neurotic Iraqi wife
December 31, 2008
Chaotic Mayhem of the Middle East...
The images only reminded me of Iraq. Of Lebanon. The graphic pictures of bloodied corpses of children shrouded in white being paraded in the streets made my tears stream down my cheeks. I am not a mother, yet I could feel their pain. I could feel their outrage. WHY, WHY I kept asking. Why do this. Im definitely not a Hamas supporter, but why this. Why innocent people?
Every cab we got into, the popular Quranic verses were substituted by the news. Every shop we entered had the TV's on with the same images over and over again. I came here to try and relax, yet I feel my blood boiling. HUBBY wanted to go to some Iraqi place to celebrate the New Years, we had already gotten the tickets, but to be honest I wasnt really upto going anywhere. I just wanted to stay in the room, watch TV and sleep.
As we were sitting in the Lobby killing some time, an American reporter asked if it was ok to interview us. "I saw you guys reading an English Newspaper, can I ask you a few questions about the New Years?" She asked. HUBBY was reluctant, he doesnt like to do the talking. As for me, I didnt mind one bit. And so when asked what we thought about celebrations being cancelled here because of the Gaza news, I immediately answered that its only appropriate. How can people especially here in the Middle East feel happy when their fellow Arabs are suffering. When their fellow Arabs are being slaughtered in daylight. No, definitely its not a time to be joyous.
Coincidently as we were talking to her, the restaurant we were supposed to go to, called us and said the New Years do was cancelled. Yes thats the best way. The mood is somber everywhere. Even in the malls, all you hear people talk about is whats going on in Gaza. Many have the Palestinian scarves wrapped around them showing solidarity. We even witnessed some protests, but to me protests mean nothing. Nothing at all. Ive seen it before the Iraq war almost 6 years ago. I was one of them. Yet what did it achieve? It achieved nothing. Nothing at all.
Im not gonna say Im disgusted with the Arab governments response, or the lack of it. For Im not surprised. Not surprised at all. As one cab driver put it, Arabs are traitors, and rightly so. Arab jarab. Really. They stopped caring long time ago. Why cant people live in peace? Why cant they just move on. Why keep battling over a piece of land, kill hundreds of thousands of people, devastate families when both can live together on it. Im not even gonna play the blame game. Both sides are wrong. Violence will only harbour more violence, more deaths. More corpses.
Im gonna keep it at that for Im sick. Sick and tired of the Middle East. The Chaotic Mayhem of the Middle East...
December 22, 2008
The SuShi Stomach...
This past Eid had a different flavour to it. It coincided with my birthday and so HUBBY decided to fly from Iraq and spend it with me. Every morning he wakes up and says “so what you cooking for me today?” I just go all frantic and say “Umm we are actually going to my parents” hehe. For I later discovered that frying an egg, or slapping a few frozen burgers on the grill or even boiling pasta does NOT count as “cooking” from his perspective. To cook for him is to do everything from scratch. Yup, EVERYTHING. Unfortunately the parents trick didnt last for long :(
I used to be a vegetarian for over 7 years, and the only thing I cooked while I lived in London, was this vegetarian lasagna dish which I learnt from one of the many cook books I had bought. But umm vegetarian and HUBBY do not go along. HUBBY wants REAL cooking. Real Iraqi food. Food that his mom used to prepare for him.
My own mom was a fussy cook (Still is), she never allowed us in the kitchen (Sounds too familiar, eh) hence we never were able to learn anything from her. Come today, and if HUBBY craves for anything, I just get it over the net, or ask my mom for it. Now mind you, even though Iraqi food is all the same, every house hold differs in the way they cook things. And theres a huge difference between Shia cooking and Sunni cooking (depending on the area). Yup, some have their broths in red sauce, others have it mostly in a whitish sauce. Some look brown, others look green. And that’s where my dilemma starts. Im a Shia and HUBBY is a Sunni…
So pleasing HUBBY’s palate has become a major challenge and the source of our daily conversations. “Neurotica, that’s not the way my mom used to do it” He would say after I have attempted following my OWN mother’s way. “HUBBY, sweety, Im NOT your mom, besides that’s how MY mom does it and that’s the taste Im used to since I was a kid” And the war of the Sunni Shia debates begins, lol.
I have to admit, its like a learning curve for me and HUBBY is my little guinea pig. I have discovered amazing recipe websites, mimicooks.com. The website really helped especially its video part. So now, whenever HUBBY asks me for a specific dish, I tell him “Hold on, lemme check it on Mimi’s” So far I have succeeded in 2 dishes., thanks Mimi!!! Another website that I absolutely love is this Desert Candy It taught me how to prepare a typical wintery neutral (not Shiaa, not Sunni ie SuShi in my own terms) Iraqi dish (Shalgham) And wow, for the first time, HUBBY’s belly was extremely pleased. Pleased with me and the Sunni/Shia debate was forgotten. Yaaaaaaaaaaay.
So yeah, as you can see I have been extremely busy. Juggling between work and learning to cook. Three successful dishes is not bad for someone who has been married for almost 5 years and still feels like a new bride ;) I guess this is all preparation for whats yet to come, IF HUBBY ever decides to leave Iraq and live with me that is. In the meantime, Im gonna try and learn more “SuShi” recipes, hoping, maybe just maybe he will have a change of heart. Its true what they say, the way to a Man’s Heart is through his stomach. And in this instance its through HUBBY’s stomach. The SuShi Stomach…
December 18, 2008
Their Days of Fear...
She left our previous employer because of the whole bureaucracy issue. She just couldn’t handle it, and now she is back in the States. M is 65 and reminded me so much of the character in the Arabic cartoon I used to watch as a kid, Mrs Spoon (sayyida mil3a8a). And because of her age, no matter how much she used to curse, and God, did that woman curse, no one really got upset, LOL.
A little excerpt from her email:
"Now...on to good news. X is coming to my house tonight for dinner and an overnight....than my husband and I will put him on a plane to go home to California. He is now in the US Army as a language interpreter! He has not told his family for their safety, so keep this info between you and hubby.
Y is also in the same program. She has had a rough time of it so I am especially proud of her for coming through all of this and working hard. She told me that you left the previous employer because you defended one of the Iraqi kids and how they were being treated so badly. Thanks for doing that. I should have been stronger and stayed to try to help. I am glad you are out of there, and readjusting. Wish I was coming to AD."
Many of the Iraqis who left on the Special immigration visa program to the States, were highly educated engineers. And for them to end up as interpreters for the Army is just too sad. Im not belittling interpreter’s jobs, on the contrary, I think they are true heroes for taking that kind of responsibility and putting themselves in grave danger. I raise my hat to them. But I would have rather seen those who left learn new fresh skills, instead of using the ones they already have. I can safely say about 90% of them ended up in that program as a last resort after losing all hope in finding a job that can feed their families.
Im not knowledgeable enough about the perks and the benefits they’d get as interpreters in the Army, hopefully its well worth it. Because honestly leaving behind everything, everything from families, to houses, to friends, and most importantly ones own country is NOT something you do so easily. But they had to leave. They had to, for their own survival and their own sanity.
I hooked up with many of them on facebook. And wow, the transformations were just amazing especially among the single young guys. Id sit for hours on end browsing their photos, and their new found life. Some even look more American than Americans themselves which makes me chuckle. Chuckle in a good way. Finally, finally gone are the days. Their Days of Fear...
December 15, 2008
The Flying Iraqi Shoes...
“Please repeat what you just said sis, Bush who?” “Whats wrong with you Neurotica? Bush, Bush was in Iraq and was hurled with shoes” OMG. I couldn’t believe my ears. I ran to the TV and switched to al Jazeera. Lo and behold, the scenes were repeated infront of my eyes! OH MY GOD. I was in total shock. Darn, I slept early last night and missed out…
To say I wasn’t amused would be a total lie. For I was. That guy has balls. HUBBY on the other hand, yup he is here, wasn’t amused by the whole thing. He took it personally and said, “that journalist just tainted all Iraqis. He is stupid and low. He could have done it in another way, like maybe embarrass Bush with questions etc, but NOT hurl shoes at him”. Im sorry HUBBY but I think its funny. Im not laughing at Bush nor at the icy cold Maliki but am laughing at the whole situation. For never ever in the history of Iraq, did this happen to a world leader. NEVER. Good ducking reaction though I have to admit. But for Bush to say this is just proof of freedom makes me laugh even more. Yup with freedom comes shoes…
This immediately took me down to memory lane back to when I was a child. Although I wasn’t really one of those loud kids, but I dunno why my play time ALWAYS started the minute my dad steps into his bedroom for his afternoon siesta. This was way back when we were still living in Baghdad. I was about 4 or 5 and believe me I remember these incidents as if it were yesterday.
Every afternoon, the minute my father goes in that bedroom of his, I decide to jump and run in the corridor and ofcourse scream my lungs off pretending to chase some bad evil witches (watched too many cartoons I think). And out of the blue I would see flying slippers hurled at me by my mom, LOL. Oh and I tell you these slippers NEVER missed no matter how hard I tried to duck down. My mom had really good eyes :)
Yes those were the days. Im smiling now while Im writing this, for I dunno why almost all of us Iraqis have memories that involve slippers or shoes being hurled at us. I guess it’s an Iraqi tradition, and so for Bush’s farewell, he was bestowed with one of a kind tradition. The Shoes. The Flying Iraqi Shoes…
December 05, 2008
My Own Body Of Lies...
As I was standing there, an excruciating pain jolted me. It felt like a knife carving out my insides. I didn’t know what to do. I hugged myself with my right arm trying to put pressure on the pain so it stops. But that didn’t work. I couldn’t go and sit on the bench cause then my turn will go, so I just stood there praying to god for the pain to disappear. Ripples of sweat started forming on my forehead, I looked behind me, and there were about 30 more people standing. God. I tried calling HUBBY, thinking maybe if I talk to him I will feel fine. But the lines wouldn’t go through. Damn those Iraq phones.
All of a sudden I felt my pressure going lower. Uhoh. Not here Neurotica. Not here. As I turned to warn the guy behind me, it was too late. I fell unconscious right then and there. When I regained my consciousness I found myself on the bench with women holding me up at each side. What happened I asked. You fainted one woman answered. I was gasping for breath. I thought I was gonna die. Call my brother I kept whispering. Call my brother.
As they took my phone out, I could hear them saying “we don’t know how to operate this” Shit. Its my darn iphone. I heard another calling the ambulance. No, no don’t call them I kept saying. Please don’t call them. Some American man was standing there, I could see the panic on his face. Are you ok? He kept asking. Are you ok? Yes, I nodded. But I need oxygen. Please help me, please, I pleaded. He ran and got me some water. The women behind me kept massaging my back.
There I was, all alone, surrounded with complete strangers who left their taxi line just to help me. Wow. I was shocked. Those good Samaritans. Really. Im ever so grateful to them. I dunno why but I kept thanking them and apologizing. I felt like a kid who just committed something naughty. I finally managed to unlock my iphone and dial my brother’s mobile. Poor thing he was in a deep sleep. This was about quarter to 1 in the morning. Imagine your sister on the other end of the phone, gasping for breath asking for help. Wouldn’t that give you a heart attack? I really felt bad but he was my only choice. The one person I trust with my life. The American guy took the phone from me and told my brother where I was and that the ambulance is on its way.
As the ambulance came and took me on a stretcher I was falling back into oblivion. The Dr kept asking me questions to keep me awake. Whats your name he asked. Where are you from? Minute I mustered the words Iraqi he started talking to me in Arabic. How is Iraq he asked. WTH? Here I am lying on a stretcher fighting for life and this guy is asking me about Iraq? OH MY DEAR GOD. Stay with me he kept saying. Stay with me. So how is Iraq. Cmon, don’t go away. Keep your eyes open. He kept insisting.
By the time we reached the emergency ward, I was ok. Infact, I remember apologizing to them too. My brother on the other hand looked like someone from a horror movie. His face was paler than mine. You scared the shit out of me Neurotica. I just lost 30 years of my life, he said. Poor brother. Well I guess that’s the price you pay for having a sister like me.
I have no idea why I fainted. I really don’t. I was stressed out, yes. But that isn’t an enough excuse for my body to give up on me. I have been through worse and I never fainted before. Never, except ofcourse a few weeks ago at the Dr’s office. And no Im not pregnant.
After that incident Im just too scared to go out. Now, whenever I do leave the house, I say a little prayer “Please god, let this day be not it”. Im scared that it will happen out of the blue. Imagine it happens while I drive. God what an eerie feeling. So I decided to create an instructions paper and keep it with me at all times incase it happens again:
Hi, Im prone to fainting so don’t be scared. Get my iphone out. Press the lower button, place your thumb and move to right to unlock. Go to contacts icon, find the words BROTHER, and call. Don’t panic, I will be fine.
As I recalled the events to HUBBY he was horrified. I will be coming soon Neurotica, he said. I will never let this happen to you again. I will also buy you a new phone, he added jokingly. Lol. Umm yeah HUBBY. My body will just wait for you. I guess its ironic to have watched the movie Body of Lies that day. Right now Im pissed off at my OWN Body. My Own Body of Lies…