On Tuesday, July 31st of 2007, one of the finest people I have met here at the University of Iowa will be boarding a plane and flying home to Libya. I have no idea why Tariq has decided to leave this fabulous jewel of the Midwest, but I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. I’ll have to trust his judgment.
A Libyan in Motion
In all likelihood, I will never see him again and it is just now starting to sink in. Until last week, I had never hung-out with him outside the Engineering Building at the University of Iowa. Until our dinner with Mehmed, Ahmed, Ahmed, Mike and myself, I had never chatted with him extensively in a more social environment.
Of course, he was always picking my brain on the latest audio/video editing software or clues to solving his Data Structures homework. I was always more than happy to add my two-cents worth. He has always maintained a very relaxed sense of self that was refreshing and a tad addictive. I’m sure he was just as stressed as the rest of us, but he seemed to take it all in stride. Tariq has always appeared a rather level-headed guy.
Who IS Tariq?
During my tenure here at the Univeristy of Iowa, I had never had a class with the guy. He was always one semester ahead. We became acquainted through mutual friends, Mehmed Diken (“Bill” for short) and Ahmed Halaweish. I had gleaned from several conversations that Ahmed was a native of Egypt, which unwittingly caused me to assume that Tariq was from Egypt as well.
This facade continued for a year and I was none the wiser. Only after Angie’s graduation party did I realize my erroneous assumption. I had posted a photo up on Facebook with the title, “Two Egyptians, a Turk and a Cowboy walk into Buffalo Wild Wings…” I had struggled with the title; realized the comedic “rule of threes” in joke writing: i.e. a Lutheran, a Catholic and a Protestant walk into a bar…
Not Egyptian 🙂
I had inadvertently tossed Tariq into the “Egyptian” category. Tariq called me on it less than a week later. “You know I’m not from Egypt, don’t you?” I had to admit that I had failed to ask where he was from… I just assumed. Fortunately, Tariq has one of the most forgiving attitudes, so he let my “faux pa” slide.
The joke continued later that summer when Tariq, Mehmed and myself went out for lunch at The Airliner. While we were waiting for our pizza (sans pork products). We were chatting about the last semester and the many difficulties that we had to overcome when I simply looked over at Tariq and stated rather dryly, “You know. You were so much cooler when I thought you were Egyptian.”
You’re Lucky I Have Food in Front of Me
I remember Mehmed nearly busting a gut on the other side of the table as Tariq simply sat there with a slight smile on his face. “Dude. Why you gotta’ do me like that” was all that Tariq could muster.
Now, all these guys call home somewhere near the Middle East. Mehmed and his brother, Ahmed, are from Turkey (via Saudi Arabia), while Ahmed is from Egypt and Tariq (obviously) is a native Libyan. Chilling out with this bunch has been the best thing for me because they have broadened my horizons and broke every stereotype that a guy like myself from the Midwest could ever possibly conceive. They are a funny, generous and intelligent group of guys that I can’t conceive of a life without having a chance growing to love and admire.
Hopefully, Tariq will continue his Libyan Mentality TV blog while back home. He’s been working on it as “…a venue to show sides of Libya that are unprecedented, whether it is in depth interviews of common everyday characters or events that rarely take place.”
So far, it looks like he’s off to a good start. Tariq. I’ll miss you, dude. Thanks for being a fine friend. Allah willing, perhaps I will get the chance to chill-out with you again.