Thursday, May 05, 2005

Call me Sloth

At no point in my life so far have I been so unproductive and aware of it.

The past couple of days Kiki has been over to watch Liverpool and Milan reach the final of the Uefa Cup. Both of them were exciting games, but I wouldn't of watched them had Kiki not been here. We also watched a bunch of DVDs. Most of all though I've been playing Mario 64 on his Nintendo DS. During the past 3 days I've colleted 75 stars and I've got 25 from previous football games.

In regards to how unproductive I am, I'm not referring to the past couple of days but the past couple of months.

The car is still in repairs. How long has it been? It's moments like these I find this blog useful. After I'm done writing this post I could check my archives and see how long the car has been broken down.

Nahida's improved her kebab recipe. Finally they're starting to taste more like the way they should taste.

The other day at a fast food restaurant I bumped into a classmate from the uni that i attended last year. He tells me that half of the students weren't attending this year and that two of the students either got kidnapped or received threats of kidnapping (I was too hungry to pay attention).

If I wasn't such a lazy person, there's a moderate chance that I would've been dead or kidnapped by now. But that doesn't justify being lazy.

I'm so brain dead these days that I've accumulated hours and hours of staring at the google search page or an empty desktop. I'm beginning to think that maybe if I stare at the tv turned off it would provide me with the same amount of entertainement. But seeing the colours on the tellie change is still more entertaining than my reflection on a black screen.

My dad's in the UK now, and I spoke to him on the phone the other day and he confirmed to me that he's decided to move permanently back to London. My mum and bro along with his family are in Bath and my sis is somewhere in the UK. So why the hell am I in Iraq?! People have often asked me that question but now that my dad has moved to the UK, the question of why I'm here is burning my butt-hole more than ever.

I didn't directly ask the question to my dad but he pointed out that I should be learning how to run the farm. Living in Baghdad wears any person down, my farm has the same effect but to a much higher degree. So far all I've done in regards of the farm is type in the expenses of the past 3 months. I still haven't figured how much profit was made last year, because Fozzy hasn't been around and shown me the books.

One problem is that if I don't learn how to run the farm now I'll never learn simply because there'll be no one to show me the ropes apart from Fozzy who's a really old dude who I can't count on being around much longer.

Maybe I should take the initiatve and go back to the UK and get any job possible. I should be able to find some kind of solution there.

For a long while now, I've been thinking about my dual national-identitiy. For years I've considered myself an Iraqi. But that wasn't until I moved here when I was 12. Until the age of 12 I thought of myself as British and eversince I've always said that I'm Iraqi unless in situations I have to present the red passport. And I miss feeling British, there's so much less to get depressed about.

I think I would've still called myself British in the UK if I had a British accent but I lost it in Lebanon. Now when I go to the UK people take guesses of where I got my accent from. I realised that I lost my accent when I went to uni in Lebanon along with whatever intelligence that I was once admired for. But I didn't realise that I had acquired a new accent until someone during my last visit to Lebanon said that I had a Lebanese accent when I talk english.

Wouldn't it be simpler if I called myself a British Iraqi. Yeah, I like that.


dancewater said...

good luck with whatever you do

Anonymous said...

Shags, we miss you and -- okay -- worry a little bit when you don't post.

But, it's also understandable when you don't post.

Know what I mean?

You're a good kid. You're still so young.

Please take care. I hope you find something you enjoy doing -- and maybe even get paid to do it!

We wish you every happiness wherever you are and whatever you do.

All the best,
Tilli (Mojave Desert)

Anonymous said...

A reason to fix the car?

-- Tilli,0,5966485.story?coll=la-home-headlines

From Sorrow to 60 in 5.8 Seconds
By Ashraf Khalil
LATimes Staff Writer
May 7, 2005

BAGHDAD — Screeching tires are about the last thing you want to hear these days in Iraq. Too often they signal a car bomber zeroing in on his target, or wary drivers fleeing from danger.

But for the 200 or so young men who gathered Friday to watch drag races in the park next to Baghdad University, the squeal and smell of burning rubber were symbols of their country's new freedom — and a relief from the day-to-day violence.

Plus, it's really cool to drive fast.

"I love this!" yelled Hussein Matrout, moments after botching the slalom course.

The 21-year-old mechanic had lost control of his souped-up BMW and spun out, winging a couple of tire barriers. Rather than rush through the rest of the slalom, he turned a couple of skidding doughnuts before cruising to the finish line amid the jeers of spectators urging Matrout, "Get out and never race again!"

Between races, young men gathered in chattering groups, popping hoods and comparing rides. Custom paint jobs, wraparound shades and gelled hair gleamed in the spring sun, and muscle shirts bulged.

Mohammed Ibrahim, 28, a Jordanian-born mechanic, was dressed like a rock star: black on black on black, multiple silver rings and a mullet hairdo. Of his four cars — "all American," he boasted — his pride and joy was a white Camaro with racing stripes and skull decals.

For these gearheads, the races at Jadriya Park every Friday — the Muslim holy day and most everybody's day off here — satisfy a long obsession with all things automotive. It wasn't until Saddam Hussein was ousted by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that their passions could pick up speed.

Years of United Nations sanctions and a near-monopoly on the imported-car market by cronies of Hussein's son Uday greatly limited the number of vehicles coming into Iraq. Small groups of aficionados tinkered in semi-secret garages and indulged their racing addictions in abandoned industrial areas.

Uday and his inner circle were themselves car fanatics, cruising around the upper-class Mansour district of Baghdad in their Porsches, Lamborghinis and Camaros. Uday was notorious for confiscating anyone else's car he liked — especially Corvettes.

"Everybody was afraid for his car," said Yasser, an army sergeant who requested that his last name not be used. "If Uday found it, he would take it for himself."

But Hussein's fall brought a new era. With no real border restrictions or customs, and no Hussein-family mafia controlling the market, cars and parts flooded into the country.

In early 2004, the Iraqi Autosports Club was formed and the group began searching for a suitable track.

Street racing is not an option in Baghdad, with its constant traffic jams and its roadblocks and barriers to slow down car bombers. The city's well-armed police, army and U.S. checkpoints mean any potential speed demon is taking his life in his hands.

Matrout proudly recounted what happened when he was caught peeling rubber on a Baghdad street last month.

"The police thought I was a car bomber," he said. "They were so mad at me for scaring them that they threw me in jail for two days."

The car club finally secured a home at Jadriya Park several months ago, and the Friday morning rallies have gained a hard-core following. Events include the slalom and a 400-meter drag race, followed by the so-called display portion, which consists mostly of drivers wheeling in circles until their tires shred.

But even on this festive morning, the realities of life in a shattered and fearful city were never far away. Police cruisers patrolled the edges of the crowd, and a U.S. Bradley fighting vehicle was visible on a nearby hilltop.

"We need to release our sadness and our concerns over everything that's happening," said Ali Adil, a 21-year-old college student who won Friday's drag race in his 1998 Toyota Celica. "This is a safe place. It's guarded. There's inspections. We can relax here."

Almost every car at the rally seemed to have been the recipient of hours and hours of loving care, some with chrome hubcaps, turbocharged engines and painted flames.

Then there was the guy driving the "Brazili," slang for a Brazilian-made Volkswagen Passat, one of the most common cars in Iraq. The battered sedan stuck out by a mile: The would-be racer looked like he'd borrowed Mom's car.

For the drag race competition, crowds gathered around the finish line as racers came screaming past in pairs. Every new finish brought a new round of cheers, jeers and applause.

Halfway through the competition, the spectators exploded in shock and laughter. Grown men danced in place.

The Brazili had won its heat.


Times staff writer Saif Rasheed contributed to this report.