Friday, March 30, 2007

Can't Think Of A Title

I think I might have to come to terms with the fact that's impossible to fix my sleeping schedule. Thursday morning I woke up at seven in the morning just like I would have to had I had college that day. I have classes at college on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But by the time the week-end is over I'm sleeping at one or three in the morning and waking up at around midday. So when Sunday comes it's a nightmare to wake up and when I get home I'm flat out exhausted and spend the rest of the week sorting out my sleeping schedule.

Yesterday was a crappy day, and it seemed as if just about everyone I spoke that day had a crappy day too. It started off when I chose to go to the petrol station and got stopped at a checkpoint. Iraqi army guy stops asks me where I'm coming from, I tell him from my home in the same neighbourhood, then he asks me if the car's mine. I stutter a bit and tell him it's in registered in my dad's name. And because I stuttered he told me to pull over to the side. He then proceeds to open my boot on his own whereas usually the soldier would ask me to open it for him. Then he opens the door to my car and starts fidgeting hastily through my stuff and underneath the seats. First thing he asks me is where do I work with a notable degree of apprehension. I tell him I'm a student and show him student id he takes a look at it says it's old, I explain that they haven't issued a new one. Asks me what my iPod was. I tell him it's an mp3 player and showed him how it's connected to the car stereo through a CD car kit. At this point I notice another soldier standing behind him. Then he asks me how much it costs, I lied and told him I got it as a gift and don't know how much it costs. He then takes the car documents and my ID and asks me if I've got a legal document permitting to drive my dad's car. I've heard of checkpoints asking about that, but it makes no sense. I told him I didn't and with a laugh asked him if he had one when he drives his dad's car. To which he answered he did as if he was speaking the truth. So I finally exclaimed while still laughing about the situation that that would mean I stole my dad's car. To which he said no and let me go without an apology.

It pisses me off to know that these guys get away with such harassment. Most of them are pretty decent and polite and excuse themselves. But every once in a while, I get stopped by a buffoon. And because I'm not fluent in Arabic I can't go and raise a fuss because then I'd raise some suspicion because of my heavy accent. And I haven't heard of any official channel through which people can complain about such issues. The truth being that if such a channel existed it would easily overload and it would be too much of a task to deal with.

Well that experience pissed me off for the rest of the day. When I got to the petrol station the queue had veered off from the main street and into the side streets, so it looked to me as if wasn't worth the wait. And I then came back at around midday and the queue looked the same. And so I ended up spending two and a half hours in the queue. I had forgotten to buy some cigarettes before getting into the queue, but luckily I found a couple that I had take from Od (who has gone off to see his family in Yemen) a couple of days earlier. When I reached the end of the queue I had a go at a couple women drivers. They get their own queue since they're women. I let one slide ahead of me and then the next one wanted to go ahead of me too so I had a go at her and told her that since I let one woman go ahead she should take her turn and go behind me. She whined and said that the other drivers don't let her through. And then another woman got ahead of her and I had a go at her and told her that the other woman was ahead of her in the line.

I was hungry so I decided to go to a restaurant and see a nearby doctor to check out the bump on my wrist. When I got there it surprised me to see that they've placed junk all along the main road to prevent people from parking. I drove to a little parking lot on the main street that was full and spoke to the guy in charge, he told me the parking lot was reserved for the doctors working in the building and that I should park my car in a side street and inform a shop keeper that the car is mine. So I did that, and had to promise a couple of times that the car won't explode.

Went to the restaurant, they had no more shawerma left, so I walked out and spotted a new restaurant and decided to give it a shot. It was a barbecue restaurant with kebab and tikka etc. I had myself a half portion of meat tikka, it wasn't bad. What was nice was that there was plenty of little hot green peppers in the pickle dish served as part of the entré. I've catagorised the barbecue restaurants into two types there are the ones that serve hummous and those that don't. And then the better the hummous the better the restaurant. This one didn't have any hummous.

There was a new grocery store next door to the restaurant which I checked out. It was disappointing to see another relatively big store with the same range of products as a store half its size. The sanctions are over but traders are still too scared to operate and bring in a greater variety of goods. And it pissed me off to see yet again the guy at the cash register permitting himself to get distracted instead of dealing with each customer in turn. All I wanted was a pack of cigarettes and some juice and not to listen to some chick trying to haggle over the price of a phone card or some other person trying to get the price on some fish.

I then went over to the dermatologist doctor that I regularly see. He checked out the bump on my wrist. He said it's a muscle thing and not a bone and he asked me if I worked with a screwdriver a lot I explained I was learning how to play the guitar. He made fun of me for leaving England coming to Iraq and learning how to play the guitar. He gave me some pills to take and said if it still bothers me he could stick a needle into it. He also gave me some ointment to use on my chest which has this chronic rash. These day it's not as bad, but there are times when it really starts to bug me so it was cool to have something handy.

When I got home I hit the bottle, and got slightly wasted. There was nothing better to do. I sobered up around midnight and made a couple of phone calls. My operator's got this new deal that allows you to pay for the first three minutes and the rest of the hour is free. Which is pretty cool. What sucks about my operator is that unlike the others it still doesn't offer GPRS or WAP. But when I was at the doctors I noticed a little 'G' next to the signal strength indicator, but when I got home it was gone. So maybe they're working on it.

I've nearly finished learning the guitar exercises my tutor gave me to do last January. I'm such a slow learner. So maybe this coming week or the next I'll go see him and get told I'm doing it wrong and get a new bunch of exciting exercises.

A few days back my gang from the class went out together after college and had some falafel in the Karada district and shopped through the market stands on the street. I bought a pair of sunglasses for a couple of bucks, dodgy as hell since there's no guarantee they have UV protection, but I don't know if that means they hurt your eyes more than if you were not to wear them. Got some Zippo flints for less than a buck that I've been trying to get my hands for a very long time but which whenever I see them are part of a box set. Luckily for me the guy was willing to take one out of the box set and sell it to me individually. And I finally got a DVD copy of the new James Bond movie for about a dollar and a half. I also saw a Playstation 3 there, unfortunately that wasn't in the same price range as all the other stuff I bought, it was priced at 800 dollars. I told the guy it was a good price and he said it's being sold for the same price in the UK. I laughed to myself about the sucker who was going to buy it at that price. I myself am looking forward to buying a Wii, but Nintendo isn't a popular brand here like Sony is and so the Wii has yet to make an appearance here.

I spoke to my dad on the phone last night. He's getting married. It's been over twenty years that he's been wanting to do it and he's been engaged numerous times. But it looks like he's finally going to do it. He's had the 'Islamic' marriage done and he's soon going to get a civil marriage done too.

I had to speak to my dad about this new problem I've got. Nahida had got my dad a new civil ID card but couldn't get one for me. They told her that I have to be present and that I'd have to change my place of birth to Baghdad.

What doesn't help is that for some reason I've got another ID that I got ten years ago which is called 'The Proof of Nationality' I think that says I was born in Baghdad. I hadn't noticed the discrepancy until a couple of years ago and when I asked Nahida about it who was there when we made it, she said that the official at the time advised us to do so just in case.

Just in case, something like what my auntie told me about a couple of months ago happens again? She told me how Saddam had wanted to purge Iraq from all the Iranians that had previously gained Iraqi citizenship somehow. So that if you couldn't prove you were a true Iraqi you'd be treated like a second class citizen or you'd get thrown at the Iranian border.

It wouldn't be such a problem but when I make my new Iraqi passport it too would then say I was born in Baghdad and so when I show up at passport control with two passports (one British and one Iraqi) with two different places of birth it would look fishy.

It's midnight now and I'm feeling a bit drowsy maybe I could go to sleep earlier than I did last night. I should call Nahida's bro tomorrow and tell him to take my car and fix it up some more. It's already started to screw up in a bad way. I better study tomorrow too. I'm hungry, I'm going to steal a piece of bread that Nahida bought yesterday. If it's in my freezer I can take it.

Oh yeah and it's my brother's birthday today. I called him up, he was happy today because his sugar reading was healthy today meaning that he's learning to control his diabetes. And the half-Iraqi chick won the Star Academy contest. I really don't care, someone just messaged me about it right now and it's somewhat of a topic people like to talk about. It's one in the morning and I still can't think of a title to the post. I give up.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blast From My Ass

Got diarrhea once again. Haven't had it in ages. Maybe it's because today I stopped taking those antibiotics I started taking last month. Or maybe my lunch at that restaurant was dodgy. I always have tummy problems after eating there. Last night it looked like that zit on the inside of my thigh was about ready to pop. Now it looks like it's just going to disappointingly fade away.

Miz came back from Egypt. He stayed at Kala's place. He was supposed to buy an apartment for his parents and his little brother to move into. But after arriving there with his brother his parents told him that they had changed their minds. That certainly pissed off Miz. And so Miz came back with his little brother that he was supposed to leave behind had he bought a flat.

I slept over at Miz's place last week end. Before leaving, India had fortune of spending a sleep over at Miz's. I remember India telling me it was a dreadful experience, but I just couldn't for the life of me remember why exactly. His parents moved abroad a couple of years ago and the place was the filthy. But everything was fine until I needed to take a crap.

Turned out Miz doesn't have a toilet seat in his house, instead he's got a traditional hole in the ground. I'm not accustomed to the hole in the ground thing and I re-discovered that it does require some skill and dexterity. The other surprise was that Miz doesn't have any running water in his house except for a weak running tap in the garden.

Miz got me a bucket of water to flush with and a jug of water to wipe my ass with and left me to deal with the situation. After some mental preparation, I got to the task at hand. I pulled down my pants and squatted over the hole. The delivery was satisfying enough, even though I was sure if I was on a real toilet I could've probably pushed out a bit more. But then I had to wipe my ass with the water jug and it was too heavy for me to pour onto my backside without losing balance. And I noticed how very dangerously close my linen trousers were to the hole and the likelihood of some of the water flowing off my backside could drip on it. So I took off my trousers and then proceeded to wipe my ass successfully. Put my trousers back on and called Miz to show me how to wash my hands, he showed me the tap in the garden and the ordeal was over with.

Enie and Zaif, both of whom had left to Syria during the summer came this past week. I saw Enie at college today and I've yet to see Zaif. It's good to have Enie back in the class, he's much more alive than the rest of the guys. When Zaif arrived I spoke to him on the phone and he explained to me how he and his friends are planning to rent a place near his uni since his neighbourhood is too dangerous to commute from on a daily basis. He's a bit worried that it might be considered suspicious for a bunch of guys rent a place together. I knew my cousin was planning to do the same thing, so I told him that there must be a lot of guys doing the same and so it shouldn't be that suspicious. I know he knows my cousin, so I tried to tell him that he could maybe find a place with him. Zaif then connected some dots and realised that one of the friends with whom he's trying to find a place with is my cousin.

My bro who quit smoking just a few weeks ago has found out that he's got diabetes. It was my dad who also has diabetes that figured it out when he caught my bro pissing a lot. He's so bummed out about it. The doctor told him he has to lose ten kilos if he wants to fix himself up to not have to take pills or needles.

Nahida's found me an Arabic tutor (two actually) to teach me Arabic grammar. The first one was really good and he gave me two lessons which went very well. But since he's in such high demand and tutors groups, he's not affordable. So he hooked me up with another with whom I've only had one lesson so far and who inundated me with information. The second one ain't so great but I hope it works out with him anyway.

My car spent the last week being repaired by Nahida's brother. The choo-choo train sound from the engine is gone and is now making a beautiful hum. Acceleration is doing great too.

I'm still holding out against Nahida's food. I'm having lunch at restaurants and dinner has become a 'la vache qui rit' sandwich nearly everyday. I don't think I'm spending more by eating out every day, because a lot of the time I end up eating out before coming home from college anyway. And the food Nahida usually makes me is somewhat expensive and the amounts are wasteful.

I haven't had a shower for a week until this morning because the electricity has been missing that whole time. So after a week of building up a good smelly and well itchy body, and I would've gone on if I didn't have college today, I finally took a cold shower. But then after I got back from college the electricity came back for an hour or so and I just wished it had come one day earlier. But the cold shower was pretty nice, it also convinced me to use the downstairs shower next to my bedroom because the water flow is stronger. Which is exceptional because I had grown accustomed to using the upstairs one which even after I moved downstairs I continued to use. The upstairs shower has an indoor water heater but a weak water flow whereas the downstairs one is the opposite, it has an outdoor water heater which is harder to warm up and a stronger water flow making it more ideal for a cold shower.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I'm feeling somewhat elated this week-end. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, maybe I'll crash in a couple of days.

I've spent most of the week-end in my bed reading about some of the subjects I'm studying in a couple of old A-level textbooks. It's a bit odd to see that the A-level books go into more detail than the what I'm studying at college. Well that's Iraqi education for you.

Got a massive zit building up on the inside of my thigh. It was a little lump for the past couple of months until last Thursday. It's a case of folliculitis. Not the first time it happens to me. To avoid any further friction on the spot I'm covering it with a nicotine patch. I've finally got the hang of sticking one on without having it fall off. If it pops and I don't clean the mess straight away I could get another.

The nicotine patch is also having some effect. I've cut down from two packs to only one pack a day. I know it's wrong to continue smoking while on the patch, but I'm not trying to quit. I have to admit it's nice to relax those worn out lungs a bit.

The fight for independence from Nahida is still going strong. I haven't had her make me a single meal except on Thursday morning when she made me a heavy breakfast of eggs and basterma because I was to get a new filling and wouldn't be able to eat on that side of my mouth for the rest of the day. Today for example I had drove out to get a Lahma bi Ajeen (translates to "meat in bread" and is like a light minced beef pizza) in the morning, on the way home I also got some bread and had a big peanut butter and jam sandwich. And for dinner I had a tuna sandwich.

The fight against her bad vibes is also going good. She says that what I'm going through is a result of the change of weather and that'll pass as if it's something bad. Where as I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and motivated than I've felt in a long time. I'm actually getting some studying done in my free time for the first time since I've come back from my summer trip, I'm sleeping better and I'm not over-eating anymore.

We've had rather cool weather during the weekend and today it rained which I think is a bit odd considering that it's mid-March. I just hope that the coming week ahead isn't going to be a whole lot hotter than last week. And this zit I've got better not decide to pop while I'm at college.

I should say that I finally must admit if I haven't already, I must be a bleeding hypochondriac. Every week, I find something wrong with my body. There's that lingering rash on my chest that I've had since 2001 or 2002 and I still haven't checked out what's the deal with that bump on the underside of my wrist. The thing can hurt sometimes. At least I got that filling that's been waiting for nearly a year to get done. I just got to go to the dentist one more time to take care of the final touches.

I was about to start reading the last bits of the economics chapter that I set out to read since yesterday but I picked up the phone and called Suzy. She finally asked me a question that she said she asked me before: whether I 'fancied' her or was 'in love' with her. I told her that she was a best friend to me that I was also physically attracted to. She wasn't very content with the answer saying that a physical attraction must be accompanied by feelings of love. I elaborated by saying I was in between 'fancying' her and 'loving' her. She sang a line of a song that described that she regretted meeting me. I then asked the same question she had asked me and she said she more than fancied me but less than loved me. So if what we've said was true to our feelings we've got a mutual thing going on. I asked her if I could still give her a kiss over the phone, she said it was fine.

One thing Suzy previously pointed out was that since we're in the same class it's harder for us to disconnect. It's true, and we've got a small class too. I do regret having moved on her too. I might have been more willing to try my luck elsewhere if I wasn't stuck in this cozy and no fun relationship with Suzy. And with summer starting up, I'm going to have to deal with the sight of her chest hair which I caught a reminding glimpse of a few days ago.

Oh bugger! I just noticed the electricity came back on, so I turned off the generator off. And the electricity just went off. I should just go to sleep anyway. Where's the off switch for this elated state I'm in?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm Not Hungry Anymore

Ten days since my last post is why I'm posting. I'm not in a talkative mood these days. I'm feeling more burnt-out than usual for no apparent reason. Sitting in some of my classes, I'm wondering why I'm not making sense of what the lecturer is saying.

At home, I've made Nahida understand that I don't want to hear her voice. She talks so loud and once she starts it feels las if she'll never stop. I've got such a hard time understanding her a lot of the time because she beats around the bush and she over uses pronouns. Now if only I could block off the sound of her voice coming from upstairs.

Last Sunday, I got my midyear exam results. I've failed four out of eight subjects. I was more or less expecting that. At least I know which subjects I've got to focus on now. Today I began reading some material. It might be the first time I actually get home and read something. I'm usually too tired by the time I get home. But today I felt pretty good. I had a good night's sleep last night, I had lunch with some classmates after class and I came home by cab.

Yesterday, I went to see one of my lecturers to talk to him about how I could improve my average. This lecturer belongs to another department at the university and I got told off by his head of department when he, the head of department, saw me with my shirt untucked and unbuttoned. And somehow he made it a safety issue. That I could be targeted for not tucking in my shirt. That's ridiculous I say. But I then tucked in my shirt and buttoned it up and went back to the man to say I'm sorry.

Things have been picking up with Suzy after I told her that I was sexually attracted to her. She thought it was a nice thing. But now I'm regretting it because she might have understood it as saying I'm in love with her. I'm just bored and don't have any one else to flirt with. It's all really silly since we could never get a private moment. And now she's got a new habit of leaning against me in class. It looks pretty awkward.

For the past week or two I've been working hard on guitar exercises. I think I might have plateaued. I'm having trouble holding on to bar chords for more than a couple of minutes and I just can't seem to speed up my picking with my wrist.

And to demonstrate how much I don't want to hear nahida's voice, I'm not getting any dinner because that would involve me talking to her. But it feels pretty good to not have her cooking any food because for one I'm sick of the stuff she cooks for me and second of all my belly has been growing and growing for the past six months. As I was crossing the street the other day, some guy in a car told me to do some exercise because my belly was getting too big.

I wonder how long I'll be able to keep this up. Ideally I don't want it to stop. But I know I'll grow weak and I'd yell: "Shaggy's hungry!" and she'll get all happy because I would've finally submitted to my dependency towards her.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Broke Sweat Today

Not in the mood of posting, but doing it anyway. Last week my class agreed to take a week off from college and start attending today. But not all of the usuals showed up and those that showed up decided to skip class. The day would've gone by if Dudu and another didn't get caught by the economics teacher. Which just happened to be the most boring one.

The odds and evens rule is being enforced again. I got used to using my car everyday for the past couple of months and now I'm back to taking cabs. And they can get quite expensive these days. I was passing by the bab-alshargi market and I realised that it was a great chance for me to check out some Nintendo DS games. So I told the cab driver to drop me off and he reluctantly took the full fare for my trip home. He needs the money more than I do and I never give money to beggars.

It was very sunny today and I was overdressed and I was carrying my college notes and books in my hands. For some reason, backpacks never caught on over here. And considering the security situation it'd be very suspicious if someone was seen carrying one. But there is a general trend among Iraqis to be willing to sacrifice practicality for the sake of adhering to social norms. Maybe someday they'll get too many books to carry in their hands and they'll be forced to take on backpacks.

I passed through the shops I knew used to stock DS games but with no luck, but there were plenty of PSP games. I ended up finding one shop that had a handful of old games. I bought an odd brick dropping game just because I didn't want to leave empty handed. I wasn't in the mood of browsing through all the DVDs in the market, so I just went into one and asked him if he had a proper copy (not filmed in a cinema) of the new James Bond movie. No luck there either, he said the proper copy had just arrived on the internet today and that he should have a copy soon. Translated: there's no decent copy, don't bother checking the other shops, and here's a bullshit excuse to put your mind at ease. There's one shop that sells semi-decent pirated audio CDs so I got me a couple of those. The nice thing about them is that they chuck in previous hits of the same artist in the remaining space on the CD. But the dodgy CDs don't always copy to my hard disk well.

Last Thursday, I bought a new wireless access point but the thing won't attach to my grid even with an adapter cable. So on the way back I stopped by the shop to see if he'd be willing to take back the thing. He couldn't believe that the cable from my grid ends with a SMA connecter, I told him I'll take a picture of it. So he told me to go back home and check if I could maybe unscrew the SMA connector off and reveal the normal one. I asked him if it would be okay if I returned the thing if that doesn't work and I think he said that it'd be okay. I hope he doesn't try to get me to swap it for a D-Link wireless access point. But the shop guy strikes me as the relatively gay type that understands that good services brings good revenue as opposed to the usual computer salesman that's intent on holding on to those couple of bucks he made on that sale no matter what.

I didn't feel like paying for another cab now that I was only a twenty minute walk away from home. And on the way I stopped by a kiosk to buy a drink that to my surprise was run by what looked like a handicapped person to me. He was awfully joyful. Seeing him work, reinforced my stance towards beggars as just pesty con artists.

Even though I was very hungry, I stopped by the kebab place I usually get a sandwich from when I'm hungry and can't be bothered to wait for Nahida to cook me a meal when I get home. The old man and who I suspect to be his son greeted with me a bigger smile than usual. The son asked me where I've been all this time. They've only got one thing on the menu: kebab sandwich for about a dollar and a half. From what I've heard it's been around for ages and has a branch or two abroad. Even though it doesn't show, it's one of those relics from the good days.

So I eventually got home and I checked the stupid cable and there's no chance that there's screw on adapter to take off. I'll go to the computer market tomorrow and go to that shop that hates me for returning another access point I bricked while updating, and ask them if they've got an adapter cable for me.

Then I took a nap and when I woke up, Nahida sent me off to some guy that lives a few blocks away and works at the state seed company. He's a really nice guy and very cheerful. But today his cheerfulness was often interrupted by bouts of despair and complaints of how life has become. I told him that my dad had sent me an e-mail a few days ago mentioning that I should prepare myself for spending the summer in the farm. I explained to him how daunting a task that would be for me and that on the other hand the rewards could be good. He pointed out the treachery, dishonesty and corruption of the Iraqis all of which I still don't know how to deal with, but if I was able to overcome all of that, then that would be the reward. And from there I could start my own militia perhaps and then begin my campaign for world domination.

Miz by the way has flown to Egypt today to chuck his little brother there and to buy an apartment for his parents who are in Amman to move to. He's delegated me to assist Kala's parents in case they have any internet problems. He's supposed to come back in ten days.