Friday, May 20, 2011

My Journey to the Land Where East Meets West

"Why on earth do all the girls look so freaking good? Why are they all so tall an my god their skin  it's painful how pretty everyone is" This is what went through my mind walking down the wonderfully lit Istiqlal street and I remembered that bit from (Bridget Jones Diary) when her friends tell her that they saw her boyfriend with this girl who's legs were up to her neck and she goes "but my legs are only up to here"(pointing to her hips) Yes Turkish girls have legs up to their necks and it's annoying, a few days ago I was in Istanbul for a meeting and I must admit that it was a very strange trip I will tell you how it started, the plane takes off and I'm close to freaking out worried about my meeting and how there's a huge chance that I would fluck it and in comes the food cart with lunch, we all hate airplanes food but I was really hungry so I decided to go for it, next to me was a college and since I was traveling with 4 elder men they all decided to become my personal body guards for the next couple of days and I was not to move or do anything without one of them beside me watching my back, so my college, trying to be nice asked if I wanted salt to be added to my food and I said no and he said no I tasted it and it's really bad and he reaches for his salt bag thingy and sprinkles salt all over my food I thank him and dig in and guess what? It was sugar! That was enough to ruin my appetite. I sat in silence looking at the clouds and before I knew it we were landing that was when I realized that we were flying with the absolute worst pilot on the planet, I swear for a second there I thought we crashed, the impact was so hard that I banged my head against the chair in front of me and it was painful and the funny part was all the Turks on the plane started clapping, I swear I'm not making this up and I remembered this article I once read about flying etiquette and how you should thank the pilot for the smooth landing and I was hoping that the pilot won't be standing there at the exit because that would be really awkward.

Walking out of the terminal trying to find my way through the crowd, out of the gate and this flash hits my eyes and I was trying to cover the light to see what’s going on and there was a woman with a microphone and people shouting viva something, I moved right and left quickly to find myself walking with a sports team, a winning one apparently because they all had gold medals and flowers, and what seems to be their moms and relatives kissing them and shouting viva, yep I appeared on Turkish TV as the idiot who doesn’t know what was going on lol.

Ali didn't come with me and Istanbul was one of the cities that I wish to explore with him so I spent the majority of my free time which was very little sitting at the Cafe outside the hotel watching my manager playing backgammon, I was amazed by the number of people walking on the streets and I really liked how fast life pace is there, it seems everyone was late for something in fact once I thought one girl was stalking me and I started walking faster and faster then I almost started runing and she passes me and walks into the same hotel I'm staying at and she gives me this look which was something like "What’s wrong with you woman" !!

I had Pringles from the mini bar and the hotel didn't charge me for it, they asked if I had anything from the mini bar and I said no! That doesn't count as stealing, does it? lol. I lost my group at the airport and my phone did not work and I broadcasted a message on face book asking for help and logged out almost immediately after, I was stopped at the passport stamping both in Erbil because they thought my passport was forged! Now I'm back home and I'm so glad I'm back, I did not enjoy Turkey but I loved the atmosphere and as you can see it was a trip full of rather funny encounters, beautiful shoes, angry yelling taxi drivers and lots and lots of delicious food.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

You can call me retro, but this is how I see things

Location: Iraq
Unless you've been living under a rock or you're blessed to be living in a house with no teenagers or females you must know who Kivanch Tatlitu is, but if you don't allow me to do the honors. Kivanch is a Turkish model - actor who managed to get all teenage and many adult females to fall in love with him, back at the day when we only had two TV channels we would all sit anxiously at 6 or 7 waiting for the dubbed Mexican soap opera to start and everyone was in love Alfredo, Fernando, Alhandro or whoever the star of the series was at the time. People would be so into those shows that some of them thought they were real actually I know a woman who actually promised that she would give away food if Alfredo and Guadalupe ended up together!!

Nowadays it's Turkish mania time, prime time TV is when a Turkish show is on, now those series are dubbed in Arabic, Syrian accent to be more specific and people may not realize this but when someone on TV is talking your language they have more effect than if they were talking their original dialect, this is a serious issue that our society is facing and no one is paying attention, to have teenage girls watching those things and shifting the sense of right and wrong in their heads is one thing but to have 6 year olds watch them religiously and follow all the events and know the actors is another. I was first shocked when Ali's 5 year old cousin asked me who did I like the most Muhannad (Kivanch) or The lead actor of another series şöhret which is Fame in Turkish, this was while the show was on TV and she asked how come this girl is with this guy when she was dating some other guy and asked me if I knew that her husband still loves her but he's an idiot!! this is a FIVE year old talking I was in complete shock, some people might find it cute but I found it wrong on every single level, I mean when I was her age all I ever watched was cartoons and I still remember one night it was the premier for Odessa’s the movie and I cried for two hours just so my dad would let me watch it, now kids have at least 6 all animation channels yet they are watching Turkish series. Is something wrong with this image or is it just me?

Yesterday a coworker asked me if I'm watching Muhanned's series I smirked and said no but I'm being forced to watch it since Ali's sister is staying with us and is a huge fan and I have to watch while having dinner every single night, and we started discussing the show, she thought it was amazing and the story was so touching!! the show's plot is that this young girl's dad dies and she meets an older man in a the cemetery and they get married then she starts having an affair with his NEPHEW who he basically raised as his own sun and then the nephew decides to end things since he doesn’t want his uncle to find out and get hurt and proposes to his cousin (the same uncle's daughter) and at the very end the lead actress shoots herself since she just couldn't take it anymore! I personally believe that what she did is completely wrong on all levels and in every culture and religion but surprisingly everyone else feels sorry for her! I was really surprised when my coworker was talking so passionately about the lead actress and how unlucky she was and how he deceived her!! (Seriously?) This is a married woman having an affair with her husband’s nephew! This phenomenon is affecting every single house and people are not realizing how bad it is, our moral compass is shifting and the sense of right and wrong has become too vivid to be true.

I must say that, out of fairness, Kivanch was actually voted best actor and was named Brad Pitt of the middle-east and he says about his character in Gumus (Noor) and I quote :"Mehmet is blond and has blue eyes, yet I am a Muslim and we have a culture which is very close to that of the Middle East,“. Really I thought it was his amazing acting and the marvelous plot!

Last night was the final episode and I, out of curiosity, watched it, the lead actor the I-Love-my-husband-yet-I’m-cheating-on-him-with-his nephew lady killed herself at the end and guesses what she was Muslim!! That was a shock!! with that being said I can say that I'm so proud of myself for not contaminating whatever space I have left in my brain with this silliness and I fear for the future of my future children, God knows what will be in by the time they are teenagers! But I think we should do what my brother and his wife did with their kids and that is watch nothing but cartons all day long and become huge fans of Sponge Bob lol.

To conclude this rather long and most likely boring blog of mine, this actually is all a plan of making Islam look more appealing to the western society and minds and what is a better way to do this than showing a bunch of people cheating, drinking and partying hard and doing absolutely nothing but wasting their time all day long, kill them at the end of the show and bury them with a Soora from Quran on their coffins? After all Hilary Clinton did say, while visiting Ankara "democracy and modernity and Islam can all coexist “!! 

Bir güzel gün var... 

It's GOD's plan

"Okay son it's up to you and I think you make the right decision, you have faced tough situation"
With his full of sympathy eyes , the head of the computer engineering department, where I was studying, said these words to me just before signing my request to postponed my academic year. I left his room and am telling myself how it'll be right decision to leave the college maybe for the last time since my family was planning to send me over to Egypt, and how it shall be better and am losing a whole year of my life, everybody I met in the last 10 days was saying the famous Iraqi proverb which means something like that the God gave you new bread in this world and bread means life here. Maybe you are wondering why are they saying that??
Let’s go back ten days through the time and exactly to Tuesday the 21st of February 2006 sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. I was walking with fast steps through the dark street somewhere unknown to me in Baghdad without my glasses so I was a semi-blind and with a confused mind. I was thinking about his words to me "jump and walk directly, don't turn your face or we'll shot you down". I was breathing hardly and taking as much fresh air as I can and telling myself "don't turn your face don't just don't, I’m free, I’m free", I tried to collect my thoughts and my mind just like collecting the remains of a smashed painting and it was hard but I finally did it and opened my eyes I have walked for 5 minutes and they are far by now and also it looks like am going nowhere since it was very dark and the way in front of me was blocked so I turned back and I saw nothing just far cars' lights and what looks like a highway so I started to walk faster in the opposite direction till I reached the highway and stopped a taxi to my home, all the way to home the taxi driver was giving me weird looks since my beard get a one side shaving and I was looking just like mentally retarded person. 15 minutes later I was at home with my family again they were crying and shouting, everybody was hugging me and kissing me all the family, relatives and neighbors, at this moment my mind has restored, after 43 day of kidnapping by a gang, I am free.
I have spent the few next hours talking with my family about what happened to me there, and I admit that they were in worse condition than me, after that I took a two hours bath to wash every thing even the bad memories.
Only 12 hours after my freedom the worst happened, at Wednesday the 22nd of February 2006 unknown armed insurgents bombed the holy shrine of Shiites in Samara which was the green light to begin the worst times that Iraqis went through. But for me the next ten days were about proving that I'm in good and healthy mental abilities to my friends who thought if I would come back then I'd be crazy or damaged, lol, and mainly it was about thinking what to do next. I had two options of either resume my study and my normal life or postponed everything and leave Iraq.
"My son Ali I'm afraid that something wrong happens to you again, you can't stay in one place for long time to be safe so stay away for some time, and don't worry about your future and about what will happen, because God has his plans for you"
It was My grandfather's words this man was my Godfather the man who raised me and taught me everything I know about life, so it was the final decision to postponed and leave everything behind me and go toward unknown. I did the paper work and I deleted a whole year from my life in no time, but the travel procedure takes longer than expected, and day after day I was blaming myself more and more for leaving the university till that Monday's early morning at the 12th of May 2006. I was staring at the cell, the walls, the doors and the furniture of my home that I'm leaving for the first time without knowing if I'll ever come back again, I walked through our big garden and all the way I was thinking if it's right what I'm doing. My older uncle, his son and also all the luggage were in the car that would take us to Jordan I saw it outside our main door and I said to myself OK God's plan is not clear for me and I am not sure if it even exists then I said goodbye to my mother and closed the door.
Now it's the 6th of May 2011, two days ago I went off the taxi and opened the house door "Okay my love go ahead", she went inside and as she does every day "Salam alaikum" and I laughed again "Ok you're not going to skip it for even one day, saying hello to an empty house??!!", she replied "No, my Mom told me to do that, saying hello to the house's angels", I laughed each time she does it, but deep inside I was thinking this is so cute. She was warming launch and I was standing next to her, I have returned to Iraq 4 years ago, I resumed my academic study at the same university and two years ago it was my graduation, and now I am opening my house door, my own house and having the best woman that any man on earth wishes to have, having a good job and every body who knows me call me a successful man. five years ago I closed my family house's door and I was wondering what my grandfather (may God be merciful with his soul) meant by God has his own plans for you, but now I am opening my own door and I know that I have got all what I dreamed to have and much more with much easier ways these are God's ways and this is it "it's God's plans for me", so I love to think that God has his own plan for Iraq and everybody.

R.I.P my grandfather

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dear Me, Apologies!

Location: Iraq
Two days ago my dad gave a recipe for a cake he found on some Royal Wedding related website and asked me to make foe his birthday which is not happening for another three weeks, I thought since it's my one year engagement anniversary ,and yes I do celebrate everything in my life, and the cake was intended for the Royal wedding why not make it now instead. it's a very simple recipe I mixed the ingredients while watching Catherine and her gorgeously elegant dress walk down the aisle, that Cathedral was so beautiful and the choir sounded perfect I swear my eyes teared for a second, Now back to my cake, the one dad gave me had the British flag on it and I thought I should make one with the Iraqi flag instead, Whipped cream for the white and red and Coco powder for the black and Gelatos for the green. here’s a picture from the recipe :

And here's the one I made:

Cute isn't it? after finishing the thing and being so proud about it, baba comes to the kitchenand says: "Why did you make it with the Iraqi flag? I don't like it" and Ali goes : "This flag is Saddami"!!! talk about ungrateful, I thought that the Saddami flag had the takbir on it, I thought the stars represented the Iraq, Syria and Egypt Unity thing, but I never really thought about the reason why the stars stayed after the unity thing ended it turned out (Thank you Wikipedia people) that the stars represent the Baath Party moto: Unity Freedom and Socialism!!
Allow me to talk about the Moto:
Unity?! Yes we were united, there were two types of people you're either with the party or your against it and you forced to join it so yes we were united, we all faught for the noble cause of Arabs Nationalism!

Freedom: Like the French say, mais bien sure, of course we were free. Till this day I still remember that whenever we drive by one the presidential palaces everyone would look straight ahead and we would automatically stop talking, as if they can hear us! by the way I still think they could hear us, with that being said we can all say we obviously enjoyed freedom of speech. My dad one of the greatest minds this country has given birth to, 35 years of experience in his field and he had no right to buy a house in Baghdad until 2003! Since he was not born in Baghdad he had no right to buy a property in Baghdad, but all foreigners could easily buy any kind of property in Iraq!

Socialism: Now this is the best one, usually it goes like this you work hard you get rewarded right? back then it was you work hard you get nothing, the average Iraqi employee's salary was 1 Dollar! While the royal family had gigantic houses and tons and tons of money that they didn't know what to do with. So yes I guess we were all equals.

The reason Why I'm writing this is two days ago it would have been Saddam Hussein’s Birthday and although this person is proven to be make the devil himself be ashamed of how silly his actions are compared to Saddam's, there are people who still praise him and whatever it is that him and his people stood for and some of those people are people I know and are close to being friends of mine and I find it surprising how someone can insult all the widows and the orphans and every single person who lost someone they loved because one mentally disturbed person had an impulse and decided to kill them!

Regardless how rough things have been for the last eight years and whether you’re the kind of person that blames Almaliky or Saddam for ruining your favorite jeans walking in the rain I believe that we should all respect the fact that we owe it to ourselves not to go with the flow and not to believe whatever we hear, I admit that when it comes to politics I'm completely clueless and I choose not participate in the political arguments unlike every single person in my family, they all know their history and they all know exactly who is it they're voting for in the next elections and when someone lashes someone they support man IT'S ON I tend to wonder off and think about something else when those conversations start, but I believe that Almaliky is not as bad as people make him seem and that the man is trying, not as hard as he should, but he is trying and I know for a fact that no matter who ends up being the prime minister Iraqi people will always be angry and won't be content with that person's actions. I also know that Saddam Hussein is one of the worst persons ever lived on this planet and no one should ever praise him and we should turn the page and move on and hope for a better future which kind of looks vivid at the moment but possible to a certain extent.

With that being said, I want to apologize to myself for leading me on to a wrong path, for being one of the helpless people back at the days, although I have only been to one manifestation in my whole life and I actually went because my school made us, but I did go to many events and that makes me a part of the cheering community and I never regretted doing those things until two days ago, that cake is not only delicious it's also inspiring lol.

Bottom line is I think people should show some respect to all those affected by Saddam's actions, and we all know atleast one family who did, the whole birthday celebration things are not only pointless they're  insulting to some people and  I also believe that we should go to my parents house tonight and have some cake since I left it in my mom's fridge lol.