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.

Monday, 4 May 2009

No thanks.

As i sit here listening to 'zedene' by kathem el saher, i can't help but type to the beat as i sway my head.
Yes, the stress is clearly getting to me, as i get concerned looks by my head swaying. "Want to join the sufis Touta?".

Anyway, I shall share some occurences, that i wanted to type up, but just didnt have the time or ambition.

My relatives managed to gain a win, where i was concerned. At first I should explain, amongst iraqi families there is an ongoing battle to who can control, and decide the future of the children. Recently my father had to spend two hours arguing with his cousin, over why he didn't want me to get a tattoo (the tribal ones). This whole episode began when my grandmother (Allah yirhama) once asked my father why i had no tribal tattoos. I sat and listened to this surreal conversation (have you ever seen a 80 year old woman telling her granddaughter to get tattoos?), it went along the lines of my father telling my grandmother, that the tribal tattoos were outdated, old and had no place in modern society. Annoyed, she replied I could always get colourful, pretty tattoos like the american soldiers had. The conversation ended with, 'she's not old enough'. My grandmother made a snorting noise, and remarked that in the days gone by, girls my age would have been running a house.

Notice, that my opinion was not actually taken into account. Nice.
So, this argument was once again brought up, and it was funny watching my 'modern thinking' father trying to find any excuse to stop me from having circles and lines tattooed onto my ankles and back. One point was something about HIV, and i had to suffocate a laugh. Unreal.
After this conversation ended with silence, and tension, i think it was my dad's aunt, who then questioned why i didn't have my hair dyed blonde. This time it was my time to choke and throw any arguments.
Two hours later i am sitting freezing cold, while old women are putting a gooey substance on my head. Worry not though, it wasn't blonde hair dye. It was Henna. By some miracle, they managed to convince my parents to have henna put on my hair. And all my arguments, and objections were quietened with shouts of approval and 'its good for you'. I honestly felt like crying and/or screaming. 'Its only going to make it tinted red' whispered my sister, 'don't be such a baby'.
She wasn't the one who was going to end up looking like Bree from Deesperate Housewives.

I heard my mobile singing 'Ashgar bil Shama' in the distance.I relaxed slightly at the song.

Eight hours later, and three buckets of boiling hot water later, the women, as well as a small boy, were looking at the efforts of their work, unsatisfied. The Henna had doen nothing. Not even a red tinge. Nothing. This was pure henna, that could easily dye afros to flaming red (i've seen the proof). I couldn't help laughing with relief as well as bemusement. But to my relatives, this was a challenge.
The whole next day, was spent dyeing my hair twice with henna, and leaving it on overnight. By the end, they had dyed my hair three times with henna.
You can imagine their suprise, as they dried my hair, and it remained the black it had always been. I giggled, and unsteadily swayed (sleep deprivation).
They have their theories though, old wives tales cover every possible aspect of life. So once they decide I'm not the awar al dajjal, i'll get back to you on their predictions of my future.

And lastly, i am not sure whether to be offended, or shrug my shoulders and realise it was inevitable- the Pope will visit Palestine and Jordan, but has ignored Iraq. I never liked him anyway, (Pope John Paul II was undoubtedly better), and nor does most of the teachers and monks in the catholic school. As i recall, catholcism has had its fair share of 'things evil and inhuman' (iraqis have impossibly long memories). Remember St Batholomews massacre? Each religion has its problems, and dark patches. So there.

Now back to listening to why my hair didn't dye. An old woman coughs that at least the henna has made my hair healthy and shiny. Yes, so shiny that it now looks like a greasy wig.
Oh look, they're now using my hair as a mirror. Well, at least some good came out of it.