I Didn’t Even Want to Drink the Water

“What am I doing here? Are these really my friends?”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions

  • Why does the speaker not want to drink the water at Passtimes?
  • Why does he wonder if his friends are really his friends?
  • The speaker call this a learning experience. What does the speaker tell us that he’s learned?
  • Does the speaker consider his enrollment in the Academic Success program important to the story of Passtimes–why/not?

Interpretive Questions

  • How does learning about all the places the speaker has lived impact the way you hear his story or not?
  • Who is responsible for the speaker not feeling welcome at Passtimes?

Implication Questions

  • If you were observing this situation and understood the prohibition of alcohol for Muslims, how could you have intervened in this situation?
  • When would a better understanding of someone’s culture, religion, or race have helped you more effectively serve others?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for I Didn’t Even Want to Drink the Water

Hyderbad, India – that’s where my family is from. Both my mother and father were born there and raised there. Well, actually, I was born in Saudi Arabia, but as I was a young child we moved out here to New York first, and then stayed there for about six months, and then finally settled down in Aurora, Illinois.

So it was my 1L year, and I was part of a program called Academic Success. And what that was was basically it gave an opportunity for minorities to kind of try out law school for two weeks just to understand what the rigors are like, basically help yourself succeed. And when I was part of that program, I had met some minority students as well, as well as some non-minority students. And those were some of the friends I had kept and maintained all throughout my law school career. So, in the first week of law school, I was invited to Passtimes. Now Passtimes is a bar and grill–it’s off of Lincolnway. It’s downtown, very nice, very pleasant. Nice storefronts and things of that nature. And Passtimes has great food, but they also have drinks there. Now as a Muslim, I don’t drink.

And, previous to this, I used to commute to a school–to a private, Catholic university, and a majority of my friends were Muslim. So I never really had to deal with having to socialize with friends who were drinking. So it was a new concept to me.

And when I went to Passtimes, I was immediately greeted by my friends, and everyone was ordering drinks and stuff like that, and I obviously wasn’t doing that. I was just kind of sitting to the side. I didn’t even want to drink water there. Honestly, I really didn’t, because I had a feeling: Okay, what if they didn’t clean the glasses right, and there’s liquor in that? And, now, liquor is prohibited in Islam. You can not drink it. And, so, I didn’t even want to take the chance or the opportunity. And, honestly, I felt unwelcome because I didn’t want to be in that setting. I kind of questioned myself: What am I doing here? Are these really my friends? It was [sigh] a difficult concept. It was a little difficult moment for me to sit there and say: Okay, relax, you can have fun. But then at the same time, I didn’t want to–I just couldn’t let my guard down, you know? It was just an awkward moment. And for that reason I didn’t stay too long; I actually left.

I think thereafter I calmed down in the sense that, listen, again, wherever I go in the future I guarantee there’s going to be people who drink. Networking receptions with lawyers, attorneys, you go out to lunch with a colleague or something like that. They may or may not be Muslim. And if they’re not Muslim, they may get a drink. So I take it as a learning experience. Have I been to Passtimes since then? Once or twice, yes. But do I avoid it still? Yeah.