Saturday, 7 February 2009

300 reasons to laugh

Although this was going to be a hateful, angry post where i decidedly would throw away all my hopes, dreams and beliefs, and I would lament Iraq's education system for being so bad that i was forced out. I then gave up and realised "Forget it, it could be worse". Correction, it had been worse.

After screaming, throwing mood fits of rage and depression (all in under 10 hours, I deserve a prize), I decided to follow an old saying, Khaleeha ala allah. (leave it to God). I'm not even that religious, but sometimes its better to stop thinking and well, give up. Just not that type of give up, give up being annoyed and angry.

But, I simply cannot write a post without mentioning the flights to Iraq. open to journalists and politician guys, but try getting a flight and you will end up walking around an airport for hours, after getting told there isnt just a delay, but there's no plane either. You have got to love the organisation of the middle east. And apparently something abut snow storms still looming over the UK.

I am missing Baghdad, the never sleeping city. Here, everything is closed by 5am, whereas the nights I spent wondering Rubaie Street, and flitting between the Blue Sky restaurant and Leymouna almost seems so far away, but next week (hopefully) I will be back walking across Rubaie street at 11pm at night. Oh, I also made a mental comparison between Topshop here and there. Topshop is a trendy high street store here, but it can also be found in Baghdad. :D Where i hear you cry...well, its a small shop outside a mall in Rubaie Street. The name is written in red neon light, and the shop is run by an old guy, and a younger one. Across the street is Leymouna. Around two blocks behind the Juice/Ice cream parlour lies our house. I have to admit, I miss wandering and finding all these small shops with neon lights. I miss Leymouna where i realise I have spent half my life in. I was always made to sit in the chairs in the Middle of the patio , in fear of a kidnap and run scenario, the idea being, sitting in the middle of the shop means kidnappers are less likely to walk into the middle, but would rather kidnap people sitting on the outside. I hope when i return i can safely sit on the outside now.

I also miss the shop called Fast Fries. Not because its food was a culinary masterpiece, it was generally fried fast food. But it was a hotspot for Iraqi youth to hang out. It was basically a comedy everytime I visited. it was a horrible clash of iraqi youth trying to be cool. It didn't work. If you went with your family, you were safe-just about, as long as you have a member of the family who looks relatively intimidating, or glares well. But going on your own, or accompanied by siblings is paramount to disaster. Teens switch quickly between arabic and american slang, and even to the most unobservant onlooker the male conversations revolve around swearwords, and the female conversations revolve around giggling and whispering. In Fast Fries, an over used phrase was "trideen barid?", which literally translates to "do you want cold?", which actually means "do you want a pepsi?". This is actually an example of a chat up line.Yes, read that again and make sure, because its true. If I'm back in time for Valentine's day, I'll make sure to type up some 'love notes' as they call them. A series of ridiculously funny love sayings that us iraqis actually think are romantic, such as "schlon lihhya" ("what a beard"), and "schlon kayka" ("what a cake").

---------includes plots of 300 and meet the spartans------------------------

To take my mind off the fun i am missing while doing work during the iraqi holidays, i watched Meet the Spartans. I have watched 300 before, but the whole complete and utter stereotypical-ness of it made me laugh during many parts. In 300, Hollywood basically throws in every single misconception it has about the East, adds in a greased up male actor and half the world's jewellry, to form a visually cool film, but with a storyline that even an episode of Teletubbies has more originality than.
Meet King Leonidas, brave, greasy, tanned and muscley, with morales that would make Kofi Annan look immoral. Enter his trophy wife who has enough muscles to throw a 50kg metal shield at her husband, and tell him to return victorious or dead on it, but apparently doesn't have enough power to stop herself being blackmailed by the king's right hand man. The story continues, with a Eastern Xerxes, naturally being a sexually frustrated eastern guy, is pictured to be covered in Jewels, and presumably a little gay. Enter Xerxes' fighters, the mutalited easterners...from turbaned ninjas to elephant riding indians, there is no eastern country that this film doesn't go out of its way to insult. I hate political correctness, but clear cut bias makes me actually appreciate that some films like the Valley of the Wolves exists purely to give Hollywood a taste of their own medicine.

Therefore, i really couldn't deprive myself of watching Meet the Spartans, where everything in the film that I had thoroughly laughed at, would be made fun of even more. In Meet the Spartans, roles are reversed, and it is King Leonidas that is now a little gay, with many stereotypical jokes made of this, and although you tell yourself its not funny, you find yourself laughing at the cheapness of this movie, from the references to famous tv programmes, as well as the hip hop style dance off between the persians with the hairy backs, and the spartans and their sprayed on abs. A favourite part was where the movie turned into a scene from the GTA video game, and it took me time to assess whether it was my own imagination.
The jokes were simple, but suprisingly funny at times, to the point where after laughing at them, you mentally scold yourself for being rude/laughing at something that would probably offend a lot of people.Xerxestron with a weird youtube video seemed almost surreal, and made me pause rather than laugh, but the botox overdose that rocky balboa sufferes makes up for the weirdness of xerxestron and the computer generated persian army of 100000.

I talk to one of my cousins online, who is now at the Enternet cafe across from the jeans seller, researching work for her university project. i secretly wonder why, when every time i seemed to visit her classes it involved students sitting swapping pictures and jokes via bluetooth, while a very late professor would rush in and teach in a barely audible voice. The lecture would end, the professor would collapse on a chair and moan of yet more letter threats or check points, and students would walk out into the sun. Yet students still manage to end up with a ridiculous amount of work.

I'm still hooked on the tap water here. I missed it. I physically missed the clearness of it. I smile as i wonder how many years until I see the clear water of the Dijla and Furat flowing through the taps. Okay, off to drink some more water, and wander aimlessly around the house, as I ponder what the rest of the evening will entail.


C.H. said...

Hmmm...I remember watching the movie "300 Spartans" back when I was in 7th grade, lol. I think that was right around the time I first got interested in the Middle East. Of course, 9/11 had just taken place weeks earlier, and a lot of Americands had developed ignorance about people from the region and especially the religion of Islam.

The truth is, I can't remember too much of the movie, I should try watching it again, lol.

Touta, there is no reason for you to miss'll be soon home enough! Just enjoy where you are right now, and think of getting home in a few short days :D

Although..I am a bit surprised. Is buying a one-way ticket from Baghdad to London the only option? Maybe you should have got a round trip :)

Anyway, I am glad to hear that you are doing well.

C.H. said...

Oh, I just realized something...your post is two days old!

nadia said...

Frank Miller's supposedly obsessed with fascism, but I mean that kind of stuff is all over comics and action movies anyways-not the most subtle of genres. Valley of the Wolves is probably still the most retarded movie I've ever seen though.

"what a beard" made me laugh pretty hard.

Touta said...

its not that i miss baghdad and its non existent electricity supply, as much as the people. :)
yup, i started it, but couldnt be bothered to finish the last part until today.

true, and true. Though i can't agree on the most retarded film being Valley of the wolves, until you watch the egyptian action movies featuring a short greasy guy surrounded by 20 tall guys, which he manages to box into unconsciousness, featuring the best sound effects ever.

As for the what a beard, just wait till i type more up, pre and post war. :D I'm actually looking forward to typing it up. :D

programmer craig said...

Hmmm...I remember watching the movie "300 Spartans" back when I was in 7th grade, lol.

Wrong movie, CH! Touta is talking about this one:

Touta, we have lots of stereotypes about Greeks too! Didn't you know? :)

C.H. said...

LOL, so were you really throwing fits of rage, Touta? You are quite anxious to get back to the great city of Baghdad ;)

attawie said...


"...but with a storyline that even an episode of Teletubbies has more originality than."

and lol some more. You can be a good critic! Now we read your movie previews and books previews, let alone so-not-cool-Iraqi guys and girls, collages and many more :)

I've been to Blue Sky, only once. It was during my last week in Baghdad.

I don't know if that would makes you feel better but flights to Iraq are like this from anywhere on earth!

oh... and I do miss clear water from taps.

Keep holding on :)

nadia said...

I don't think I've seen any Egyptian movies besides the artsy Chahine stuff, I'm uncultured like that. Honestly though that sounds kind of awesome, like at least entertainingly bad, unlike 300.
I'm stoked to hear about the rest of it, all the pickup lines I can think of are either boring or disturbing I got nothing here.

C.H. said...


I promise you that one day Iraq's tap water will be clean and plenty tasty :D

Just have faith...I have always had faith in the Iraqi people that they would take their country back from the forces of terrorism and they have done exactly that.

dave said...

I have to say I'm looking forward to hearing more of the chat up lines!! I suppose "do you want a pepsi?" is probably universal if you just alternative pepsi for different drinks. I haven't heard "what a beard" yet here, but maybe I should grow a beard and find out :P

JG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JG said...

I had a beard for a while but sadly no girl ever approached me and said "what a beard"!!!

If one had I'd presume she was winding me up.

Looking forward to the rest of the chat-up lines. ;)

Touta said...

programer craig,
yes, the greek stereotypes is especially funny, they dont all have scary looking bumps on their abdomens that are 'muscles'.

i was throwing fits of rage over something else entirely. :)

hhhhhhhh, its my natural mean-ness shining through which is why i critic. :D thank you.

disturbed you say..wait until you hear the ones i have heard. :D

grow a beard and approach a gang of middle easterners. You'll either get snorts of disgust if they are cool, or smiles of admiration if they were raised in the middle east. :D

you've been living in the wrong place. :D hhh

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

I wasn't impressed with "300". Oh, the special effects were good, but it had a thin plot straight out of Hollywood.

Have you seen "3:10 to Yuma"? Great movie! Pure Hollywood too, but great nuances. And, of course, I like Russell Crowe. ;)

Hmmm...the line "Do you want a Pepsi?" sounds a lot like "Can I buy you a drink?" :D

JG said...

the line "Do you want a Pepsi?" sounds a lot like "Can I buy you a drink

Yes it does! :)

That is pretty much the standard line here. I have to admit I've uttered those words myself more than once. Very unoriginal of me!!

Touta said...

Lynnette & JG,
i'll try to watch 3.10 film, :)
and secondly, do you want a pepsi, is *completley* different to 'do you want a drink', mainly due to the way they offer it, accompanied by the social implications behind it. hehe. You'll just have to wait until either 13/14 frbuary for the chat up lines. You have to see how the current baghdadi adolescents socialise, because its too funny for words. :)

C.H. said...


So what is your status right now? How close are you to getting a flight back to Baghdad?

Hopefully one is coming soon for you :)

mhmd said...

yalla toto, post the chat up lines so i can start using them on you wilich.

Touta said...

stop using my url! and try to be more polite?

Anonymous said...

Xerxes is sexually frustrated? Never would have thought of that...

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I think more Westerners left 300 making gay jokes about Leonidas than Xeres in the first place, lol.

Touta said...


you are right lol, but i won't deny i silently inwardly groan at watching such films. Its too much to bear.