neurotic Iraqi wife
November 19, 2007
Cradle of this World's Civilization...
This one is from Dr A who left a few weeks ago to Michigan using the US Special Immigrant Visa:
How are you? I'm here living good, but still feeling strange. The weather here is so cold but nice. I'm still waiting for the SSN and Green Card. we are here just spending money without any income, it is like a chain here you need to complete step by step, first SSN, Green card then driver license after all these we should get a work which is most important thing here with out work mean return back to Iraq. Till now no one of my friends here get work and i think some of them will start working as a dishwasher, I hope to find something before reaching this point, you know i prefer to return back o Iraq then working as a dishwasher.
Any way if you have any suggestion regarding to work please let me know.
I wrote him an email asking him for his CV so I can try to pass it to people I know in the States. This is the reply I got:
Thank you for your e-mail, attached you my resume and references and i hope that you can find something for me, see you know that I'm ready to work at any place in USA or out side USA, and it will be very good if I get back to my work in Iraq, Please try and we will see what will happen.
My wife and son are good, and we are spending most of our time in the house because it is cold and are afraid from cold, but some time walking at street and take a tour at the stores around us, it are very nice places. last Friday we talk the baby to the health center to complete his immunization and we did it, so we spent all night with the baby because you know he got fever.
My CV, yes i think i sent my CV to all USA, but i told you when i was in Baghdad, it is not easy to get a work in USA for some reason, first we graduated from Iraq, second they prefer US citizen, Third which is the important thing they are like us in Iraq most of the work depending on relationships. Any way we are still trying may be we can find something.
Note: about the work you know that I'm ready to get any position, forget my PhD.
Thank you again
So as you can see, Dr A is already thinking of coming back! He hasn’t even completed a month yet. Is there a way, any way where we can help Dr A and/or people like him who are first timers in the States? Any ideas? He is ready to relocate the minute he gets a job offer. My hands are tied, I only know one or two people that I will send his CV to, apart from that I don’t really know anyone. He already sent his CV to the company we worked for here, but to no avail. And just to let you know, Dr A was a great Program Manager. Very hardworking and extremely knowledgeable. He is in his mid thirties I presume. Maybe a search website that any of you reading this know about? Or companies that are looking for engineers. He ofcourse speaks fluent Arabic and English.
Im gonna finish up on a completely different subject. A subject that kinda pissed me off. This is an email I received just half an hour ago:
When personnel assigned to your teams depart on R&R, please ensure that you collect their cell phones prior to their departure. Be sure that all phones are labeled with the travellers name to ensure that the phones are returned to the proper person.
Now, why am I pissed off you ask? Its no big a deal, right? WRONG! What pissed me off is the principle. Cuz it seems to me that there is someone out there, someone very depressed, sitting in this compound in a closed up dark mouldy room, sulking that he/she is deployed here. He/she is so miserable that he/she is coming up with ideas and rules to make all of us here join him/her in their misery! I don’t give a damn shit about those darn mobile phones, in reality they barely work. But what if Im stranded in the middle of nowhere during my R&R transit in lets say camp stryker or victory and I need to make urgent calls? I mean please spare me. And it doesn’t really stop here. Ok the next set of emails are no big a deal, to me that is, but again, its the principle...
A colleague of mine, who apparantely does her online shopping using Victoria’s secrets website sent this email out to the IT guys:
Alright you guys, this ain't funny no more -- Whaz up with no longer having internet access to Victoria's Secret??? Maybe - just maybe - I can see why it's not allowed at work, but geeze louise, we can't even access it in our hooches anymore!
Now, as we all know, VS is about as clean a sight as you can get -- Anything even REMOTELY risque is airbrushed out! This isn't Ann Summers we're talking about, nor even Fredericks of Hollywood...Soooooo...whaddaya say, can we get access to VS restored? Pretty please???
Reply to her email from the IT Security guys:
Sorry...but we've been replacing keyboards and monitors like crazy...depending on the spray pattern. I was referring people opening up their damn sodas. Stuck keys are one thing. Sticky pages are another. Man, that soda gets every where! So, the official reason as to why VS is blocked is because it falls into one of those categories where we are required to block it. Unfortunately, it's just the way it is. Sorry. We're also doing the female population a favor by removing the temptation to shop so you can have more in your bank account. It's a community service provided free of charge :)
Again, I can understand why sites should be banned during work hours and in the actual office. But what you do in YOUR OWN room, on YOUR OWN laptop, is I think nobody’s darn business. The ridiculus part about all this is from what the guys say, they can access porn pages, but hey, women cant access VS!!! Is there a slight aroma of sexual discrimination here?
Well, that’s enough from me for now. Again I emphasize please, if anyone can help Dr A or have any ideas, send me an email or leave it in the comments. You never know, someone out there may be able to help him. Help him and break this cold ice barrier that people build around themselves when they see an Iraqi. Remember, Iraq afterall, was, is and always will be the Cradle of Civilization. The Cradle of this World's Civilization…
November 17, 2007
Small Tiny Seeds of Hope...
Going back to the political situation here, I have been reading on many news media sites reports siting that the situation in Baghdad has improved tremendously. Ofcourse benchmark used is the number of deaths and suicide car incidents. I immediately turned around to a colleague of mine and asked him “Is it true M that the situation has improved and life is going back to normal?”. He pondered for awhile before answering then said, well it depends what you mean when you say “normal”. I said well, Im reading that shops are opening late, people are staying later than usual, there is life basically. M smiled, then said, well, yes its abit more quieter than before, but that doesn’t mean situation is good. Then he said, you have to know one thing, there was never a time when Iraqis ever stopped going out. Yes shops closed down, but people still continued with their lives.
In my opinion the decrease in “bad” activities is a combination of many factors. Unlike the media and the Iraqi government’s claims, that the situation improved due solely to the troop surge and the combined Iraqi and American forces efforts. I believe this improvement is due to Muqtada’s orders to freeze activities for 6 months. That’s what the real factor is. Come the end of the period and everything will go back to the “norm” of suicide attacks and mortars. So you can deduce an important conclusion: Majority of the chaos that caused hundreds of thousands of Iraqis getting killed is mainly (and I say mainly not solely) due to the barbaric nature of the Mahdi Militia. The Mahdi militia and Al Qaida. But the real threat actually comes from the countries that are funding those criminals. Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia! They are the main culprits in this dirty political game.
Another thing that boggles my mind are the false claims of the Govt that all those Iraqis that left Iraq in the past to neighbouring countries are coming back because the security has improved. WHAT BS! Those unfortunate Iraqis are being forced to return to Iraq because their goddamned government cannot help them financially. They ran out of money, they cannot work, and the so called caring and ambivalent neighbouring countries are not even extending their visas so they can stay. So where else can these Iraqis go??? What can they do? No body wants them. Theyre Iraqi so Theyre not welcomed. Theyre Iraqi so they have to be humiliated and turned away. Theyre Iraqi, They are doomed. Its like a banner stuck on the forehead stating “Im Iraqi, Humiliate me”. Yup…And if you don’t believe me, ask all the other Iraqi bloggers and they can tell you this is the truth.
No Mr Maliki, the Iraqis are not returning because its “safe”, they are returning because they have no choice but to endure the hell that’s awaiting them back “home”. I think theyd rather endure the hell in their own country than the degradation of strangers who mock and disgrace them. That’s the REAL reason theyre coming back Mr Maliki. Ughhhhh
In the past two or three days huge explosions rattled our office buildings. None were actually inside the GZ but extremely close. M said, here we go again. Yes here we go again. The long silence is definitely the calm before the storm. Its funny, funny is not the right word to use, but its strange how every single time the damn government issues a statement about the situation getting better, I say to myself, uhoh, I wonder whats gonna happen tomorrow, and surprise surprise all hell breaks loose and the bombing saga restarts. I think they should just shut their filthy mouths and continue to do what theyre best at NOTHING! Im really sick and tired of them. They are corrupt and useless.
Just the other day I was watching a program on one of the Iraqi channels, about a certain neighbourhood. Apparently, many of the young men decided they had enough of Al Qaida’s antics, and so they formed a semi army. An ex Col from the Baath era started training them so they can start protecting their area. They have no arms, they have no weapons. They are simply volunteers who gave up on the government and started doing things on their own. All the people in that neighbourhood were admitting how the situation improved and how these young men make them proud. A few weeks later, an official letter from Maliki’s office was sent to the ex Col ordering him to halt all operations. WHY? Why halt operations when things were going well? What is wrong with these people?
So now you see where my frustrations are coming from? I have given up on this ludicrous government, but thankfully I haven’t given up on Iraq or Iraqis yet. I know they will make it, maybe not soon enough, but they will. If Muqtada and Al Hakeem's militias get obliterated somehow, Al Qaeda disappears from the face of the earth, and the Awakening Tribes unite then all will not be lost. Maybe just maybe theres a slight light fighting its way to shine through the dark damp tunnel. Im still pessimistic, but its good to have a teeny weeny bit of faith. Faith in the Iraqi people. The good Iraqi people. I can already see the small tiny seeds being planted. Small Tiny Seeds of Hope…
November 09, 2007
Tired Exhausted Soul...
E, is leaving in a few weeks. She got offered to stay with an elderly couple who are willing to guide her through the first few months of her new life. E wears hijab and she started asking me all sorta questions. I didn’t really know what to answer. She asked me whether the hijab will cause problems for her while in the US and whether it will impede her chances of getting a job. All I was able to tell her was that there’s a lot of Muslims wearing hijab in the States so it shouldn’t be a problem. But at the same time, I did tell her that it might cause a few difficulties in the beginning. Especially after 9/11 where perceptions have been tainted. She told me that an excoworker of ours did actually remove hers the minute she set foot in Washington.
Im kinda perplexed. Should she remove it or shouldn’t she? In Islam, once you decide to put it on, its really a sin to remove it. E started wearing hers during Saddam’s Islamic phase. She didn’t really do it for the sake of religion, but infact to avoid hungry eyes. After awhile though, she felt so comfortable that she decided to keep it on for religious reasons. I remember how one time while I was going in the bathroom, I saw a lady standing infront of the mirror with the most beautiful long hair Ive ever seen. It was so bouncy and healthy. When I realized it was none other than E, I was totally shocked. She looked like a completely different person. I remember telling her, I know I shouldn’t be saying this but its such a pity youre covering your beautiful hair.
E is a very modern open minded person. She isn’t your typical strict muslim lady. Even her attire is fashionable yet conservative. The family she is gonna stay with are neighbours of friends of the friends of a military guy that works somewhere in our compound. Its kinda comforting to know that there are many people back in the States that are willing to help. E was overwhelmed. She said “Neurotica, how come they are willing to offer me a room with them and they don’t even know me?”. I smiled and said “well E, I think there are a lot of people who want to lend a hand simply because they feel guilty of what their govt did to Iraq, others are actually generous to start with”. “But Neurotica, none of my siblings ever offered to help me out, not even my sister who lives in London, yet, these strangers are too kind with me”.
Yes, reality of it, strangers can be more generous than your own family. Anyways, the question here is, should E give up what she believes in order to integrate with her new life and surroundings? Or should she abide by her principles and see where that leads her to? She already told me, that she sent the family she is going to be staying with pictures of her without the head cover. They wrote her back telling her how surprised they are by seeing an Iraqi woman dressed in modern clothing, and not wearing “the black robe” to cover themselves. E wrote them back and explained to them that not all Iraqis are like that. Infact, she also told them how back in the 60’s and 70’s women used to wear the mini dresses just like the Europeans.
I think with all the Iraqis that have left, its gonna be one helluva an eye opening experience. Both for them and for the people they will deal with. It reminds me of my first days in university in London, where everyone used to ask me whether we ride camels in Abu Dhabi. I found it extremely interesting that there are still people out there who have a wrong image about the Arab countries. Infact, they are not even aware that some Arab cities, eg Dubai, is far more European than Europe itself.
Back to E and her Dilemma. In my opinion, I think she should do what she feels is right. Wearing hijab is the most beautiful thing in Islam. Ive contemplated it many times, but I guess my time hasn’t come yet. E is leaving very soon. E is very anxious, and at times panicky. Her disabled sister Amira, was refused a visa. Although E tried her best to tell them that she is her only guardian, they still refused. After 18 years of E taking care of Amira, she decided that its time for her to move on. To move on just for now. To move on, so she can one day be united with her sister, and only then will she be able to provide her the best healthcare in the world.
Yes, E is leaving, E is leaving and the to go box I bring her for lunch every day will soon be empty. Empty, just like my soul. My Tired Exhausted Soul…
November 04, 2007
The Slaughtered Pacha Head..
Im just so out of it lately. And the worst part I cant shake it out of my system. I have a few friends that try to take me out of this dull atmosphere, but I think they have given up on me. Everytime they ask me to join them at whatever theyre doing, I shake my head and say No thanx, Im going to my room. And my room it is. My fort of solitude. Ten days ago though I decided to give in and accept my friends offer on having a BBQ next to our sleeping quarters. We all pitched in $10 and off we went shopping. Yup shopping. I didn’t really know there was a butcher’s place in the Al Qadisiyah Compound. I have already mentioned in previous posts about that compound in the GZ.
Its a compound where during Saddam's time, it used to house his republican guards. Right after the war broke out, all the guards fled and so the flats were taken up by squatters. When Jaafari became PM, he ordered everyone out and now it houses government personnel. Its the same area where HUBBY and I used to go to have dinner from time to time. Iraqi dinner, like grilled liver and yummy kababs. I preferred the food there than Blue Star's but the ambience is very uncomforting. I never saw a single woman out there eating with her family. Thats why, we never took long. Ordered our food, gulped it all up in a few minutes, had our sweet Iraqi tea and off we went. The compound also has a clinic, a school, a few supermarkets, a barbershop, a grocery corner, a mobile phone shop and ofcourse the butcher's shop.
We went in the shop, it was me, 2 Americans, one Aussie, and one Iraqi Aussie. The Iraqi Aussie is a 22 year old guy who was born in Poland, then lived in Australia. He only started learning Arabic now. So the only person that can actually translate was me. As I stood in the middle of the shop surrounded by dead animals hung on rails, I tried explaining that we need 2 legs of lamb and a few pieces of steak meat. Ofcourse all the time in there I had blocked my inhalation process for the smell was just nauseating. After 3 mins or so explaining to the guy what we wanted, I realized all the while he was banging something with a knife or hammer.
I looked down at the table where his hands where and for a few seconds, my mind didn’t really register what was going on, until I saw the HEAD. OMG! I screamed and ran out of the shop gagging. I honestly thought I was going to throw up. My friends on the other hand found the experience extremely enchanting. They even took a video of the whole scene. J started banging on the glass door asking me to go in to continue my translation. I refused profoundly. There was no way in hell, I was going back inside. NO FRIGGIN way. What the man was doing is just insane and horrific. I just couldnt believe my eyes.
If you are sensitive, a vegan/vegetarian, an animal rights activist, or are just about to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, I seriously do not advise you to watch the video. The head of the sheep is a very famous Iraqi dish called Pacha. Where the butcher skins the head (Im about to puke just by explaining what it is) cleans it from inside, then boils it forever. I have never ever tried it in my life, and I thank God that my mom never allowed it in our house. But next time you meet an Iraqi, and wanna break the ice just ask them "Do you eat pacha for breakfast?" That will do it. Its a tradition I could never understand, and seriously dont want to ever understand. SO PLEASE WARNING THIS VIDEO IS HORRIFIC. WATCH IT AT YOUR OWN RISK!!! Only Iraqis that appreciate Pacha should watch it! AND I HOPE YOU WILL LOSE THAT PACHA LOVE AFTER WATCHING THIS VIDEO! You have been warned...
My friends were also bemused at the testicles hanging from the meat that was on the rails. Its a delicacy by the way. Thank God there were no pics taken or else I woulda boycotted the darn BBQ. The BBQ itself was fun albeit too crowded. Instead of the 15 people we expected, there were about 30 or 35. I dont really enjoy big crowds, I like cozy gatherings instead. But nevertheless, it was a break from the daily mundane routine we go through here. I just cant wait to get out of this prison. A few more weeks and Im outta here.
Thats all I have for today. I better go take a shower and sleep. Maybe I will be able to have a nice dream, something other than the poor sheep's head. The Slaughtered Pacha Head...