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Iffat Nawaz relives her visit to the Democratic National Convention in Colorado
It wasn't my life long dream to attend the Democratic National Convention. Yes, I am a Democrat and I do enjoy the company of liberal-minded folks trying to achieve a balanced universe (if that exists). However, I am not passionate about politics. So when the chance came for me to attend the Democratic National Convention, I took it as it would be an opportunity of a lifetime. But I had no idea what to expect.
I arrived in Denver, Colorado the day before the convention started. It was a Sunday afternoon and Denver was still in preparation phase. At the airport, the line for taxis was a mile long. There were only 10,000 taxicabs in Denver and about 60,000 people coming in that week in need of them. Before I walked into my hotel I already had a pseudo-political-celebrity sighting -- John Kerry. I didn't feel overly excited seeing him. Does anyone?
That night, we kicked off the convention with the opening ceremony -- a 200-people reception overlooking Denver with the mountains at a distance, cocktail glasses lightly cheering each other on, international figures being introduced to each other while Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean spoke.
We clapped after their brief little speeches and went on mingling. It was work for most but I was lucky enough to be there just to enjoy. And quite frankly, I wasn't sure how to enjoy an event. I felt like I should be somewhat intimidated, but the fact that I had nothing to lose helped me just be who I am.
This also helped me strike up conversations with people who were apparently big shots, but because I had no idea who they were, our conversations became that of any normal gathering. I didn't want anything from them, so they could talk to me about the mountains and rivers instead of Russia and Georgia. They knew I wouldn't quote them or try to use them for some benefit or other. I remember that agenda-less night being perfect.
On Monday, the first official day at the convention, I saw protesters everywhere. There were religious and political groups, nut-jobs with their crazy signs, and security in each corner ready to put any weirdo in hand-cuffs as the energy of the DNC started crawling all around Denver. People rejoicing, chanting, meeting, laughing, believing in every corner you looked. That night, Michelle Obama's speech won all hearts and made many cry.
Tuesday morning started off on a dreamy note for me. A breakfast session with Bill Clinton that I was lucky enough to attend. It was a workshop consisting of panel members who were former leaders from around the world. Bill, my old crush, kept me captivated, and I had no idea what anyone else was saying. I wondered why this man couldn't just run for his third term of presidency, he would win... no doubt. That night, Hillary Clinton made her best speech ever. I wished she spoke like this while she was campaigning -- things might be different for her then.
By now, rickshaws took over Denver to compensate for the lack of taxis. These rickshaws were not as authentic as the ones in Bangladesh, their seats were more cushioned and hardly had any fun decorations, but to make up for it, the rickshaw pullers, who were extremely fit men between the age of 20-30, chatted with me the whole entire way. My first rickshaw ride cost was $10 for seven blocks, by end of the week the same seven blocks became $30.
Wednesday was my favourite day at the convention. By then the city was thumping with energy. We had a routine by now, attending the convention with big words and bigger promises in the evenings and parting all night. There were celebrities from Hollywood next to us, with their strong stances acting like political figures. Bill Clinton and Joe Biden's fabulous speeches got everyone ready for Thursday, the last day of the convention.
I stood on the convention floor with journalists stepping over each other to get the best possible view and delegates cheering leading flawlessly. Someone handed me an American flag to wave when Clinton spoke and a sign that said "McCain more of the Same" when Biden made his speech. I lost my voice that night from screaming the DNC's slogan: "Yes We Can." It all felt right in that certain moment, in that certain high.
Thursday came with a bang. 85,000 people gathered at the stadium where Barack Obama made his speech. I am not sure if it was his speech or the faithfulness of his supporters that created an amazing aura over the whole venue. People waited 5, 6 even 7 hours in line, and when they finally made it in their faces glowed and their mouths chanted.
I am not a blind supporter of anything or anyone. Sometimes, I wish I was, then it might be easier for me to blend in. I watched and felt while 85,000 people cried and screamed in joy. I hoped the new world of change Obama spoke of is real, I wished for sincerity, for America's stability, and although I wanted to remove myself from emotion I tried to make myself cry, but no tears poured out.
So I drowned myself in others' tears, addicted to the energy around me, wondering if the hope that Obama spoke of really existed. I wished Obama originality, the blind followers wisdom, and I already miss the week that passed, and the energy that will only remain in photographs and on paper, in history of the world and my not-so-political mind.
Iffat Nawaz is a Washington DC-based writer.