Friday, 31 October 2008

Taxi Talks

Yesterday, my grandfather was warned by some neighbours that we had attracted to much 'attention'. So today was spent being hauled about in a taxi. The first taxi guy was a cheerful man, who listened to hussam al russam, and loathed kathem el saher. He talked enthusiastically about how much girls were better than boys to raise.My mother laughed extremely loudly at this,while my dad grunted in approval.I would bet anything that he wanted the talk to turn to politics. It turns out he has 4 girls and one boy. He talked about the monarchy of Iraq,and showed his sympathy for the current children and adolescents living in this mess ('housa'). The taxi smelt of tea. Mmm.

I saw the abandoned/closed iraqi theme park in Baghdad. A lot of it looked ready to use and so cheerful amongst the sombre buildings around it, and the fence around it was definatley not a fence. It was a prison. Maybe I'm being too melodramatic, but the bars around the park just vividly made me picture a prison.

When it was time to go back, we also had to get a taxi. However, the driver insisted that I was to sit in front. He said that it would be less likely to be stopped if a girl sat in front. Then he kept asking everyone's name. Then our ages. Then which school/university we went to. Then he kept smoking. Like a chimney is an understatement to how much he smoked. And he hadn't heard of deodrant. All I could think about was opening the door while it was moving. Unfortunatly the worst was yet to come. It takes no more than 10 minutes to our neighbourhood. He took winding paths and kept changing the gears every few seconds. Then kept opening and closing the glove compartment to get water. In fear that he was paying more attention to the glove compartment than the road, I held the water. Then he stopped drinking so much.

After that taxi ride, my nana talked for a hour and a half on how the manners and etiquette have deteriorated.

*Grin*.Managed to get a blurry photo from the ordeal though.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Beautiful Baghdad

I'm finally home. Despite the rubble, the intimidating soldiers, and the ever present sense of a foreboding atmosphere, there is no place on this God - given green earth that feels more home than Iraq and Baghdad. I feel like I belong, and everything seems so familiar. My heart stings for every Iraqi who has had to leave, or indeed chose to leave.
Walking up to my grandparents house in the cover of darkness was slighlty reassuring. The first shock was seeing that the house next door was now a rubbish tip, filled with feral dogs.
A few seconds later, the gate opened and I rushed in straight away, failing to notice that I had jumped in the garden in my eagerness. Many flowers lie trampled in my agitated wake.
I saw my nana first, and after kissing me she immediatley commented on the length of my hair to my mother. " You are nearly in university and it just reaches your shoulder toutaaa! You haven't been eating properly either! Come eat!".
To myself I thought, yup, that's what is important right now. Iraq has a probably corrupt government, and Baghdad feels like a ghost town whose spirit has been chained up, there are nightly bombings, none of you here are safe, but, the important thing is the length of my hair.
But to tell you the truth, I immediatley scolded myself. I love them so much, that I promised them and myself that I would grow my hair so long that I can use it as an abbaya, (I can even cut a box into my fringe where my eyes can peek out of, or I can go for the cousin Itt look-google cousin itt on images- Addams family).
They looked at me for a while like I had lost my mind (perhaps I have?) then told me "laaa" (no) they just wanted it as long as all girls my age..(i.e veryyy long).
Dolma and Chillifry and Bamya, Biryani, Tepsi, Maqlooba, Durshana (yay finally!) , and a host of other dishes greeted us. All made by my nana, whose cooking is perfection. :)
Nine plates later, everyone is talking. My grandparents have bought a pc for my 26 year old uncle, but he has been too busy 'socialising' to set it up. For all you unlucky non-iraqis out there, when the word 'socialising' is used to describe an iraqis guy activity, it basically means scowling the streets with friends to find a suitable girl/job/cafe.
Have you ever been so drowning in emotion and nostalgia that you just stare blankly? That is the best way I can describe my current situation. My older brother is busy drinking a 2 litre bottle of sugary pepsi, and my little sister (14 isn't thaat little, but her behaviour is... ouch, that was mean touta.) is sleepy, so naturally I have volunteered to set it up.
Half an hour later, and I have joined onto the nearest wireless network, and am busy blogging, while family continue talking. My grandfather has appeared, and soon he will tell the tales of his life. Too exciting to miss, so I bid the internet adieu.
P.s. Forgot to mention, that although I love Iraq unconditionally, the weather is schizophrenic.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Everyone is allowed to enter Iraq...

...apart from the actual iraqis themselves.

After waiting 2 hours at border control in the seemingly endless queues, we were immediatley stamped and shoved, after I told my parents to"بحبحوها", which translated means to 'ease' it. Basically give money out to the workers, so that they get to work faster. I heard mutterings and occasional laughter that we were going back. Hmm. Not a good sign. I am now at the Syria-Iraq border, and you can literally feel Iraq looming behind all the guards and barricades. Through the unmoving, deadly silent traffic, everyone waits.

Its unbelievably cold, and only a few minutes ago I started opening the bags of luggage, just to find something to keep me warm. Currently, my mother and sister are asleep, my dad has wandered somewhere, and I can hear him heavily debating politics with someone, and I can see the shadow of our driver leaning outside, talking to a man who has a lorry full of water.

I feel extremely disorientated, and frankly I can not get to sleep, despite the lullaby of snoring around me.

I'm not sure whether this is sunrise or sunset. I have waited almost a day to enter Iraq, and the most annoying thing? I have counted up to 5 military cars driving up and down across the border.

I hear the cries of babies throughout the record long traffic line, as well as the complaints of thousands of iraqis, syrians, and other quiet dialects which I can't make out in the hushed silence, who have been in this forsaken no man's land for apparently days on end.

After scrambling out of the car, everything feels even more weird, as there's no lights whatsoever, just the barely audible whispers of hundreds of people waiting. And not to return to Iraq.

I almost fall as I walk, having spent over two days travelling either by car, airplane or bus. After being motioned to come over, by an old woman wearing completley black, I kind of feel awkward, and oblige unwillingly, (but not before nudging my mother awake). Apparently its sunrise, and today is Monday. She talks about everything and nothing, and then after a while asks me my age. I reply, after not having said a word for half an hour. She gasps dramatically and makes me say "wallah" (honestly). " You seem and act much older". Frankly I have no idea how to answer to this. How is a 17 year old supposed to act?! If I so much laugh higher than 1 decibel I get told off for being 'childish' and attention seeking, and if I act like myself I get told to loosen up, and enjoy myself.

What the hell?! I loathe the rules and ettiquette of iraqi families. Especially with regard to females. They expect me to be a 'lady', and then tell me I shouldn't take everything so seriously.

Well, old woman, I DON'T CARE.

I obviously need sleep. I am getting waaay too cranky.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

The Fame Game

After going to an iraqi eid party, I honestly don't know whether to laugh or laugh some more. Okay, so the eid party was late, classic iraqi behaviour, in fact, the party was said to start at 7pm. No one came in until 8pm. Seriously. Me and my family waited in the car for over half an hour. Even the venue was still locked. Of course it was entirely my fault; my insistence to be on time was uninformed. I should have taken the fact that it was an all iraqi party into consideration. :D

Anyway, the venue is kind of split into three sections; the women area, the men area and the everybody else area. Since the rule of thumb is that you cannot sit with the men or the women unless you are married, me and my friends were left hanging in the middle of a cold corridor.

Whilst in the cold corridor, I resorted to doing what I do best; listening ( that is, eavesdropping).

Basically, my father was talking to the son of the brother of the aunt of the mother etc... of Nuri Said. And the funniest thing is? This guy literally announced his entrance into the party, mentioning to everyone his 'lineage' or rather how he was related to Nuri Said. A 20 year old girl from Al Hilla kind of leaned and asked me if Nuri said was governing Iraq now. Ermmmm...

Apart from that, the party was great, and people from every ethnic group (and religion) from iraq was present, and guess what? No one fought.