Commuting between Baltimore and DC is kind of interesting. On my way home from work yesterday I began in the Skyline area near the Alexandria/ Falls Church border in Fairfax County.
For those of you not familiar with this area it is a densely-populated suburban area just outside of DC. It is one of the most ethnically diverse places in the country and home to immigrants from all over the world. Within it you will also find one of the largest Muslim populations in America anchored by the Dar al Hijrah Masjid. In this area you will find Muslims of all backgrounds with a large number of Arabs, Somalis, Afghans, West Africans and Desis. Alongside them there is a large Latino community mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. The other large immigrant population you will find in this immediate area are Ethiopians which you will find all over the DC metro area.
These immigrants are mixed into a community which is also home to a lot of defense and intelligence agencies and their employees and retirees. The area has traditionally been conservative and Republican; but that has changed due to demographics overt the last several years. The surrounding areas have also attracted a lot of yuppie migration and people who are politically more liberal. No matter what the color and religion of the people (and I am sitting in a strip mall now that is home to a major Muslim organization, the local Chabad Chapter, a massage parlor and a jilbab shop) one thing that can describe this area is neat and tidy. Law and order rule here and it is a bastion of one chain-store and strip-mall after another. There is a lot of money in this area being served by fresh waves of immigrants and there are a lot of people politically connected from the children of corrupt bureaucrats from the developing world as the PC crowd says, members of royal families, leaders of opposition groups and those that serve them, diplomats, and those working for good ole’ Uncle Sam.
Leaving NOVA with a co-worker of mine who lives in Prince George’s County, MD we stooped to get some fresh fruit shakes at a Spanish joint while he had his car looked at. The papaya shakes were served to us by a 19 year old Salvadoran girl who is a junior in high school. The girl looked at our beards and kufees and asked about our religion and we had the chance to tell her about Islam (another benefit to observing the sunnah with the beard and trust me brothers you want this one in the deen).
Driving through DC cutting to get to Maryland and the New Carrolton Metro Station we ran into traffic and saw that there was an accident. It was a fresh accident and we saw a few cars stopped on the road and as we came to our exit I looked to my left and saw a totaled sports car with a body slumped over in the front seat apparently dead. It was a reminder to me that every soul shall taste death and that we should all be ready to die at any moment. My sins are great, and I pray to Allah to forgive them, but I pray he elevates me to the level where I love death more than others love life and am ready to die. Yesterday it was this young woman; but today it could be me or you.
Stopping with my friend in PG County at a meeting for his son’s school I saw something much different than what you see in the VA suburbs. The school meeting was jam-packed with mostly middle-class African-American parents.
The train ride was uneventful and when I got off at the West Baltimore Station I was in a place far different than anywhere else I had been that day. I do not know a lot about West Baltimore (other than what I have seen on The Wire and the Corner) but I know enough to know I was in the hood for sure. The 5 block walk from the train station to the bus stop took me past a number of boarded up row-houses and nefarious characters roaming the street. When I did get to the bust stop I waited like 40 minutes and didn’t even know if another one was coming and during my wait I saw the usual suspects riding around and lurking and heard someone fore several gunshots in the distance and had a brief conversation with a man who complained that every time he opened a bottle of beer the bus came. When the bus finally did come I was tired, my cell battery was dead, and I rested until my stop came and had my mind set to this weekend, ISNA Eastern Zonal, and the hotel workers.