Monday, January 16, 2006

The dream's the same

from New York Times, The Great Escape by JOHN FREEMAN GILL.

Another in honor of King. From yesterday's Times, this piece nailed the universality of "the dream": a plot of land, clean air, somehwre to raise a family, and maybe write some poetry too...

"MAHBOOB AWAN, a dignified, matchstick-thin Pakistani immigrant, had $20,000 and an escape plan. Weary of the hustle and squalor of his 26 years as a New Yorker, fed up with the cramped, roach-infested apartment that he shares with his wife and two little boys in Kensington, Brooklyn, he wanted out.


Mr. Awan, dressed neatly in a charcoal sports jacket and almost-matching slacks, was sitting in a packed ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Brooklyn, where a frenetic event billed in a brochure as a "Gigantic Land Auction" was unspooling.

Mr. Awan hoped that one of these parcels of vacant land, offered in 10 states from Massachusetts to California, would provide the missing piece of his dream of escaping from New York. "Anybody I see who leaves here," he said of the city, "I see two, three years later, and they get healthy, wealthy. That's reality."

More immediately, he had a big trip planned for the next day. It was Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting, and though Mr. Awan, a practicing Muslim, was in no position to journey to Mecca, he planned to make a more modest pilgrimage to his patch of land in Corbin City. He had recently paid $575 to have the parcel surveyed. After 26 years of paying rent in Brooklyn with no equity to show for it, Mr. Awan was going to view for the first time the clearly delineated boundaries of the future he hoped to inhabit.

So he forged ahead. The day after the October auction, Mr. Awan tucked the deed to his Corbin City property into the pocket of his jacket, climbed into his 1991 Chevy Caprice with his wife and sons, and hit the road.


The Awans' land, sandwiched between Route 50 and a looming aluminum warehouse on the lot behind them, was a scarcely penetrable little forest. Looking incongruous in his black loafers, Mr. Awan scrambled up the trunk of a fallen tree and tugged awkwardly at dead branches. But amid the tangle of nature and the whoosh of passing trucks, he and his wife saw possibilities.

While Mr. Awan and the boys hammered cast-off plumbing pipes into the ground to mark their land's boundaries, Mrs. Awan allowed her mind to roam. "When you come here," she said, "you can write poetry, too, I think."


As she spoke, Mr. Awan and his older son wandered back. Putting his hand on the boy's shoulder, he kneeled beside him and pointed skyward. "That's yours there," he said. "Those trees are yours."

C - remembering why I do love this country

No comments: