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.