Travels of a Muslim Misfit (USA)

Washington DC

While on this trip I was able to see and visit many of America’s principal political sites. We spent time in the State department, the NSA (from where we could see the snipers on the White House roof), Congress, the IMF and more. Whilst walking down the Pennsylvania avenue we also saw the likes of the FBI building.

New York City

My first encounter with New York City was unexpected and brief. Whilst on the trip to ‘DC’ a Turkish peer mentioned to me and one other that this might be his only chance to visit the US and he desperately wanted to see New York. He had done his homework on how to get there and said he was planning to skip a day of organised activities to make the trip. Being naturally adventurous and not sure myself when I would come back to the US I agreed to join. So, in the early hours of one morning, we took a greyhound bus from a very dodgy looking bus station for the journey to NYC. The first challenge was to find accommodation which after some asking around, we managed to do in Harlem of all places.

San Francisco

While working in Qatar, I took two back-to-back package holidays to the US. The first was in the Summer of 2012 which took in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles (LA) and Newport Beach all for a few nights each. In 2013 I did much the same but this time taking in Chicago, Vegas, and LA.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas has a powerful and addictive energy about it that one feels as soon as you disembark from the plane. From memory, there was like an underground metro that takes one from the airport to the strip. As soon as one exits from the metro the fruit machines and the ‘chink’ noise of gambling begins to be heard. Visiting Vegas was a bit like visiting a huge theme park, as a kid and feeling the same sense of excitement and energy. The very concept of building this sin city strip in the middle of the desert is arguably nothing short of genius.

Newport Beach

As part of my 2012 itinerary, I had booked a couple of nights at Newport Beach, which I had unknowingly assumed would be on the outskirts of LA. However, on further probing, I discovered that it was a fair distance outside. I met a friendly taxi driver in LA, and he told me it was not easy to get to by public transport; so, I hired him to take me there (it cost something like $150).

Miami

Having caught the American travel bug, I decided to return to Miami for a winter break in 2015. Even though I had been to the US in recent years, this time I had a feeling that as a Muslim getting there would not be straightforward. As a political person I was aware that much had been made of a mass shooting by a Muslim couple in San Antonio during the Republican primaries (even though there are almost weekly mass shootings in the US, most carried out by white Americans) and which would impact the travel of Muslims to the US (After being elected one of the first things that Trump did was to implement a ‘Muslim Ban’).

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Faisal Khan

Faisal Khan

I am a published writer. My book 'Lord Mountbatten and the British role in the genesis of the Kashmir dispute, 1947-48' is available on Amazon.