Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Love to leave you baby

I sat on the table swinging my feet, which came nowhere near the ground, and I'm leaning forward, my neck bent down. I could feel my hands clutching the side of the table unnecessarily hard, and my hair falls around my face, plunging my eyes into darkness. I concentrate on the strands of my hair which occasionally move, everytime someone walks past. The surroundings blur.

"Hey wacky iraqi, you're late again!".

I've never been on time for anything in my life, and i mean that with utmost sincerity.

I hear a laugh, and realise that its mine.

I jump down from the chair, mentally cursing the fact that I’d worn heels in a vain bid to reach the unnatural heights of my English friends. Ouch i repeat for 10 minutes, although i cant keep a straight face as i complain.

After three hours of wistful wandering, we end up in the same place we started.

"Man i can eat a horse" comes the voice of guy 2. Rather untastefully, he put on a french accent while saying the sentence. Apparently a french social stereotype is that they eat horses. News to me.

We crowd round a white plastic table. There's around eight of us around a table for four. We spill onto the pavement.

"Thats it, Mcdonalds.".

I sigh inwardly. I still don't see the appeal of mcdonalds, apart from the brightly coloured toys.

The next two hours spent in Mcdonalds is officially one of the strangest times i have ever spent. The conversation revolved around how Mcflurries are in fact made of creamed lard and sugar.
As i walk down the stairs, i feel a flush of guilt at the mess left behind, although i actually made no mess, and spent 5 minutes convincing the group to bin their trash. No luck, it was left on the table.

"what do you think the cleaners are for? they should work for their money" someone joked.

The rest of the day passes like a dream, where i was there, but i felt as if i was a mere onlooker. Even the photos are hazed, and i look positively as if i'm in a far away place in my mind.

I was aware of a strong shower, where there was no time to seek shelter. I was aware seconds later the sun brightly shined, apologising for its absence, and warming our soaked selves.

I don't rememeber talking much. I often think so deep, i stun myself into dumb silence, and i cannot recall how many times i've been told this is 'unhealthy', but i really can't help myself.

"When you leaving then?".
I smile, and reply "soon".

Twenty minutes are spent with my group, recalling moments that they've shared with me. I'm silent. What am I supposed to say?

Sudden synchronised ringing of mobile phones begins. Our ringtones making a delicious harmony despite its extreme variety. The ringtones vary from my Nathem el Ghazali, to 50 Cent's Candy shop. The music rises up into the air, accompanied by a cold breeze. As I leave I get kissed and hugged by teary girls.
A few of the guys cough, and pat my back so hard i almost fall over.

I may never see any of them again.

Actually, I probably will never see any of them again.

A guy hugs me, and i'm in midway between shock and indignance, because well, I was caught off guard, and I have enough problems with Culture shock due to consistent travelling.
A photo is taken while my face is still in silent shock from said hug.

me:"errrr that was weird"
"T its not weird to miss your closest friends *cough* "

Iraqis always have to leave. I always have to leave.

Is it bad that when i walked away, I felt nothing. Just nothing as usual.


Dreamer said...

That sounds like a good gathering/end of exam celebration. (hope they went well). and what better place to do it other than mcdonald, lol!
Why do u say you will never see them again? you're here now, its not like you wont ever come back again, right?

geatg said...

great post..the problem I didn't understand why are you leaving them? and a guy hugs you? you shld've stabbed him :p :jk:

JG said...

So many times I thought I'd never see people again and it's uncanny how many times we ended up crossing paths again later in life.

I hate those occasions when you have to say goodbye. I always become withdrawn too and appear like I don't care even though I do. As for feeling nothing, sometimes you feel it more over the following days. Sounds like you were a bit spaced out on this occasion. Not that I'm suggesting you've got a drug habit!! ;) *cough*

Violet of Mosul said...

well, it has been along time since the last time I've been here , sweetie..
to leave them is difficult,,so difficult as i see .. i had Experienced it with my friends in high school ....
silence is what i used to do ... but now noway ... i'll say what ever i see is right and will never be silent to any thing wrong and wrongful any more.....
dear .... my toutie
please, relax ..... you have them and you will have them all your life as your friends... they will remember you always and i'm sure you 'll do so,too.
a guy hugged you?! amourich adla :D

stay safe and come back to iraq .. it misses you so much ;)

Khalid from iraqiblogupdates.blogspot.com/ said...


"Iraqis always have to leave. I always have to leave."

It's true and making me very sad.

touta,you are our little Ibn Batota ابن بطوطة
moving from a destination to another, thank you for taking time out to tell us about your feeling.

الله معك في الحل والترحال

May ALLLAH be with you in your travel and stay

Corey said...

Oh come on, McDonald's isn't all that bad! I have one in walking distance from my house :-)

We also have a Subway too!

Corey said...

BTW everyone, I changed the address to my blog once again :O

Its now...


(touta, feel free to delete this if you don't want your blog to be spammed)

programmer craig said...

Touta, you've got quite a talent for communicating in words! I almost felt like I was there, reading that. You should consider a career in writing, if you haven't already decided on something else :)

mhmd said...

this is the 1st time ive seen u beein serious-stress gettin 2 u? >:<

....thats not an insult right?

moonlight said...

What a post. I can relate with it quite a bit actually...

the heels well I gave them up a while ago :P they don't trick people to well and after days of wearing them they kill my feet (oh and I have the tendancy to fall in them :S). I've now taken up this attitude of "I'm proud to be short" and whenever I'm in between middle eastreners my ego is fed as I discover I'm normal if not taller than many :D.

Mcflurries are made of lard and sugar???? That ones definetly new or perhaps it's just a brtish rumour I've heard others and stopped going to McDonalds a while ago.

Oh my favorite: I've never been on time for anything in my life, and i mean that with utmost sincerity. hhhhhhh =D.

Take care and thanx for the update

Touta said...

it was actually a beginning of exams celebration.... :S
We're all going to go to different universities, and i'll probably travel to visit family in the shared holidays, but who knows. :)

i'm leaving them because i've finished school.
you were joking about the stabbing?! Now that just makes me feel guilty about the deep scratches across his face. :P

i do hope we all meet again, though i havent seen any of my primary school friends, and i'm kind of worried i wont see them again.
drug habit....of course not...*shifty eyes*. i think the whole lack of emotion is just a way that some people deal with it.

ahhh thanks. :) I'll be back very soon inshallah, and amouree adla?
La walla dacha. :))
Take care!!!

don't be sad, hopefully one day it will change, and iraqis will wake up to see the beautiful iraqi sky everyday.
hehehe, yes, i might be the little ibn batota then surely you are THE ibn batota, with all the places and people you have seen and discovered.
many thanks. :)

mcdonalds. :S
subway is cool though. It seems you have everything in walking distance! And its only spam if its tinned. :D

Programmer craig,
haha thanks, I'm honestly blushing. I wrote what i could remember to be honest. Writing eh? i wouldn't mind being an iraqi JK Rowling, but i'm not sure if i want to be gunned down by Moqtada's followers. :D

errrr? keep the compliments coming i suppose. :S
What are you all doing these days anyway?

"whenever I'm in between middle eastreners my ego is fed as I discover I'm normal if not taller than many ". I couldnt stop laughing at this! Its soo true.
Mcflurries aren't made of lard and sugar, it was an attempt by my friends to scare me, because i said the only good thing mcdonalds have is the mcflurry. :P
Best wishes.

Khalid from iraqiblogupdates.blogspot.com/ said...

Yes Touta, I share the same hopes with you about a a free, safe and prosperous Iraq.

As to Ibn Batota, you are right, we are a nation of Ibn Batotas.

Take care,

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Ahhh, the hug thing again. *sigh* Yes, I remember another Iraqi who had a problem with that. I'm sure you know that it was not meant as an offense, but a gesture of caring. Like anything, it's the intent behind the gesture that is important. No? :)

Touta said...

it seems the bad news never stops for us!!!
ammo baba allah yirhamah. :(

hehe, you made the mistake of hugging an iraqi? do tell us the story please. :D
I know its not offense, and i patted him on the back awkwardly, but i was just not used to it having spent recent times in a strongly segregated society.
I'm not scary honest...*opens arms wide for anyone who wishes to hug her*
See. ;)

JG said...

On the whole hugging thing, I remember in one of the universities in the West Bank a group of us were chatting to some of the students. When we were leaving one of the guys in our group shook hands with one of the female students (so far, so good) but then tried to kiss her on both cheeks! She looked shocked and slightly horrified. It was a very awkward moment as she wriggled away from him!

Of course he didn't mean any offence either but he should have known that it isn't the norm.

Khalid from iraqiblogupdates.blogspot.com/ said...

توتة سلام اني ما افتهمت زين وسؤالي هل انتقل احد اقربائك الى رحمة الله الواسعة

Touta said...

hehehe, its like watching middle eastern men trying to sloppy kiss english guys though here. They back away and are like 'woah', whereas its completely the norm in the middle east. :D

Ammo baba the iraqi football guy died today in Baghdad.

Khalid from iraqiblogupdates.blogspot.com/ said...


Thank you for remembering Ammo Baba the honest citizen and the great footballer Allah Yerhmah and it's sad to lose the best Iraqi football coach.

I'm not that good in reading Arabic in Latin letter so thank you for your explaining.

Back to the hug thing, the best solution is to keep a distant of at least one meter between yourself and any member of the risk group so you'll have the chance to be in control and move backward if required saying nicely sorry that's not our tradition.


Michomeme said...

Hello touta, I know long time no see but I even have nothing to write on my blog.
now you finished your exams? I hope you did well.
a guy hugged you? well, it will never happen for you if you are in Iraq :)
don't be sad because you are leaving your friends, I know it is hard to leave a friend but thank God who gave you the chance to meet them someday.
be carefull of other guys hehehe

Melantrys said...

*hugs you too*

Actually, I'm rather sure Lynnette was referring to another hug she only read about in a blog....


Oh, it was mine, wasn't it?


Oh, I shall cherish that moment forever, Blogger Formerly Known as the Kid. :P


Touta said...

thanks for the advice, and it is sad news. he refused to leave baghdad, which meant all his family are abroad and he died without them.

unfortunatly i have begun my exams, not finished them. :(
i hope you post some more, the most boring things that happen to iraqis are in fact the most interesting.
hehehe, i know it would never happen in iraq which was why i was so shocked! :)
best wishes.

*hugs many times back*
you meant well, although i think you should have pretended to be really insulted. :P
the kid=abbas hawazin?
maybe we should make a Hug Haters Help group.... :))

Lynnette In Minnesota said...


Yup, Mel's right. That was the hug I was talking about. :) Although that's not to say I wouldn't be happy to hug an Iraqi (guy or girl) that I like.

*hugs Touta*

Oh, I don't think Abbas hates hugging. And certainly not from a girl he likes. :)

Not at all. :D

Like you he was just a little surprised. I think if he could, he would have replayed that scene a little differently. ;)

Hmmm...maybe that's what Iraq needs right about now. A little group hugging. :D

Dreamer said...

Oh, the start! im clearly out of the loop! well, good luck then :)

Touta said...

"And certainly not from a girl he likes."
*nudges melantrys*
I wouldn't relive the moment if i could, not even if someone payed me.
I giggled nervously and patted.
The nervous giggling made said hugger say: "err, you can cry or something if you want.."
to which i replied "no thanks" and backed away still giggling.
Group hugging in Iraq?

i'm going to need it, hope all is going well with parent visit. At least you can now depend on them entirely, like days gone by. :D

David said...

So Touta, you are in England right now? For some reason I thought you were in Baghdad.

I recently learned that trash cans in England are called bins. I was watching an episode of the BBC show Lovejoy. One of the characters was bin diving, or trying to find valuable objects in people's trash bins. The professional bin men got mad at him for trying to steal their treasures, so they emptied lots of nasty trash onto the bin diver's motorcycle and into his side car. :D

I guess that Iraqi culture is very different from American culture with respect to male/female contact. I have been hugging girls and women since I was a small child. It seems quite natural to me. I would imagine that English people are pretty much the same as Americans with regard to hugging. Its just something friends do. Males hugging other males is not so common, unless they are closely related or very good friends. But, males hugging females and females hugging each other is quite common.

So, are you really good friends with any of your Mickie D's octuplet? If so, you can always keep in touch by writing letters or through the internet.

programmer craig said...

Wow, I didn't know hugging was such a weird thing! I'm glad I read this, it may save me some embarrassment someday :)

nadia said...

its like watching middle eastern men trying to sloppy kiss english guys though here. ahaha i forgot about that, it's the best. i don't get hugging, my friends from high school would hug everytime they see each other, it's not offensive but i just don't see the need.

programmer craig said...

Yeah, in America its guys who never show eachother affection, unless they are family or really close friends. And even then it can be awkward. But guys and girls hug all the time, no big deal. Strange, how customs can vary so much.

JG said...

@ Craig

it may save me some embarrassment someday :)


Indeed! I was warned before I went to the Middle East that even shaking hands with women can be a no-no so I refrained from any contact whatsoever, which was weird because if you like someone (platonically or otherwise) you want to hug them or kiss them on the cheek or whatever. It just seems like the natural thing to do.

One thing I noticed though was that many old women shook my hand firmly, while younger girls kept their distance.


its like watching middle eastern men trying to sloppy kiss english guys though here. They back away and are like 'woah'--

LOL! When I was 18 I worked in France for a summer. The guy I lived with was French-Moroccan and he gave me big smacker on each cheek the first evening we met. I was absolutely dumbfounded! ;)

Touta said...

i'm counting the days until i go back. :)
As for england, i can honestly say i have never seen two guys hug each other over there in public. Even when people leave, they just pat each other, which i found weird. :)

programmer craig,
where's the fun of life without embarassment... ;) Guys always start of kissing and hugging each other, as do women. Everytime i go to someone elses house, or even see an iraqi we know on the street, i have to kiss them at least 3 times. :S

thats nothing, one day while walking down a high street in Baghdad, i ended up kissing around 4 women at least twice on each cheek, just because they knew my mum or something. :|

hahaha, yes guys kiss barely knowing each other, but the same happens between girls as well.
As for the younger age girls being more embarrassed, well they're not married like the older women.... ;)

nadia said...

I have experienced that too(but not more than three kisses.) At least wait till the second time we've met people!

Anand said...

Iraqi kids must go crazy with all the Ammus and aunties kissing them. Poor kids ;-)

Anonymous said...


Can you explain what you mean by tribal tatooes? I've never come across this as part of Iraqi culture. How common is it? What regions of Iraq have them (do you know?) Is it a generational difference - that is, is it more common for your parents or grandparents to have these tattoes or for young adults and teenagers?

Please help me understand this better. Thanks!

Anonymous said...


I have a general question for you about your observations on superstitions and culture in Diyala. You had mentioned in one blog there is a difference between Diyala and Baghdad in how things are run. What are traditional superstitions and beliefs in Diyala? Also, do you think in Diyala there are unique cultural aspects that you won't find in other parts of Iraq? Is this just because the population is mostly agrarian? Or do you think it has to do with the history of Diyala? Who could I write to who might know more about this?


attawie said...

Dear Touta,
our little bint Battouta :D

Had the same scene several times in my life. I can relate to it and know exactly why you're so serious in your post :)

We, Iraqis, always have to leave but hopefully we'll settle down someday on our land and when we have to leave it's going to be for vacations or going for an adventure in other countries.

oh and after walking away, the void is just senseless. The goodbye words numb our feeling and it will hit us later. So be prepared dear :)

Touta said...

its not really a decision i make, the conversation is this is so and so's daughter, then i get hijacked by kisses. :D

people have to make up for the unsavoury childhood of most iraqi children. :) I think they might prefer presents to hugs though... :P

Anonymous 1,
Tribal tattoos in Iraq consist usually of the older generation..i.e grandparents and parents generation in rural areas. They aren't common in Baghdad or Al-Anbar or the North, but they are common in the outskirts of Baghdad and in Diyala. These are the only places i've seen in Iraq, so i can't comment on the other states.There is a relatively new trend for fashionable tattoos, not tribal ones amongst the boys around 20+, because so many guys that age were killed, and these modern tattoos help body identification-although in my experience this is a lot rarer than tribal tattoos.
I should also mention that these tribal tattoos i have seen have been on women only. :)

Anonymous 2,
Diyala does have a more rural landscape, resulting in villages rather than large residential areas like Baghdad. Naturally this village set out conserves traditions etc. However not all of Diyala is traditional- In New Baquba, its very modern and would not be out of place as a suburb in Baghdad. Superstitions in Diyala is more than those of Baghdadiy people, even my non religious relatives there, believe heavily in superstitions and luck etc.Such as the 'evil eye' and harmal, although this is not reserved only in Diyala, but exists everywhere in Iraq. There are a few special customs that i've seen my relatives carry out, which exist in other states with slight variations. As for the history of Diyala, that requires a whole essay. I'm not sure who you can contact, but if you have any specific questions, i'll answer them if i know, or ask my diyalan relatives. :)

:) same scene....which one are you refferring to atta.... ;)
Inshallah we will be able to live happily in Iraq one day, and true, it is an adventure, and in a way we are all quite lucky to have lived in so many places.
The void is senseless? Yes Jedi Master... O_o.
Thanks. :)

David said...

Looking at your post again makes me think of McDonalds. When I was growing up, I didn't like McDonalds very much. I liked plain hamburgers with only meat in a bun, but McDonalds doesn't know how to make a plain hamburger! One time, I waited 20 minutes for McDonald's staff to learn how to make a plain hamburger! I suspect they had to consult the McDonalds procedural manual. ;)

Some good things about McDonalds are their French fries and their hot apple pie. They make a pretty good sausage biscuit too. :)

زهرة الراوي said...

الغربة تعني عدم الاستقرار .. عدم الراحة والأمان ..
لكن غربة وترحال أمر جداً صعب الله يساعدج عليه ..

أكو ناس فلسفتهم بالحياة أنهم ما يبقون بمكان واحد وقت كثير حتة لا يتعلقون بيه، وبالتالي ميصعب عليهم الفراق!

أتمنى أن تجدي مستقرك في مكان سعيد آمن (إن شاء الله يكون العراق) ويكون كل أهلك وأحبابك حولك

تحياتي لك يا أمورة

Abbas Hawazin عباس هوازن said...

This one was breathtaking toutati. the apologizing Sun and the ever-leaving Iraqis. Why don't you become a writer? it's a waste walla

Anonymous said...

!!!دلع عيني دلع
توتة (تبارك؟) عتبريهة إنذار

Corey said...

Hey Touta,

How are you doing? I'm guessing you're still busy...I've been busy myself, getting ready for my trip and all :-)

You must be exhausted from all the exams. My brother and sister just finished their exams...and they are looking forward to the Summer.

I just got back from a trip to Monterey, which is a couple hours south of San Franicsco. Its on the ocean, and I got to go swimming in the chilly water.

Touta said...

mcdonalds=tasteless. I'm sticking to my opinion. :D

والله صح بس شن سوي ، اشو مصيري مثل كل عراقي ، بس الحمدلله . يلا همينة زين انشوف العالم

breath taking hmmm? Yup, sounds like me ;P
a writer?
متوكل خبز عبوسي

حرام إذا إفتهمات شي . إنت نفس الأننيموس؟

i've got two more weeks of exams. :S
glad to hear you've already started your summer, i do miss the sun. A lot. :)

Khalid from iraqiblogupdates.blogspot.com/ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Khalid from iraqiblogupdates.blogspot.com/ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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