Saturday, October 09, 2010

Slob log 15081 - a boredom so spectacular

Remy used a couple of my old blog posts as regular feature in a literary magazine he published in Canada two years ago. A couple of nights ago, we met down in Hamra street and went to the bar on the other side of the hotel. Hamra street is a bit surreal, while Remy expressed his worries about the future near future of the country, the street was packed with students and young professionals out to fill the new bars and cafes that have cropped out of the dark alleys surrounding the street.

Baghdad's buzzing too. The streets are now full of traffic during the day and the night as well. The temperature still reaches 40 Celsius centigrade. Despite of everything, I can see with my own eyes that families are going out for dinners, a sign that sign that means to me that they're not as afraid to go out as before and that they want to and are enjoying their lives even if for the span of a meal in a nice restaurant.

Here in Bath however, it's cold. My mum decided to visit Baghdad just before I arrived here. It's surprising that this is the first time I have to take care of the house. I'm keeping up with the dishes, but still haven't figured out how to use the recycle bins. It's nice here, so peaceful. I'm hungry so I'm going to make myself something to eat.... I have no idea how long I'll be staying here but I'll be trying to make the most of it.

You might be wondering what's going on with some of the people that I've mentioned throughout my blog. Od's still in Baghdad waiting for his marriage immigration papers to finalize to move to America. Maz got engaged. K had a baby boy. Kiki's still stuck in Malaysia and India in Sweden. Sav along with his mates are opening a Turkish franchise ice-cream shop in Baghdad. Nahida and Fozzy have been taking care of the plantation ever since I left it.

This is my last post. It doesn't make sense for me to go on with it since I'm hoping to settle down outside Iraq for a while. I want to thank the people who enjoyed reading it and those who left comments (I tried making a list, but it was too long). You readers have been the best.

To everyone else that's reading this blog for the first time: I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

My Iraq Rant

I've got a big white board in my room. On it I write my to-do list. Right now it's got things like "Sell Car (pending Nahida's return from Shamiya)" and "Buy/Get a Padlock" (for my luggage). and then there's one that says "End Log" (which means: end this blog).

It feels as though the story of this blog is coming to a close. My life here in Iraq is nearly over. I've given up on this country. Never mind the security situation, the economic situation is in an even worse state and it's not just an infrastructure problem and I don't think society is inherently at fault either. The problems lay in the corrupt institutions of state, mostly because it's still trying to deliver a socialist system to the people in a free-market world, which ultimately puts everyone in a framework where in to get by you have to do a crooked job out of anything you want to do and honest work is unrewarded.

In Iraq, there are two sets of rules. The first set which are stated by the state and the second set which are the real rules that are formed as a result of the first set all of which involve stealing the rights of others, cheating, using bribes and incentives to deliver inferior products. For example, red tape is designed so that you have to personally visit as many civil servants that can block or delay your paperwork and pay them off in bribes and thus spreading the wealth.

Another abusive use of red-tape was described to me a few days ago by Sav. Him and his friends are opening a men's clothing store. They were hoping to open in time for Eid but another shop a few steps along the street had officials sent to him saying that the refurbishment license he had would not do and that he needed a construction license. Sav bribed the officials to go away, but then came some others and the shop was pad-locked for two months until they got the construction license. Now Sav and his friends are behind schedule and won't make it in time for Eid (the commercial equivalent of Christmas) to establish themselves in the market.

It haunts me that during last year's drought, I was growing water-intensive rice whilst people further south were dying of thirst. Not only that, but I sold the rice to the state at heavily subsidized prices. Those subsidies could of gone to much better use to feed the poorest people.

Things may turn around here. Maybe the spread of satellite TV and the internet may save the country through some kind of enlightenment. I'm not totally pessimistic about this country's future, but evil states have existed in the past and will continue to exist for a long time. Unluckily for Iraq, few lands are more fertile for corruption.

Iraq is an evil state, evil towards itself before all else. It's evil because it's incompetent.

On a more personal level, one of the big reasons I've given up on living in Iraq is that I've been here for eight years and haven't found a girl I truly like. I have however recently come to the realization that I'd obsess or preoccupy myself about a girl for a year and then after a year passes I would switch to another. There was that medicine girl that looked great in pictures but awful on the two or three occasions I saw her in person. Before her there was that girl at university who I met online and whose identity was a mystery until I caught her at university with a cold and got her to give me the clues to confirm who she was over the phone.

There was also another girl, that I don't think I ever mentioned in my blog. Her name's Soona, we've kept in touch for about four years now. Last night, she sneaked out of the house and I met her at her gate. I gave her a gift that I brought her from England and she gave me a kiss on the cheek. She looked good too, she had black straight hair and eyes wide open looking out for any people in the street. She was dressed in a hat may have been a black and white floral body-top (I don't know what they're called exactly) and jeans. Unfortunately she's not my type, she studies English and she keeps trying to get me to do her homework for her.

I think I have an idea of what kind of girl I should be looking out for now and I know for sure that I'm not going to find her in Iraq.

The power just went out again. Impressively, it stayed on for about two hours this time.

It's a bit sad knowing I'm going to end this blog.

The next post will be the last.

Monday, June 28, 2010

From Beirut

Od and I arrived in Beirut a few days ago and will be leaving back to Baghdad tomorrow. We've met up with some old friends and have had the best time we possibly could here. Right now, I'm sitting in the lobby waiting for the guys to come down for the hotel room so that we get ourselves on our way to spend a night in town. We've been going out to drink and eat, we've gone jet-skiing a few times times. It's been a great holiday. Here they are... I'm dreading going back to Baghdad.

[the latter was added on the 3rd of July from Baghdad]

Later that night, we went to a rooftop restaurant/bar above the Hard Rock Cafe. I keep forgetting the name. C-Lounge perhaps. Remy (who sometimes shows up in the comments sections) came and I was so glad to see to him that on the other end of the table, people were laughing at how they hadn't seen me so lively during the past few days as when I was talking to Remy. We had been friends in our days in AUB and we both dropped out from there. We've kept in touch on and off. It might have been nine years since we've seen each other. We reminisced about our days in AUB. Going through our morning routine which involved him being dropped early to university by his dad and handing me a manousheh through the little window by my bed to wake me up and open the door and then he'd open the drawer and start rolling up a joint and never making it to that first class.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Where To Go?

I spent last night in Falluja with Od at the hospital he's been working in this year. Falluja's not such a bad looking place as compared to other cities I've seen. At least they have famous kebab restaurants one of which I insisted we go to and where because some sheikh recognized one of Od's doctor friends, we had a free meal.

A few days after arriving in Baghdad, I'm finally spending a night at home. I had to stay at Od's because the electricity from the neighbourhood generator supplier wasn't working my little air-conditioner. It's been ages since I've had enough peace of mind to sit down to type. I've been high most of the time.

In England, I discovered that I could probably pull off a career as an accountant. I didn't apply for any jobs, not even temping. It didn't make sense to knowing that I was planning to come back here. Over there I decided that I've been missing out on too much and that life here in Iraq is a lot worse than I had realised.

Also, it turns out that one of my brother's son is somewhat autistic. One of my sister's sons is also autistic but in a bad way. Discussing it with my brother and his wife, it might be the case that my brother and I are a bit on the autistic spectrum too. It does help make sense of some things if it were true.

I still haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do as soon as I sell my car here. I do want to go back to England but the truth is that my brother's a bad influence on me, he smokes more than I do and when we're together it's all gets too much. Which for him is fine since he's content on tugging along doing the minimum in his life.

A couple days after I arrived here I got sent an application form through the Iraqi government's scholarship program office for a scholarship to do a master's degree in agri-economics or something like that paid for by the US government. I need to e-mail them about the conditions after completion of the degree.

A scholarship is a great opportunity to travel to America and get a master's degree, but why does it feel like fate keeps trying to drag me back to Shamiya or to Iraq. What am I to do with a degree in agri-economics. It might be expected that I become some kind of powerless government expert later down the line or maybe perhaps I'd get to work for a multi-national in which case that would be great.

If all works out I'm off to Lebanon with Od in a week to meet up with people from school. Finger's crossed on that. Od and I still haven't bought tickets. Power cut!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Before the Munchies

I haven't been making much sense of anything lately. My idea of cutting down on cigarettes has got me smoking other stuff. It's been five weeks since I've moved to my mum's place in Bath.

I was going to vote for the general elections here. I registered and got a polling card through the mail. Then on the day of the elections my brother kept me from voting as part of a prank. It didn't matter the guy I wasn't going to vote for won anyway, but not the case for my brother's wife who wanted to vote for another. I'll do it by mail next time.It's ridiculous the amount of mail people have to go through here. The Baghdad comparison is a bad joke.

I need to change my address, living with mum's unbearable in that it puts me in such a familiar comfort zone of childhood sloth and gluttony. I'm in bad shape. About two weeks after arriving here I started getting migraines and then they went away and got replaced with piles last week and that got better and then I got a cold which I'm now recovering from.

I'm stuck on the CV. Last week or the week before I went to see a career counselor about how to go about choosing and getting a job. She took a look at my CV and told me that I needed to fill in it with stuff about my personality, my skills and my tasks at the plantation. I'm struggling to get it done, I got myself involved in personality tests trying to make sense of my personality and potential skills. Finding equivalents of the tasks that I performed at the plantation is challenging.

I think the piles are back, and I'm a bit worried that it doesn't itch as much as it usually does. I hope it gets better on its own, because the chemist said to use the medicine for no more than a number of days. What number? How many days did I use it? I don't know!

It's time for some snacks... mum got back from the supermarket, so there are lots about the house now. Salt & Vinegar crisps. It's already time for dinner, I really ought to plan my meals better.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Doing This

I've been lazy. Very lazy. I've stuck myself into a comfort zone. I should be looking for a job. I will look for a job right after I finish fixing my CV like the career counselor suggested and check all the websites she told me to.

It's been a month that I'm here, so it is important I make some notes of how I'm doing. Piles, or the early signs of one at least. I noticed some pain yesterday and got mum to fetch me something from the pharmacy.

A doctor told me that the estrodiol thing was nonsense and that my issues are part of my personality. While going through sites looking for tips on how to pick a job, I found that I might just be an introvert.

Having piles is a sure sign that I'm eating too much and spending too much time being very stationary. I'm aware that I need to start moving now. Yesterday, I spent over an hour walking and today I did half an hour. It's too early for me to run at this stage.

The good thing about having piles is that I'm only doing number 2 once a day now as compared to five times a day for the past month. My butt deserves the break.

I'm smoking a lot of skunk. I've got three small different batches right now. Got to cut down on that. I'm getting slowly accustomed to not smoking cigarettes for several hours which for me is a new skill.

Last weekend, I went to London to visit my ex-neighbour. There he showed me why London is so much better than Bath. There's lots of fun people, lots of yummy food, a heavenly bidet and a nightclub you can smoke in.

Got to stop being lazy, I'm getting better, I did type this.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back in Bath

I've made it back to Bath. It's been four years since I've been here on a visit. Mum convinced me to come here after the new manager at the company I was hoping to work at decided to stop hiring new people. My dad's paying for my visit so that I get some therapy because I'm so angry around him.

The idea was that I go stay in my dad's apartment, but he's changed his mind about that and my brother's pointed out that it's too far from town anyway. My dad also suggested he give me a 150 pound allowance a week but that's dropped to 80 from which 30 will go to my mum for food.

It's my brother's birthday today, which makes my arrival good timing. We're probably going to go to a nightclub tonight. He loves the cheap thrill of rubbing against all the girls at the clubs. His two kids have grown up. The elder one's smart and not as materialistic as I remember him last. The younger one's still a little attention seeking devil but is smart and kind-hearted if he wasn't so naughty.

It's a shock being here, but so far everyone's treating me like a good old rural boy from some foreign land, which I guess is what I've become. As soon as we arrived mum wanted me to chat up a girl standing by us while we were waiting for my brother to pick us up. I don't know how to chat up girls. There might have been a time when I could do it without trying but I know I've totally lost whatever game I had ages ago.

I'm hoping to try to find a job here somehow, but as my brother explains to me, the prospects of getting anything other than manual labour are very slim. I'll just try doing as many different avenues as possible. Hopefully temping will work out for me somehow. I don't want to stay idle, so I'll try giving volunteer work a go too in the likely-hood that I won't get a job. Also having failed to fully integrate in Iraq, I want to prove to myself that I can do so here.

On the bright side, it's raining here and it's bleeding hot in Baghdad from what I hear.