The “Go Bag” That Stayed

Detroit, Michigan. Cub Scouts with flag standa...
How prepared can you really ever be? Image via Wikipedia

Ever since 9/11, New Yorkers near the city have been urged to keep a “go bag” at the ready, packed in case we need to flee within minutes.



The roads and airports would be clogged and I have no doubt, if things were really crazy and out of control — a nuclear accident, say, from the plant a few miles upriver, the one we can see from our bedroom — that violence and mayhem would ensue, so the best thing to pack might be a gun and ammo. But, I digress.

In anticipation of Hurricane Irene and a possible need to run, fast, to shelter — hello, blue sky! — we packed a shared duffel bag. We have no kids, pets or elderly we needed to worry about, so it was just our stuff.

In my half were: a nice bar of soap, Filofax, Kindle, jewelry box, small white bear of 50 years’ vintage, passport and green card…and, oh yeah, clothes, socks, underwear.

It’s an interesting moment to think hard about you must absolutely take with you and what you must — the other 99% of your belongings — leave behind.

What would you take?

Five Children In a Hole: Pakistan's Female Refugees Speak Out

It’s easy to tune out one more depressing story about refugees halfway across the world. Don’t.

Instead, read award-winning Canadian reporter Stephanie Nolen’s recent story about what life is like for Pakistan’s female refugees Imagine living a life so constrained you are not allowed to speak to a man outside your family — manageable in your own home, village and region. Impossible when you and your children are living for months in a refugee camp  run largely by strange men.

It took Mosarrat Qadeem, a Pashtun feminist who runs a women’s group called Paiman, to consider a basic fact of female life — menstruation — and to bring in hundreds of sanitary supplies to the refugees, who were otherwise unable to ask for them on their own, Nolen writes. She interviewed one female refugee who, in desperation, hid her five children in a hole in her yard, a makeshift foxhole, while under attack.

My friend, Zohaib, who works in IT in Karachi, sent me to The News, an English-language newspaper and website, where I found this story and editorial, l