Saturday, July 03, 2010

My Iraq Rant

I've got a big white board in my room. On it I write my to-do list. Right now it's got things like "Sell Car (pending Nahida's return from Shamiya)" and "Buy/Get a Padlock" (for my luggage). and then there's one that says "End Log" (which means: end this blog).

It feels as though the story of this blog is coming to a close. My life here in Iraq is nearly over. I've given up on this country. Never mind the security situation, the economic situation is in an even worse state and it's not just an infrastructure problem and I don't think society is inherently at fault either. The problems lay in the corrupt institutions of state, mostly because it's still trying to deliver a socialist system to the people in a free-market world, which ultimately puts everyone in a framework where in to get by you have to do a crooked job out of anything you want to do and honest work is unrewarded.

In Iraq, there are two sets of rules. The first set which are stated by the state and the second set which are the real rules that are formed as a result of the first set all of which involve stealing the rights of others, cheating, using bribes and incentives to deliver inferior products. For example, red tape is designed so that you have to personally visit as many civil servants that can block or delay your paperwork and pay them off in bribes and thus spreading the wealth.

Another abusive use of red-tape was described to me a few days ago by Sav. Him and his friends are opening a men's clothing store. They were hoping to open in time for Eid but another shop a few steps along the street had officials sent to him saying that the refurbishment license he had would not do and that he needed a construction license. Sav bribed the officials to go away, but then came some others and the shop was pad-locked for two months until they got the construction license. Now Sav and his friends are behind schedule and won't make it in time for Eid (the commercial equivalent of Christmas) to establish themselves in the market.

It haunts me that during last year's drought, I was growing water-intensive rice whilst people further south were dying of thirst. Not only that, but I sold the rice to the state at heavily subsidized prices. Those subsidies could of gone to much better use to feed the poorest people.

Things may turn around here. Maybe the spread of satellite TV and the internet may save the country through some kind of enlightenment. I'm not totally pessimistic about this country's future, but evil states have existed in the past and will continue to exist for a long time. Unluckily for Iraq, few lands are more fertile for corruption.

Iraq is an evil state, evil towards itself before all else. It's evil because it's incompetent.

On a more personal level, one of the big reasons I've given up on living in Iraq is that I've been here for eight years and haven't found a girl I truly like. I have however recently come to the realization that I'd obsess or preoccupy myself about a girl for a year and then after a year passes I would switch to another. There was that medicine girl that looked great in pictures but awful on the two or three occasions I saw her in person. Before her there was that girl at university who I met online and whose identity was a mystery until I caught her at university with a cold and got her to give me the clues to confirm who she was over the phone.

There was also another girl, that I don't think I ever mentioned in my blog. Her name's Soona, we've kept in touch for about four years now. Last night, she sneaked out of the house and I met her at her gate. I gave her a gift that I brought her from England and she gave me a kiss on the cheek. She looked good too, she had black straight hair and eyes wide open looking out for any people in the street. She was dressed in a hat may have been a black and white floral body-top (I don't know what they're called exactly) and jeans. Unfortunately she's not my type, she studies English and she keeps trying to get me to do her homework for her.

I think I have an idea of what kind of girl I should be looking out for now and I know for sure that I'm not going to find her in Iraq.

The power just went out again. Impressively, it stayed on for about two hours this time.

It's a bit sad knowing I'm going to end this blog.

The next post will be the last.


JG said...

It's been good reading your blog, Shaggy.

Also, better to let something die at the right time rather than drag it out for years to avoid the sad feeling. If ending the blog feels right then that's what you should do.

Good luck for the future and in your search for the right woman. I've ended up with a woman who I'd never have thought of as my 'type' a few years back and I think that happens a lot. Keep an open mind and the right one will come along.

Megan said...

To JG's point, I also found someone who I never would have considered 'my type' in a rather random place and at an unexpected time. After getting over some initial resistance from my parents for being from different cultures, things are great. We've been together for 5 years now this month.

I wish you all the very best that life has to offer. I've enjoyed following you and your adventures over the years, Shaggy. You will be missed!

Shaggy said...

JG, Megan... you're both right. The whole type thing doesn't really work. That said, Soona's not the one.

It's the preoccupation in my mind about looking for a wife that's been sabotaging me. It's driven me up the wall and I'm fed up with it. It's as if I've been looking for something in the distance while all along it's been passing me by under my nose.

What I need to do is live in the moment and the leave the rest to fate and your good wishes for which I'm grateful.

JG said...

You're right.

We have so little control over our lives anyway. Some of the most important moments, like meeting our partners, are entirely random, and would not have happened if we had decided to do something different on that particular day!

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

I'm sad to hear you are ending the blog, Shaggy. I've enjoyed reading you over the years. You have given a unique insight on events in Iraq and in your life. :) But I understand that there are other things out there that will probably take precidence. Especially if you do come to the states. Life can get busy here. I wish you the best of luck on your search for "the one". I will check back for your final post.

Megan said...

Hello again, Shaggy. I thought I'd check in to see if you'd posted your last blog entry.

Thank you for your years of insights and honesty, and for letting us take a peek into your world. It's been nice to read a blog from Iraq that doesn't portray Americans as invaders and ne'er-do-well. I served in the US military until 2002 and believe that despite there being a few bad eggs in the military (just like everywhere), there are many more soldiers who want to do the right thing.

I hope that someday, somewhere, you'll resurface and everything will be right in your world. Good luck to you and Godspeed.

Anonymous said...

Well, Shaggy, I loved your blog - and am still trying to decide if I like the ending. Yes, I keep checking back. You DID say the next post would be your last. But then I guess not posting anything leaves the reader hanging ... for...a ... SEQUEL???? Please?

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