30Mosques.com | Day 29: Up in the Air

By Bassam Tariq

You are on a plane right now. You are fleeing Congo with your wife and two kids, a boy and a girl. Your son is asleep on your shoulder. The airplane drones as airplanes do and you are uncertain about the future.

Fuad. That is your name, but you spell it Fawaad. There is an extra A for emphasis. You are on your way to Burlington, Vermont a part of a refugee resettlement program. You do not know much about geography but do know that it is in America and America means a new and better life for you and your family. And that is all you really know about the coming years.

Fawaad, what if I told you that the first couple of years will be difficult? Since you have no formal education, you will be an electrician. You will have trouble communicating with people in English since your mother tongue is French. In 2003, you will be laid off from your job and without any financial stability.

You will wonder at that moment, why you came to the States: What does it mean to be here? Why can’t I go back? Is all this struggling really worth it? You will not want to be an electrician anymore. You will want to take up a better job that can help you and your family.

That is when you will invite your neighbors over for some samosas. Yes, samosas. They have never had samosas before and you will introduce them to the patty filled with chicken/ beef /spicy potatoes. They will fall in love with them and will throw out a crazy idea about selling samosas in Vermont.

That is when it will click to you – this idea of becoming the “SamosaMan.”

I know, this sounds ludicrous now. But desperate times, call for desperate measures. And you will give your blood and sweat as SamosaMan. You will create a mobile store that pops up at African festivals and carnivals. You will ask local supermarkets if they would be willing to sell your samosas. They will become a runaway hit with the Vermont locals. Articles will get written about your food and suddenly your little family business of selling samosas will carry a life of its own.

Since you are in Vermont, you get the designer who made the Ben and Jerry’s logo to design your logo. And suddenly, you have a company logo and look that is comparable to other larger businesses. A professional and commendable business operation – that uses all-natural organic ingredients.

If you ask me, the samosas you will sell are a little pricey at 2.50 but for the quality of ingredients and the oil you use (sunflower seed oil) it is well worth it. They taste amazing.

And when I am at your food court location in Vermont mall of SamosaMan we will meet for the first time.

This will happen about ten years from now. You will be wearing a kufi on your head and a blue polo. I will tell you about my project. I will share how I am traveling across the country, visiting 30 mosques in 30 states in 30 days.

We will sit together, minutes before breaking our fast, reflecting on how the two of us who have lived such different lives have come together to break our last fast in this blessed month.

Your mind will be less on my company and more on the happenings of your family and business. The SamosaMan brand has branched out all over Vermont. It is now available at more than 40 supermarkets in the state. There will also be 40 employees working in your SamosaMan factory churning out at least 1,000 samosas a day.

As we sit together, you will take a bite out of the spicy potato samosa and look around for your wife. She is in the mall today and shopping for eid gifts for the family. Did you know that you also have another child? Now there are three instead of two. When he goes to school, he brags about his dad being SamosaMan. He even brings you to school to show you off.

But your mind is less focused on the fame and attention. It is more focused on running the business, providing for your family, helping the local mosque continue its operation, but don’t worry about these things. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. For now, hold your son close to you, let the droning of the airplane calm you and enjoy the ride.

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