Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Its almost 5 pm and we are still on the road.checkpoint wasnt US.


Still on the same street, haven't reached any checkpoints yet. We're checking out middle aged government employees in a minivan. The jam is pretty much at a stand still. What a crap way to spend the day.


We've been in a traffic jam for 2h n we just want to get home for 1 reason only.all bcuz of a US checkpoint!mind u its new years eve.reporting live 4m Baghdad Oday.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feeling Exquisitly Lazy

I got back from the plantation yesterday. I was so looking forward to coming here and I'm so glad to be back at home here. Lately, work's been wearing me out and this is the first time I find home empty without the presence of my father and my brother who each took their turns consequently to come and visit. I've been starving for some peace and comfort as well as other things (some of which I still long for). This right now isn't that bad at all though.

I'm sitting on the floor of my bedroom with my back against the wall, sitting underneath the split air-conditioner I had installed during this year's finals. I'm so glad that college is out of the way, but I'm still not sure how glad I am with where I am. I'm glad, I'm getting some great work experience at the plantation and other benefits I've yet to realise but work there is a bitch. What it falls down for me now is whether the profit's worth it and I don't know that yet because I haven't yet finished getting the accounts done.

My room appears to be the cleanest room in the house. I don't ever spend any time in here except to get dressed and sleep. I've got a no smoking rule in it but I've thrown out the rule for the first time ever tonight.

My butt is so numb, my back's been knackered for two weeks. I'm going to try to stretch. I can touch my toes if I bend my knees a little. That feels a little better. Take a deep breath to pause my thoughts.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Spade is Here


This is taking a while.

Car's Stuck


My car's stuck on the big bump. 4x4 driving is wonderful. I'm waiting for a couple of spades now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Harvesting

I'm now spending my days harvesting the rice crops. It involves going out to the little plots watching a bunch of guys weigh a pile or rice paddy left behind by a combine harvester, then calculating how much is to be left for the farmer and finally following the cart carrying my paddy to the mill factory where the paddy is dried.

My first harvest with the weighing workers and the combine harvesters was a good experience, everyone around me tried to pull off every trick in the book to rip me off. And what's worse was that the guy who is supposed to manage the harvest and who my dad made my number one adviser let every trick pass. That was two days ago, today however went much smoother.

My dad left about a week ago. But before that he did get me to wear the traditional local tribal dress and on the first day that I wore the dress I saw a wild hawk as I was driving out of the farm. I'm told that now that I've put them on, I can no longer take them off. I can still take the dress off when I go back to Baghdad and beyond fortunately. I guess I'm coping with it quite well. I've never had to wear the dishdasha before and my biggest complaint about it is that I can't take full strides when walking with it. As for the head gear, it stays on most of the time unlike the abaya which keeps falling off whenever I get out of the car.

The other thing my dad tried to do for me before leaving was finding me a wife. After a couple of no's. He found a distant relative of mine which as far as he was concerned was good enough. We went to their house for lunch. The girl popped into the living room to show herself, she was so shy and then left shortly. After she left my dad without any consideration for my opinion brought up the subject of an engagement period for the two of us to get to know each other. When we got home, I had a talk with him telling him that I wasn't interested in her, but he asked me to give the girl a chance for his sake so I went along with it.

What my dad didn't realize was that a failed engagement was a very serious issue for a girl's reputation, something that I myself didn't know until I told my friends about what had happened, but then again my dad doesn't always care for social conventions. When a week later, the family came over for lunch at our house the dad took me to the side to ask me to give him some assurance from me that I was truly interested in marrying the girl after I sit with her alone.

So the girl and I sat on the swing in the garden and asked each other questions about each other. I think the silliest question she had for me was whether her skirt which was mid-shin length was too short for my taste. I asked her if she read books, and I understood from her that the only books she reads are books about Islam. And then she somehow is convinced that she's open-minded and modern. I'm not saying that a person that reads books about Islam is necessarily not open-minded, but that's all she reads! She must be comparing herself and her family to some super-orthodox Muslims. Then we went inside, and my dad was now talking about buying the engagement rings the next day and doing the engagement ceremony a few days after that.

Later that evening after they had left, I called the dad to delicately say that I wasn't interested saying that I couldn't make my mind up after just talking with her for an hour or so, but I failed at delicacy when I told him that I wanted a wife that would go to a nudist beach with me. I didn't know that this guy was going to repeat everything I said to his family, which made it quite awkward when I later spoke to his daughter much later in the night. His daughter wanted to understand the situation from me. She herself was reluctant to get engaged so quickly and didn't say anything much different from what the father had to say except that at the end of the call she asked me what if we would delay the engagement to which I responded with a long pause and then a no.

After all the calls ended, I went downstairs to find my dad awake and told him of what had happened. My father had been so excited about the whole affair and after hearing the news he looked so disappointed. He understood that the father had unfairly cornered me into giving a decision which I guess is cool because that means as far as my dad's concerned I did give it a try. To that my dad added that I don't want a head-scarfed girl. I responded to that by saying that some head-scarfed girls are quite cool, which is true. But generally speaking he's right and I wish he'd had figured that out sooner.

He concluded by saying that he can't find another girl that he she was the only one left and that it's up to me to find one but insisted that he approves of her family. I don't think he's really given up yet. Now though, he's changed his tune, saying that I'm too busy with work to deal with marriage.

I hope my harvest is more successful. What sucks about this harvest is that it takes over three weeks to go through and throughout this whole time I'm stuck here and can't go back to Baghdad. I wonder if the paper work for my new car is ready. It wasn't the last time I was there, but there's not much point in calling them unless it rains in which case the harvest stops and I can go back to Baghdad to pick it up.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My First Harvest


This cheerful chap is the first farmer I met on my first harvest a couple of days ago. I can't remember his name and I forgot to write down how much he harvested by hand. I think he counted 60 bowls each of which are supposed to be 12.5 kg. Amazingly Fozzy does remember me telling him about it, and he remembers the guy's name and the total harvested: 61 bowls one of which I told the farmer to keep. The 60 then gets split evenly between the two of us.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Train Station (Fixed)


On the way back from a government office, dad and I toured the main train station that was built in the fifties. They have a line running down to Basra. It's an impressive building compared to more recent constructions. It's nice to imagine it what it would've been like back then. Something's wrong with the light meter in my mobile's camera.

(The following was appended later in the day)

I just spotted this article in the International Herald Tribune, and it talks about a new service running through Baghdad starting from the station I went to today. While my dad and I were there, my dad asked a couple of guys strolling past the platforms (neither were officials or of the sort) what services were running, one didn't know anything and the other mentioned the Baghdad - Basra line that includes bunkers but didn't mention the Baghdad service mentioned in the article. You'd think there ought to be some kind of big sign alerting people of a new route. But then again, with my poor Arabic skills, I only read things if I focus really hard.

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Train Station


On the way back from a government office, dad and I toured the main train station that was built in the fifties. They have a line running down to Basra. It's an impressive building compared to more recent constructions. It's nice to imagine it what it would've been like back then.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Morning Jam



Friday, October 24, 2008

Drunk on the River


At a restaurant, literally sitting on the river with Od and my dad's friend who hasn't been in iraq for half a century. The old man had me drink nearly half a bottle of whiskey earlier, way more than my low tolerence to alcohol can handle.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Birthday Dinner


And that's going to be our dinner tonight.

Shopped for Booze


I just escaped from home, bought some 70 bucks worth of booze, and arrived at Od's house. We're going to drink the Smirnoff Black. It's not often Od would drink. But first we got to go shop for stuff.

Happy Birthday Me

First thing I'm going to do is take a look at some previous birthday posts. Last year I was boozeless. I've got a glass of tequila next to me now. Cheers. I got the new laptop and car that I was moaning about last year too. Three years ago I was whining about not having K here to do the barbecue and no he's not here damn it. I also spoke of frozen Orange juice and amazingly enough I've got frozen juice in the freezer. But I've now learned to just put the frozen stuff in a bowl and to eat it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



Here's a creepy looking thing I spotted outside the plantation house.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Test


I got a new Sony Ericsson phone (K800i) and it's got this mobile blogging feature and amazingly it works!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Must Sleep Earlier

It's been a long time since I've posted hasn't it. These days, I don't get much to myself. My dad came for a visit a couple of weeks ago and he's been doing my head in. Every few minutes he'd call me either to fix something up for him or to have me listen to one of his lectures. Some of his lecture are however quite useful. He talks to me about how I should run the farm and how I should act in front of others. The most recent note was to not suck my own blood in front of the people at the plantation because it's considered filthy and religiously forbidden.

I've been watching how he deals with farmers that don't do as they're supposed to. He uses a technique that involves gathering a bunch of farmers together intimidating the one at fault, having the others agree he is wrong and then have that one admit he is. And then dad would take some kind of decision that could involve receiving assurances from the elder farmers or forgiveness in light that the one has admitted he is at fault.

Some things don't change, even though I'm waking up at around eight in the morning my dad still complains that I wake up too late.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back from Erbil

And I'm back home. I've been more or less stuck in front of the television ever since. Not much good on either. I really need to think about finding a solution to this couch of mine, it really isn't that comfortable.

Erbil was a good break. Everyday I'd wake up and then struggle to wake up my even lazier cousin Shin (that means blue in Kurdish and not his real name) to start a quest for breakfast. We'd usually end up going to a Lebanese fast food place and one time we went to a Lebanese restaurant and got drunk on home-made Arak. Afterwards we'd sometimes go play billiards because he likes it so much. He'd also beat me at it. I had a snooker table in my house, he shouldn't be able to beat me.

His mum and sister Zard would then come back from work. Zard's friend would then come pick us up and we'd go out to restaurants and I'd stuff myself with so much food. There were days when my belly was protroduing way too far out. It was a challenge for me to stuff myself with all the foods that I've missed. Sadly though, they didn't always get the orders right. At one place I ordered a milkshake and got some balls of icecream with some syrup at the bottom. At the end of the one week I spent there, the winner of the best dish there was the crab salad at Bakery And More.

We went bowling a couple of times, the first time I lost miserably to my cousin Zard who was blessed with beginner's luck. We also went karting a couple of times and in the last couple of races were beaten by a girl that had taken lessons. The karting was amazing fun though. Except that the second time I went I was a bit drunk and that kind of spoilt the fun for me.

I paid a visit to one of my relatives that had moved to Erbil because of the security situation and because he got some good rent off of his house here in Baghdad. He's an old guy and it was good to see him in good spirits. He was a horse racing addict and now the old guy tells me he spends his time making bets online. He tells me that everything's really nice in Erbil and that the people most of all are very nice. The only complaint he had was that of greedy and dodgy doctors. A lot of doctors had moved from Baghdad to there, and I guess they no longer worry so much about their reputation and care more for the money.

It's quite unimaginable to imagine you're still in Iraq over there. There is so much business happening there. The government's leasing and selling off big plots of land to real estate developers for cheap and in so doing so are creating many jobs. And unlike in the rest of Iraq, there is a sense of political stability in as there are two major established political parties.

I met a Kiwi woman there that works as an education consultant for the Kurdish government and she's got a programme that involves getting children with special needs around the region into mainstream schools by putting special teachers along with them in the school. To think that the government there is actually going so far as to seek foreign expertise is wonderful.

It might feel that the parties are like some kind of modern day mafias that get a cut out of every big business deal and not always operating as fair as it should be, but on the other hand it's being done in such a manner that people's lives are improving and the people do feel optimistic.

I was expecting to get license plates for my new car as soon as I get back. Now the showroom is telling me that it's going to take much longer than thought and that there's no way I'd get it before Eid and not in time for my dad's arrival because the paperwork is taking more time than expected. My dad's going to be very disappointed not to ride the new car in front of the folks at the plantation.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In Erbil

I'm in Erbil, Kurdistan... taking a week long break from it all. Having a good time, going to restaurants that don't serve just what I expect what I ordered. Yesterday, went karting, the best fun I've had so far. Getting a bit drunk every day. One day it was Lebanese home made Arak over lunch with raw kubba, today it's little bottles of red wine. Need to go pee perhaps...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Very Hot September

Yesterday, Fozzy, Nahida and I headed out to the plantation in the new car. But halfway there, a traffic police guy told us that we weren't allowed to drive the car without plates on a Friday or a Saturday because I'm only allowed to drive the car to go to government offices to get plates. Government offices aren't open on Fridays and Saturdays. Nahida and Fozzy had checked with the traffic police in Baghdad whether it was okay to drive and they were told that it was okay. But Fozzy and I didn't want to risk it considering that different provinces may interpret the laws differently and that other traffic police won't be so forgiving.

So we on the road again today. It was a sweet and air conditioned ride the whole way. It felt a lot quicker than when going by cab. It took about 3 hours, 40 litres of petrol and 200 Kilometers to make the trip. I remember nearly finishing a whole tank with my old Mercedes. It was also the first time I made use of cruise control. Cruise control is amazing. Press a button and lift your foot off the gas. Brake at a checkpoint. Pass the checkpoint and then press a button to bring you back to your cruising speed. It's wonderful.

The most surprising thing about the trip was the change in attitude at the checkpoints. When riding in taxis they're really mean and suspicious, but when driving in my new car they all acted much nicer to me.

I don't know what's up with the weather now. When I was in Baghdad it was very hot, hotter than any other time this summer. I was looking forward to coming back to the farm because the weather here is maybe five degrees cooler. But it's gotten hotter here too but still a little cooler than Baghdad. The heat's not supposed to peak in September! I usually don't complain so much about the heat, but it's really getting bad. Nahida tells me everyone's complaining. A girl from college on facebook set her status as "موت حار" (don't know how to translate it, literally it might mean "death heat") yesterday. The forecast for Baghdad today was 48 Centegrade (that's nearly 120 Farenheit).


Now, I've got to think of how I'm going to make use of the few days to come. Because I have to drive the car back on Thursday which will be the last day I'm allowed to drive the car until I get number plates.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Soaked in Sweat

I've been having trouble getting to sleep lately. Could be that that's what Baghdad does to someone. It's hot and the fan's noisy. Everytime I wake up, I find myself soaked in sweat, very unpleasant. I tried getting myself drunk to fall asleep earlier in the evening. It worked until the power went out and then again I woke up soaked in sweat. Maybe I should've drank myself another beer and knocked myself back to sleep again. It's too late now that I've sobered up.


Tomorrow morning, I'm planning on going to college. Most of them have a re-test tomorrow and therefore it's going to be my last chance to see most of them together. I'm going to take my new license plate free car with me. It's a long way to college, and there'll be plenty of traffic wardens on the way. It's going to take me quite a while to get there.

Today and Yesterday, have been unbearably boring. I've been pretty much stuck at home with nothing to do. I wish I had some interest in playing with my Wii, but I just don't. What in the world is wrong with me? Why can't I get myself to play video games all of a sudden?

I thought that with the improved security situation that Baghdad might become a bit more lively at night during Ramadan. But I get the feeling that I was wrong. Od suggested we have futoor together with one of his mates before I go back to the plantation, so I'll find out for sure then.

Right now I'm thinking I don't have that much work to do this month. There really isn't anything urgent that requires my personal attention. I think I could go on a vacation if I like. It would have to be somewhere nearby and preferably somewhere with weed. It's just my luck that it's Ramadan now, and that has the potential of making any destination in the Middle East that much more boring. Besides, I really can't make up my mind on where to go, so I'll probably just end up staying here.

Oh no! I've hit rock bottom here. I started watching the "Sex and the City" movie.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Happy Ramadan... Have a Beer

Yesterday, I drove Od with his fiancee and their mums to the new courthouse for them to do their marriage contract. I had the honour of being one of the witnesses as well as the witness to the marriage of another couple who I didn't know. Od too was a witness to someone else's marriage. People just don't bother bringing their own witnesses it seems. It was the first time I met Od's fiancee now wife. She's quite nice, speaks English well and perhaps a bit goofy or something.

Later that day, I got caught by a traffic warden for driving my car without plates. I was told I can't drive with the car after three in the afternoon. But I hadn't realised that the ones I was supposed to avoid were the traffic wardens. Good thing I had Od with me. Od knew how to talk to the guy. And after a little chat, Wissam the traffic warden let us go after pocketing ten thousand dinars (about seven dollars). Od had suggested I give five thousand, but I'm still surprised that the dude even settled for the ten I gave him.

Today, I've stayed home all day and done nothing except to walk out to pay my subscription to my nearby internet provider. I've been watching the movies my anime friends gave me the other day: Hancock, Don't Mess With Zohan, Harold and Kumar 2 and Wanted. The only movie I've got left to watch on my laptop tonight is 'Sex and the City' but I don't think I'm going to be bored enough to watch it here in Baghdad.


It's nearly five in the morning now. A little earlier, I caught Mos online and the punk told me he was leaving in a few hours. "I'm not good at good byes" he said. In exchange, Sav's coming tomorrow. I spoke to him today, and he told me he's saved a joint for me. I'm betting that joint will get smoked before it reaches here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Got a New Ride

Daddy bought me a new Mitsubishi Pajero with the twelve speaker sound system. It's my first car, up until now I've been driving my dad's old Mercedes. The new car has got most of the bits and bobs mentioned in the instruction manual except for the ASTC traction control thing, DVD player and oddly enough it's missing the floor mats. The bigger bummer is that I've got to wait about a month for the license plates. I'm not sure yet how I'm allowed to drive it until I get those.

Dad tells me that with this car I represent him and his status among the people at the plantation. Today, he had a serious talk with me about how I must get dressed up in a dishdasha with a towel and turd on my head. We agreed that I will when he comes over to visit next month.

The final episode of Noor just finished airing on tv. It's an Arabic dubbed Turkish soap that Nahida as well as most of the girls here have been hooked on for the past month. I no longer have to share my tv at ten in the evening and I no longer have to think twice when calling girls.

My cousin who helped my pick out my car just called. He's leaving to Amman at four in the morning by car and invited me to come with him reminding me that I've got a British passport and therefore can get a visa at the borders and that also Iraqna lines operate in Jordan with no extra roaming fees which means that dad can call me and not know that I've left Baghdad. It's so tempting. He'll go check out how much the floor mats over there cost.

Ramadhan's getting close. That means it's a rush to the booze shop to get supplies that will last a month. Friday afternoon realizing how dangerously close I was to the deadline, I headed onto the main street to hook myself up, but with no luck. The booze shops were closed in my neighbourhood and the guy that sells nuts next to two of them told me they're not going to open till the end of Ramadhan. Obviously, at that point I was very very worried.

Later in the evening, my cousin showed up and with him I took my first ride with my new car along with my three Anime friends (Mos, Miz and the other one) in the back. We went to the other side of town and got a box of Corona beer and a bottle of Tequila. Didn't get stopped once on the way, got stopped twice on the way back and yet didn't have to show the car papers. Actually, the guys at the checkpoints were really friendly. The first one told me to hurry up after he asked what the box in the back was. At the second one, my cousin jokingly offered the beer that was in my cup holder.

Mos, by the way, will be leaving to Syria in a couple of day and then off to Toronto I believe. His family applied for immigration eight years ago and it's finally time for him to piss off. Good for him. That makes last night the last time he'll be sleeping over at my house. Now, I'm a bit worried about how I'll be getting my hands on some anime without him, or the motivation to play the Wii.

I've got a new problem with work. New government requirements state that the paddy seperators in our rice mill need to be switched from the crappy locally made ones to the newer Chinese made ones. That's going to involve over hauling the whole production line and I'm not understanding much about it. Right now, we've got two installers the local one who is dodgy and is offering a relatively cheap solution and the other that Nahida and Fozzy met today who comes highly recommended and even showed off a great mill to them, unfortunately I didn't come along. The second guy would make us dig deeper into our pockets and wants us to decide whether or not we want him by tomorrow.

Ideally, I would be wanting to make a financial feasibility study or something. Not sure I know how to do one of those in the first place. I don't think doing a shoddy job of over hauling is an option. So that leaves the options of not operating this year or going all the way. Trouble is my dad would probably chose to do it on the cheap.

I'm getting hungry, got to see what I can find in the fridge.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Good To Be Back In Baghdad

And I'm back from another record breaking stay at the plantation, I stayed there two weeks! I was not planning to stay that long, but I didn't want to leave without finalizing the distribution of fertilizers. That's having a sense of responsibility isn't it.

I was told that some crops in one area have died from lack of water. That's not the best of news. I've yet to check it out myself. I've yet to make up my mind about it. From what I understand there are plenty of reasons why they didn't succeed to grow. There's a nation-wide water shortage from what I hear, the government isn't supplying us with subsidized diesel fuel to run the water pumps. And that specific area has its own issues such as troublesome farmers.

It seems the mosquitoes get a kick of leaving me alone during my whole stay there until the night before I leave. I got one on the hand, one on my elbow, one on my leg and three on my neck one of which is massively bulging out from the side.

First thing I did when I got here was have myself a chicken shawerma. And then when I got home, I called my friends to tell them that I'm back. Ennie later called and I met up with him where he was with his uncle who was attending a lecture about assisting typhoid treatement with fruits and veg. I thought it might be interesting considering that typhoid isn't rare where the plantation is.

On my way back home, I thought of getting some lahma bi ajeen on my way back home, but since I saw one of the guy's from my internet provider chilling at the newly opened narguila cafe. Sat with him and had myself some two apples flavoured narguila and a lemon and banana flavoured juice. There were plenty of people crowded around the lahma bi ajeen place and the wait half an hour long. No worries though, tomorrow some of my classmates might come over so I may help them out for the re-tests and we'll go have lunch there.

It's getting harder to blog. I'm not slobbing about as much as I used to and that's affecting my blogging juices. I also feel my English is beginning to suffer. I ought to get some novels and start reading again.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Have spent the past week in Baghdad during which my uncle's ex-wife and her two kids stayed over and tomorrow I'll be on my way back to the plantation. During my stay here in Baghdad, it been quite amazing to see the changes and the new optimism in the air. There's a new lahma bi ajeen restaurant near my home and I got Nahida to bring me some over for dinner today, and it wasn't bad. Yesterday, Miz and I bought some booze after sunset. Od and I had hoped that things would start getting better as soon as we graduated, and it's looking like that things are turning out just as we had hoped. Miz and his friend however, see that things are going to flare up after the next big election.

Right now, I'm drinking some Lebanese wine, eating some Turkish pickles from a jar, and watching some documentary on a French language satellite channel about tunnel building. I"m losing interest in the documentary, let's see what's on MTV: 100 best French rock videos.

Nahida also got me some hummous. I'm now trying to choose between another glass of wine or digging into the hummous.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Went To Karbala

I've been postponing my return to Baghdad for the past two days. What's strange is that I don't mind.I actually feel myself settling in here at the plantation. All I'm missing is a car really, that way I wouldn't have to rely on others to get out of the house.

Yesterday evening, I went to Karbala with my two distant cousins. That place is something else. There was some kind of pilgrimage going on there and there were loads of people trying to get into the city. To get into the city everyone needs to be searched the city entrance and as you approach the big mosque inside the city you have to get frisked a few times again.

Two things surprised me about the place. There seems to be quite some wealth there, there are plenty of shops there and some of them actually look quite nice and clean. After touring the outlying area of the mosque we went to a new fast food restaurant flashier than anything in Baghdad today. It was a tad weird to see someone roll out a prayer mat and to begin praying in the middle of the restaurant though.

The other thing that I noticed there, is the surprising amount of women there. About three quarters of the people on the street were women. All wearing that black gown from their head to the ground but without covering their faces. Some girls don't do their eyebrows at all and that always startles when I look at one. One of my cousins tells me there are hot chicks there, and somehow he actually checks them out even though they're wearing black from head to toe. He must have some well-trained eye to do that.

Tomorrow, I'm finally going to go home back to Baghdad after spending over a whole week here. When I get there, I'll go buy some soda water and give the Iskanjabeel drink thing I bought from Karbala a try.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm Online At The Plantation

Over the past month, my friends know whether I'm at home or at the plantation according to my online status... but no more! For now I have a GPRS connection here at the plantation. It's so nice.

It was on my way here last Wednesday that I got the SMS message from Iraqna (but which is now called Zain) saying that the GPRS service is now available and to call to activate it. I called and requested they activate it the next day and they told me to wait 48 hours... well it's been five days that I've been waiting but it finally works after I figured out that I have to include the modem initialization command into my laptop because I kept getting Error 734 PPP link something.

Everything's going fairly smooth over here at the farm. Still not on top of things and I've got a few problems here and there. I've got a cousin that owes me a hundred bucks and that I feel might be avoiding me because of it. There's a lady at the land registry office that won't process my request for land certificates unless I bribe her. I'm going to call dad to see what to do about her.

After the kidnapping and murder of that distant cousin of mine, the city has a lot more cops. Apparently the family sheikh told off the security forces. Today the city was rather empty and all the shops were shut. Everyone's gone off to some pilgramige to Baghdad. Meanwhile, I'm here waiting for some of them to come back so I can pay them money I owe them for tilling the land.

Crap, I've spent maybe an hour online and I just got an SMS saying that I've got less than three bucks of credit on my mobile left. That's about eight buck for an hour. That does sting. I need to figure out how to minimize my laptop's connection activity. I'm paying a cent for every ten kilobytes here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Got a Summer Cold

This is nuts! How in the world did I manage to get a cold in July? Great timing too, I've got to go to the plantation tomorrow. And I'm finally going to have to start working in earnest on the bleeding accounts.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bleeding Finger

Ouch my finger hurts. I should perhaps pop out some more booze. Check the ice tray... it's just been loaded. Got myself a beer. Must numb the pain coming from my finger. I'm in such a bad mood these days. Reason to worry. Hope it doesn't become chronic.

It's the 21st today, I was planning to start doing the accounts yesterday. But Nahida is doing some important paperwork here in Baghdad, and hopefully it'll be done tomorrow and the day after we'd head back to the plantation.

I went to the Hyundai showroom today. I saw a nice car there yesterday. But today, I went with Nahida's brother, who my dad told me must be with me when I buy a car, it was made clear that if I were to buy a car from the Hyundai showroom the car would remain the legal property of the company. That on its own killed the deal right away.

Nahida's got her brother trying to cheer me up by driving me around Baghdad. Last night we went out late (around nine o'clock in the evening), people were boozing on the Jadriya bridge. We had ourselves some ice cream and then some burgers. And then we came back to our dreary neighbourhood. The one improvement in our neighbourhood is that we now have street lightening which I believe is of the courtesy of the US army on one side and solar powered street lights on the other side.

Dad's gone a bit nutty with some idea about milling and selling rice commercially. Last thing I heard from him is that he's going to a Chinese embassy for a refurbished mill. I don't really understand how he can even be envisaging doing something like this without properly studying the idea and planning it out.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hating Work

I'm hating the plantation with vigor now. I feel overwhelmed by all the things I've got to get done. Every time I speak to my dad he tells me how important it is that I get this or that done. And these things just accumulate, and to be fair I'm not sincerely getting any things done yet.

Upon arrival to my last trip to the plantation, the first place I went to was the agricultural office to check on those checks. Turned out I had mixed up the checks with the paperwork and that it wasn't such a big deal and the office was able to manage it on their own.

When I got to the house there, Fozzy told me the news that one of my relatives got kidnapped. Later that day I called one of my cousins and he told me that the guy that got kidnapped had been found dead. The next day, I tagged along with my cousin for the funeral ceremonies. The body was first picked up from the morgue and then drove over to the town and then on to Najaf (the big ol' necropolis). Later that afternoon the three day funeral service at a local mosque went ahead.

The funeral service was drawn out affair of hellos, byebyes and a lot of standing. It was also a good chance to meet more relatives, more than I could ever handle. But I got the chance to get well acquainted with a few and to see some that I would probably not have had much of a chance to see otherwise. What was weird about the three day funeral service was how happy everyone was when greeting those they perhaps haven't seen in a while and so on. As far as I can tell most of the grieving took place at the sheikh's house. That's were people seemed the most earnet.

The next day involved a lot of standing too. Nabs and I went to the agriculture office to pick up some fertilizer called Propanil. We spent the whole day waiting for all the other farmers to pick up their gallon share of the stuff, whilst we were waiting to get our six barrels worth. It wasn't till the end of the day that they agreed to give us the barrels as long as we brought them back after emptying them into our own. Of course it really took the piss when I passed by the next day to find very few people waiting for the stuff and a relative stocking up on some barrels who explained to me that I should have waited till the next day too.

I've nearly finished preparing my new laptop. Right now, I'm just waiting for iTunes to finish downloading. I've nearly finished setting up most of the software I wanted and am rid of most of those annoying vista pop ups. I've got my Google Sidebar all set up. I'm slowly becoming accustomed to Vista. And I can see myself getting used to it now.

Power cut... F*$@!!! I scrapped my middle finger on the broken handle of the generator starter rope. Hurts like hell, but not so much now that I've had my self a TGV.

iTunes is done, what should I install next? I've already installed Avast for anti-virus protection, but I then noticed that Google's giving away a Norton product for free. I'm not sure if I should switch or not. How about downloading StarOffice? Oh I know... I'll download Google SketchUp.

One of the things I hate the most about being at the plantation is not having an internet connection. And the two internet cafes over there aren't so comfy either. I don't think it's worth the expense to setup multiple wireless bridges to get a wifi signal all the way to my house.

Crap! My plaster peeling off already.

My cousin called me yesterday to tell me about some free tip to Turkey for those that have just graduated to learn English and stuff and to get some girls to sign up. I know I've got too much work to do and told Nahida that I can't but Nahida was rather excited by the idea so I told her to speak to my dad to see if he'd let me go. He told her that I had plenty of important things to get done and that he himself believed that he didn't have much time left because his kidney's working less and less because of his diabetese. That freaked Nahida out, and when she told me that freaked me out a little too. It got me wondering if he'll get to see me marry.

It's half past three in the morning and I think I might be getting sleepy, but I think I'm to pop out of my bed room for a cig first.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Laptop, Hard To Love

I feel terrible. I spent the first two nights of my arrival back in Baghdad drinking. I had bought a a bottle of tequila, gin and vodka just before leaving to Shamiya and I started drinking those bottles with a mighty thirst. I've also been teaching my friend who have been sleeping over how to drink tequila shots with salt and lemons. They liked it alot.

Fozzy called Nahida a little earlier, telling her that he had called one of the guys in charge of the fertilizer distribution and was told that I screwed up the sum on the certified checks. This after I had double checked everything. Everything, except for checks themselves because I was so excited about finally getting them that I rushed them to the agriculture office.

I got myself a new laptop today. It's a Toshiba Tecra A9-P12. I loved my first Toshiba, but this one I got today on the other hand is much harder to love. Well I had my mind fixed on getting a Tecra, and I was looking for a 14 inch monitor. I wish I had found the M9 instead but I ended up with the only Tecra in the market which is a 15 inch. This one is ugly and big, maybe a bit too big for my Eastpack backpack. And for some reason it doesn't include Microsoft Works, and Vista is a pain to get accustomed to. It's got plenty of extra security options like hard disk encryption or password protection and fingerprint reader, but it doesn't have a built-in webcam. I just hope the build quality will prove itself worthy of being loved.

Went to the pool again, made sure not to slam my balls against the water again whilst diving. Still ended up getting dizzy after leaving the water, yet no as much as last time. Don't know why it's happening to me. Mous says it's because of all my binge drinking. He might be right, but I still think that it's just a sign of how unhealthy I am.

I've got to start loading the animes I got from Mous onto my laptop now. Oh crap... I don't even have codecs installed on this laptop. It's going to take forever to fully load this laptop.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Birthday India

Got back from my plantation trip a couple of days ago. Spent a whole week there. I've begun taking charge of the accounts, making payments as well as processing government papers. I was working on some papers to get subsidized fertilizers from the government. When I finished it last Monday that some of the fertilizers may be made available next Monday. So I hopped back to Baghdad the next day. Getting those papers done here is a bureaucratic mess, it takes so many signatures to get something processed.

The worst part was going to the bank to make a certified check. On that day, I had to join the crowd of people pushing themselves in to the one bank in town. The crowd was made up of farmers also wanting a certified check to purchase fertilizers, other seeking were seeking credit and another group were there to get their retirement payments. Inside the bank was humid, hot and smelly with the body odour of crowd. Luckily for me, half-way through the process the manager invited me to sit down in cooled office and let one of the employees finish processing my certified check.

Aside from processing government documents and noting down the expenses of the day, there wasn't much for me to do the rest of the day. I had about fifty episodes of anime that I finished watching by the fourth or fifth day. It was after that that afternoon and evening boredom began to get on my nerves.

I've begun to get a feel for the ropes of running a plantation. I'm fortunate enough to have a couple of distant cousins, Mamo and Mado, who are my age who are also involved in running their family plots and they're there to give me advice. Mado for example, explained to me that I should always just listen when dealing with a farmer and that if I had anything to say it was best to leave it to one of the managers.

Fozzy's also there and is still in charge of most of the daily operations, as well as Nabs who's more or less Fozzy's right hand man. Nabs is the one I rely on the most to accompany me wherever I go and he's always looking out for relatives of mine so that he may introduce me to them. The boys in his family come over to my house all the time to help Nahida clean up the house. Nab's shows himself to be very loyal to my dad and points out that his grandpa died in one of my grandpa's battles.

The only person on my team that I'm not convinced of yet is the irrigation manager, Jaws. It's the probably the hardest and most crucial job on the plantation and I'm still pretty much in the dark regarding it. Personally I've never really liked the guy, last summer he really got on my nerves because he'd pull my arm to bring my face closer for a kiss every time we shake hands. A cheek-kissing greeting is very normal, but I certainly don't like my arm being pulled.

When I sat down to see him during this visit, the guy just talked a whole load of crap about the farmers being always at fault and that our irrigation pumping capacity isn't sufficient. I don't think it's very smart of him to clear himself of any blame on my first meeting with him. Aside from that, he upsets Fozzy and Nabs is always complaining about him not being about and having to do his work.

But on the other side, he may have that one job that makes everyone hate him by default. I've heard that farmers always think more water is better even though that might not always be true. And I did hear several farmers complaining during this visit. In Jaws favour, he does have one quality and that's the one of having way too many kids thus giving him strength in numbers. Having strength might be an important requisite when dealing with allocating irrigation considering how farmers aren't shy of killing one another.

The first piece of news that I heard when getting there was that of a man being killed over unpaid debts which were a result of last year's currency traders frenzy into buying and selling US dollars on credit. Lots of people in town have been murdered or have fled as a result of it. There's an Islamic principle that if you lend money to someone and that person makes a loss with that investment then you too should share the loss. But unfortunately, they didn't apply that principle.

Whilst I was at the plantation, some guy came over and took me to see some millling equipement. The bastard made me pay for the cab ride even though the cab driver was his family and the bastard's going to make a commission if I decide to buy anything. Dad's got an idea to mill rice and to market it for retail. His idea, but it'll be up to me to carry it out. I think he's getting a bit ahead of himself myself, and I should start putting to practice that stuff I learnt at college about feasibility studies.

The neighbourhood generator line is buggered and keeps cutting off so I'll try making another post tomorrow before I go back to the plantation.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I can now say I officially graduated since Nahida got a call from college today saying that I passed. And I'm off to the plantation tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

To-Do List

My drinking binge wasn't very successful, into the second day I wasn't feeling so well and gave up. All I had was that German beer and Teacher's whiskey. I really wish I had some Smirnoff vodka and some Bacardi but the shops here aren't selling the stuff unless you request them to bring it.

So I spent yesterday, drinking some more and writing up a to-do list. It's looking pretty good so far:

  • Tidy up house
  • Buy Stationary
  • Take 35mm film that's been lying around for years to lab and ask about VHS to DVD conversion for Mos)
  • Do lactose intolerance test (got to e-mail them)
  • Burn a copy of Resident Evil the Umbrella Chronicles
  • Go to Bab AlShargi and buy: energy efficient candle shaped light bulbs, that thing that measures the number of amperes running through a power cable with a digital display, a thing that raises the voltage up to 220 volts, and a voltage stabilizer (if i need it), a new copy of NFS ProStreet with no scratches.
  • Look for a new laptop
  • A new socket to go into the generator and another to go into the wall
  • Tidy up the farm house
  • Delete internet accounts and make new Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, and Facebook accounts
  • Fix farm electric (use that voltage gadget)
  • Do a panorama x-ray for my teeth to see what's up with my wisdom teeth
  • Go to B-Town get socks, t-shirts and an exercise ball or see if i can order one
  • Buy toner for my laser printer
  • Ink for my Canon printer at the farm (need to inspect it first)
  • Get Bacardi and Smirnoff
  • A cash counter
  • Plugs and Fuses
  • Get the toilet checked out cause it's constantly leaking through the flush outlet
  • Get the big Split air-conditioner in the hall checked out
  • Build a swimming pool in Shamiya
  • Get a 4x4
  • Get an HD video camera
  • Get teeth whitening strips
  • Study physics especially electriciy
  • Study Maths will need tutor
  • Get the Koran on mp3 to learn Arabic
  • Get a copy of the Koran
  • Get some new clothes
  • Some boxes for putting files in
  • Call classmates monthly (a linen suit perhaps)
  • Buy Zippo fluid
  • Read up on agriculture, rice growing and milling on the net
I've got breakdown some of those items and I'm not sure I'm going to do them all, but I'll try.

Mos slept over last night, and this morning, he skipped work and I canceled my trip to Bab AlShargi so that we go to the swimming pool near by his house. It was a rather simple outdoor pool populated with boys, I might have been the oldest person there but I had fun despite feeling very dizzy every time I got out of the water. Goes to show how unhealthy I am. Mos got me to try to learn how to dive into the pool. I nearly got it on my second go, I still need to spring stronger and straighten my legs. I only tried to do it three times in total I think because everytime I did it my head would come out of the water and scream "My Balls! My Balls!".

After spending about an hour at the pool, we left because I was feeling so dizzy and slightly nauseious. But it really was fun going to the pool and whilst driving home the world seemed a prettier place afterwards even though I was a bit worried that the checkpoints might hassle me for wearing swimming shorts. They've never bothered me about it, but I've heard they have done so to others previously. The climate also feels cooler after spending some time at the pool. I've definitely got to make me a pool at the farm if I could.

I'm exhausted and really temtped to go to sleep now. But I might play some Mario Galaxy first. Remy's right to drink a TGV, I should add tequila and gin to my booze to-do list. I'm so happy I'm done with college.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Graduated

Yes, I've done it! Ten years ago, I enrolled into the American University of Beirut, I was sixteen years old. And now I'm... oops hold on, how old am I?... Nahida says twenty-six. Okay, so now I'm now twenty-six and I've finally got my degree in business management from a lousy college in Baghdad. It's been a long road to get to here.

I've started my boozing binge with Oettinger beer (wonder how that's supposed to be pronounced), which is the one beer available here that isn't made in Turkey. Nahida called up Kiki in Malaysia so that he may congratulate me. She was surprised to find that K was also there with him. She spoke to the two of them and then passed them on to me. It was wonderful to hear their voices.

Totally screwed up on my exam today... but less so than most of the others... A pass for me is pretty much guaranteed. I've got some beer to drink...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hello Bulbul

I'm waiting for Sav to wake up right now. We've got one more final after tomorrow and we really need to start studying in earnest not so much for my sake but for his. We should have started yesterday, but we had to pick up Muni so that he could explain to us some of the material he understood during a private tutoring lesson. But instead of studying last night, we spent the night mucking around.

A few hours ago, Muni packed his stuff up and we drove Muni back home to see his dad go off on a trip. I'm so glad I'm rid of him tonight. We've been on each other's nerves the whole time. The guy's too bleeding energetic and loud for me. If only I had some Ritalin to calm him down. And Nahida doesn't like him much either because she gets the impression the dude's been enjoying the free food and service at my house without making the smallest effort to buy a few snacks or something. All in all the guy's alright though, and Sav really wishes we'd reconcile. But I'd just let things be. Muni might come over tomorrow, but I'm not sure if Sav's willing to go pick him up.

Just two more days and I'll be done with college. It's going to be wonderful, still haven't stocked up on booze though. Lots of people boozing in the street these days by the way. Driving on the Jadriya bridge these past few evenings you can see cars parked on the side with guys boozing up. And while dropping off Muni today, there were a bunch of guys boozing up not too discretely ahead of a checkpoint.

Nahida and Fozzy are in a rush to get me involved in the farm. I think I gave my first executive decision a moment ago regarding a rent payment to my uncle. I said yes give the rent money and leave me alone.

Sav's awake. He never fell asleep really, neither did I when I tried to. But where did he go?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One More To Go

I woke up an hour ago, Mumi and Sav left for college early this morning. Sav's got a final for which he didn't study but instead has relied on good old fashioned bribery. Muni had the fright of his life last week when he wasn't allowed to enter one of his final exams on the premise that his high school diploma was forged and was told he could be sent to jail. He immediately went to the ministry to check.

While he was at the ministry the rest of the class including me were coming out of the exam and wondering why hadn't he taken the exam and where he was. We tried calling him on the phone but his phone was switched off. We then found out about his high school diploma being forged but still didn't know where he had gone and assumed that since he wasn't around to defend himself and his phone was turned off that it was probably true.

By the time we all got home, Muni's phone came back to life and it turned out that he had to turn it off and hand it over when entering the ministry and that the college had screwed up. That they had requested the ministry to confirm his graduation specifying the wrong year. Muni's now at college to make sure that he can do the exam he failed right after our finals and not with the re-test bunch which is in September.

As for me, I'm feeling better these days. I'm sleeping normally again and have only one more final to go this coming Saturday. The most important thing on my mind right now is preparing the booze for a two day boozing session after I finish my exams.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Half Way Through

I've only got three more exams to go. I think I'm getting depressed because I'm having a hard time going to sleep lately. Soon, I'll be starting my new life on the plantation. In many aspects I've convinced myself it's going to be a good experience for me. I'm not sure why I am feeling down right now. Maybe it's the dread of having to deal with the change. Maybe it's the pressure and expectations that are to be set upon me. Or perhaps the feeling that I've missed out on something and that along the way. But thinking ahead, when I do finish my exams I must not forget to start my new life with a positive attitude.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Trouble Sleeping

It's quarter past four in the morning, and I can't get myself back to sleep. I fell asleep at around one in the morning and then the heat woke up about an hour later during which time the neighbourhood generator line had cut-off as scheduled. So i got the house generator running and an hour later or so later the water air-cooler started giving off the smell of electrical burning. Meaning that the the motor inside is fried. Today was really hot, I hope that tomorrow will be better, chances are that it won't be.

Nahida's been scheming. She's planning to send me off on vacation to Egypt with Sav. Sav's playing along with her and is keeping an open mind. As for me, it seems I don't have much of a say. Never mind that my new Iraqi passport is full of detail errors. I forgot to mention previously that it also says that I was born in Baghdad where as in fact I was born in Bath. But that wasn't a mistake on behalf of the passport office.

I really do want a vacation on one hand. Not to sure, if I share the same idea of a fun vacation as Sav and his friends though. And on the other hand, I'm dreading the work ahead of me at the farm, that I want to get something achieved there first. A couple of weeks in Amsterdam sounds a whole lot more like a vacation to me. Trouble is that none of the lads here can travel to Europe, and if they could they'd take the chance to seek asylum. If I do go wind up going to some place like Egypt, I ought to make it a frugal trip and save my money for that Amsterdam trip instead.

Lately, I've been getting a lot of missed calls from strange girls on my phone. I spoke to one of them yesterday for over a half hour. Told me she lived in a screwed up neighbourhood next to mine at first but then before saying bye she said Sadr City. That she's doing nothing with her life right now and that she was in and then quit some kind of Islamic schooling and that she goes out dressed in an abaya (the black cloth thing). She wanted me to transfer her a dollar of phone credit to her because I picked up the line as she was giving me a missed call and I was playing mini-golf on the phone. I told her, I'd send her the credit if she'd tell me what colour panties she was wearing. She declined. It had been days since I last wanked because of Sav and Muni's presence, so I wanked whilst casually talking to her. She must've noticed and asked if I was 'playing worm'. That was the cutest way to put it in Arabic I have ever heard.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

On My Way to College

I'm having Sav and Muni stay over at my house for the duration of the finals. Yesterday, I had to tell off Muni for distracting Sav. Right now, we're in a traffic jam and listening to the Iraq-Australia game on the radio. The score is 1-0 to Australia.

I'm hungry.

The pizza crisis is over by the way. Nahida's managed to find some good Mozzarella cheese. And she's not burning the base of the pizzas any more too. The pizzas still needs some work though, something is wrong with the topping to dough ratio.

Still stuck in traffic.

The score's still 1-0. I'm not making much sense out of the football commentator.

Damn! I'm hungry.

I finally got a neighbourhood generator line. It costs over $100 a month for 10 amps, for about 6 hours a day. By alternating between it and my own generator I can keep the water air cooler running all night.

I should perhaps get some beers on the way back home.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pizza Crisis

I just had dinner, it was another one of Nahida's home-made pizzas. But lately, the cheese isn't melting like it should instead it just goes dry, hard and rather bland. When I approached Nahida on the matter, she explained that there's no foreign-made (usually Turkish) Mozzarella cheese in the neighbourhood. But hold on, I'm sure I saw some Saudi made stuff in another neighbourhood, must give directions to Nahida. But why can't Iraqis make decent Mozzarella cheese in the first place. The sanctions are over, it's been five years, someone must of been making decent Mozzarella by now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Night

Oh joy! I'm bored again. It's around eleven at night, and I'm yawning and I might as well go to sleep. Lately though, I'm finding it hard to convince myself to sleep before midnight. Once it's midnight though, I don't have any trouble going to sleep which is good. I wonder how I'll wake up tomorrow since Nahida's gone off to the farm for the night. It might be so hard, maybe I can wake myself up knowing that no one is there to wake me up. I've been waking up early everyday lately too. I haven't woken up in the middle of the day in ages, and I'm beginning to imagine that it must be so good.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Piling On and On

Yesterday, our department from college along with another one held a lunch-time party at a restaurant, the last installment of our graduation celebrations even though we've yet to really graduate. I was in a really bad mood that day. Nahida kept bugging me about my tie and collar not being straight before I leaving the house. Then on the way, after picking up a couple of the guys the car stalled a couple of time. Whilst waiting for the car to choose to work I figured that I could get the car running using a little trick which worked.

It seemed we were the first to get there. Not even the organizers were there. We walked in and having been here before I started to the the guys there to get a drink before anyone else showed knowing it was going to be an alcohol-free party. I knew this place had booze because the last time I came here was with Farah and I ordered a bottle of wine.

The guys told me to wait and then a couple of US soldiers walked in asking for the owner. They were pointed to the back and then came out to the bar to buy a bottle of booze each. After they left, I too got my fix. For 10,000 dinars ($7) I was poured a miniature Johnny Walker whiskey in a glass. The guy serving me the drink warned me that the bar was to be closed during the party and showed me to hide the drink in the neat shelf below the bar.

One of the organizers and a friend of his showed up shortly, and I had to greet him with a kiss with my whiskey breath but he didn't say a word. After I discreetly had one more drink, his friend asked me what I had to drink with a big grin. I denied that I had drunk anything and he grinned even more and pointed out that I had whiskey on my breath. He went on to brag about having drunk half a bottle and I gave some discourse on drinking in moderation is best. My concern was not to give reason for the organizer to get pissed off and make a drama.

I never drink Johnny Walker whiskey, it didn't take me much time to realise why. I started to feel tired and was becoming very hungry. Fortunately the appetizers came in early and I had myself a feast. After which I became quite sleepy. Of the guys, I think I danced the least that day. My class seemed to have to split into two groups whilst dancing and I danced with both. More moments of me that I really don't want to see on tape.

The party had started at around eleven in the morning and finished around four-thirty in the afternoon. Half-way through I was struggling to keep myself awake. But it did end and the weather was nice enough not to have to pretend that the air conditioning in the car works. The air conditioning needs to get repaired again. Dropped the guys home and then got home and laid my ass on the couch in agony. Nahida was still upset with me for having a go at her that morning. I was tired and grumpy to care.

I was grumpy and tired the rest of the night and was wondering why was it that my ass was hurting so much. It had been a couple of days since I notice a slight pain, but it was noticeably there now. My trouble was that I couldn't quite pinpoint it. Today too, it was quite obvious to everyone that I looked exhausted and it was all because of that annoying pain coming from my butt. I had figured that the pain was coming from above my anus and that I must've bruised my butt but I'm certain I never did fall on it or anything.

It wasn't till I got back home today that I had myself a good look at my butt in the mirror that it became clear that I've got piles yet again. So I dashed out in the car to find me some medicine pretending that the air conditioning works. I got myself a different brand from the one I got last time. But was disappointed to find that it didn't have that relieving menthol ingredient. The pain has subsided however. And another pain, Nahida, is back. It was so nice that she left to Shamiya today, leaving the house to me. So unfortunate that she had to come back the same day.

Friday, May 02, 2008

I'm a G Now... But Oh Nooo!

Yes! Last Wednesday, I finally got my new G type passport. The one I've been waiting over a year to get. I was surprised to see that it wasn't the traditional green like the old ones and that instead was a navy blue. The weather was quite nice that day too, it even rained when I went back to college. I was so happy to get my new passport. But maybe, I should have paid attention to the omen of the day before...

The day before, Nahida showed me a couple pair of shoes of mine that had been taken to the shoe polisher. One of the pairs was fine even though it seemed like the shoe polisher might have over done it with that black mucky stuff, and the other which was brown and had become black too. How the shoe polisher could've been so thick is beyond me. I got a little mad saying I bought those shoes simply because I didn't have any brown shoes.

So I was really happy to finally have a passport and thus finally granted the right to travel out of this god-forsaken country should I ever be motivated enough to get off of my ass. I showed it to all my friends, saying "look I got my new passport!".

Nahida had warned me to check for any mistakes on the passport. And I swear that when I got it at the passport office, I did take a good look at it and noticed that they had misspelled my mother's name in English. My British passport doesn't include that bit of information and as long it was spelled right in Arabic I guessed it wasn't a big deal. Nahida mentioned that some people didn't even have their own faces on their passports. And as far as I was concerned my biggest worry was that they have my name misspelled in English.

It wasn't till I was on my way home, gleeing at my new passport that I finally saw that they had the month of my birth wrong. It said 01 instead of 10. Now, that's a screwed up mistake, the kind that makes it useless. It probably wouldn't be such a big deal for most, but passport control would be comparing it to my other passport and would notice the discrepancy. And maybe passport control has some kind of record on the computer they use too.

I just don't understand how I wasn't able to notice the mistake when I first got it. What screwed up part of my mind got me to convince myself that there was nothing wrong with the passport when I was inspecting it at the passport office. I know that that "01" caught my eye but then my subconsciousness somehow hi-jacked my mind and got me to ignore it. This kind of thing always happens to me when I get over-excited about something.

Nahida said she's going to take it back to the passport office on Sunday to fix it. From what I've understood from some of my friends is that the passport office would make a corrective note on the comments or something page, but that too isn't really great. I wonder if the date of birth is included in the machine readable bit.

Yesterday, I had a fight with Suzy over the phone because she's my partner in my project group and hasn't contributed at all up till now with something that doesn't really focus on our subject. She then tried to blame it on our other project partner saying that whenever she wanted to help type something up that the other partner would say that she'd do it herself and that I never asked her to do any real work either but had only asked her to read stuff which she didn't end up reading. I really didn't want to call her to fight with her but it ended up looking like that.

On the bright side though, I don't have to worry about impulsively flying off to anywhere since I still don't have a valid passport.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pish pishh pish pishhhhhh

I finished reading The Alchemist today. I saw the writer in an interview on the telly a few days ago and remembered that I promised to print the book for a friend of Sav so that he may practise leaning English with it. I've read the book the book before, over ten years ago. It's one of those books that's supposed to have a significant effect on the reader and his or her perception of life. So, I've spent the idle moments of the day mulling over how my life's gone ever since I read the book and ending up drawing a lot of blank thoughts.

Thinking about it made me feel as though something is missing in me. I remember there was a time when I'd get caught up in life. Life would just happen and it would be rather exciting. Now life's rather monotonous, I guess that could come with the territory of getting older or of having been stuck as a college student for the past ten years. But life doesn't have to be monotonous no matter what one's age. The world around us is marvelous, so why is it I can't get myself marveling at it?

One thing that's pestering me after reading the book, is that I still don't really know what it is I want to be. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be something like an astronaut, an astronomer, or maybe a physicist. In my teens, I was really good at maths and so I wanted to do something with computers. Later on, even though my maths skills seemed to have rotted I wanted to be a mathematician and make money on stocks.

All of the above don't seem feasible to me anymore. I don't even have the mental capacity to handle most of the above either. I don't think I've got the mental capacity for anything worthwhile to be honest. And on the matter of physical capacity it is embarrassingly true that girls do beat me at arm wrestling.

Ahead of me now is the rice plantation. On one hand, I don't see any future in it and regard it as a challenge that I must overcome to establish myself in some sense. On the other hand, it could be where launch my future as a megalomaniac. Maybe, I could do something good for the people there, because I'm so sure that there's nothing for me to gain besides money and a troublesome experience. I leave myself wanting to know what my heart feels. What does my heart want to say to me?

My life as a student is rather restricted. I can't see myself going crazy and getting myself involved in anything other than my studies. As such, there's no sense in getting hyped up about anything. As soon as I graduate, there shouldn't be anything left standing in my way. I've got a tedious to-do list at the plantation. I could spend all my effort getting it done as fast as I can and then engage the world around me.

At this very moment though, I feel there is something that my heart is yearning for me to become, and I'm afraid to listen.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Graduation Ceremony

It is hot over here. Yesterday, my college did the graduation celebration thing. I had a nightmarish time trying to get the right suit for the occasion. The first one I bought was a tuxedo which at the time I didn't quite understand that they're meant to be worn only at night. So I then had to go look for another one, I consulted everyone I knew about what to get. And when I got round to buying what was probably the most expensive suit one could purchase off the rack in Baghdad it turned out there was some flaw with the collar and fortunately they were glad to replace the jacket when Nahida went to them the next day.

Yesterday was more fun than I expected it to be. It was also ferociously hot especially in a suit. The day started off early, I picked up a classmate of mine and decided to delay our arrival to get some Lahma bi Ajeen at the cost of not making it in time to get a shady spot in the parking lot. Unfortunately, the Lahma bi Ajeen place in my neighourhood said they needed another half hour to heat up the oven. We didn't find a single other on the way to college either, but I picked up some bread and some Kiri cheese and made myself a sandwich.

Each department went in dressed up according to some theme. We danced and sang our way through the college amidst the spectating crowd. We had to do our entrance twice because the girls didn't come in the first time around. It was a lot of effort, and it didn't want to stop either. We the guys then had to go to the parking lot and get dressed into our suits for the big picture whilst the girls I think went back into college to get dressed in a classroom.

After all the seniors from all the departments took their photo we headed off to a fancy restaurant to continue the party. It was time to put Nahida's brother's repairs on my car's air conditioning to the test. It failed. It was mid-day, the car had been in the sun all day and couldn't cool itself back down. I3 got caught in slow traffic on the way to the party and then the car began to over heat and the engine began to stall.

The air conditioning there wasn't coping and neither was the restaurant for that matter. We had trouble getting our seats arranged, some people were trying to bring guests with no reservations. After the seating headache was resolved, I and another took off. We both wanted to get some cigarettes and I wanted some booze. I bought a quart of hot whiskey and chugged it whilst my classmate drove up and down the street.

We then returned to the restaurant danced a little bit more and that was pretty much it. Drove home exhausted. My legs still ache from jumping and dancing. I'm cringing at the thought of seeing the video footage because I really don't know how to dance. But I'm glad that I did try.

The only thing I regret, was that I didn't take the time to chat up some girls because I was too caught up with everything. And what really sucks is that we've still got two months of college to go through in unbearable heat and I'm so far behind in most of my subjects. I read a couple of pages this morning and then fell back asleep.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dusty Day

Today's been awfully dusty. I woke up early this morning hoping to find Farah on-line. But after calling her later this afternoon she explained to me that something went wrong with her wireless router at home.

It's been over a year since I last had contact with her. The last time we chatted together, she told me she was living with her husband in the north of Iraq. A few nights ago, I e-mailed her in spite of not having seen her on-line in all that time and assuming that she now uses a different e-mail address. And to my surprise she answered. She's now living in Egypt with her mother and wants to get a divorce.

She's telling me to come over. Suddenly Egypt doesn't sound so bad at all. Finally, I've got a destination that can guarantee me getting laid with an insatiable hottie. Of course, my dad's been talking about me going off to the farm as soon as I finish my exams, but everyone's going to tell him to give me a break since I'm being acquiescent. Heck, if it means I'm going to get laid, I'll just take the money and run.

To follow up on my last post, I had bunch of tests this week. Two of them got postponed till next week, which was quite fortunate since I hadn't studied properly for them and one of which was especially hard.

In regards to burning Wii discs, I've found the brand that works. I got a small pack of Sony and LG DVD blanks, and the LG ones worked wonderfully. I've managed to get EA's Tiger Woods and Fire Emblem (Radiant Dawn) to work. I've also removed the duplicate channels that show up when putting in a US disc containing a Wii update.

I've got an original copy Big Brain Academy that I've been trying to get to work with Mos' help but when I went to his house to take the ISO off his computer my iPod wouldn't take the 4.7GB ISO file. It turns out you can't copy files bigger than a certain size to an iPod because of its file allocation table.

This week at college I got the impression that some of my classmates are only just beginning to get to know me. I think it would be fair to say that I'm generally a withdrawn person, but I think it could be that some big chunks of the language barrier are falling down. It's also bewildering to think that these people that I see on a daily basis don't really know me and then to think that I define myself through these same people.

Oh yay! The wataniya (national electricity) is here! Must turn off my battery-less laptop before switching.

[Switched...]

The electricity has been getting ever since I said it's been getting good. It's coming on maybe two or three hours a day now an hour at a time. I've just turned on one of the window-type air conditioners and oh my gosh! It feels wonderful to feel that cool air blow on my skin.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another Curfew

The government has to stop laying curfews on the city, it's driving me nuts. Actually, I wouldn't mind as long as it was okay to walk around and I think I'm allowed to but I'm not sure, and it seems everyone says it's best to stay at home.

I've got a test this coming week that I should be studying for, but I haven't got myself started on it yet. Too lazy. Instead, I've been watching an anime called 'Fist of the North Star'. I remember the series use to show on French TV when I was a kid living there and that it was incredibly violent, so violent that I couldn't bear to watch, but it was fine for all the other kids. It was called 'Ken' back there. It is however nice to finally know what the whole story was about.

I've been eating a lot lately. I might be gaining weight too. So far today I've had rice with chickpeas, half a pack of Cheerios straight out of the box, some labne with olive oil and thyme dip, and date syrup and sesame seed puree dip. Date syrup and sesame seed puree dip was so popular back in the days of the sanctions. I don't think it's as common anymore. It goes to show that people's living standards have improved since the days of the sanctions if one factors out the violence.

I've spent the past two nights trying to get some games working on my Wii for the past two nights. I've burned over 12 DVD blanks and I've finally come to the conclusion that there's either something wrong with the Imation DVDs I'm using or the DVD-Writer perhaps. I'll try to find myself some other brands tomorrow.

I screwed up my blog's layout last week. Maybe I should spend some time now fixing it up. It saddens me to think that it no longer will look the same.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Interrupted Posting

[Saturday Night]

The weekend is nearly over. I've spent my weekend playing Mario Charged Strikers Football on the Wii and toiling on my project. Mos came over on Wednesday and then so did Miz on Thursday. Thursday morning, Miz was walking to get picked up to go to college, greeted an Iraqi soldier and walked past his Humvee when an IED went off. Miz felt something hit his back, and as bullets began to fire in the air from the panicked soldiers a woman called him over to an alley. He looked at his shirt and all he found was a hole but no blood and so he continued his day to college. It was at college that he had his friends to check out his back at which they gasped and sent him off to the campus clinic. A pellet or ball-bearing had scorched its way into his back and a doctor just pulled it out and gave Miz a massive bandage. Later on, he asked if the soldier was alright, which I think he said he was and it turned out the IED was made out of a Pepsi can.

So I've finally finished fixing up the first and second chapter of my project. I've spent over 12 hours on it this weekend. I've been filling in gaps left behind by my partner that she didn't to mention. I've been working on the formatting and making sure it was consistent. And the most ridiculous thing I've had to do was get rid of the damn spaces before the commas and making sure there was one afterwards.

[Sunday Morning]

The power went out as I was writing this post last night.

[Sunday Evening]

The power went out whilst I was taking a shower this morning.

My professor over-seeing my project was quite pleased with the work done and has told us to chill and concentrate on our other subjects whilst he goes over it. So that's one reason to cool down.

Yesterday, I began noticing the psychosomatic impact of last week's curfew. The first thing I noticed was an itch from a psoriasis spot on my index finger, and then a little patch of psoriasis on my elbow. Before shaving I also noticed a couple of small bald spots on my beard. And after college today, I went over to Karada with Muni. He had me get a decent haircut. The barber trimmed my sides very short and another small bald patch appeared. The barber's advice was to not think about because otherwise the bald patch would not go away. I've had bald patches in my beard once before, and they did go away. But I'm wondering if I should bother rubbing garlic into them like last time. Nahida thinks I should, and that I should also visit my dermatologist on Wednesday too.

Yeah and the power went out again, and I've turned on the generator. I've got to turn it off now because it's midnight. But I should mention that the electricity has been quite good of late, not so much during the day or evening, but from around one to eight in the morning it's been on throughout. Anyway, it's midnight now and I should get to bed.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Painfully Boring Curfew

This curfew thing is killing me. I'm so bleeding bored. It's as though I'm dragging a heavy black cloud around the house. I still don't have much of an appetite because of the fit of diarrhea I had a couple days ago. Last night, I realised that the diarrhea was caused by eating too many of the berries my mum picked from the garden. Those berries are great laxatives.

My feeling sick has made me ever pickier when it comes to what to eat, and in addition to that my mum is still making funny concoctions. When one's joy for food is gone, life can indeed be miserable. Ah but there's booze... haven't run out of that yet, and quite on the contrary to my eating appetite, my drinking appetite is doing rather alright. The one good thing about this curfew is the amount of electricity we're getting, perhaps about ten hours most of which after midnight.

[Several hours later...]

I had forgotten I was writing a post. So the curfew's to be removed tomorrow, which is a great relief. As a class, we've decided we'll skip college tomorrow just to make sure things have really settled down. Nahida's sister who works at the airport will give us a call tomorrow morning in case there's a flight that my mum could hop onto.

A little earlier, the house suddenly began to feel warm so I took a shower. After I got out of the shower, I noticed my mum wasn't inside the house and I found her sitting on her own on the patio enjoying the breeze. She was sleepy, her torso was wobbling back and forth and her head shifted it's gaze suddenly in different directions, kind of like a chicken does. And as I watched her, I was gripped again by the idea that my mum's getting old. But she was sleepy and I don't think she's going to turn senile like grandma anytime soon.

I can remember the first time that thought of her getting old struck me. It was back in 1996, I hadn't seen my mother for perhaps two years and she had come to Baghdad for a visit. She had just got off a long coach ride from Amman. As I saw her smile at me, looking tired and frail from her long trip, it made me feel sick inside, and the idea of her getting old still does.

Now I'm trying to think of what I'll do tomorrow. One thing I must do is get out of the house. There must be someplace nearby I could go. If I don't come up with any ideas, I should at least take a walk to the shops to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Diarrhea, I Can Smell Poo

Bleeding curfew has delayed my mum's Saturday departure. That's alright isn't it? Spending more quality time with mum. Just wish I knew how. I've got diarrhea today. I wonder if it's from the Kebab Od and I ate yesterday. Trying to call him now, but I'm not getting through. I'm chatting to Kiki right now and we're both getting drunk. Him on his vodka and me on my whiskey. Mum and Nahida have baked some pistachio stuffed Ma'moul sweets. I got round to studying a bit today. Read a few pages of international management and played about with the numbers on my MRP thesis project. Damn, I'm out of matches, must get up and find a lighter...

Kiki's gone, he realised he was drunk and went. I'm pretty drunk too, and wondering if I'm going to eat dinner. All I've had to eat today was an omelet and a salad. That's pretty good, I need to lose weight. The looking neat thing isn't going to work if I don't buy more clothes. My passport should have been ready last week, but we've yet to go pick it up. I wonder if it's there waiting, I'm worried that it might not have gone through because I messed up one of my fingerprints on the application.

It's been nearly two years since I've gone on a vacation out of Iraq. That's a long time. Trouble with me, is that I hate traveling, but on the other hand, I do need a break. I've also decided with myself that before I go on a vacation that I want to get the plantation done with, or at least at a stage where I can see myself being done with it.

It definitely seems that I'm wasting my years away here, but at least I know I've got an extreme circumstantial excuse to do so. I doubt I've got it in me to enjoy life. Too lazy. I just have three more months of college to go. Maybe, it's not the vacation in of itself that I need. Perhaps the return from a vacation would be a chance to start fresh.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Looking Neater

My mum came a week ago. It's nice having her here. She's here to get a the new civil ID and a new passport. And as soon as she's got it she'll be heading back home. She's been trying to get me to eat healthier. I've also been having the suspicion she's trying to starve me by sabotaging the food she's made me by adding ingredients that she says are good for me but which ends up ruining the taste. She's also got me eating salads and yogurt drinks. The salads are good, but I'm not fond of the yogurt drinks.

The day before she arrived, I went shopping for clothes with Muni. He picked me out a couple of short-sleeved shirts, a polo shirt, a pair of very tight fitting jeans and a belt. The day before I was planning to wear the clothes at college, the big button on the jeans popped as I was putting them on.

A couple days later, we went to take the jeans back to the shop and got a new button fixed upon them. I also bought my mother an Asiacell mobile phone line from the mobile phone shop where Muni works. It was that day that I posted my last post with that phone line that does have GPRS support. So as soon as my mum goes I'll be switching my number with the one I bought for my mum and I'll hopefully begin to post more pictures.

Everyone at college was very pleased to see me change the style I dress up in. I've started putting gel in my hair, something that the girls in my class have been pleading me to do. I've also stopped wearing my DC shoes and replaced them with leather shoes. And I've been tucking my shirt in. Trimmed my goatie too. The girls began screamed last Sunday when they saw the change. According to the feedback I'm getting, all that's left is another haircut, to let go of my backpack and to stand up straight. Standing up straight is something that my mum has always been nagging me about.

I've only got a few months of college left to go. So I might as well try to put in the effort to look neat for the last stretch. My studying habits on the other hand leave a lot to be left desired. I haven't been studying ever since the mid-year exams and I'm now very behind in my thesis project work. The other girl in my group, Ruru, has thankfully begun to take some initiative and is taking on most of the load. Where as Suzy is still keeping herself as far away as possible from any work.

I've still to pick up the pace in regards to my studies. And I'm noticing that I've grown lazier and lazier for the past couple of months.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Testing

Blogging from my mobile experiment

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Got Whiskey

Was about to say that it seems that things are getting better here. A couple of days ago, a booze shop opened up on the main street in my neighbourhood. But on the other hand, the bombings have started again. That there be bombings might not be such a big deal though. I don't think the bombings are going to stop more shops from opening or stop people from going out onto the streets later into the evening. I did have a responsibility to support my new local booze shop so I bought myself a bottle of whiskey. It made me so happy to walk back home carrying that bottle in my hand.

Last week, I went along with a couple of my classmates to 'Medical City' to donate blood it turned out my blood's PCV was too high (meaning my blood is too thick or something probably because I smoke too much) and I couldn't donate. On the way back to college we stopped by a nearby hospital and had some of my blood drawn out and chucked away to dilute the blood in my body.

A couple of days ago, we went back to 'Medical City' and I was allowed to donate this time even though I was recommended not to do so because my PCV was now too low. Now I've got bruises on my arms because the nurses have such a hard time poking my small vein or artery. They frustratingly push the needle in and out and moving it all about till they find it.

Last weekend, I got to meet my cousin's finace. He's a nice guy, has a government job is about my age. We went to a nearby neighbourhood and smoked hookahs at a cafe on the main street. When we arrived the street was quite busy and shops were beginning to close up. By the time we got our hookahs and the sun was just about to set, we realised that the street was emptying. Moments later it was past twilight and we left before finishing our hookahs. But it was still cool to be out before sunset.

It was nice to hang out with this guy because I had forgotten the difference between the newer generation that make up my classmates who are all five years younger than me. I can't put my finger on it, but there is a difference. Obviously there has to be considering the different circumstances the people my age and those in my class have went through. My classmates were still in high school when the last war took place, they hadn't really had the chance to live the fun that people my age had.

We also had the nostalgic talk about how we perceived Baghdad to be prior to the war: a very boring place with nothing much to do. But, one thing was for sure though, back then the friends one had were the best.

I'm getting rather sick of Zeina these days. She's really draining my phone credit and she ain't great with the phone sex, she actually makes annoying noises when she does it and doesn't say much at all aside from "put it all in". And between the sleepless sleepovers at Kala's house, the drawing of blood, and all the rest I've been so tired lately that I can't wank more than once at a time whereas she just wants to keep on going.

I've changed a little in the way I speak these days. I've come to realise that people might be able to understand what I'm saying if I were to talk English even though they wouldn't be able to reply back in English. I did have a personal rule that I would never talk English to a person that doesn't speak it. These days, however, I've stopped caring about that rule and will interject freely in English, and leave that can be bothered to figure out what it is I'm trying to say which more often than not is pointless dribble.

Classes have resumed at college and I've got a dreadful test next week. I forgot to get notes from anyone in my class yesterday because I missed two of the last classes for that subject. And I've got to start working on my project earnestly again. I better not get occupied this weekend. Oh but I've already made plans to go shopping for clothes and to have a friend come over on Thursday.

Some thing's wrong: I've had the same glass of whiskey in front of me for over two hours and I still haven't finished it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Still Holidaying

Today we've had a lot of electricity. More than an hour in one go. I think it's been on at least for two or three hours now. And Nahida said that it came on for several hours whilst I was sleeping this morning. All this compared to the months of the occasional hour or two a day.

I'm still on holiday. I attended Sunday and Monday of last week and then it seemed everyone was decided on skipping the rest of the week and to resume classes the next Sunday, that being last Sunday. I tried to go to college last Sunday, but the road I took was blocked off for the sake of the pilgrims and so I went on Monday and by taking a different road. Traffic was noticeably lighter than usual as a cause of the pilgrimage and a lot of the shops in Karada were closed including the falafel place I was hoping to have lunch from. This week we're not having classes on account of the pilgrimage and of the slight chance the government calls for a curfew in the middle of the day.

And the electricity just went out.

I've started playing Scarface on my Wii. It's a lot like GTA Vice City which is fun and yet a bit tedious. But it's killing my time. My Wii is pissing me off because of the lack of good games available. It's bad enough that it doesn't have such a big number of decent titles, but the worst part is that nobody's bringing any games to Iraq. And I can't download the games either because my net connection is too slow.

Kala's back from Egypt. He got back a couple of days ago, and I passed by to say hello to him yesterday. He looks quite happy to be back. He wasn't really doing anything back there. His parents used to lock him up at home and never let him out and it seems like he's going to go back to that treatment. Even though he seems to be happy to be back, I wonder if he's going to be able to cope with being cooped up again after having had his freedom to go out back in Egypt.

My cousin in Erbil is getting engaged and I've got to attend some sort of gathering at her dad's house on Friday I think. And on Sunday I've got to go to the passport office and apply for a new passport. It's been over a year that I haven't got one. But it's just my luck, that I must go to college on the same day for some review on the progress of my project. Nahida's going to get in touch with the college and explain to them that I can't make it. But I think I could perhaps finish with the passport office in time to make it to college.

This extended holiday has been rather good actually, I've been able to laze about quite a lot. And now that Nahida's brother got released a couple of days ago, my car will be fixed as soon as his health recovers.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Holiday's Over

Tonight's the last night of my two week vacation. I didn't get around to acquiring the services of a prostitute like I had set it out to. That cab driver did call me, and I agreed to meet him two Thursdays ago whilst knowing in the back of my mind that I had every intention of ditching him. I called him the day before Thursday and told him I couldn't make it. Haven't heard from him since.

I'm really not looking forward to going to college tomorrow. I really didn't get much rest during this vacation. I did so many things. The day my exams ended, my dad called and sent me off to the farm the next day for one night to pick up the sums of farm revenues and expenses for the last six months of 2007. After adding them roughly up it came out to a net loss of a few hundred dollars. But I'm not really sure if that means anything. There's more than one way to add up those numbers.

The gaping hole in the back of my car got patched up and looks great. Last week, Nahida's brother was falsely tipped off by someone and was taken by the Iraqi army. He's been keeping in touch and is still in their custody. They admitted that he had been falsely tipped off and that the person that did is going to get into trouble. Nahida's brother is just waiting to get processed out now, which with an incompetent bureaucracy can take a while. In the meantime, the new rear axle I had installed with a one week guarantee started making small noises in the second week.

I went to college a couple of times for the sake of my project. I also went to Suzy's house too because she and another girl make up my project group. Her parents were really nice and old! Her mum was telling us of memories when Iraq was a monarchy. Of how she came along with her brothers from Mosul as a girl to be the one to help them out at home.

I met up with Muni, a classmate of mine, after one of my trips to college. We were supposed to be joined by Zuni, also from college but a different department. We waited and waited for Zuni. Eventually we gave up on him and had lunch at the new Chinese restaurant. And it was a surprising sight, it was so inconspicuous. Tucked into a Karada alley, it was a little shop with a glass wall facing the sidewalk. Inside it had three tables and upon an elevation deeper inside the tiny shop were a grumpy chinese man and a cheerful woman facing other, each one with a frying pan on a stove each. Later on a second Chinese man appeared that seemed to be the manager-like one of three. A simple falafel place looked better than that place.

An Iraqi teenager was there too to help take care of things, he was the one that struggled to speak with the cooks who spook no Arabic and no English either. He showed us what was on offer today. It quickly became apparent that my hopes for some sweet and sour chicken weren't going to realise. The food wasn't great. We started with some pastries stuffed with meat and then a dish of some beef with green peppers and a dish of chicken with potatoes.

Food aside, it was a wonderful experience to see those Chinese folk there getting on with it despite of everything. It was also possible to scrape the sensations that we the diners were in the foreign place in between the cheers of a bunch of Iraqis in a shop on the other side of the road watching China and Iraq playing a game of football.

I had Muni and Zuni come over and sleep at my place during the holiday. Nahida liked them a lot She's been constantly disapproving of my other friends of late, and so that was a nice change. They were really curious to see how it is I live. They were supposed to help me shop for clothes as to change my shabby image.

Zeina still records my conversation and partakes in phone sex in the afternoons and asks me to transfer a dollar of credit to her phone everyday. I see that as a pretty good deal for live phone sex. I recorded one of our conversations too, and realized that it was no fun listening to one's own conversations. It's actually quite boring. Got to erase it before I go to college tomorrow.

One of the two helped me purchase a new telly today, a 32" LCD Samsung (LA32R7) for $725 with a one day guarantee. Nahida's other brother and nephew came over and installed up on the wall for me. And it's pretty nice. I no longer have to strain my eyes to read the names of the songs on VH1 and I can play those Wii games that had really tiny text.

I thought two weeks of holiday was going to be enough, but it wasn't.