Jan 15, 2011 - writings    8 Comments

As the World changes…

This past September two unlikely events took place that I’m sure no one reading this remarked. The first was the demise of the soap opera ‘As the World Turns’. It stopped spinning the world of Oakdale, IL on Sept 17, 2010.

As a young wife my mother came to the US in 1979. The 1980′s were very hard for her with 3 young children and 1 on the way. She didn’t know the language, the people or anything else. The amount of Indian families here at that time were a handful. She used to watch ATWT every day. She said the character of ‘Steve’ a Greek, tall dark and handsome reminded her of her beloved brother an ocean away. She watched the storyline of Steve and Betsy (a then unfamous ‘Meg Ryan’) and their famous wedding along with millions of others. And even learned a lot of English from watching.

Over the years, I remember watching on and off when I was home sick or we had a day off. (I think the storyline of Shannon the beautiful dark haired/green eyed Irish girl who was one of the runaways at a Scottish castle halfway house (yeah I know u’d have to watch it to get it lol!) started my love of all things British.) It was something that was on in the background, familiar friends who had their share of ups and downs, excitements and troubles. We’d tune in every so often and notice that some familiar characters never seemed to change! Lisa always had a new husband, James the villain always mysteriously seemed to survive. Lily and Holden’s love story seemed unending.

So when I heard that they had canceled the show and it was going away forever, it made me very sad. Millions of women like my mother have watched the show for years. It’s comforted them and been their friends for so long. There have been women who watched the show for decades. I’m sure they are quite devastated about it, even if after all ‘it’s just a TV show’.

In the end it signals a real change in our world. Women just don’t have the time to sit and watch an hour show while doing laundry or feeding the baby like they did even a decade ago. Our world is so fast changing and career oriented. Even women who stay home with their kids just don’t have the time. Game shows and reality television are what will be on in the daytime now.

One day my mother was skipping around the channels and said, “I never see ATWT anymore, I don’t know when they show it now?” I just didn’t have the heart to tell her.

The second event that happened is that we got a new library! After some millions of dollars, 3 years of wait, our newly renovated neighborhood library opened its doors in September. This new library is supposed to have a new innovative green design with a main skylight, tiled floors and books arranged by subject (like at bookstores) instead of the Dewey Decimal system. It has a new teen section, dvd/music section, round table computer stations for adults and rows of computers for kids. It has boardroom like community rooms and glass office type rooms for the public along with a huge circulation desk at the entrance. And I hate it. Not just hate it, I loathe it.

When did libraries turn into community centers? or day cares? or public computer halls? It’s just so ugly… and tiles??? in a library?? The floors are just so dirty in winter and there’s no place for kids and babies to even sit. I just hate it. Did I mention I hate it? The sitting areas are all completely open so wherever you sit everyone else on the floor can see you. The computer desks are round tables that have 8 computers around them. They have tiny “privacy shields” for the sides but everyone walking by can see everything you’re doing on the computer. The one table with chairs is supposedly the study area for everyone. Last time I was there two girls incessantly talked for like an hour in Hindi, loudly, about their (boring) lives. The thin metal shelves are very low or extremely high and sparsely filled with books in a random fashion. They say it’s arranged by subject, but I never can find books I’m looking for. I sometimes find the next book in a series by the same author in a totally different place! There are no little desks tucked away or private nooks. There are also huge numbers of people there all the time. I feel like I’m in blockbuster or at the supermarket. People in and out, screaming, talking, whatever. It just does not feel like a library at all.

When I was growing up our library was in a beautiful restored Victorian mansion!! Wide double arched doors and you would enter this mysterious building with real circular towers. Inside there was a little circulation desk built into the side of the hall like a check-in desk at an old inn. Going through the house’s different rooms would be various collections of books, floor to ceiling in thick wooden shelves with little ladders or stacked around. Old desks and tables were everywhere. You could be in a room for a while and then only realize there was someone reading in the corner! Upstairs was the kid’s section with bean bags and tiny small shelves, fuzzy carpets and rocking chairs. The circular room’s windows would let lovely light and shadows into the room. It would always be quiet and creaking. Never dusty or dirty, just old and special.

Anyway again I’m really sad… I hate going there and it’s walking distance from my house! Now I drive all the way downtown to the main library which still has some real library elements left. Sigh, as the world turns indeed eh :)……..


  • I love your description of the library, which sounds like my dream home! Living in a Muslim country there are ZERO english libraries outside of the ones that a couple of international schools have. I’m famous for devouring our entire library, as well as coming from a book-ish family. No one here ever throws books away, they’re simply too precious.

    Also here one actually sees change happening, very slowly and under your very eyes you see technology coming…a new billboard here…a supermarket there….at first I missed the States very much yet now I feel a huge love and nostalgia for this dusty hot country. i wonder how I’m ever going to leave?

    Thanks for sharing your similar feelings about “As the World Turns”. I’m younger so my “must watches” are all these arabic dubbed animes, I watch Spacetoon etc etc even though I’m fifteen! Captain Majid, Sally, Remi, I’m sure loads of people must have these memories! I wonder how I’ll leave these shows and never sit down every evening to watch them in their arabic voices and censors? funny how the small things are so dear…

  • Speaking of nostalgia, have you ever read Calvin and Hobbes? Hilarious! Unfortunately he stopped drawing them in 1995.


  • I totally understand how you feel unfortunately, that’s how most library are built/redesigned nowadays. Nearly all my local libraries (8 in my borough)are big open space with tv and xbox. That’s the only way -apparently- they can attract the young generation. Sad isn’t it. So now people don’t go to the library to read books, nope, they go there to play on the computer & watch TV. Isn’t that fun??

  • Rawan & Anon, thanks for your commiserations :) Rawan I totally feel you, when I was in a Muslim country too English books especially novels were soo precious…we would trade them like gold lol. But nowadays I hear the expats have things like book-trades and importing services. Anon, xbox!!? Really… wow that’s kind of sad, and we’re also supporting that with our tax dollars :(

  • i wounder your descriptions about two events,very detailed and descriptive as you draw a picture through your words and sentences (wow). it amaze me i like short descriptions(lazy me lol)

  • salaam,

    I think I saw a few episodes when that one lady on there got amnesia and somehow landed in an Arab/Muslim country and was rescued somehow by the prince, and was going to end up marrying him… but then at the wedding her husband (from her previous pre-amnesia life) found her and rescued her just in time :) That’s about all I’ve seen, I can’t handle plots that are open-ended and don’t have closure, they keep me up at night!

    oMG, I can’t tell you how much I miss cozying up in a library like that. I was thinking that one day when I settle down and have an actual house I’m going to make an amazing library, with all those comfortable nooks and quiet corners, hidden away from the world… inshaAllah!


  • Asalaamu Alaikum :)

    Gosh in the late 70s and early 80s, there were only 3 TV channels and there were no programmes during the day until teatime when the schools had finished.

    What a change indeed!! :)

    But on a slightly more serious point, I’m not sure whether change per se is necessarily a bad thing.

    It’s the reaction thereof which probably has a greater effect on whether we feel resultingly better or worse.

    The Quraysh in Makkah strove hard to maintain the status quo at the advent of Islam and there is a tendency sometimes to seek comfort and solace in ‘the devil you know’.

    Perhaps when change is thrust upon us (as opposed to our own efforts in making a change), there is a need to embrace it (and not avoid it) such that some sort of equilibrium can be reattained?

    The world we live in may well be turning but it so happens that we turn with it, a poignant reminder perhaps?

  • s. that is actually a diff soap lol i remember that bc some muslims protested it… that soap went out business in the 90s soon after that…

    brkhalid thanx for the reminder. yes there are good changes in the world too, hopefully especially ourselves as we improve and change inshaAllah…