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neurotic Iraqi wife

February 13, 2007

The Iraqi Destiny...

I have only been here four days and yet I felt the difference immediately. That dead look in their eyes. And when I say dead, I mean dead. Its even more noticeable now. That hunger for work is gone. That hunger for success has disappeared. They are tired. They are exhausted. They have given up. I know youre gonna say but thats how it was before. No, its different this time. I dunno how to describe it. Their frail bodies says it all. Their empty hollow eyes tells of a story of hope that has long dissippitated into thin air.

Even their desire of saving money to travel afar for a better life has gone. Just Gone. Its no more. No body wants us they tell me with their sad quiet voices. No body wants us. Where do we go? Where CAN we go, they ask. No where. We are stuck here, this is our destiny. Our destiny is to die alive here or is to live to die. Thats what they say.

A in a moment of anger started cursing Iraq and the fact that he is Iraqi. I hate myself he says. I hate it. I hate everything around me. I hate this country. I hate this country. I hate everything it brought upon me. What did Iraq give me he said while taking a long puff from his cig. Then he shakes his head, this country gave me nothing but pain. As much as I loved it, as much as it hated me. It took away my uncles, it took away my cousins. Everything I ever enjoyed, it took it away. No, it didnt take it away, It snatched it. What do you want me to tell you, he asks. What more can I tell you.

Yeah, what more can they say. Even their screams have become empty echoes. Empty echoes silenced by their pain. Being an Iraqi as I said has become like a contagious virus. No body wants you. HUBBY came and picked me up as usual to go for dinner. He seemed very distracted. What is it I say, whats wrong? Im Iraqi Neurotica. Huh??? Im Iraqi and thats why my boss refused to make me the program manager. Did he tell you this to your face? Yes, he was honest and told me that even though Im a US citizen, even though I speak like one, even though Ive lived there almost all my life, I AM IRAQI. You can sue them I said, thats a racist remark. He shrugged his shoulders and said, you know whats worse, not the fact they wont make me program manager, but the fact that they are here, in Iraq, yet they hate Iraqis. They mistrust them. Thats the worse part, thats the biggest insult to me.

He still cant get over it. The Iraqi hatred virus has spread to even the most stupid of people. Mrs Chair, yeah Mr Chair has brought in his Mrs, 6 months back. She spent 3 months with our organisation when in her own words " I hate working here, Im not used to being with "Iraqis". They are rude, they are loud, its different from the States". Her reasoning of Iraqis being rude is because Mrs Chair, cant stand it when ppl dont tell her good morning every day, and good afternoon every evening. I said look B, the fact they come here alive everyday is a miracle by itself. THe last thing on their mind is to even remember each and everymorning to say "Oh B, good morning, you are looking so lovely today". B, didnt get it. But she quit anyway and joined another company.

Three months later, and its deja vu. B aka Mrs Chair, gave in her resignation 2 days ago and decided to come back to our company. I freaked out. I cant stand her. I cant stand her daily complaints about Iraqis and their ignoring her. I cant stand her fake niceness then her stabbing in the back. Theres something about her that gives me bad vibes. Really bad vibes. I have a feeling she will be working directly with me, and I have an even stronger feeling that they will put her as my boss. Only reason they will do that, is because one she is Mrs Chair (isnt it against work ethics to have your spuse as your boss???Her husband is the manager) and Two I AM IRAQI!!!! I have been here 16 months, I know the prog inside out, but no, its against their ethics to put me an IRAQI in charge. The same ethics that ended HUBBY's, the two H's, The two S's and Z's contracts before time. The same ethics that refused to hear (from Iraqi expats) the truth about how the program should be managed.

And no, Im not upset about the position, its the constant feeling that your boss, the so called thirty five year old inexperienced guy that was put a manager over a multi billion program does not trust me enough cuz I am first and foremost an Iraqi. I took an oath over myself that if they bring Mrs Chair, who has never even heard of Taj Mahal becomes MY F* Boss, Im gonna let all hell break loose. Its a right that I have. A right that I will definitely fight for. If they dont like what I say then Im giving my resignation in. I started looking elsewhere and many are interested. Some even want someone with an Iraqi background, a huge difference from the majority of companies here. Hence the failure of this so called historic reconstruction effort.

And you know what, its their loss. Their loss definitely. A and HUBBY lift your heads up, lift your heads high up cuz YOU ARE IRAQI. It may be a bad karma for some to be one today, but no, I believe in destiny. The Iraqi Destiny...
posted by neurotic_wife at 9:23 PM 82 comments

February 08, 2007

Iraq, was, is, and will always be The Damned Nation...

A hundred Indian rupees is about $2.27. An Iraqi is now worth less than that. Yes, Iraqi blood has become so cheap that even haggling is not worth the effort. Bravo humans of the world. Bravo to everyone who talks about humanity and human rights. Bravo to you, the so called honourable neighbours of Iraq. Bravo to United States and Britian. Bravo to all of you for lending a helping hand.

To be an Iraqi today equates to someone carrying a fatal contagious virus. No body wants you, no body wants to help you, no body wants to be near you, no body wants to touch you. To be an Iraqi today, you have to get used to "friendly" neighbouring countries slamming their doors in your face. To be an Iraqi today, you have to fend for yourself, for you are alone, alone in a world that preaches human rights, yet do nothing, nothing to save you. Nothing to save you from a mortar, a rocket, a suicide bomb, a militia gang, a bullet. Nothing to save you from the savages that are eating your flesh while youre still alive. Nothing.

Our trip to India, opened our eyes to many things. India, the land of maharajas and kings. India, that country with its rich history and culture showed me one thing, and one thing only, with all the shocking poverty that I saw in my own eyes, India with its many different sects and religeons, India is indeed the best example of democracy. For no one, no one can imagine the scenes I saw afore me, nothing can actually prepare me for these sights. Yet you wander, how a nation so large, with almost everyone living in dire conditions are living in such harmony. Why? How come?

How come they dont kill each other, how come they dont kidnap and ask for ransoms? How come? Its a simple question, with an even simpler answer. Indians all live in harmony because they themselves as people believe in Peace. Indians, I found out are such loving and friendly people. Even their president, when we ask about him, their voices would immediately turn soft and the words humble and simple describe their so apparant respect for him.

Although our India trip was a disappointemnt to both HUBBY and I, it taught us one thing, no matter how bad we think our life is, there are people in much worse situation, yet they are happy. Our arrival in Mumbai was greeted by that rotten sulphur stench that everyone warned us about. We were still on the runway, and I had to gag from that smell. I immediately covered my nose with my shawl and inhaled as much of my perfume as I can. The way to the hotel, we saw hoards of people living on the streets. And I mean Hoards. They use the pavements as their homes, putting up some cloth to cover that area they live in. Yet they pee, shit, shave, shower with water buckets all out in the open.

Everytime the car stops on a traffic light, kids ages no more than 5 would tap our windows and make gestures with their hands to give them money. Not one child, but 4 or 5 just gather together and start begging. By the time we reached the hotel, I was already emotionally drained. The traffic in Mumbai is so dangerous that even the driver told us "to be able to drive in Mumbai, you need an extremely good horn, an excellent brake, a brilliant eye sight and good luck". Yup, and thats exactly true. The adrelanin rush you get just by sitting in the car on the streets of Mumbai is amazing. My immediate thoughts went to my colleague D, an American who loves to sky dive. D, forget sky diving, go to Mumbai and you will have the best adrelanin rush ever.

By the second day, HUBBY and I wanted to leave. We really did. The continious noise of beeping cars, rickshaws, buses, bikes, motorbikes and whatever else that was on the street made me crave for the helicopter noise that used to bug the hell outta me in Baghdad. After discussions etc, we decided that we are there, we might as well check out delhi, agra and jaipur. Delhi was much calmer than Mumbai, I managed to enjoy it. By the 6th day in India, we were craving for meat, not mutton as they call their lamb, nor dal or potatoes or lentils etc..., but real beef. So as we passed a mcdonalds, we immediately jumped at the driver and told him to stop. I could already imagine devouring that yummy big mac with its sauces dripping down my chin.

We go in, and I tell HUBBY to get me a Big Mac. After five minutes, HUBBY comes back with a tray filled with 2 veggie burgers. I became so mad and said "HUBBY, I thought I told you I want a Big Mac???" HUBBY just looked at me and asked very cooly, "Neurotica, where are we?" Huh??? what do you mean where are we? He asked again, where are we? I said we are in Mcdonalds. No, which country are we in? Country? I was like to myself, HUBBY has gone mad, what the hell do you mean? Just answer the question he said. Ok, we are in India, and it then struck me, but ofcourse, no beef in India. OH MY GOD. NO DAMN BEEF!!!!Again my thoughts went out to my colleague D, who is a vegetarian. Yup D, I think India is heaven for you!!!

We decided to go to Agra, the place of the famous Taj Mahal by car. The 5 hour journey, we drove along camels, cows, bikes, rickshaws, motorbikes, cars and people. You name it, it was on that street. A 2 car lane, was crammed with all the above. Many times we thought we were gonna die. Driving in India is no joke. The driver would keep taking hard brakes, and he beeped all the way long. Half way through our journey, I needed to pee. Not sure whether its because of the mass surges of adrelanin rush due to being in the car or simply because of the tiny drop of water I had to take along my panadol extra tablets. We stop in a place called a dhabba. A dhabba is basically a name they call Indian cafes along the way. Food is known to be unhygienic and causes many cases of food poisoning. But HUBBY was told by a good friend of his to go and try one, since you are in India, you have to go to a dhabba. Umm yeah. The driver showed me to the bathroom, which consisted of a hole in the ground, not a toilet but a hole. A hole with flies all over, flies and coackroaches. I stood there, staring, thinking to myself, there is no way, no freakin way Im gonna pee here. The driver after seeing the shock on my face said "madam, you ok?" Now what am I gonna answer this guy. I just asked whether there was another bathroom or a hotel close by, he just shook his head. So basically its either now or in another 3 hours. I succumbed to my misfortune and peed with a breaking record of time.

Agra I have to admit was the highlight of our trip. The Taj Mahal was just breathtaking. It made me forget about the outside for awhile and go back to the time of Shah Jahan who built this seventh wander of the world. The structure and architecture is beyond anything Ive seen. Yet the story behind it gives it even more of a magical touch. Shah Jahan, the ruler of the Moghul Empire, loved his second wife Mumtaz Mahal so much that he promised her on her death bed, that he will comemorate her memory and let people from all over the world remember her for eternity. And so the Taj Mahal was built. It took nearly 22 years with about 22000 workers. The grandiose of that place makes you feel sad, that his beloved wife did not manage to see and live its magic.

We saw many amazing temples, Sikh and Hindu. We also managed to see one of their famous Mosques. The architecture all in all, spoke a story of all religeons and ruling eras. It spoke of wars and rich history. Yet you look at India today, and apart from those astonishing monuments, you are only left with a memory of beggars tapping your shoulders, or street vendors annoying the hell out of you. The funny thing was, whenever they asked where we come from and we say Baghdad, their smiles disappear and sadness overwhelms their faces. Then the obvious words of Saddam was a good man and America is no good comes out immediately. As the language is a big barrier, we tend to leave out alot of our opinions and instead I would just say No Saddam was bad he kill many.

Haggling becomes second nature to anyone who goes to India. Once they see tourists, they multiply their prices by 5 or even 6 times. We just slash them by a third and see what they say. You get no mama, no baba, no good. This real leather, this hand made, no please, price no good. We walk away, and they come running after us. Needless to say we get what we want. In Jaipur, the pink city, we managed to ride an elephant which was fun. But by the end of our trip we were so so glad that it did infact come to an end. I think the poverty, the pollution, the dirt, the beeping cars, the traffic, and the beggars, made us appreciate what we had more.

Even funnier than all this, was in the airport in Delhi on our way back to Abu Dhabi, I see sports bags with the words Iraq written all over them. I nudged HUBBY and said, hey look. HUBBY then immediately approached them. A bunch of 5 boys maybe ages 17 or 18 were startled to hear us talk to them in Iraqi. Turns out they were there for a boxing tournament and they won silver medals. Their coach then spoke to us, and asked us what we were doing in India, I dunno why, but HUBBY said its our honeymoon. The coach immediately looked at me and said, you left the whole world, the whole wide world, and you didnt find a better place to go to but India????And dont forget this is a man, who lives in baghdad, a man who gets showered with bombs and mortars on a daily basis. A man, who lives by the sounds of suicide attacks. I asked, ok, between India, and baghdad, where would you choose. He laughed and said, even if they give me millions, I will never come and live here.

I guess being under a stressed environment in Baghdad, I really wasnt ready for such a trip. I just wanted peace and tranquility. We got back, me with a terrible flu and fever and HUBBY with a swollen thigh and a blister, from a vicious insect bite. In less than a few days we will be back in Baghdad, and no this time of all times, I really am not looking forward to it. My partner at work sent me an email that he resigned and will be leaving in 2 weeks. I presume the incidents that took place a few weeks back threw him off. I cant say what these were, but all I can say, things are getting really really bad even in the so called heavily fortified green zone. Human value especially Iraqi human life value has plummetted, thanx to the government and to the so called saviours of our nation. Iraq, was, is and will always be the Damned Nation...

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posted by neurotic_wife at 9:20 AM 56 comments