Saturday, 29 November 2008

Sadr's party invites: Dress code-Black only.

In this post, I would like to express my sorrow over the recent world events-
Baghdad bombings and Iraq shootings: may the dead rest in peace,
mumbai:may the victims be protected,
and everything else- one day something will prove to me that love *does* exist, but now and probably till the end of my life,I'm sceptical. Then I'll be a old bitter woman. And I'll spend my time writing hateful poems or something. Then I'll descend into madness. Or perhaps not, maybe I will grow up and finally start working as hard as I should- university won't be as easy or forgiving. Remind me why I want to spend another 3/4/5 year of my life in education? Because as sad as it is to admit it, I love it really. It keeps my mind off the sadness and confusion. And lack of water. :)

The decision has finally been made. We are spending a week in Diyala, so then I don't get too far behind the school work of Baghdad.

Unfortunatley, the only internet providers in Diyala are internet cafes, as I've mentioned repetitively. This means reverting to old fashioned write on paper diary. I will type it up as soon as I come back though.

As well as this, I have to mention, recently, I have been complaining about my 'freedom', or rather my lack of it. Until, I realised what an idiot I can be. The freedom I 'so badly crave' was already there in front of me- I just never had the guts to use it. After a conversation a few days ago, I realised that complaining about all the plans laid out for me was useless- I have complete control of my life. I just never bothered to really make any decisions, I just accepted everything out of, well, love for my family maybe? Who knows.

Perhaps it was because, deep inside, I never really cared.

But now I do. I have an aim in life, and I can now work towards it. I don't want my life to be perfect, I just want to enjoy every minute of it, because there is no guarentee of what is to come after life. So with that I, Touta, declare, that I am now independently making decisions. Some will be stupid, and result in me having to walk through hell and back, but at least I will be able to say that I lived my life- I didn't quietly follow the paths drawn out for me- I drew my own paths and I made (and enjoyed) my life.

And with that, I wish you a better week than I have had, now I'm off to wear black- news is, those not in black will be shot. By who? I don't know, but my guess is they'll be wearing black. Now the women I see in baggy black abbayas almost remind me of the angels of death, with the black billowing fabric at their sides, looking eerily like wings.

I feel like I'm in a fashion show. Instead of the dusky colours of autumn, black is the new trend. Instead of Gucci and Dior logos, stamps of Sadr adorn bags and clothes. Wailing lamenting songs can be heard from cafes deep into the night, whereas before poignant songs over young love sang out in the darkness. I feel in a different world. One that I clearly don't belong in.

Hmm, well I'm going to wear black, and mourn the world's state, as well as mourning the inevitable responsibility that comes with my new found freedom.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Warmth of a Hug

Unfortunatley, I am still suffering from the flu. But this is no ordinary flu. This is an iraqi flu.Harsh and unpredictable just like Iraq's situation now. Just when I thought I was recovering, I end up being awake the whole night spluttering with a sore throat and headaches.
So no doubt I was not in the best mood this morning. I smile all the time,but today, despite my smile, I looked like I "had awaken from the grave". I just *love* compliments.

So, since yesterday, I have had small butterflies tickling the inside of my stomach- even if you hate politics or know nothing political, today was supposed to be a day that would forever define Iraq's future. No such luck I'm afraid. Again the government delivers an impeccably spotless disappointment of an agreement. That is, the news and the neighbours claim that the agreement has still not been signed.

There was much talk of curfews, not going to school/college/university to either celebrate with limitless joy or scream with unmeasured frustration. I don't live in the greenzone, but despite this, american panzers and army stuff can be seen to be occuring. Not today though. Not even a flag was seen. Today is perhaps the first day of my stay in Iraq, that I have actually seen no sign of americans at all in Baghdad. I didn't realise this, until I nervously passed an armoured check point thing, inhabited entirely by iraqi troops. No whirring helicopters, no swearwords shouted, (which the americans assumed were not understood :D), no flags flying from jeeps. Just nothing. Its clear though why. If the governemnt had signed anything today, the reaction would have been as unpredictable as weather reports.
Today was a classic day for what iraqis clearly love to do- watch the t.v nervously all day, and then discuss the events deep into the silent night. Since I am pretty bad at talking, I thought I'd type it all up instead. :)

Older people reminisced of days gone past that had defined Iraq, whilst the younger generations hung in cafes, sipping tea or coffee while shouting with their friends at the t.v in the corner. I didn't do either, but my reliable sources are my brother (the cafe is in all practicality his home) and old neighbours/ my new friend- the old man of the corner shop. He decidedly wanted all americans out- he missed all his family who had relocated into Jordan for security reasons.

Today I also noticed that the usually cheery, and often wide awake iraqi army troops looked tired and on edge. The reason? They were worried of the backlash. This caused me to further speculate into some 'ridiculous' claims that had been made as soon as the agreement had not been signed. These claims? That the agreement had actually been signed, but the government wanted to grease Moqtada Sadr's gangs, and ease their, well, anger.
Touta silently guffawed at such rumours. Another, was that Washington had already decided what it would do regardless of whether the Iraqis signed or not. This was not such a laughable rumour, and was rather depressing.
As the day grew longer, the conspiracy theories stretched further and became more imaginative. At one point I felt like saying "Israel has dibs on Babel, according to the agreement, and they signed it!", just to see how far it would spread. But around an hour ago, the child like excitement of everyone seemed to fade away. Most of the rumours were laughed at, and discarded carelessly, while some rumours have been circulated on national news.

To tell you the truth, I don't think anyone cares for any rumours any more, or talking, or anything really.
We are all just holding our breath, silently waiting, silently clenching our jaws, as uncounted days pass by. Did I mention, an excellent occurance has occured, because of the tangible atmosphere of improvement, people are slowly beginning to remember normality. It won't be long until I can actually start to have a 'life' again. Not that I ever had one to begin with-my boredom just increased over the past few days because of the tension. Actually boredom is the wrong word to use, its not boredom, as much as a feeling of confusion and pure emptiness.
Personally, I blame the iraqi flu. Its so vicious it makes the day pass dizzily. Well, either that, or I need to start organising my hectic sleeping times. Why do I sleep in the awkwardest hours? Well the story began with the warm hug of the duvet at 8pm. I get so tired, I end up sleeping from 8-12. Then I wake nervously at 12.30am, remebering the work for the next day. Oh well, its 9.00pm now, and I may succumb to the warmth of the hug of the duvet again. *Snorrrre*
(I think the word *snorre* excellently sums up this slightly political post about what was supposed to be a momentous day...if you get my drift).

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The iraqi parliament sure know how to sweet talk

Now I have tried not to excessively over post, but the aim of my blog is to record my life and possible future in Iraq. I guess I failed on that front, rushing upstairs at the end of each day to type up what happened to me, but the thing is, I never want to forget. Despite the bombings, scares and threats I have faced in Iraq, I have actually enjoyed it.

Now for today, I woke up quite late- almost 12pm, that's actually quite early for me. :D
Anyway, after yesterday's fiasco, everyone had gathered around the tv to watch the debate in the iraqi parliament (majlis), in the evening.

So sitting on the couch I am surveying the iraqi channels. My nana, sister and mother have all gone into the kitchen, and I guess that my uncle and brother are outside. My father and grandfather have decided to walk to the shops. leaving me all alone with the t.v remote, which I can't help but smile at. So, I decided to change the channels,and see the views of each of the iraqi channels, concerning the military pact.

Al sharqiya, Al Iraqia, and Al Baghdadia al show the same events taking place. The camera is focused on a balding grey haired man, who is making large hand gestures, and is throwing pure distilled rhetoric at the guy sitting in the high chair. the rhetoric is full of grandeuar and self righteousness. The guy in the high chair,clearly gets bored and asks the former opera singer "Eee, Leash tham rasak?" - translated "Yes, why hide your head?". Basically the parliamentary official is being sarcastic to the rhetoric guy. Writing whizzes across the bottom of the screen, informing the viewer of yet another economy crash in yet another country.

Al fayhaa has a different part of the meeting. It is quite funny- I think they have chosen the funniest parts. It looks like the guys on the high chairs- the official, are playing muscal chairs, a lot of them get up, and swap chairs. A guy in a suit is now replaced by a guy wearing the shia turbans. The guy in the turban is now shouting at an unseen member of the audience. He exclaims "Mu ibkeefak azizi", which basically translates as " Its not up to you, my dear". Yes, these are actual iraqi parlimentary officials.

I finally encounter Al Forat channel. This kind of shocks me. there is no news whatsoever about the agreement, and instead, there is a cleric being questioned by iraqi youth. First he talks about how coloured hijabs and decorated jubbas are wrong. The colour and decorations attract looks. then he says it is preferrable for girls and boys to dress modestly even in front of the same sex. A guy stands up from his plastic white chair and basically asks him what the hell he is talking about. The cleric replies that there is all girl parties, where the girls go to and dress up in tight revealing clothes and dance. The guys eyes light up, then the cleric warns that these are wrong and hypocritical. The guy sits back down smiling nevertheless, and writes something down on a clipboard. The camera then turns to the women's part of the hall, where the women are listening intensely. All wear hijabs and jubbas, but many of them are clutching their handbags pretty tightly. I actually start worrying about the safety of the cleric, because these women look like they are about to inflict some serious damage.

I finally end up on MBC where another turkish soap opera begins with its wailing songs, and gun shots. Silently I wonder why women are watching this over here, when our actual lives are a lot more dramatic than all these soaps put together. Only difference is, our lives doesn't have a music backing track.

Friday, 21 November 2008

The Silence of the Damned

Today was a momentous day for me. It was weird to actually be able to see iraqi people so outspoken on something. Most people I have met grumble silently about how Iraq is and was forever cursed. Although I attended school on Thursday, and that was an event in itself, I will post about it once I get over my embarrassement about exactly how bad 'my first day at school' was.

Today, I had the intention of going to the mosque. Recently I had talked with someone, who reminded me of the all too real sermons at the mosque, and their sometimes ridiculous views, and I wanted to remember said sermons, but I couldn't. So I resolved to go to the mosque and silently listen and note exactly what was being said, and the views of those around me.
So, in preparation for the mosque, I washed and wore a long dress. Obviously no jeans and tight clothes were welcomed in mosques, and I didn't feel like attracting more glares and whispers, after the laughable first day of school.

Since the dress was strapless though, I had to wear a cardigan in the blazing sun. I honestly had expected it to rain. Anyway, travelling by car is a nightmare, I have waited at the endless, unmoving petrol queues, where 13 year old boys would try to sell you cold pepsi while you silently simmer in the heat , and frankly, I would rather walk, despite the dangerous implications that comes with walking. But then again, what isn't dangerous nowadays? Getting into your car and driving may mean that you are hurled into heaven at the speed of sound, and all that is left is the charred frame of the car. Getting into a taxi may mean that you are kidnapped and held for ransom, and walking, may mean that armed gangs will stop you in the middle of your leisurely walk. Then again, you might just live. And for that reason, I refuse to confine myself to the house, but prefer to wander the streets, surveying the smouldering remains of metal car, and listening to the wails of the annoyed housewife concerning the fact that the water has been cut off mid shower...

Anyway, my parents, siblings, grandparents and uncle all headed, walking into the main street. it took us around 15 minutes to get there. Then a taxi would take us near to square of Firdous , and near some mosques.

Less than half an hour later, we were at square of Firdous . And in the middle of what would unravel to be a pretty funny demonstration. We went quite early in the morning, and as soon as everyone had realised what would take place, plans were made to send all of us home. So, two taxis were called, my grandmother, mother, sister, father all got in, leaving me and grandfather and uncle to get into the other taxi. But we didn't. My uncle had spotted one old acquaintence and had stopped to talk about what most 26 year old iraqi men consider themselves to be experts at- politics. This would no doubt take a long time. So I used this oppurtunity mercilessly to convince my grandfather to let us stay in square of Firdous . Amongst the answers of "Its not safe out here for you" and " you could get killed or kidnapped", I managed to guilt trip my grandfather to allowing me to stay- after all I was denied the mosque visit. As well as that, i got the distinct impression that because my grandparents hadn't seen me for soo long, they would quite easily crack under pressure. And I used the excellent argument of " I could be dead any minute, at least let me have the satisfaction of saying I was there when that event took place, otherwise I would die with no achievements in life". I know this was cruel to the point, where it was evil, mentioning death around family and seeing them wince made me mentally slap myself for being so insensitive, but it was too late. i had said it, and my grandfather was convinced.
Now, it turned out, after walking a while, that there were plans for all muslims to pray together. Men at the front, and the women behind-so the men wouldn't be perving on the women as they bent down to pray. hahaha. Well, that's the reason I got told when I first asked why men prayed in front of women. I think i was about 11 at the time, and didn't get the meaning, but I remember the exact statement, and how the woman was trying to put it into a less vulgar way. I get it now. 6 years later.

Unfortunatly, i had given the hijab for my mum to take home with her, as the mosque trip was cancelled. So basically I wouldn't be able to pray. I was silently thankful. The floor was sandy concrete, and some of the men had purposely waited behind silently for the women to start praying first. but perhaps it was just my imagination.

Anyway, the demonstration got on its way, and again I stuck out ridiculosly. Most were men at the demonstration, and the other women were clothed head to toe in black. We stood calmly at the outskirts, as we watched a group of youth shout insults unneccessarily, in rejection of the military pact. Then we saw some guys doing, what can only be described as semi dance, semi jump towards the floor, it almost looked like a iraqi variation on the russian cossack dance done whilst they were on some halluciogenics. It made me giggle amongst the insults and chants.
Anyway, group by group, different 'sects' wandered into square of firdous. Each carried certain pictures and banners. It was quite fun trying to identify them, and naming each one a silly name. Though I did this mentally- I didn't want to find myself being heard by any. I even came up with some names for the foreign/american vehicles that worriedly passed by every hour or so. How did I name them- according to who was sitting on tip of the vehicle. Shallow to the max, but it spent my time until the real action began- which was the shouting and running.

This consisted of a guy baiting everyone about how we were betrayed by the government, and how America would stay to only kill more and rob iraq the chance of becoming independent. Then the people would rush right into the centre of square. they would then jump, whilst chanting. To each group there was a distinguished chant. To the Shias, it was about Muqtada, To the Sunnis, it was something about the government betraying the people. Anyway, everyone got along fine, as a mutual hatred bound both the shias and sunnis. Yes, nothing would bind these two sects apart from a mutual hatred. How typical. And quite cool in a way. We would have to find something which all iraqis hated to really bind this nation.

However, when police and the national guard started appearing, i got told it was time to go. And I think that it was- the crowd had become slighlty frenzied, and at one point I feared they would turn against each other. But they didn't. They continued to burn american flags. Just before I went, I heard a suggesting shout of "why don't we burn the english flags?". This was answered with "what english flags?". It made me laugh. I had to ask, where did this vast supply of american flags come from? My uncle relayed this to one of his friends who replied " we take them from the americans ". I laughed so hard, I had to wipe a tear away. the guy just carried on grinning. I really did want to know where though. i found it all just strange.

Anyway, I had not brought my camera, as I envisaged that i would visit the mosque and come home. Shame really, I haven't had a picture for such a long time. Walking out, we were met by some of the iraqi police force, and some militias who had joined to the iraqi police force. It was quite endearing to see gangsters and police working together hand in hand. Or rather gun in gun. each carried a AK47, pointed at the floor, which still made me shudder. It could kill.

By the time we left, the demonstration was now a demonstration worthy of mention. People were being shoved, the crowd looked like they simultaneously jumping together, an doll was being carried by waves of arms to the center of the was almost surreal to watch. One of the guards/militia men decided that he would accompany us to the head of the street, for our safety. He kept chewing, and asking where I came from. We kept answering baghdad, and he nodded in clear disbelief. "No, kurdistan" he said. I pretended to look shocked at his very incorrect analysis. "Yes". My grandfather then clearly coughed in annoyance and stared the guard up and down. The guard then said ma asalaama (good bye) and scurried off. (Oh, and I got told that he guessed kurdistan, because most girls here don't wear bright colours, and usually have hijab, or uber long plaited hair.)

I wondered if a girl wearing a abbaya and hijab would have been offered the same treatment. Secretley I loathe that depending on what you wear, you could get killed or protected. For example, if I had worn what i wore today, to say, a more holier place in Iraq, I would probably have found myself being buried into the ground the next day. I kind of understand now, why some girls chose to wear a big black sack, to make them undistingushable to the outside world. Almost hide them. Sometimes, I do want to hide.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Gold and Silver

Although I currently do have more pressing issues on my mind, such as how I have kicked myself in the teeth by agreeing to go to school...
I thought I would tell an iraqi fairy tale.
Once upon a time lived a king. he was old, and his greying hair was falling onto his thick robes, which were filled with glittering jewels. One day, when he counted that his 99th hair had fallen, he called his son, the prince.
Now, the prince was spoilt in material wealth. Not only was he an only child, but his mother's death meant that he had little emotional support through his life. His father was generous, and all lands were at peace with his country. The prince would often watch his father shower gifts among his people. But the King's one shortcoming was that he never taught his son the gift of love.

As the prince stepped into his father's court, the father thought of how brave and handsome his son was. After a moment of silence, the King stepped down from the throne and held his son. " Son, I am old and grey, and your time on the throne approaches. However, first I ask of you one thing. Before I hand you the crown, I ask you to find a wife, so that I may live to see my grandchildren before I lie dead in the cold embrace of death".
The prince smiled. All could see that the King had many years left on the throne, but it was clear that he only wished for his son to take the throne. "Yes father".
That night, as the prince lay awake, he thought of all that he had. He thought of all the fine carriages, of the robes spun with threads of the finest fabric. What would a wife bring he thought? I need nothing. So he resolved that he would marry the woman who offered him that which he did not have.

The next morning, the prince rode into the city. He declared his intention. Soon, the news spread like wildfire.
The entire evening, the prince spent sat in a tent where the women would present their gift. They came from all over the land. Spices, Silk, and coins lay at the feet of the prince, scattered as if they had no value.
Outside, only three girls remained. They had been friends since childhood, and each gave the other encouraging words.
The first girl came in. To the prince she offered cake that would never finish. The prince thought. It had been the most interesting thing all day. the prince replied:"But why would I need cake that never finishes, if I have a kitchen that is so full of food, there is barely place to walk? Soon I would tire of the taste of the cake". He rejected her.
The second girl offered the prince a embroidered rug that changed its pattern every day. The prince sat up in his chair. "Every day? There is no doubt that this rug is fine, but something that changes its skin so often cannot be relied upon". With that she too was rejected.
Finally, the third girl came in. The prince asked her what she had to offer. After thinking for some time, the girl replied " I will bear you twins. One a boy, and one a girl. One will have silver hair, and the other will have gold hair. When I wash their hair, the water will turn to silver and gold."
The prince's eyes lit up. This would mean that his country would never run out of supply of coins. And having children? He had often envied his friends who spoke of their 'angels'.
"Yes. I will marry you. Do you have anything you wish to ask?". The third girl remembered her friends outside in tears. She asked that they be brought to live in the palace. It was agreed.

10 months after the prince's marriage, his wife was heavily pregnant. The princess was loved by all. her innocence and kindness won the hearts of all the palace and the people. However, her friends had watched in envy for many months. Although her friends were given the finest rooms and clothes to wear, their hatred burned brighter and brighter as the princess's stomach grew.

The day of the coronation of the prince came. The king wiped away a tear as he saw the happiness in his son's face. The news came that the princess was giving birth on the same day.
As the princess was in labour, her two friends cloaked themselves, and visited a poor pregnant widow. They spilled precious gems and silk into her hand, and carried away two silent bundles.
Soon cries of babies were heard, and celebrations rang throughout the land, not only for the coronation, but for the two new royals. Meanwhile, in the palace, as the midwife carried away a boy and a girl, she was met menacingly by the two friends of the princess. They snatched the babies out of her hands and placed the two silent bundles. They then paid the midwife all the money that they had hoarded, for her silence.
When the prince, now king, asked to see his children, two lifeless bodies lay before him. Rage and anger consumed him.

The two friends carried the actual children of the princess far away. At the coast, they saw an old wooden barrel. They placed the golden haired boy and silver haired girl into the barrel, and threw it into the raging sea. Evil smiles were stretched in their treacherous faces.
Back at the palace, the King felt betrayal. He stormed into the chamber of his wife. She had lied to him. As he looked at the two bundles, he shouted and cursed. Where was the silver and gold hair that she had promised? He told her, that if only they had the silver and gold hair, he would forgive their deaths. The princess wrung her hands in despair. "Those are not my children!" she cried again and again, but to no avail. Why were they dead? The princess was sure she had heard their tears!

The next morning a solemn crowd had gathered outside the palace. It was rumoured that the King was going to kill his wife...
The king marched out, accompanied by his old father. He addressed his people. As an example of how he should never be betrayed, he sentenced his wife to be buried neck deep in sand for the rest of her life. Tears silently streamed down the princess's face, as they dug her living grave.

The babies in the barrel had by some miracle survived the grave that the 'friends' of their mother had devised for them. Waves brought the barrel to the coast safely, where an old poor married couple lived. They heard the cries, and rescued the children.

Through the years, the children grew. One day, after receiving a good pay, the elderley man declared to his golden and silver haired children of the sea, that he had brought water, with which they could wash with. Before, they had been too poor to have such a luxury. As the children washed their hair, the couple watched in terrified delight, as they saw the dirty water transform into liquid gold and liquid silver. As the water cooled, the elderly couple were left with a black of pure silver, and a block of pure gold, both too heavy to move.
The couple started selling and buying more goods, and before long, they found themselves in the highest cirlces of society.
One day, at a party held at the palace, the elderley couple arrived. They didn't bring their children,but they spoke openly of where their wealth had come from. Many of the upper class had laughed at them, and proclaimed them to be mad, but they ignored them all. The rumours of this 'mad couple' and the cause of the wealth was gossiped all around the party, until it reached the king's ear. With urgency, the king rushed to the old couples side, and fell to his knees. "Tell me, please, can I see your children?". The old couple looked at the sadness in the King's eye, and told him the story of how they found the children. The king listened in dumb shock. Stuttering, he asked them the date that the couple found the children. They replied to the king "the day of your coronation".

With almost fear the king jumped up and ran to his buried wife. He started to dig her out of the sand with his bare hands. Soon, he carried his aged and weakened wife. Crying, he told the whole palace of his mistrust and hatred, as he sentenced his wife to a fate worse than death. the couple cried and immediatley called for the children. As the king and his wife saw their real children they hugged. The king stooped to his knees and begged forgiveness from his wife. The queen replied that she had her children and she had the love of her husband. That was all she ever wanted out of life....The End

Even at the time when I was told this, I wasn't sure of the moral of the story, but I was told, that the moral of the story is forgiveness and patience. Although secretley, I hoped that the queen wouldn't forgive the King. Being buried in sand for ten years, then forgiving in a minute?
My ending would have been, Queen says to king " I'm filing for divorce, and I'm taking the children.".
Hopefully though one day, I hope that part of my pessimism washes away, and I would believe in fairy tales and happy endings, but right now, I prefer the bitter taste of reality.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Baghdad and Baquba bombs

Although kind of far away, we heard the bombs today from our house in Baghdad. This has lead to my grandparents/parents both banning me from going outside in the city.
That was understandable. But what isn't , is the fact that my parents cancel the trip to Baquba, and two days later, bombs explode. I know its expected, but the fact that life here is constantly on the edge is horrible in the least. I'm suprised the nation as a whole is not on drugs.
As well as that the normality of this situation is what annoys me the most. People who go to bed at night worrying about money, what they will do tomorrow really cannot appreciate the feel of life here.
After the sound of explosions, people will usually look up upwards, mutter something, then resume what they are doing. Now I know this approach is better than mass hysteria, but the loss of life here has been taken as an everyday occurence. And that is what causes me heartbreak.
Another thing that annoys me to no bounds is some of my 'friends' from abroad:
'friend': " yeah, but you have to admit, its better now than in Saddam's time", to this statement, I cannot help but reply:
"a) neither me or you truly knew iraq in saddam's time so how can you judge? I was a child and you were in a different country.
b) how the hell do you know its better now? Drag your ass to baghdad and tell me exactly how better it is.
You idiot"
Of course, this approach and answer has not increased my 'coolness' or popularity at all. Oh well.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Moody Monday and the following week

My titles are getting a bit weird with the alliteration, but I can't help it ever since I saw 'always avoid alliteration'. It was so contradictory, that I have got in the habit of trying to come up with catchy titles. Weird.
Before I digress any further, I am going to have to chronicle the events of Monday, even though I have avoided it as a) I don't want to ever think badly of iraq. b) I don't want to ever be one of those whiney high pitched people. Ever.
Monday started off with high spirits. I enjoyed my trip to Baghdad University on Sunday, and was still giggling over some of the conversations I had with various students (revolved around euphemisms, half of which I didn't get at the time. I've been out of touch far too long). I went out on the roof, because it wasn't raining. I remember going to the edge of the roof and stretching my arm. I really wanted to reach the palm tree that looked like it was only a few millimeters away. I think I managed to stroke one withered leaf. I then got a call from my cousins. They had no water, and there were traffic ques all around their house. Something about pipes was all I really got. So I informed my mum, who then told grandad. Within minutes we were all running round filling water bottles. The plan was for my brother, uncle and dad to take the water. My uncle was in Baghdad centre, stuff in traffic. My brother was at his friends house, no doubt playing on the playstation. We couldn't get hold of either of them, so I volunteered to help take the water to my cousin's house.
Sitting at the back of the car, I listened to music, as the traffic seemed to engulf us in a pile of angry metal and horns. After 2 hours, my dad left the car to walk and see what all the traffic was about. Another hour passed until he returned with no news whatsoever, apart from an angry red face. Then we all got out of the car. Unfortunatley, a motorbike whizzed passed at that exact moment, and I was elbowed sharply in the back.
Then men completely in black with yashmaghs covering their faces suddenly appeared everywhere. They carried guns. No suprise there. Three quarters of the population carry weapons. Nevertheless, everyone immediatley quietened down. This was beginning to get quite eery. Luckily however (after an initial hour show of machoism at its best), one of these 'militiamen' ( I really have no idea who they were), laughed out loud. they said they were making sure no attacks took place in the traffic queues. I think one of them gave a lollipop to a baby that would just not shut up. After some time, we finally reached my cousin's home. To find that the front of the house was engulfed in water. The drainage pipe had burst. Why? I have no idea, and at this point I didn't care. the whole infrastructure of Iraq is at best shaky and unpredictable.
Now I have a bruise on my back and my shoes are soaked with weird stuff. They were good shoes. :( My bruised back is annoying me and making me as cranky as hell. I can't lean back on the sofa, and going to sleep today will be a laughable matter. I usually fall off beds, and I can't sleep on the floor, as its cold hard marble. I am contemplating being awake all night. I'll be able to watch sunrise.
In two days I'm going to Baquba. All i remember from my deceased grandparents from baquba is that my grandmother favoured my brother, and my grandfather favoured my little sister. I used to have competitions with the next door neighbour to see who could blow the biggest bubble. And I remember another neighbour. Current news of Baquba? One of the most volatile areas in Iraq.
And from what I remember, quite conservative. Unfortunatley, I have nothing conservative to wear.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Sectarianism in Baghdad University

College of engineering.
Department of Chemical Engineering.

Today I visited Baghdad University. The place was buzzing! The university had such a unique and different atmosphere to the rest of Baghdad. Students clustered around in small groups talking about revolutionary ideas. Girls leaned against walls giggling. Teachers frowned and occasionally made students carry their books. I could have spent an entire month there without getting bored.
At first I wandered around with my uncle who graduated 2 years agoish, but he soon disappeared, no doubt to 'socialise'. Currently, Iraq shabab football team is playing syria, and the radios are blaring the 1-0 to Iraq. I then couldn't help wandering off. The students at Baghdad University fall into categories. Those who look like a hollywood costume department has exploded onto them, and those who think that religion justifies looking menacing.

I couldn't help but laugh at the expense of others, and yes I do feel bad.

Categories are as follows;


1) The Shadows. Wear Black.Give disapproving looks to everyone. Socialise with the teachers. Somehow they always are walking behind you.

2) The Pavement sweepers. Long skirts clean the pavement as the walk. Head held down, give the air that they have commited a crime.

3) The Blondies. Have their hair streaked/dyed an obvious fake shade of blonde. Blink an awful amount, I wandered at one point if they all simultaneously had developed twitches.

4) The Oranges. Look like the extras from the al-bortaqala music video. That is, they wear painfully tight clothes, in clashing neon-bright colours. They tend to laugh at nothing in spontaneous bouts.


1) The Politicians. Stand Military style in the middle of pavements discussing the latest politics. Overuse the phrase "Akhee, ismaanee" (Brother listen to me). Talk over each other.

2) The Heavyweights. Basically, I am referring to those boys who are so polite (thigeel), they carry everyone else's books. Usually wear glasses.

3) The Grendizers. Think they are God's gift to women. Macho, and usually wear camouflage clothes. Shout obscene comments at intervals of 5 minutes.

4) The Bearded ones. Either have a full beardy, or a saksooka ( triangle beard). Won't look at females at all, their eyes dart around looking at the floor. Always wear jeans and a shirt.

However, manners wise, I have never met any students as polite as baghdadi students. Hope that redeems my exceptionally shallow analysis above. :D