30 days, some very long nights.


I’ve been in Washington, DC for exactly a month now. And one thing that you have to do if you work here is networking. Which is an art form in itself. The networking is brutal (and tiring), and after a few weeks you’ll realize your spiel about what you do comes naturally to you. “Hi, my name is Huma, I work as a correspondent for Express, which is a (insert description based on who you’re talking to) would love to meet you and discuss (insert issue here). Let’s (insert: meet/i’ll call your assistant/email). ” Quickly whip out cards and exchange.

The next sound is of your brain cells dying.

But my gripes about having to do the meets and greets aside, DC is a wonderfully weird town. It is wonderful because its small and quiet, and has wonderful architecture, tree lined streets and some gorgeous sights. Everyone is friendly, and there is ample space to walk on the pavements. The food is fairly decent, and it is gorgeous in the spring.

The weird part is how everyone you meet either works for the government or a think tank or for the IMF or World Bank. As someone described it, its “like Islamabad with better restaurants and pavements”. You also witness how World Bank folks > IMF ones (will never recover from the experience of dancing with an IMF geek who gave me his business card afterwards. I suspect he is perpetually in networking mode, even at 2AM). Then, there is the abundance of shiny happy people. DC folks, sometimes its okay to look like slobs, and not as if you walked straight out of the Zara store.

And then, there is the part of being away from home, and you begin yearning for the small comforts. There are at least half a dozen of us looking for a place in DC that serves halwa puri in the morning (am convinced it exists somewhere). Watching the Pakistan-India match in a crowded room at a university and realizing how desperate the Pakistanis were to cheer on something that they clapped and roared when a shot of PM Gilani came on, and after the defeat, a boy turned to me and said, “why do we always have to bear this shame?” The raised eyebrow when you hand your green passport as ID at a bar. And sometimes, just wishing you were back in your room in Karachi, sipping chai.

  1. Ambreen said:

    1. i think DC allows you to get your ID card made for the validity of your visa. give it a shot. and keep the passport safely at home.
    2. Arlington yo! ask Nayyar Zaidi or … erm.. do you need some names to help you out? After 3 days and nights in Mannassas i refused to be erved pakistani food: its that rampant. But yes Arlington is ALL desi annd as terribly greaasy and local as it gets. a bit far out: requires a cab but can be done.
    3. *hugs and love* 1 month down. just a few more to go.

  2. "anon" said:

    Ahhhhh. You are the famous Huma, for which I have been mistaken ! :p

  3. "anon" said:

    Have you met Sidra r. yet? You should – she’s good looking and she doesn’t take herself too seriously. How she manages to do that and work for the World Bank is a mystery.

  4. TLW said:

    Good job Huma. I get where you’re coming from. Karachi FTW.

  5. sehrish said:

    try mehran near GW. or if nothing else ravi kabab house in arlington although thats a bit of a trek for you. have fun:)

  6. Umair said:

    I expect weekly updates, nothing less. More focus on the food from next time. Other than that, 🙂

  7. Try Kebab Palace in Arlington also. Gee, your post made me very reminiscent of my time in DC!!

  8. Ravi Kabob in Arlington has halvah poori on the weekends, including Nihari, which is only served on the weekends there. It’s on the orange line, with maybe a 15 minute walk. I only go there for the chicken karahi though – it’s fantastic. Never had the halvah puri. I know a place way out in Manassas called BBQ Delight that has really great halvah poori on the weekends too, but you’d need a car. Or you could come to my house, I’m pretty well known for my homemade halvah poori spread and I could use some networking myself 🙂

  9. anon said:

    Stumbled across this…there is indeed great halwa puri at a place called Karahi Kabob House and great Pakistani food at Ravi Kabob (a car is required for both).

  10. neha said:

    in dc its what you do, in ny its where you live, in la its what car you drive
    atleast happy hour is good value for money!

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