Tuesday, February 27, 2007

One Side To Chew On

Today I finally saw a dentist to fix the broken filling I've had since May of last year. And she's really good too, she didn't hurt me at all. I've got a temporary filling now that I can't stop playing with with my tongue. I'm not supposed to chew on it till tomorrow. But how in the world am I not? I eventually did while I was eating sunflower seeds. Of the one hundred sunflower seeds eaten I had to chew one on the wrong side.

The dentist also taught me how to brush my teeth. I've been brushing my teeth with horizontal movements while according to her I'm supposed to do so with vertical movements. Now I can't remember when my next appointment is, I hope Nahida does. I just know it's next week Thursday.

Filled the car with petrol today before seeing the dentist too. Just after Nahida and I got into the queue her brother called and told us to meet him at the beginning of the queue. And so we ended up cutting the queue thanks to her brother who had already been waiting in the queue before us and let us get in ahead of him. I'm still feeling a bit guilty about that. But in my defence I never buy petrol from the black market. A long while back, every time I put black market petrol in my car it screwed up the fuel injection system, but I'm told it's not so bad any more. And while we were at the dentist, I finally had the wheels balanced so that the silly car won't wobble at 90 km/hour.

My internet service hasn't been working well for the past week and a half. Last night it stopped working completely. I got my internet provider to check it out today. It turns out my SMC wireless access point isn't working any more. The stupid piece of crap. The internet provider guy was nice enough to lend me one of his until I get a new one. He also left me a portable USB hard disk of his to copy all the films and music I've got on my computer to.

The guy's hard disk is infested with viruses. I started to get virus alerts on my laptop. And I inadvertently began to delete a few of my files instead of repairing them. Realising that the viruses weren't going to stop coming, I decided to ditch the people I were chatting to to do a boot scan of my hard disk and his. Mine took a while, but his seemed like it was going to take several hours so I didn't bother finishing scanning his.

Other inadvertent thing I did today. After the internet provider guy came over, Nahida's other brother came downstairs and brought up Nahida's paranoia about having a stranger (the internet provider guy) in the house. And I said jokingly, "We've let you in the house haven't we?". In hindsight I can't make much sense of why I said that. Well anyway Nahida later told me that it upsetted him a lot since he feels that he's imposing his stay on us.

He's one of those people that have become 'internally displaced'. His wife and kids are staying with his wife's family and he's been staying with us every other night ever since. I enjoy having him over, and I didn't mean to hurt his feelings. Nahida's told me I've got to call him tomorrow morning to say I'm sorry. I wish she told me as soon as he began to trip out. So that's it... first thing to do tomorrow is deal with someone's sensitivity issue.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Od's Back Home

At eight o'clock last night, Od's mum called to say that Od came home and to pass the news onto Nahida. A couple hours later I called Od but didn't speak much with him because he complained about his throat about to burst from talking too much. He asked how I had heard he'd been caught and how did I hear he'd come home. He's already had a fight with his mum. His mum wants him to leave the country where as he wants to stay. He said he got treated very well and that they didn't hurt him at all. I wish Nawf was here so we could beat him up ourselves.

Yesterday I woke up with a bone or hard bump sticking out of the underside of my wrist. And the evening before the occasional gentle pain, that I had been getting ever since an Iraqi doctor gave me some weak treatment for that tick bite, began to move upwards. So I got myself the antibiotics that are recommended for treating lyme's disease in its early stage. If only I got the swelling checked out when it first appeared in the UK, I wouldn't be so hypochondriac about it.

I was planning to start to make healthier choices after I was done with my midyears. But getting into gear is still a work in progress. I've got to stop eating copious amounts of rice for example. Hanging out with Miz was part of the plan. Classes at his college resumed last week and he didn't show up till yesterday to find out he has a test today but he's not going to take it. we were supposed to start going to the club to check out the swimming pool and play tennis. But the punk is always too busy and keeps telling me he'll pass by tomorrow.

Mum e-mailed me yesterday to say that my cousin's wife has given birth. So I called him to congratulate him and stuff. He asked me if I had heard about the suicide bomber that hit so and so university. I told him that I hadn't. He then went on to tell me that he was there taking an exam when it happened. It'd would have really sucked if the poor guy got killed the day after his son was born. And it was around about this time last year that his dad had died from bad health.

I wonder what I'm going to do today. Probably nothing like the past few days. I'm going to play Scrabble on my mobile phone now.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Od's Been Taken (Part III)

This morning I went back to Od's place. His mum was on the phone smiling. She was talking to his dad. Od had just called to say he's fine. She was told that he'll be released as soon as the 'first lieutenant' or something like that comes back from his break and signs him out. So hopefully Od will be released tomorrow, knock on wood.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Od's Been Taken (Part II)

I went to Od's house to find his distraught mother her eyes still tearing. I didn't say anything, Nahida did all the talking with her, I just listened.

Yesterday the police were going going through his neighbourhood looking at the cars in the neighbourhood. They checked my friends car because it has 'Al Anbar' province plates. He was at home alone at the time, and they give it the all clear. Then his family, mother and uncles, arrived.

After the police finished going through all the street. They came back to his house, emptied the university handouts and stuff from his car and took him and the car. His mother described how she and him looked into each other's eyes during the moments that he was being taken away.

She didn't get the name of the officials. The police said that they were part of the explosives division and that she didn't have to worry, that they were only going to take him in for interrogation.

After a couple of hours later, Od called his mother and told her he was in a nearby neighbourhood. And then other acquaintances later called her too telling her that they'll get Od back. But she's being told by different people that he's being held in different places.

Nahida told his mum to go to the offices of a certain political party and to seek help there. And told her that if Od doesn't come back by tomorrow that she'll try calling up our own connection to help get him out.

On the way back home I got stopped by that same checkpoint that had been stopping nearly everyday for the past week. It's very close to his house, so I was hoping that they'd be the same guys that were there yesterday so I could ask them about those that took Od. But the guys manning the checkpoint had changed.

At this point it's anybody's guess if he's being detained just for the sake of an interrogation in which case he'll be released promptly or whether he's being taken under the guise of an interrogation to have him tortured and then killed. But I'm hoping and expecting him to come back soon enough.

I asked Od's mum for her phone number but since she didn't know hers and didn't have any credit on her phone she couldn't give it to me. So I gave her mine, so that she can call me after she tops-up her mobile up. But I should have taken Od's uncle's phone number at least so I could at least pass it on to Nawf and Sida.

Od's Been Taken

Nawf who left to Qatar or Bahrain a week ago sent me a SMS message around one in the morning today. Which I just read when I was awoken by my alarm at five in the morning. It said that Od and his were taken from his home by police commandos yesterday around four in the afternoon and asked me to try to find him. Nawf and Od are best friends.

Od is the last of my high school friends that I see. I don't want to lose him. His mum had arrived just a week ago. He's about to start his exams, he's studying to become a doctor. This is the first time something like this happens to someone close to me. It feels so horrible. I called Nawf and he tells me that he heard it from Talga. Nawf told me that all we can do now is try to talk to someone in the government to release him.

I'm going to go to his house soon and check the story out. After that I'm going to pass by the checkpoint which has been stopping me all week and see if they have anything to say but Nahida thinks that's a bad idea and she'll probably start her sabotage routine.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Improved Blogger I Am

The punks at Google have forced me to switch to the new Blogger early than I was planning. Well it's done now and even though it only took a couple of minutes to do. I wanted to wait till I was ready to post my 250th post. This one is number 245 but one or two might have been left as drafts. That's a lot of posts I'd say. Most of them long winded and some of them short and sweet. I've got maybe one last sip of whiskey left and on the occasion of my 245th post (minus one or two) I raise my glass and take that last sip... I'm out of booze now. Life couldn't get much worse.

Maybe it's time for me to change the layout of my blog. I can't be bothered to make a custom one of my own, it's too difficult for me. Maybe I'll find a new layout to replace the one I'm using now. Crap just dropped the can of sunflower seeds.

I'm getting stopped at checkpoints way too many times these days. There's one checkpoint that seems to have the impulse to check me out at least once a day and sometimes twice. Most of the time they want to check what's in the boot. Sometimes they check if my car is mine. At another nearby checkpoint, one of them asked me what my iPod was. People usually assume it's a mobile phone. Maybe they're looking out for a black killer car like mine... or maybe I just look like a terrorist in my own country.

I love my car. It imposes itself on the road. On the outside it's beaten up, it's scratched and the rear-right door is dented. One end of the front bumper is hangin off. There's a couple of badly covered bullet holes too. Sadly it's in dire need of repair right now. It needs so much repair. Most of which I thought would be carried out during my summer in the UK, but didn't. The acceleration in the car is awful right now, and I can't drive faster than 90 Km/h because the damn wheels need to be balanced. Last week I saw a couple bullet-proof versions of my car, they were so sweet. I wish I had one of those.

So I'm drinking and I've got another midyear exam tomorrow. Well screw 'em. I've had it up to here with these damn tests. Today I got so angry, boiling blood sort of angry, when I read through the questions of today's test. The teacher of the class had lectured three times since the beginning of the year, two of which I wasn't present for. He had given us one handout and highlighted specific lines for us to study (memorize). And I memorized them really well before the exam. The crap I memorized didn't provide the answer to any of the questions.

And that's why I'm in such a bad mood. Tomorrow's test is no better. The teacher of tomorrow's test has given us three handouts with a hundred lines lines to memorize by the word. Nahida tells me not to worry because she's spoken to someone that works at the university and that person tells her that there's an agreement to pass us anyway. Right now I'm waiting to see what my marks will be, because I'm considering just giving up on this year. It's too much of a hassle if things stay this way. I could maybe find some other way to waste the year away.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bleeding Midyear Exams

It's been a heck of a past few days. My midyear exams started on Tuesday. And unlike previous years, we've got one test everyday as opposed to a test every other day. So after a test I go to Dudu's, we go over the material until around four in the evening, then I drive home and go to sleep. I wake up around midnight and continue studying. Then I leave home two hours before the test to make sure I get to my test on time.

Getting to college should only take just over half an hour before rush hour, but it's taking even more time now since they've placed serpentines using concrete blocks on both ends of the Bab-AlShargi bridge. Crossing that bridge used to take five minutes at the most, now it takes about twenty or more.

Yesterday they closed it a few minutes before I was about to reach it. And so I then crossed the other busier bridge which hasn't had serpentines added to it yet. To find that the road to college from there was blocked off. I then took a side street and ended up in an unfamiliar part of Baghdad the name of which I didn't know. Luckily there wasn't any traffic in this part of town. And when I asked for directions, I was greeted with a smile and very simple directions for how to get to college. That day it took me over an hour to get to college.

As I drove around yesterday, I kept noticing people looking at the sky as a plane was roaring about. Even the forces at the checkpoints had their heads fixed upwards. I thought it was odd since a bomber jet isn't a rare thing. But as I was on the last couple of stretches on my way home I caught sight of it. The thing was either flying very low or was massive. I had never seen a plane appear so big in the air (aside from air planes landing at an airport). And unlike the usual F-something, you know the Top Gun kind, this thing was black. By the time I got home and got Nahida to find my camera the stupid thing had disappeared.

My first exam on Tuesday was my easiest since it's a mathematical subject, but I'm bound to mess up the rest since they're in Arabic. I did so bad on the other two this week. I answered most of the questions, but whereas I'd answer with a couple of phrases, the others in the class are filling up pages. I can only hope that the teachers are going to be generous with me.

On Thursday everybody cheated except for me. Even the exam supervisors invited me to move my seat so I could cheat. By the time I was done with the exam, the only other two left were the uber-nerdy girls fusing their knowledge to get that perfect mark.

Unlike everybody else in the class, I've been brainwashed into to think that cheating is wrong and shameful. When my classmates asked me why I didn't cheat after the exam, I told them I was too tired. But the truth is that I hated them so much for cheating that I didn't want to join in.

Fozzy's gone back to the farm and without giving me my money. Instead he's given it to Nahida who has yet to hand me some serious cash over. I know she's trying to sabotage my plan to get two healthy whores to spend the night with me. She says I'd squander my money too much. I've got to start bugging her until she breaks and gives me my money.

It's five in the evening now and I haven't started studying. Instead I've been watching TV and the animes that Miz gave me the day before the exams started (what a splendid way to sabotage my motivation to study on his behalf). Miz who studies at the university that got hit a while ago still hasn't still hasn't resumed classes. I'm going to flunk these exams with flying colours. In the week ahead I'll have an exam everyday. Five exams day after day. It's ridiculous. I'm probably going to end up having a car accident from sheer exhaustion.

Last night I chatted to Kiki, he says he's going to go India in a week. He tells me his cousin Duraid is there. Duraid's the guy that gave him the idea of going to Malaysia, where Kiki spent a number of months hoping to pursue a master's degree. Duraid's also the wanker that wiped Tie Fighter off of my hard disk back in 1995.

Okay so I'm going to start studying now. That or watch another anime.

Friday, February 09, 2007

We Got A Gun In The House

My mid-year exams are going to start on Monday. And so far I've studied a few pages. I just can't be troubled to study. I'm going to get terrible marks. So instead I've been doing my guitar exercises. I'm having trouble picking really fast. My teacher's given me sound clips of how the exercises should sound and they're ridiculously fast. I'm supposed to pick by moving my wrist but I can't help moving my whole arm. I'm not sure if it's something I'll get better in time slowly or if it's something I ought to master now. Well whatever the case is after I'm done with all the other kinds of exercises I'm going to go see him and see.

With all the free time I've got on my hands these days. I've spent the past couple of days going into Yahoo chat rooms looking for chicks to chat to. It's something I do every year or two. I got myself one Iraqi, one Syrian and one Indian added to my Yahoo messenger contact list.

I thought I was going to get more studying done by going over to Dudu's place every day and have him explain all the material to me. But the bastard wakes up at around midday and I'm supposed to get back home early (around three in the afternoon) leaving not much time to get any studying done. Maybe I'll go to his place tomorrow. The other thing that has been discouraging me from going to his place was petrol. The petrol crisis isn't over yet. It's not as bad as last year, it might take an hour to get petrol on a good day, but I can't be bothered to wait that long.

I did fill up the car today though. Nahida and I left the house ten minutes before the Friday afternoon curfew finished. We even crossed a checkpoint and I think there was still five minutes to go and we got stopped just so they could check the trunk. We waited perhaps fifteen minutes in the queue at the petrol station.

These midyear exams I've got coming are a piss take. Some teachers have assigned material that they haven't even lectured to us. There's one subject in which the only way day he chose to lectured us, I wasn't able to make it to college.

Suzy on the phone told me that chapter three of some subject was included. I don't remember anything about chapter three. She then explained that the day he began to lecture us about it only her and three other girls were there and that one of the girls at some point told the teacher that he's doing a lousy job at explaining (which he does) and then the teacher loses it, stopped explaining and said the third chapter was included and that it was up to us to understand the rest of it. I don't get how the teachers are pulling this off, they know that we can't always make it to class.

I've also been spending a lot of time going through forums to figure out how to improve my audio drivers in my mobile phone. There's a new method now to customize my W810i that doesn't require bruteforcing. I can also do things like remove the annoying noise the camera makes when taking a picture or remove the operator logo. But it's all a bit scary in case something goes wrong and I might end up with a bricked phone. So far I've managed to access the files and folders where all the fun takes place but I still don't have the confidence to apply the strokes that'll change my phone. I'm still not sure if I have to go through the trouble of backing up everything in there either. And there might be some checksum thing that I might have to be aware about.

Oh and about tidying my stuff. Haven't done it. I think I finished planning it or I nearly did. I'm so damn lazy. I can feel a new 'me' emerging ever more carefree and lazy. I feel like a nirvana of laziness is overcoming me. It's wonderful.

I spoke to Kiki yesterday. He's been living with his sister in Amman without a residency and he's trying to figure out a scheme to get asylum some place. He says the UNHCR office there is open only one day a week for Iraqis and only for a few hours too, if you're lucky enough to get an application you'd still have to wait for months and months for an uncertain decision. I don't know what the UNHCR is supposed to do but it sounds like a sad deal if getting just an application is a challenge. He's also got a new idea that involves going to India to study Microsoft and Cisco networking. Which is a great idea. But Kiki is an idiot, and as much as he loves computing, he doesn't really have the head for it. And those are hard courses as far as I understand. It's typically him to think of pursuing some pipe-dream.

India on the other hand is getting a tooth removed for seven dollars in Sweden. Seven dollars! That's the price of an emergency dentist session for an asylum seeker in Sweden. And if it totals into twenty-eight dollars then he'll be fully compensated by the Swedes. Surprisingly to me, after seeing an x-ray of India's teeth the dentist there admired the work that had been on India's teeth.

India started to quit smoking today. And so has my brother. My mum tells me that one of his kid's friends said that his dad had died from smoking at the age of forty-seven, and that's what pushed my brother to quit.

I think my mum's getting pissed that my dad's new girlfriend has moved in with him. I was telling my brother the other day about how having such a dysfunctional in the UK makes me rather stay here in Baghdad than go back there to live with them. My family is crazy, everyone in it is pissed off at the other for some reason.

Fozzy is back from the farm. He's been at the farm for ages. Ever since I came back from the UK, he's only visited two or three times. He's here to get fix the deal so that we can receive rice grain from the government so we could mill it for them. But for me his arrival means that he can withdraw money from my dad's accounts and hand some to me. He hasn't given me any money yet and I think Nahida's trying to make some manoeuvres to try to stop me from receiving a lump sum for fear that I blow it all too fast. But as soon as I get my money and these midyears are over I'm going to get me a couple of whores for a hundred bucks each. I'm still not too sure I can pull it off though.

Last night Fozzy said that people shouldn't be emigrating abroad and instead should be returning to their tribal villages where they'd be safe. And from there people could work to making Iraq a better place. From their villages they'd be able to have a say and influence their respective leaders with their own opinions. I think he's right, the bottom line is that nobody from Baghdad for example would want to go back to their backward living villages of origin. Two million Iraqis probably consisting of the more privileged tier of Iraqi society could make a difference, but those two million have fled.

Nearly every home has a gun in Iraq and it's been that way for ages. I thought we had a handgun and a Kalashnikov. But it turned out that the Kalashnikov went off to the farm and I don't know what happened to the handgun. Nahida's brother who often sleeps over has been telling Nahida that we ought to have a gun and I've been nagging her about it too for a while too even though I don't know how to use one. Well she finally got one and this is what it looks like...

I have no idea what it's called, there's some Russian print on it. But it looks like an antique doesn't it? Nahida's brother is saying that she ought to give it back from whoever she got it from because if our house gets searched they'd confiscate it. He says the only kind of guns that are permitted are Kalashnikovs.

I should go try to study now even if I'm only going to do it for ten minutes. And I'm hungry too.

Had dinner, and I took the time on the internet to find out what the gun is. On the gun there are several engravings: a Cyrillic serial number: БД-2729 four times, the Iraqi army logo twice, and '1945'. I wasn't getting anywhere until I began searching for World War II Russian machine guns. And I finally found it on Wikipedia as the PPSh-41.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sober Tonight

I'm posting sober tonight! I'm not suffering from alcohol withdrawal ever since I switched to Teacher's whiskey. I'm going to stay away from Grant's from now on.

On Thursday I went to college to get some missing handouts and I'm now on a preparation holiday for the mid-year exams that are coming up in two weeks. I haven't started studying yet. My morale is really low this year. I've decided I'll start studying on Sunday. But I think that's the day Nahida's decided to take me to get a new passport.

The government and everyone else has made a big fuss about the issuance of new passports. Whatever the fuss is, my passport expired three days ago. I've got the 'M' series passport and it's already been renewed twice. So I've got no qualms about getting a new one, just as long as the government finally settles on moving forward with this new one. During the past few years I think there have been three or four different designs, each of which have different levels of eligibility from foreign countries. For example, some embassies don't grant visas to people with such a series of passport.

I've been watching lots of films these days. Miz had given me a couple ('Kicking And Screaming' as well as 'Friends With Money') when he gave me his portable hard disk. Kicking And Screaming was watchable, it wasn't exciting to watch and I don't have the sense of humour required for the genre so it ended up being a bland film for me. Friends With Money was all right and it had a nice ending. I like the idea of a snapshot of people's lives developing and intertwining.

I also uncovered a bunch of films on my own hard disk which I had downloaded for India and had never bothered to watch and had eventually forgotten about. Some of which I finally decided to delete. He got me to download some seriously unbearably sick stuff. Which I think he's yet to watch himself to this day. He's got a penchant for just collecting things that to me is just weird.

But there were some films that didn't seem so bad. So I watched 'A Dirty Shame' yesterday, sure enough it was weird, but how I wish what took place in that film could happen here. Today I saw Fat Girl, it was a French film which in French I think was called A Ma Soeur. I really liked the pace with which the story unfolded and the ending made it so very worth watching. With the few plot twists throughout the film it gives you a chance to appreciate the main character and makes sense of what would otherwise would be a twisted ending.

Before I start studying I've decided to tidy up my stuff around the house. Which involves bringing more stuff from downstairs back downstairs. It's all part of a procrastinating plan to delay studying for my upcoming mid-year exams which are ten days away. But it's crazy, I've even got a procrastinating scheme to delay tidying my stuff up. I've been planning on paper how to tidy up my stuff. Three days I've spent 'planning on paper' and I'm not done yet.

I'm thinking of pouring myself a drink now. Just one before I go to sleep. I swear I'm not suffering from alcohol withdrawal. I haven't had a drink since my last post.