Interview: Idries & Jamil talk ‘The Amazing Race’

In my recap of Sunday (February 24) night’s “Amazing Race,” I harped extensively on misfortune/negligence of going on the Emmy-winning competition if you’re unable to deal with water. 
I probably slightly over-emphasized the role that water played in the elimination of twins Idries and Jamil Abdur-Rahman, neglecting that even sandcastles proved a challenge for the sibling gynecologists in the previous Leg. 
Still, on the most basic level, Idries and Jamil were undone by their difficulties in the crystal clear blue waters of Bora Bora, which led to their elimination in the second Leg of the “Amazing Race” season.
Due to last Monday’s holiday, Idries & Jamil were my first “Amazing Race” exit interview of the spring and, yes, we spent a long time talking about water. 
Click through for the full conversation…
HitFix: Water is kinda a standard part of the “Amazing Race” arsenal. What had you guys been hoping for ideally when it came to water-based challenges?
Idries Abdur-Rahman: Obviously the most ideal thing would have been “none,” but realistically I knew that probably was not going to happen. I mean, both of us can swim. We’re just not super-comfortable with open bodies of water, open deep bodies of water like the ocean, so I was kinda hoping that if we did have a water challenge, it would have been something like last season when they were in Russia and they had to do synchronized swimming. Something in a pool, basically, would have been ideal.
Jamil Abdur-Rahman: We knew going in that water was going to come into it in some way or another. It’s two-thirds of the Earth, so we knew it was happening, but like he said, we were hoping it was going to be more of a confined space. A lot of people asked us after watching it, “Well you knew about the swimming…” and I told them, “Look. We could physically swim, it was just a lack of comfort with deep open bodies of water.” A lot of that is just I guess maybe a function of where we grew up, you don’t have big open bodies of water and we just didn’t have a lot of experience in it, so we were kinda hoping that that we wouldn’t have to deal with that. That was kinda our hope.
HitFix: Was there any preparation you guys had done before the Race in terms of this potential problem?
Jamil: Oh yeah. Absolutely. We took some swimming lessons prior to the Race, just so we would feel more comfortable in the water. And, again, obviously we were taking lessons at the Y, so it’s not necessarily gonna simulate open water, but our hope was that if we were just a little bit more comfortable with the water in general, then if we did have to do something in open water, we’d have a heightened level of comfort as well. So we did do that in preparation.
HitFix: What was your initial reaction, then, when you looked at the clue and you saw where you were going on the very first Leg?
Idries: Honestly, when we saw that we were going to Bora Bora, first I was like, “Cool, Bora Bora!” But also, there were really two big fears for us coming into the Race: One was open water and the other was if we had to deal with any challenges dealing with pork, since we don’t eat pork. So I was like, “Oh God.” I said, “Polynesia, they like pigs and there’s a lot of water there,” so we were both a little concerned about that. It was still exciting, but there was a “We were hoping it wasn’t gonna come this soon in the Race” kinda feeling.
HitFix: I assume, though, that if we’d had to do a pork-based challenge, it would have been a no-brainer and you could have decided to take the penalty. Whereas here, with the water, it was hard because you had to deliberate on the choice.
Idries: I guess that’s true. Definitely if there was a pork-based challenge, we would have been like, “OK. Go to the other Detour or just take the penalty,” so in that sense, yeah. But I guess the worst worse-case scenario would have been one water, one pork. You never know.
HitFix: [Laughing.] Sorry. I was just thinking of what the Detour situation would have been that would have left you with those two choices. Talk to me about the way you guys felt about the decision-making process you guys were going through out on the water between the Pearl and Tank Detours.
Jamil: I felt that the way they showed the decision-making process last night was fairly accurate. When we got out there, our goal, honestly, when we read the clues to begin with, one said “Walk underwater” and the other said “Picking pearls” or something and we knew that walking underwater meant that we were going to have a respirator, so our thought was, “Let’s do that,” initially. And when we actually got to the area where we were doing the challenge, we were actually looking for the trunks. We’re looking underwater and we’re seeing something we’re thinking, “Are these trunks?” and then “Nope, they’re moving.” So we realized it was people swimming and we didn’t see the trunks, so we said, “OK. Let’s just do the pearls.” That’s kinda how we decided to do the pearls to begin with, because we said, “Well maybe we don’t understand this clue, so let’s just do the pearls.” And once I got out and looked and saw where the pearls were and saw how deep the water was, I told Idries, “You know what? This may be something that we’re going to struggle with we may want to consider taking the penalty rather struggling with it for two or three hours and then still being penalized.” So I felt like that depicted that pretty accurately. It didn’t harp on it too much and, in reality, we didn’t talk about it too much. We talked about it for about five minutes, realized that wasn’t the best course to take and just struggled and jumped on in that water. So I think it depicted it pretty fairly.
HitFix: How long would you guys guess you spent trying to do the pearl challenge?
Jamil: We were there for at least two or three hours, I’d say.
HitFix: How much were you able to see what the other teams were doing and how they were doing it?
Idries: We were close enough to see the other teams, but we couldn’t necessarily see how they were doing it. I guess the one benefit is your vision was better underwater, so when I was actually underwater, I could kinda see that people were detaching the entire line with the oysters on it, just taking a whole line at time, whereas initially I didn’t see that and I didn’t know you could do that. So we could see the other teams, but we couldn’t see well enough to see how well they were doing. You could kinda just see them coming and going.
HitFix: And Jamil, there was the rescue team intervention out there. How serious was that?
Jamil: I don’t think it was that serious. At that point, I had been in the water a while and I was tired and I think that they could see that I was floundering and they kinda stepped in before I really could get myself into any trouble. I personally didn’t feel like I was in any danger, per se. I think that they could just see that I was pushing myself to a point where I could get myself in trouble pretty quickly.
HitFix: And what was your reaction to watching that happen, Idries?
Idries: Of course, I was a little nervous for him. It was probably mixed emotions. Of course I was like: A) I don’t want to see my brother die out here and B) I don’t want to tell the family he’s dead, but also C) There was a little frustration, because I felt like we were kinda getting closer. But on the same hand, I understood that he was trying his hardest and I was just more concerned for him. I didn’t want him to die, so it was a little nerve-wracking.
HitFix: Unfortunately, we only saw out there the one thing that you guys weren’t prepared for. What were you guys *really* ready for on the Race?

Jamil: That was kinda our frustration, because we felt like we were prepared for everything. Physically, we were in good shape. We were running four or five miles a day and we were even even running with weight vests so that we could mimic carrying our bags. We were doing different brain-training exercises and just what we do for a living already, we have to work under a lot of stress with little sleep, so we felt we were prepared in that respect, so that’s kinda what frustrated us. We felt like if we could have gotten past that, I think we would have run a hell of a Race. I think in every other respect we were prepared, physically and mentally. That was our one Achilles Heel and it was just kinda frustrating that it got us so early. Going into it, we knew that statistically speaking, you have less than a 10 percent chance of winning. It’s not to say that you don’t want to win. Everybody wants to win. But you know, statistically speaking, you have less than a 10 percent chance, so more than wanting to win, though we wanted to win, we just wanted to run a good Race. We wanted to run ideally the entire Race and run a good Race. It was just frustrating that we didn’t get an opportunity to do that.
Idries: I’m sure everybody feels this way, but I felt like we were an extremely strong team. You can do your best at everything and sometimes luck just knocks you out anyway, so being a strong team isn’t a guarantee by any means, but I felt like had we gotten out of Bora Bora and gone to some non-water Leg, we would have been a definite contender. Still, you have to deal with flights being delayed and missing flights and bad taxi drivers. Things still happen. I didn’t think we had it wrapped up by any means, but I felt like we would have definitely brought our game. So having two kinda crappy Legs and going “Buh-bye” just was not the way I wanted to run the Race. Like he said, I knew that the chances were that we weren’t going to win, but I wanted to go home like, “You know, at least we kicked some ass, even if we didn’t win.” So it was a little frustrating not to have gotten that chance.
HitFix: How do you think that’s going to effect the way you watch the rest of the Race? Like if there isn’t a single other water challenge for the rest of the Race, what are you going to do?
Idries: I’ll be like, “Damn.” It’ll be frustrating. Of course, in watching the rest of the Race, it’ll be frustrating because just like everybody at home, we’re gonna think, “I could have done that” and knowing myself physically and mentally and emotionally, I think that if there aren’t anymore water challenges, I could have done it. But it is what is. You don’t take things too hard in life. But it’s gonna be a little frustrating.
Jamil; It’s funny. I hadn’t necessarily thought about that specific question, “What if there are no more water challenges?” I just know, in general, that I’ve thought to myself that it’s gonna be very tough to watch, because A) You’re gonna think to yourself, “I could have done that,” like everybody does when they watch and B) You’re gonna think to yourself, “Wow. That would have been an awesome experience and you were that close.” But I hadn’t really thought about the water, but that would definitely add an extra sting, no doubt about it.
HitFix: We were only in the very, very early stages of telling the two of you apart. If you’d kept going for a while, how would we have seen that Idries and Jamil are different?
Jamil: I think that if we had been on longer, there are a couple things about our personalities that I think would have made it easier for people to tell us apart. First, I think that I tend to be a little bit more impulsive, whereas I think Idries tends to be a little bit more reserved and calculating, so if we had been on long enough people would have picked that up. Secondly, I think that I probably tend to be a little bit more outgoing than Idries and so people may have picked that up as well. And thirdly, everybody just says that I have this high, nasally voice which I never realized I had until I heard it on TV, so I think if people had watched long enough, they would have picked that up as well.
Idries: Whereas I have a deep, baritone manly voice. 
HitFix: It *looked* like Jamil had the slightly longer goatee? Was that for the show to make it easier to distinguish?
Jamil: Not really. I normally wear it like that.
Idries: That’s one thing. I usually have the full beard and he has a goatee. That’s one thing that people have noticed. Some people say that my face is a little fuller than his. That would have been one thing to notice. Just overall, I’m better looking and more skilled. You could tell.
More “Amazing Race” exit interviews to come!