Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Another Day

I'm so bored.

Suzy called today. Hi, how are you?, what's up?, how's studying coming along?, goodbye. Hours later I sent her a message asking if she wanted to tell me something. She called back saying that she wanted to say she misses me, I told her I had missed her too. It felt as if she wished I would elaborate but heck, she's got a tedious habit of making me the only one to talk so I'm trying to maintain a balance now. I won't say any more than she does. She told me she was low on credit and had to go, I told her that if she wanted she could leave me a missed call and I'd call her back. She asked if it was alright if she called after midnight, I said it was fine, yet she asked again to make sure as if it was awkward or that it could imply something.

Can't be bothered to study.

Nothing much going on here. Uncle's still here, mum's at grandma's. For the past few days we've been having water shortages. I thought it was over today, but as I was beginning to wipe my ass on the bidet a little earlier the flow of water was weak and cut off. It's not a great situation to be in. Luckily I had managed to rinse my hands a little before the water cut off. I dried off my butt a bit with the last few squares of toilet paper. What is it with toilet paper? After noticing I'm at a dangerously low level of it, I never bother getting a second roll until the one at hand is finished. I noticed a bottle of water, but it was empty. I was on the phone with India and the line cut-off. I went to the kitchen grabbed a bottle of mineral water and a roll of kitchen paper and finished the job off.

That was the most exciting thing to happen to me today by the way.

I was mucking about on my guitar a while ago and and a few notes sprung out that sounded like Pink Floyd's "Is There Anybody Out There?". So I got on the net and got the tabs to the song which are dead easy and I'm going to try to learn how to play it.


Mum's here. She was here last night and the night before, today she went back to grandma's. Yesterday, my uncle moved in to my place because his neighbourhood generators aren't working and he's having trouble with the heat. My uncle and I are doing a great job of more or less staying out of each other's hair. And I'm maintaining supremacy over the telly.

My old computer is acting up now, it won't complete start up. I'm guessing it's because of the crappy generator line that fluctuates too much. Everything's falling apart on me. What the heck?

My finals start in a week. Still haven't really got myself studying in earnest yet. I was hoping to have classmates come sleep over and study with me, but my uncle's presence has killed that idea. I wonder how long he plans to stay here.

Feeling very lazy. And it's late now, I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Poor Laptop

My laptop is falling apart on me. A month or two ago the battery's life suddenly decreased dramatically to no more than fifteen minutes and continued to decline up. As of yesterday the battery doesn't work at all. And during the past couple of weeks the 'C' key on the keyboard became temperamental. And then the 'D' key started acting up and now a couple of others. The 'C' key doesn't work at all anymore now and I was resorting to copy/pasting the letter.

Fixing the old desktop earlier this year is now paying because without any battery functionality on the laptop to prevent bad shutdowns it now makes sense to make more use of my old desktop and suffer the same fate without messing the harmony of my never once re-formatted laptop.

I've come to the conclusion that my eyesight is going too. I'm having trouble reading the name's of the songs on VH1. I must get my eyes checked someday soon.

Recently I've been explaining the material of one our classes called quantitative techniques (otherwise known as operational research). It seems I'm the only one who understand that class. It's the one class that's mathematical and therefore not in Arabic. What struck me as sad when going through exercises with them was how poor some of them could be a performing simple algebra or working fractions.

Last night a couple of my classmates slept over and Nahida made a big paranoid fuss about one of them who I had mentioned a while ago. She was against me having him over at my place on the simple basis that he comes from a neighbourhood which she considers dodgy. She urged me not to divulge any personal information that could bring any evil attention to myself such as any suggestion of my wealth.

The day after I broke up with Suzy, I saw her come up online and said 'hello' and she didn't reply back. I guess she doesn't want to talk to me, and even though we're in the same class, she's still not speaking to me and not even saying hello. That she doesn't want to talk to me probably isn't true, I imagine she's just making a statement and trying to perhaps disintegrate her perception of me somehow (does that make sense?). Well, I'm just ignoring her too and waiting for to get over it. I'll just have to make the most of that moment when she's in position to have to come over and talk to me or when I've got a real good excuse to talk to her.

I've been chatting to a couple of Baghdad girls online over the past month. The first of whom I met through my annual Yahoo chat room rampage. The first then introduced me to her cousin. More recently I've been chatting to the latter, Nosa, more regularly. I told Nosa about breaking up with Suzy, and the next day she asked me if I could come to her university to meet her and if I had a mobile phone. I gave her my number and I tried posing the question of what would we do then, but didn't get an answer. This chick ain't much more interesting to chat to than Suzy. But I do chat with her in English which is somewhat of a comfort for me and a challenge for her.

Nosa's the type of girl that wants to get out of Iraq. She tells me she envies all my friends for being abroad. When I asked her what does she want to do after university, she said she wanted to work at the US embassy. If this girl is anyway interested in me it's because she thinks I could potentially be her way out of this country. What's odd is that it's difficult for most people to sink in the idea that I've got every intention to build my future here in Iraq in spite of nearly everything.

Well it might be interesting and it will seem to be more trouble than it's worth to go see her. I think she's changed her mind about the subject already. I'll make sure to ask her next time she's online. I'm really not that excited about the thought of going to her university, it's just too much trouble and it's too hot.

Mum should be coming any day soon. She'll be visiting my grandma and will stay for about a couple of weeks. I don't plan on spending much time with my mum because I'm supposed to be studying. Had I had enough notice I would've got her to get me a new keyboard and battery for my laptop. But she should be getting me some Fusion razor blades among other things such as clothes. I've been using the same Fusion blade since October last year, maybe that isn't hygienic.

Electricity is even worse than last year. I think I'm getting an hour a day of electricity a day at the most. I should maybe bother checking what the Brookings institute or whichever think-tank it was that measures progress in Iraq and see what the megawatt levels have been this year.

Up until last week I was trying to write a paper for my economics teacher for some bonus marks. Inflation is a problem in Iraq at a level of about 30% (prices of petrol aside) from what I read (which in some way is offset by an appreciation of the Iraqi Dinar versus the dollar, I wish I understood the implication of that). How everything relates to another doesn't make much sense to me yet. But the weird thing I understood was that to control inflation the government is going to have to restrain spending; and I don't think there's any issue of a budget deficit and that on the contrary the budget is on the surplus (I might be wrong on that). But supposing that the budget isn't in deficit, wouldn't it be weird to choose not to spend money on government services such as hospitals and schools for the sake of controlling inflation? Understanding economics should become one of my summer projects.

While I was in class today I got several missed calls from an unrecognized number. For several months now the mobile networks have been screwing up and I as well as others have been receiving missed calls from strange numbers and when we'd call those numbers back they'd say that they had never placed the call in the first place. I had forgotten about the missed calls until a while after I got home. So I decided to call just in case it was really for me. So I call and say I had received missed calls from the number earlier in the morning and the man at the other end of the line tells me that the number I'm calling is a Ministry of Interior number and he then asked me my name and I just gave him my first name and told him that I did not know that. He said that it was probably the 'net' screwing up and that was that. Except he used the technical word 'net' instead of the Arabic word 'shehbeka', which I take to be a reasonably good sign that the guy was safe. It was just a bit creepy to wind up calling the Ministry of Interior.

I should start studying for my finals. Today I haven't studied anything. Today was a holiday, as of tomorrow I will begin to dedicate time to studying for my finals.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dump Me

Today, was a cool day. It even rained, which was a welcome surprise. There were lightening storms a little earlier. I had a test at college today and for some reason the teacher didn't let me finish the test. While I was taking the test, the teacher made fun of a punk trying to cheat from me. Then I acknowledged the punk, the punk asked me what the answer was to a question; I wasn't going to give him the answer to that specific question simply because I myself didn't know the answer. And then the lecturer comes and takes my paper. All I wanted to write was one more sentence and without much of a fight on my behalf I walked off. I've got to remember to go see him and ask him what the hell was up with that.

Later on Suzy and I were in the library. Suzy's been making an extra effort to make things work between us by trying to get us to spend more time together at college. Whilst I, on the other hand, have been playing along but without any sincere intent. Today I goofed up well enough however, when two classmates (her friends) came in and sat on another table, I ditched Suzy without a word and sat with them to study with them. It was a very blatant ditch maneuver and it really ticked off Suzy.

On my way home in the cab we got stopped by a checkpoint whilst entering my neighbourhood. The soldier that stopped might have been barely eighteen. He asked what was in my backpack, I had to repeat 'books' several times till he understood and then he asked me to open it up for him. Then he had the cab driver open up the trunk. After we were cleared and the cab driver got his engine started a couple of soldiers approached and one yelled to the kid to check if there was no booze found. The cab driver drove off and I began to ask him about what had just happened and what would've happened if we were carrying booze. I've already heard a couple of stories about people getting beaten up by checkpoints for carrying booze. It got me worried enough to ask Nahida's brothers to bring some to me last time. A week ago, I saw that same checkpoint harassing an seemingly drunk old man. The cab driver explained that the soldiers want the booze for themselves and would threaten to give you trouble if you don't give some of it to them.

Dad called later. It's quite rare that he bothers to call me. He might call me maybe once a month to check up on me and give me the lecture about my future at the farm. He started the conversation by bringing up my antagonism towards Nahida. I explained to him that if I were to act nice to her that would invite her to get closer to me and thus give her the opportunity to stress me out. He understood where I was coming from and said he'll deal with it. He also brought up the marriage issue in the context of my future with the farm. He mentioned that if I didn't find myself a girl that he had loads he could introduce me to. Of course, we agreed I wasn't ready for any of that yet. The rest of the conversation came back to dissing my mum and my brother a little too.

Later on I called Suzy, she didn't answer. I sent her an SMS and tried calling her a little later, this time she answered. For the first thirty seconds she was as cool as usual, and then she took a deep breath and I made a silly remark and her temper raged out. She told me that she would never forgive me for what happened today. I kept on saying she was totally in the right throughout the rest of the conversation. She said she didn't want to have anything to do with me anymore. I told her that I've been wanting us to go back to friends for a while but that I was afraid. She ended the call by calling me a coward.

It was a bit of a struggle to sound sincere and focused throughout the call. But I'm really glad to be over and done with it. It took about ten minutes to reminisce the good parts and I feel a bit of sorrow for a few minutes. It was a lousy relationship: my pseudo-girlfriend and me. I know it meant a lot more to her. But at the end of the day, I'm sure it was just puppy-love on her behalf. Someday she'll meet somebody she'll really love and who would really love her back. Now I've got to wait till Sunday to see how pissed off she'll choose to stay to be at me.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Steam Yeah Baby

I bought a steamer for 50,000 ID and my pursuit for nutritional independence from Nahida perseveres. It's my first cooking appliance. It's a wonderful way to start considering it's impossible to burn your food with it. And the vegetables are tastier.

So far I've cooked three meals with it. The first I didn't eat myself and instead gave it to Atiya to give it a go. He said it came out alright except that the potatoes weren't cooked well enough. Today I gave rice a second go, the first time I tried rice I didn't add water. This time I don't think I added enough water but it came out alright anyway. And what's great is that I don't have to deal with rice stuck to the base of a pan as I would with the normal way of cooking rice. Come to think of it, it is really weird that Iraqis haven't adopted the use of rice cookers in the masses.

Have to admit it's time consuming cooking with it but the result I guess are worth it. The only annoying thing about the model I bought is that the LCD timer display takes about 20 minutes to work after I've started steaming. It's great to be able to break away from cheese or chicken sandwiches and fried eggs with the optional basterma.

Nahida is helping me out with the vegetables since I've yet to learn how to buy them, maybe I should go with her next time and learn. It's wonderful to see veggies in the fridge now. Right now, I've got a cauliflower, a green pepper, peas, carrots, tomatoes, and I'm not sure what else right now. I noticed that Nahida's slipped in an eggplant. I hate eggplants, but who knows it might be tasty... but no, I don't like them.

I've been struggling to figure out how to do a couple of reports for two classes taught by the same nutty lecturer. After spending all of last night browsing the net looking for something to write about I gave up concluding that I haven't been taught enough to make a decent critique of anything to do with banking or economics. I wanted to talk about inflation in Iraq for example, and I realised that I have no idea what steps should be taken to avoid hyper-inflation. I've got a test on Monday too, and it requires me to memorize a dump load of stuff in Arabic. Well I'm kind of used to that now, but it's a drag and I haven't started yet.

Suzy is getting awfully boring these days. She's just so incredibly empty and void of imagination. And I'm feeling that I'm beginning to feel that I've become her pet. She often ends our phone conversations with 'habibi' or 'hayati' (meaning my darling and my life). And it's weird because I'm not reciprocating all those cuddly words. And it is a trap of sorts, isn't it? I don't love her, and I'm not liking/loving her anymore than I did at the beginning of the scholastic year. I can't wait for the summer, that way I'd have an excuse to break contact with her. Because I know she doesn't write e-mails. She wouldn't even know how to. She has a hard enough time conjuring up a conversation over the phone and instead just yaps at me for being quiet and orders me to talk. So I've tried getting her to talk, but she's not interested in anything in particular. She's never even read a book. That was a shocker, she has never even had to read a book at school.

I just had an idea... why don't I just throw the idea of becoming friends again at her? Would I do it over the phone since 99% of our conversations take place over the phone or should it deserve being done face-to-face? How badly would she take it? I'm betting that it wouldn't change much except saving me from continuing to live in a lie. But it would be interesting to see her reaction.

Marriage is a topic that's been on my mind lately. The way it works in Iraq is that you're best chance of getting a good wife is if you pick her out of college. Like one of my classmates was explaining to me, college is a great place to find a wife. First of all, at college you can find all kinds of girls and second of all you can get all the dirty information about her, because you wouldn't want to have a wife that's been messing around before she met you if you were a typical Iraqi guy. My brother's wife is a girl he met in college, probably in his last year too. And my bro got laid with a countless number of girls when he was in college here. I'm still not convinced he married her for who she was but instead that he was feeling the pressure of his age. He was 29 at the time.

What are the alternatives if one was to not pick a wife out of college, well there's daddy's and mummy's match making skills. My dad's tried to hook me up with girls twice already. They both came onto me really hard and freaked me out. And neither seemed worth getting to know. My dad's come to the conclusion that I need a wife that's more like me and not your run-of-the-mill Iraqi bred chick. Nahida tells me that he's mentioned to her that there's a girl in Canada that he could introduce me to, i.e. send me over to Canada to meet. But what girl in her right mind would want to move back to Iraq with me in the first place.

The other alternative as described by the classmate I mentioned earlier was meeting a girl 'in the street' (that was the expression he used). The first problem with that is they're far and few between and he explained that one wouldn't be able to dig out all the dirt out of her past to check whether or not she has messed around previously.

There's always the last ditch resort: get a wife from the farm. A wife from there, how do I begin to describe that? What can one expect someone who's been brought up somewhere that's been more or less has been detached from modern civilization. Somebody that probably hasn't ever read a book either and has never experienced the internet. A wife who has poor cleaning and cooking skills. Essentially a woman that's just good for screwing for a few years before she happily lets her body go to waste. That said, the guys at the farm have explained to me that by marrying a local girl would help me out a lot with the running of the farm. It would create a relationship between myself and the family of the wife. The family of the wife would thus find it in their interest to assist me in the administration in my farm which for a great part is done through personal relationships. Personal relationships which I don't have and which are very difficult for me to acquire since I haven't grown up with the locals.

It's getting hot here. I mean very hot. It's not fucking hot yet. The difference between very hot and fucking hot is that when it's very hot a fan does the job of cooling you down. Fucking hot makes a fan just blows hot air in your face. The problem I've got is that I've only got one fan. I really ought to go get another one or two. The odd thing about my house is that when my dad renovated the bottom floor a few years back he choose not to install ceiling fans in any of the rooms except the kitchen under the assumption that electricity would flow normally and that air conditioners would be all we would want. Well I'm not a big fan of fans either, I used to hate the feeling of air blowing onto me and so that was cool with me. But I guess it was hard to imagine that since the beginning of May this year that we'll have only maybe 5 hours of electricity at the most.

The good news which I think I forgot to mention in my previous post is that Nahida's got us a generator line. In Baghdad there's two alternative electricity sources: your own electric generator in your backyard that runs on petrol and if it's a big one diesel perhaps. Well getting your hands on petrol or diesel is a big hassle considering the constant fuel crises. The other alternative is getting a few amperes of electricity from a neighbourhood generator. A neighbourhood generator would be larger than one used by just a single household. It would be run by some guy in the neighbourhood that would take a monthly rate for providing X number of amperes over a cable to your home. The number of amperes are just enough to turn on lights, fridge and water cooler but not enough to operate an electric kettle, microwave or air conditioner. The extra cool thing about the generator line that Nahida hooked us up with is that operates around the clock whereas most just operate during the evening, from sunset to maybe one in the morning. The thing that sucks about it is that sometimes it causes the lights to continuously blink on and off gently and it's messed up my UPS which keeps ticking along with the pulsating lights. But heck, it must be admitted that just having lights alone cools you down compared to sitting in the dark in the heat where it's impossible to distract oneself from the horrible heat.

Fozzy came from the farm today. It's been ages since he last came. The news is that terrorism has reached the farm. The head of the municipality, who's a relative of mine, had his house hit with an RPG from across the river that blew a hole in his guest hall. Well that kind of sucks. That was probably just a threat, next time it'll be for a killing unless he ends his involvement with the government and so on.

I should try to get to sleep soon. I've got an OR test tomorrow morning that I haven't bothered studying for. I wonder how I'd do considering it's the only subject I'm supposed to be good at.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Burn Up, Drink Up

It's getting hot outside. Fair to say the summer's kicking in now. It rained earlier this week but I think that's going to be the last time, there's nothing but blue sky and the blazing sun.

Mustn't forget to get some smokes before it gets dark.

After a couple of whiskeys I've decided to have some fun with a glass of water and my nose. Trying to drink through my nose. Left nostril good, right is kind of blocked. As close as I'm getting to going to the pool. It's been two years since I've been to a swimming pool.

India's got me trying the Grateful Dead, they're not bad. But I would've appreciated them more back in the days when I listened to Jimi Hendrix and The Doors. But it ain't that bad listening to whilst drunk in the garden. These live recordings have a great open air sound.

Slowly munching on a jar of Turkish-made cornichons. 350 grammes jar for one dollar, a bargain compared to the real French stuff. French stuff is tastier though.

My ISP guy called asking me to come over and help. He needed my English skills to communicate to his new ISP to ask if they'll do the cross-polarization today, whatever that means. Got smokes on the way back home. I must say it was nice to leave the house. A few hours ago, when I got back from college and started posting, I thought I was stuck at home for the rest of the day.

Oh great my internet just died. That's a bit odd, well if I really wanted to I could use my modem since my laptop is already attached to the land line. I'm drunk. That was what I decided to do to do when I got home. It just sucks to be drunk alone. Internet's back.

Where to go when drunk and bored... Yahoo! chat rooms, maybe I'll find a horny chick to chat to. I'm trying out the French chat rooms, try and learn how to type in French.

No luck in the Yahoo! chat rooms. But I did get to meet a couple of friendly bots. It's getting hard to keep my eyes open. It's warm, I should take a shower.

I've been reading a novel called The Kite-Runner. It's a horrible book, it describes a beautiful place prior to the Soviet invasion. And well these days everybody I speak to seems to have lost hope in Iraq.