Friday, October 21, 2016
Tariq and Tabinda Sheikh
In a season of mean-spirited talk about immigration and immigrants, it is nice to hear an upbeat immigrant story. NPR on its Story Corps had a lovely one today.
When Tariq Sheikh first saw Tabinda, he remembers she was wearing yellow gloves. A recent arrival from the Dominican Republic, Tabinda had just taken a job as a housekeeper at a New York City hotel — the very same hotel where Sheikh worked at the hotel's front desk.
And when Tariq saw her, he was utterly tongue-tied. He couldn't even say hello.
"Oh, I thought you was rude and mean," she tells him, on a visit with StoryCorps in 2014. "I said, 'Oh my God, this guy don't even say hi.' You're just staring at me!"
But there were a very simple reason for his silence at the time, he tells her: She was the woman of his dreams. "Yeah," she answers, "but I didn't have that dream!"
Still, Tariq, who was an immigrant from Pakistan himself, built up his courage to ask her out for coffee. And it took her two days to answer — but she had a good reason, too: "because I didn't know how to speak English," she explains.