Thursday, 22 July 2010


We pass Al K village, and we decide to stop there. I think I'm physically melting, and I have to peel myself from the car seat.The air conditioner whirs one last time, and I close the door half heartedly, I'm devoid of all energy. You'd think sitting in a car wouldn't sap so much energy, but somehow it has.

The sunlight is a bright white, amongst the browns and greys, and the area seems almost entirely populated by guys, apart from one small girl, playing amongst her brothers. The air is thickly scented with spices and aromas, indicating precisely where and what most of the women are doing.

That and at the heat of midday, most do the wise thing of staying indoors. Rather than what I do, which is trample around the dust. I see someone who resembles someone else. I wonder if they are somehow distant relatives. I pad along the hot floor, stupidly wondering if my shoes are going to melt and stick to the ground.

I almost get tangled into the barbed wire, that randomly lies scattered along the roads, and I look behind me, making sure I'm still in sight. I've reached my destination.
Its a shop that has brightly coloured things hanging everywhere. It almost looks like an eyesore amongst the rustic ruins of this place, though at the same time its pretty.
I want to buy everything in this colourful shop of things. There's nothing I need, or might ever need, but I'm grinning like a child in a toy store. Incidentally, it is a kind of toy store.
Outside are young boys sitting down, with the small girl running around them alone, they're joking and laughing, but quieten on my approach.
I smile, and some grin back at me, though a few refuse to meet my gaze, instead choosing to look into the distance, or onto the littered ground.

I stay standing there for a minute perhaps, trying to decide what to do. I walk into the shop, to be met by the cold breeze of a buzzing fan. Everything is so plastic and childish here, and coupled with the coldness of the shop, I stay statue still inside for a few minutes. The guy at the till stands, and after a while stares suspiciously at me.
I'm oblivious, and continue my staring.He raises his eyebrows at me, and asks if I want something. Instinctively I point at something, and he lazily gets it. I think he's clearly annoyed at me, though I'm not sure why. I pay for it and slowly make my exit. I reach the door, but then change my mind and walk back to the till. The guy is now amused, and asks 'ha?!' (what?). His angry reply, coupled with his bemused face cause me to reply meekly. He passes me the 7 ice creams, and asks me if i want anything else. I shake my head quickly, and rush out the door quickly.

The front of the shop is deceiving, my mind speaks annoyed. The young children at the front of the shop turn around to watch me leave. I stop near them and hand them an ice cream each. I notice one of the boys has one leg, where the other leg should have been, was a red sore stump. I keep an ice cream for myself, and begin to walk away.
"hey hey!" shout the children at me. I turn around.
" Come sit with us, if you walk in the sun, your ice cream will melt too quickly". I hesitate slightly, but they all shuffle and point at the sandy ground. One gets up coming to persuade me further.

I laugh and walk to them. We all sit in the shade, as they noisily eat.The little girl sits next to me, and she continuously leans towards me to stroke my arms, or my dress, with her sticky hands. I try my best not to laugh. She strokes my cheeks and that breaks my self control. I burst into laughter as some laugh along me for no reason, and others stare quietly.
Reluctantly, I get up. I smile at the children, and say goodbye, not before trying to learn all their names. They slowly wave me off.

I walk to the toilets, situated bizarrely at the front of the village.
The toilets are too horrendous for words, the stuff of nightmares.
Overcome with the overly sweet taste in my mouth, the image of the boy's missing leg, and the stench of the toilets, I promptly throw up.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Bad Boys- Whatcha gonna do.

I dislike walking alone here, because no one does. Everyone walks with friends, or families.
Its generally true of most of the middle east.

In front of me, I saw them slouching. Both looking lazily. My mind tutted. I crept up behind them, ready to cry out 'boo' or a variation of it. (And hopefully make them jump).
As I got closer to their dark silhouettes, I was grinning widely, ready for my mischievous deed.
Instead, they both turned round insanely quickly and shouted 'wah' at me. I jumped and almost fell backwards with surprise. They both doubled over with laughter at my disappointment and shock.
I sulked for a few seconds, and tried to nag them into telling me how they knew I was there. They eventually gave in, saying they had spotted me meters away, because of my 'crazy walking'. I looked blankly at him, as he explained I always walk like I'm lost, or in awe of everything around me.
I raise an eyebrow as they continued to laugh amongst each other.

My uncle and my brother have 3 years between them I think. Maybe less. They had told me to meet them in the centre, but both had neglected to tell me where. Or in fact when. The result was me walking around slowly, carefully peering into shops, and the alleys, that made up this old town.

After minutes of general joking and laughter, my uncle turns to my brother, and says 'green-3'.
My brother hesitatingly says 'no, 7 or 6'. I look between them both, confused. Their eyes are both looking somewhere else. I follow their gaze, and still don't understand. 'What?' I demand to know.
My uncle looks mischievously into the distance, and says quietly, that they're scoring girls. The colour, is the girls' clothes.
I turn to my brother, and he's looking at the floor, like a child that's been caught out.
They both look at each other, knowing what was coming next. I try to lecture them into the shallowness of what they're doing.
After my 10 minutes of campaigning, they resume their game quietly. I tell them they're very harsh judges, as the gang of girls that walk by earn 3's. 4's and some 6's. One earns a 7.

My brother tells me that I should see my uncle rating Iraqi girls. He gives them all 1's and 2's apparently. What ensues is a battle to convince my uncle that 'from east to west, Iraqi girls are best'. He's adamant into believing Iraqi girls are better looking than their other arab counterparts. My brother comments they're similar, but iraqi girls have a worse sense of fashion.
I argue and argue, as they both laugh, and tell me there's no need to take it personally. In revenge, I threaten to start judging the guys that walk by. This has no effect. I conclude my rant, by saying 'other guys are polite and chivalrous, whereas iraqi guys are not nice'.

They are both now laughing, and my brother comments slyly, that 'yes, but that's because girls like bad boys'.My uncle high fives him, and they continue laughing at my shock.
I patronisingly tell them, that since I'm the girl, I know what girls want, and its not a bad boy.
They blatantly ignore me.
We all walk a few steps, though I trail behind, plotting their downfall.

I decide to try a different approach, as we stop once more. I rationalise, that if they judge, then they will be judged.
And then I point out, that means I'm going to be judged too. And from fear of being judged, I'll end up developing some kind of psychological disorder. And then I'll end up over-dressing (or under dressing), in fear of people judging me. They look at each other quietly as i finish my enthusiastic rant.

My uncle points to the shadows. 'Go stand there', He orders. 'Why?' I ask curiously. My brother interrupts - 'because your face is scaring everyone away, we'd give you a bag or abbaya, but we don't have one'. They laugh, and I imitate their guffaws in annoyance, but end up laughing.
I stalk around the dark, trying to look menacing, as they cough with chuckles.