures feel 10 degrees lower than they are. the husband was too cozy reading his book, so i put on my hat and jacket, grabbed my ski gloves and went to west meadow wetlands reserve (next to our house) for a 45 min walk.

i half walked, was half carried by the wind. it was invigorating to feel its force on my body and skin. the trees around me were twisting in the same gusty gale, the grass flattened by it, combed with little bits of sunlight, a few obstinate leaves held on to their branches like yellow tongues licking the sky, everything imbued with a deceptively warm rusty glow.

the clouds waited patiently, capturing and refracting each shade and emotion. the sun finally set in a climactic scene, birds windsurfed overhead, deer walked by me as if it was the most natural thing in the world. what a beautiful home, our planet. it’s the lifeblood that activates our minds and bodies. grateful to be alive, to be present.

highlights from my playlist: tu aja (remix by DJ usman bhatti), yamaha (dacosta), more than this (roxy music), 1979 (the smashing pumpkins), island in the sun (weezer), and float on (modest mouse)

i am not new to prague

i am not new to prague. we visited many years ago, when i was a child, my siblings were even younger, and my parents a good-looking, bold and enterprising pair. we stayed on/at a botel in praha – a boat-hotel. brussels was our home back then and we traveled throughout europe often. so this trip is a nostalgic return to a place that’s part of my childhood – a longing, a yearning that persists. old town prague is magnificent. too much to say. here are some pictures.

jan hus memorial, astronomical clock, tyn church, karlova street, st nicholas church, old town square, charles bridge (more on IG @mara__ahmed)

food stories

so i enjoyed the berlin tour yesterday but was pretty dead after 3 hours. it began to rain and i took refuge in the nearest restaurant – mama trattoria near the brandenburg gate. bad idea. the food was lame (how do u mess up salmon and pasta?) and the only thing going was the lemonade – with orange, ginger and lavender flavors. i got home and fell asleep. jet lag kicked in. when i woke up it was late. was feeling lazy but forced myself to layer-up (it’s incredibly cold here, way more than on long island and i didn’t pack for it) and went in search of food. found ‘hung anh vietnamese & japanese’ further down chausseestraße and wow, it was worth it. vietnamese food is perhaps the most flavorful food in the universe. the mango salad with fresh mint, cucumbers and peanuts was sweet and crunchy but also surprisingly spicy. the crispy wontons had ground chicken and shrimp in them and came with a wonderful sauce. the fried bananas rolled in honey ended the night with a flourish. oh, and the lemonade with lychees, raspberries and lingonberries was out of this world! this morning i headed back to my favorite turkish place (la femme more than breakfast) and had an omelet cooked well (the way i like it) with sliced tomatoes and cheese inside. it came with some simit, as usual (a circular bread encrusted with sesame seeds). also tried their pistachio chocolate ‘bomb’ (a bit dry). after that, a 4-hour train ride from berlin to praha and then another couple of hours struggling in the rain to get to this apt. the key was stowed away in a lockbox, inside a bank, in a separate location, which neither my uber driver nor other helpful folx could figure out. anyway, late dinner at kolkovna olympia. ordered a czech specialty (roast duck with bread and potato dumplings and red and white sauerkraut). the duck was good but what i needed was some comfort food at that point in my life, so i got some yummy crème brûlée for dessert and felt at home 🙂

Opening of the Warp & Weft [Face to Face] at RoCo | Artist Talk by Mara Ahmed

The opening of the Warp & Weft [Face to Face] at Rochester Contemporary Art Center on April 1st this year was such a significant moment – for us as a community, being able to come together in the physical space of an art gallery to celebrate our stories, and for me personally, being able to return home to Rochester and be surrounded by people I love. I gave an artist talk and pondered the problematic history and liberatory potential of the archive. I referenced Baseera Khan and Gil Hochberg’s work. Shot by Rajesh Barnabas, here is a short video that captures what that evening and talk looked and felt like.

The Warp & Weft is a multilingual audio archive that showcases stories from 2020 and beyond. This presentation at RoCo was a transformation of the archive into a multimedia exhibit including sound, text, photography and animation. Listen to the Warp & Weft stories at

#thewarpandweft #facetoface #multilingualarchive #archive #storytelling #oralhistories #2020 #yearofthepandemic #roco137 #multimedia #maraahmed

Cancel Pakistan’s debt

Historian and activist Ammar Ali Jan:

…greenhouse emissions in the Global North are leading to a climate breakdown, affecting countries that are not only vulnerable to climate change but also do not have the financial capacity for rehabilitation or building climate resilient infrastructure. For example, the Global North had already exceeded its share of safe emissions in 1939, almost eight decades before the current flooding we are witnessing.

…The time and spatial lag between the causes and effects of climate change is one of the primary reasons why it is easy for liberals to present such disasters as “humanitarian” issues, erasing the political roots of the tragedy.

…This erasure, from public discourse, of polluters who are primarily responsible for the suffering of millions of people and for threatening planetary catastrophe, is itself part of this process of exploiting the time and spatial lag between greenhouse emissions and their deadly consequences. The result is an attempt to depoliticize this suffering and obstructing accountability of countries and companies in the Global North — giving the false impression that we are “all in this together” as one threatened human family.

…Even before the floods, it was clear that Pakistan’s economy could no longer sustain the exorbitant taxes demanded by the IMF, particularly without touching the privileges of the elites. With floods that have caused over $10 billion in damages, it is clear that Pakistan will require unprecedented support from the world. It is perhaps also an ideal time to open debate on correcting historical wrongs, including cancellation of debt, as part of global efforts toward climate justice.

#pakistanfloods #globalwarming #climatecrisis #helpdisplacedsurvivors #humanlifeisvaluable #globalsouthmatters #climatejustice #canceldebt #climatereparations #holdpollutersaccountable

Apocalyptic floods / Climate reparations

1) The climate crisis is already here
2) One third of Pakistan is under water
3) All human life should be equal

From Ayisha Siddiqa (edited): I still don’t think people understand what it means for 33 million people to be displaced.

That’s roughly 90% of the population of Canada. That’s more than the entire population of Australia, and 3 times that of Portugal.

And the United States with its $30 million dollar donation has given less than $1 per person to the people displaced.

For a country like Pakistan with CO2 emissions of 0.98% per capita and which has contributed to the climate crisis less than 0.5%, that’s not even a drop, it’s an insult.

We are not responsible for climate change the way the USA, China, Russia and Europe are. Pakistan may look like a distant reality right now, but what is happening on our soil is the future of the rest of the world if we don’t stop global warming. Wake up.

#pakistanfloods #globalwarming #climatecrisis #helpdisplacedsurvivors #humanlifeisvaluable #globalsouthmatters

a sad goodbye to nayyara noor

this exquisite voice. this song (‘we were once beautiful’). this stream of consciousness poem by ahmed shamim. islamabad in the 1980s, sparsely populated, verdant, pristine. one ptv channel with a show that everyone watched at the same time, every week. a young sahira kazmi cast with her husband rahat kazmi in a series unwisely inspired by ‘the fountainhead.’ and there we were, recent transplants from brussels, finding our way in a different universe – in a city mostly inhabited by government officials and diplomats, in schools where we were learning urdu poetry, reading stories by saadi in farsi and memorizing quranic verses in arabic. the disorientation of it all, but also a challenge. we would study all day after school, spend time one by one with our mom, our translator, teacher, and emotional safe space. this song by nayyara noor always playing in the background. thank u for the steady beauty of ur voice and its presence in our lives. rest in peace.