Thou canst not stir a flower – from Dhaka to DC

By Emran Hossain

Coincidences change lives – and mine, which has changed a lot in recent days, certainly shows this.

I am now far from home, working in Washington, D.C., at The Huffington Post due to circumstances that can be traced to a tragedy 11 years ago and 7,000 miles away.

In 2002, Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent, traveled to Pakistan to report on possible links between al-Qaeda and Richard Reid, the British “shoe-bomber.”  

Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi and later murdered by extremists.

His family established the Daniel Pearl Fellowship in memory of this talented journalist.

That program has allowed me to join The Huffington Post on April 2 as a Daniel Pearl Fellow. I am from Bangladesh in South Asia, a region in which Daniel Pearl reported and from which Pearl Fellows come.

In Washington, coincidence also marked my first days in the office: The Bangladeshi government arrested three bloggers just after I joined HuffPo. My first assignment, thus, proved to be a significant one in which a central concern was freedom of expression. So just a day after joining my new news organization, the Huffington Post published a handsome 1,000-word article of mine. My second piece appeared five days later, on the same topic, this time in a box on the home page.

While I’m proud and pleased by my initial publishing online, the actions of my colleagues here also speaks volumes about my newsroom. The HuffPost team welcomed me with big smiles. An email was sent to all staff members, telling them about me and my planned stay.  hat note also contained something commendable — a suggestion that co-workers take me out for lunch every day. My mentors, Ryan Grim and Amanda Terkel, were the first to invite me on my first day. They bought me a huge sandwich that covered my dinner, too.  

What I see in the Washington newsroom reminds me of my office in Dhaka: everybody from their desks and laptops chatters loudly and they joke often, especially at each other’s expense, so laughter fills the whole day.

My new colleagues happen to have a good sense of humor like me, and I work hard just like them.

Here’s hoping that such happy coincidences continue.