Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape neurotic Iraqi wife: February 2008

neurotic Iraqi wife

February 28, 2008

The Strange Stockholm Syndrome...

There’s no doubt you learn new things every single day. Today I learnt a new expression which I never knew existed; Stockholm Syndrome. I found it while reading this horrific article on aol (which has nothing to do with Iraq) during my lunch break. Then all of a sudden it hit me. I realized that almost all Iraqis suffer from this Stockholm Syndrome. Is there a cure?

I mean check these pictures out. Iraqis cheering for Saddam, Iraqis cheering for Muti, ooops meant Muqtada, Iraqis cheering for US troops. Make your minds up people. But then again, we WERE called by Imam Ali ya ahl al Iraq, ya ahl il shiqaqee wal nifaq, which simply translates to: Oh people of Iraq, people of factionalism and hypocrisy! There are many who misuse these words and say it against the Shia’as only, but infact I believe this statement is true for ALLLLLLLLLLL Iraqis. Yes myself included. That’s the truth, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a big fat liar.

Iraqis cheering Saddam

Iraqis cheering Muqtada

Iraqis cheering US troops

Actually to be even more honest, ALL ARABS are like that. Cheering and hailing their sadistic leaders. Giving them excuses, yeah theyre bad people, BUT. And there's always that BUT which messes the whole sentence up. No wander we can never live in democracy. We cant live it cuz we dont understand it. Yeah sorry, Im in that kinda mood right now. Mood Noir.

Im sick and tired of playing the blame game. I really am. The problem, the problem is us (east) not them (west). THAT IS THE TRUTH that no one wants to fess upto. We have a problem and its called PRIDE. It comes in all shapes and sizes. And that by itself is a problem. A problem that lies deep within us. My only consolation is, I already am seeing people speaking out loud, making their voices heard. It may be a minority, but still, one day they will be heard.

Thats all I have for today. We are a nation suffering from many syndromes. Pride Syndrome, Hypocrisy Syndrome, Narcissim Syndrome, and this.The Strange Stockholm Syndrome...

posted by neurotic_wife at 5:07 PM 14 comments

February 26, 2008

Eeenee Meenee Mynee Mo...

He asked me who do I support, Obama? Clinton? McCain? I looked at him puzzlingly. I don’t give a damn I said. His facial features cringed into that of a man in his 80’s. Became all wrinkly and red. Its as if I had just kicked him in the you know what and told him to F OFF. Whats the big deal if Im not interested in who becomes Iraq’s next slayer? Is that a crime? Politics is a dirty dirty game, besides, what difference is it gonna make on WHO wins? They all have similar agendas towards Iraq if not the same. All roads lead to Rome as the saying goes or is it Baghdad now? So yeah, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately I can actually care less.

I guess that answer didn’t deter him from continuing. Maybe he was bored and needed someone to talk to. Yeah I think that’s what it is. He continued, Obama is black you know. I rolled my eyes waiting for the next big revelation. If Obama becomes president, that’s a first you know. That’s definitely a first in my life time you know. But you know, its interesting you know that you don’t care you know? I was gonna start pulling at my hair if he didn’t stop using the “you know” all the time. I managed to fake a smile, wow, never thought I had that gift before, and said ok, lemme ask YOU this. You have been here as long as I have, who is the Iraqi PM at the moment?

Al Maliki ofcourse, he said immediately with the smuggest smile on his face. It was as if he just answered to the question of “whats 67890 multiplied by 3456” in 30 seconds. Very good, I said. Now what religious group is Maliki affiliated to? Smug smile disappeared and was substituted by a frown. Then the smile reappeared and he said I know that, he is affiliated to that guy, Muta. I cracked up laughing at the name. Hmmm, Muta, it does suit Muqtada doesn’t it. Had he said Muti, I woulda definitely fell off my chair, cuz Muti is slang for stupid. It actually means a baby donkey in Iraqi.

Anyhow, after I recovered my composure, I said sorry, wrong answer. Although close, but wrong. And so the point Im making is, if YOU don’t know about MY country’s politics, why SHOULD I, be interested in yours? I only said that to get on his nerves and make him regret talking to me in the first place. Well, no, no, you should care, he said. I shook my head, look, be it Obama, McCain, or Clinton, they are ALL the same for me. Be it a black man, a white woman, or a yellow transvestite, I don’t care. I honestly don’t cuz at the end of the day, none of them can fix whats broken. And Iraq IS broken. If they pull the troops, we are doomed, if they keep the troops we are doomed. Solution is not in their hands anymore. It used to be one day, but they missed that train. They either missed the train, or they skipped the train, Im still debating that with myself.

The solution is with none other than the Iraqis themselves. Surge or no surge, it stopped making a difference. Kinda like making chocolate mouse. Key ingredient is using COLD CREAM. If you use room temperature cream instead, no matter how much you beat it, it will never end up as fluffy as the cold cream, hence you end up with something other than mousse, more like a pudding. So no, Im not gonna lose any sleep over the elections. He sipped his green bean coffee, shook his head and walked away. Yaaaaaaaay, finally...

And by the way that’s not just MY opinion, ask any “ordinary” Iraqi working with me about the US elections, they will simply tell you they don’t really care. All they want is for their Iraq to become whole again. Bush Senior, messed us up. Bill Clinton, messed us up. Bush Junior F’ed us up. I wander whose turn is it next. Eenee Meenee Mynee Mo…
posted by neurotic_wife at 5:02 PM 27 comments

February 24, 2008

To Tease or Not To Tease...

Im writing this post (I know I shouldnt be doing it at work, but...) out of sheer boredom. Im at work, its 1430 and Im already done with my tasks (maybe I should stop being efficient) so here I am sitting staring at the screen counting down the five hours remaining until I go to my room. Visited every website I can find for shoes, must have scoured tens of thousands of them already, yeah Ive told you before, I AM A CERTIFIED SHOE ADDICT. Maybe they should start courses at universities just for shoes. I would be the first one to enroll, hehe.

Im supposed to be researching for our next vacation which most probably will be sometime in April. Our Four year anniversary is sometime in that month, so we were thinking of either spending it with family or going somewhere new for a few days. That WAS the plan a few weeks ago. But with HUBBY, there is no such word as “Plan” in his dictionary, no sireee. Here are some of the conversations we had regarding the subject.

Conversation #1 (A few weeks ago)
Me: Umm HUBBY, I need to give in my R&R request to have it approved. When do you wanna go?
HUBBY: Upto you sweetie
Me: Ok, how about April?
HUBBY: Upto you sweetie

Ok, now when someone tells you its upto you, you take it as IT IS UPTO YOU, right?

Conversation #2 (A week ago)
Me: K HUBBY, now that we agreed on the dates, where do you wanna go this time?
HUBBY: When did we agree on the dates?
Me (Rolling my eyes while chatting with him): Last week, remember? You said its ok if we leave in April.
HUBBY: Hmm, Im not sure honey, I need to see whether my coworker will be here
Me: Fine, find out for me and tell me. But where do you wanna go this trip?
HUBBY: How about Greece and Cypress?
Me: Oh that’s nice, ok, a week there and the rest in AD with my family
HUBBY: Yeah, sounds good

There I go researching flights, hotels, things to do etc…

Conversation #3 (A few days ago)
Me (utterly excited): Hey HUBBY, guess what, we’re gonna have so much fun in Greece, the weather is perfect at that time. Im soooooooo excited
HUBBY: Who is going to Greece???
Me: HUH? WE ARE!!!
HUBBY: When?
HUBBY: Anniversary? Isnt that in April???

And so the saga continues…Why do I even bother. I know he does it on purpose to tease the hell outta me. He does that all the time just like the other day. I call him up on Friday and as usual, took me ages before I was able to get through. And when I did:

Me: Hi Habeeby, are you ok? Any fireworks at your end?
HUBBY: Hi sweetie, yeah we did have a few earlier.
Me: But youre ok thank god
HUBBY: Yeah Im fine don’t worry, how about you? Where are you?
Me: Im in the room, Im taking the day off again
HUBBY: Oh yeah (says it with a cheeky tone)
Me: Aha, I just wanna relax and do nothing
HUBBY: So what you doing right now?
Me: Im in bed
HUBBY: You dressed?
Me: Nope
HUBBY: I cant hear you
Me: NO, Im not Dressed!!! (I repeat with abit of a high voice)
HUBBY: I still cant hear you, geez the lines are so bad, can you talk abit more louder
Me: NOOOOOOOOOO I AM NOT DRESSED (saying it with the loudest crescendo of a voice that I had)

Until I realized HUBBY was chuckling in the background!!! AND I THE FOOL FELL FOR IT!!! I was soooooo ready to strangle him had he been infront of me. But you still love me don’t you? He asks still chuckling…You’d think Id learn his antics after all these years, but I fall for it every single time. That’s one of the many attributes I love about him, his light heartedness and his constant teasing. I guess it balances out my seriousness and short temper especially in this Twalled prison.

So, do YOU have that tease effect or does your other half have it? Hmmm, To Tease or Not to Tease…
posted by neurotic_wife at 1:30 PM 14 comments

February 23, 2008

The Great Hollow Iraqi Dream...

I was just about to step out of my room to go to the office at about 615 when I heard the sirens in the far distance and then the loud speakers going off informing us of a lockdown. I heard about 8 or 9 mortars hit. Im the type that doesn’t really get moved by the rockets, I guess I believe in destiny, if Im destined to die then that’s the way it goes. But the guy on the loudspeaker just pissed me off. His voice became so desperate which would scare anyone that doesn’t usually get scared. I just backed off, sat on my bed, lit a cigarette and called HUBBY. I was utterly surprised that I managed to get through; usually they block all calls during an attack. But I needed to call him and tell him that just incase he doesn’t hear from me again, Im probably dead, lol, and that I love him. After the phonecall I just sat there waiting for the all clear which came about 40 minutes later. And so my day started with a bang.

After 90 minutes of being in the office, A comes upto me and asks me to help him out. A is a man in his early fifties with 6 children. Yup SIX!!! He is one of the nicest men I’ve ever met here. Just looking at his smiley face makes you forget all about work’s stress. A finally got his US Immigration Visa and will be travelling very soon. But he decided to go alone without his huge family just to test the waters and arrange everything for them beforehand. Unfortunately A booked his flights during a very sensitive time. There is a big chance of a curfew in the next few days due to the “Arba3een” ceremony. A curfew means no cars, no planes, NO MOVEMENT PERIOD. So A asked me to help him out with rearranging his tickets.

A coworker of mine bought A’s tickets for him from Expedia. The tickets have very strict rules, any changes to it will incur about $105 penalty fees, and A is not really ready to pay that amount for something outside his control. And so my morning began with a few phonecalls to the States. First up was Expedia. I call them, and after listening to a machine, and talking to a machine for about a few minutes, I get through to Isabella; tell her the story which goes like this: Hi Im calling on behalf of so and so, his Itinerary no is so and so and I have a few questions for you. Mr A is travelling from Baghdad to Amman to catch his US flight. He needs to know if its ok to waiver the penalty charges on his ticket incase he is forced to reschedule flights due to a curfew in Baghdad. Its outside his control so I don’t think he should pay for it.

Isabella listened to my concerns and then said, Umm sorry Ma’am, we at Expedia cannot help you. (Now mind you, I did say I have become more patient with people, but I guess today was not one of those days). My voice kinda got abit loud and I said what do you mean you CANT HELP? YOU HAVE to help, the tickets were bought from you!!! Maam, Im sorry, but you need to call US Airways instead. She was nice enough to give me the number though.

Did I ever mention that I LOATHE talking to machines??? I must have repeated myself a couple of times before I was transferred to a real human on the other side of the phone. Ofcourse, after holding for about 7 mins, then relaying the same story to the guy, he simply said, Sorry Maam, this is the wrong department, you need to call this other number. BY then, my anger level was kinda getting into the groove. I banged the phone really hard, not that its gonna make a difference but I was mad, and dialed the “other” number he gave me.

I had to go through the same BS with talking to a machine then explaining to the guy A’s situation for the umpteenth time. Kent or Ken or whatever that guy’s name was that I was talking to then asked me very coldly “Im not sure I understand you, what is a curfew?” As much as I was trying to keep Ms Attitude hidden, as much as she came out with a vengeance. I couldnt believe the fact he didnt know what a curfew meant!!! I blasted the poor guy and said “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A CURFEW IS??? Its when people, especially here in Iraq, get locked up in their homes and no movement is allowed whether by air, by land or by sea. They’re simply stuck. THAT’S WHAT A CURFEW IS” I spat out. There was silence, then I was told to hold for a few minutes.

Ofcourse during all this time, A is standing right next to me. And when I lost my temper, he started patting me on the shoulder. Poor guy, I felt bad. In all cases, Kent or Ken, got back to me and said that its ok, they wont penalize for the change, but there may be a difference in the ticket rate that may have to be paid. I said that’s fine. Then I had to go through the same process with Delta. Delta’s call was far more enjoyable, the guy at the other end started practicing his Arabic with me once he knew where I was calling from, which kinda pushed ms Attitude back inside. And needless to say, they too waivered the penalty charge incase A changes his reservations. Now where else would you get such kinda service?

Anyhow here is an interesting article I just read on yahoo about some of the Iraqis that left on that special US Immigration Visa. I also heard that some of my ex-coworkers who left here a few months ago are actually looking into coming back as interpreters with the Army. I think it’s a great pity for amazingly educated guys who spent so much time and effort inorder to get their engineering degrees to end up as translators (And I dont mean any disrespect to the amazing nationalistic Iraqi translators, but translation is a specialist subject, so is engineering etc..There is a saying in Iraqi, give the bread to its baker). But what can you do, when doors keep shutting in your face, and money runs out??? The need is far greater than the desire. Far greater than the Dream. The Great Hollow Iraqi Dream…

Update: M just came by and told me that the NVC(National Visa Center) in the US has sent emails to everyone who were awaiting for a visa interview, that the quota for this year has been met and no more interview dates will be issued!!!The Iraqis at work who have been waiting eagerly for that date that would change their life are now mourning the death of their dream, The really great Hollow Iraqi Dream...
posted by neurotic_wife at 1:07 PM 10 comments

February 21, 2008

Refugees of our Own Making...

Did I ever tell you how much I hate DUST!!!Ughhhhh…We’ve been having a dust storm for the past 2 days, and night before last it came to its peak. I felt my nostrils exploding and knew that come yesterday morning, Im gonna have a party with my bleeding nose. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

As for HUBBY, well, he had a different kinda party. His compound was bombarded by rockets. And no, it wasn’t Camp Victory, that’s another one that got hit badly. But his, was not even publicized on any of the media, which was weird. Especially when three lives were lost due to the attack. So HUBBY had no electricity, no water, and hence, no internet communications. I was calling him every 2 hours to see if he was ok. Kinda was like déjà vu and took me back to the time when he was here, and I was back in AD during our first year of marriage. Ughhh, I hated those times so much. I literally would get sick from worrying.

Its Thursday, which means tomorrow is candle reflection day, yaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Tomorrow is also the 2 year anniversary of the horrendous Samarra bombings. Which happens to coincide with Muqtada’s cease fire expiration, supposedly ending on Saturday. HUBBY was telling me last night that he has a strong feeling things will get outta hand in the next couple of days and weeks, especially between the rival Shia groups. I don’t doubt that whatsoever. Which leads me to believe that I have a few stressful weeks even months of worrying ahead of me. HUBBY is not exactly in a safe place. Their compound gets pounded heavily every night, cease fire or no cease fire.

Not sure if this havoc will ever come to an end. If our amazingly nationalistic, patriotic government admits that security somehow did improve in the last six months due to Mahdi’s stand off, then can someone tell me why the Friggin HELL aren’t they disbanding this army and the other armies??? It just goes to show you that this government has no balls. Hmmm, no balls and no brains, I wonder what that makes them? A bunch of sissies??? A waste of space? That’s a tough question, don’t you think. Takes a real genius to answer.

They really have tainted Iraqis’ reputation. Iraqi men were infamous for their machoness, strength and brains amongst the Arab world. They were respected everywhere they stepped their foot in. And here we are today, instead of the machoness we have sissiness. Instead of the strength, we have utter weakness, and instead of the brains we have point blank dead cerebellum. And most shameful of all, instead of the respect, we have worthless dirty soles walking all over us.

I have no more words to say for now. I will leave you with this caricature that a coworker of mine sent to me. The stars have packed their bags with one of them saying "We thought its ONLY the IRAQI PEOPLE that get driven out of their homes due to the Militias and Parliament" (or something along these lines). Stars or no Stars, We have all become Refugees. Refugees of our own Making...

Iraqi Flag
posted by neurotic_wife at 12:59 PM 17 comments

February 19, 2008

The Dark, Meaningless Oblivion...

I started getting into the habit of taking Fridays off, unless there is something urgent I really need to work on. But lately, Ive organized everything way in advance, so I can just relax and enjoy being with myself a whole day! I usually lie in bed for a few hours, chat with HUBBY on and off, read a few articles here and there, clean and organize my bedroom, do laundry if the washers are empty, which most of the time they aint. Light some candles or incense and really enjoy the solitude.

Sunday was a holiday for us, I guess President’s day. Whenever the US celebrates a holiday on Monday, we usually take that Sunday off. Company policy is you can work upto 2 hours, not more on holidays, unless you ask permission from the Prog Manager for more. I myself definitely didn’t ask for extra hours. I found out lately, that by taking a day off, makes a helluva difference in my energy and attitude levels. I remember how I used to tease V for taking Fridays off. I never used to understand how the hell can someone spend one whole day in that small hole of a room that we have. Little did I know then.

Ok enough of me, now to something different. Last week, unlike this one which has been filled with dust and cold winds, had a very beautiful summery feel. So the smoke breaks became extremely enjoyable while basking under the Baghdadi sunshine. A few of the IT guys came out to smoke, saw me, pulled their chairs next to mine and started relaying their story day after day. It kinda became like a soap opera, where I sit and wait for updates. H is a new recruit and a fresh graduate. He’s probably been here 2 or 3 months.

H has fallen in love with his university colleague for a few years now. Two weeks ago they decided to take things further and get engaged. Usually in our culture, if you’re from a somehow open minded family, the girl would open up to her mom, tell her that there’s someone interested in her, and would like to meet the family. The mom, would then probe with questions, find out more about the guy, then inform the father of the news.

I’ll call the girl in question Rose, since Valentines Day was just a few days ago. So Rose went ahead and opened the subject with her mom. Now mind you H is Shia, and Rose is a Sunni from Samarra. When the mom heard about H’s sect, she became extremely reluctant and asked Rose to forget about it for now. Rose tried to tell her that these things shouldn’t matter, but the mom said that a difference in sect makes a lot of a difference especially in today’s Iraq. Its far too dangerous. Too dangerous.

Rose became depressed, and H tried to calm her down. Its not fair she kept telling him, this is not fair. H knew this wasn’t fair but he had other plans. The only people that know of H’s real job are his parents. Apart from that, no one else knows that he works here. As for Rose, he told her that he works in one of the Ministries during the day and at his father’s office in the afternoon, (for her own safety). Hence, his salary is a bit higher than the rest of the guys their age. He had also mentioned to Rose that there is a great chance of him going to the States, ofcourse not mentioning anything about the special immigrant visa that he can apply to when he passes the 12 month period.

When the mom saw Rose’s grim state, she felt bad, and started to break the ice by asking more questions about H, his family, his job, and his future plans. When she asked her where would they live in the event they do get married, Rose answered the States. The mom asked Rose, how is it possible to go to the States, all Rose said was that H, was promised by someone he works with at the Ministry an opportunity of going there. Now, it’s the mom’s turn to inform the father and its upto the dad to decide..

Come today, and as I was stepping out for a smoke, I glimpsed H in the hallway. He looked grief stricken. I asked for an update, all he said was, its over, Neurotica. “What? whats over?” I asked. The father refused and asked Rose to forget about the whole thing. He said “over my dead body you will marry this guy. He didn’t even wanna hear of it, doesn’t want to even meet me Neurotica, doesn’t want to gove me a chance” I didn’t know what to say. I felt anger seeping from me. “The thing that really gets to me, is the fact that the dad is an educated professor, he should be more understanding, more open minded. If THIS well educated man thinks in this backward manner, then why do we go blaming the illiterate and uneducated people for following their sectarian leaders???Why Neurotica?”

I guess I ask the same question here. Why do we blame the blind followers when the highly educated people are even more ignorant? Its sad, really sad, to see how these sectarian differences that run more than 1400 years, can rip a love so young, so pure in this day and age. H ofcourse is not the only one, but his story is real, as real as it gets. Thousands of people were forced to get a divorce because of these issues. Again, this is one of this war’s many phenomenas. Where stone age thoughts prevails, where ignorance dwells. Valentines or no Valentines, certainly H can care less. He’s heartbroken. Heartbroken and shot. Shot into the oblivion. The Dark, Meaningless Oblivion…
posted by neurotic_wife at 5:39 PM 16 comments

February 12, 2008

This War's Phenomenon...

A few days ago, a coworker of mine, came upto me while I was smoking outside and asked me “Hey Neurotica, I hope you don’t mind me asking you this question, but is pimping young girls the norm, or is it the phenomena of this war?”. I looked at him quizzically and said “Pimping? Or primping?” He’s like no, pimping. It took a few seconds for things to register in my head. And when it did, I knew he was about to tell me something I wasn’t really ready to hear.

Apparently my coworker (I will call him Roger, but that aint his real name) was out and about in the GZ, when he got approached by some guy asking him if he was interested in having some “fun”. Roger was taken aback and was ready to make a runner, thinking that the guy was gay and was asking to have sex with him, (that part cracked me up, cuz the look on Roger’s face telling me this was just priceless). Roger started walking real fast towards the car to get outta there, but the other guy, the pimp, followed him and said “Mister, mister, is cheap, she is fresh. She is young, is real cheap”. Roger stopped, and supposedly, out of mere curiosity or so he says, asked how much. (And I aint gonna advertize the prices here, nor am I gonna say what was the kind of “services” that guy was offering, but it was utterly sickening).

Under general order number one, both contractors and Military personnel are forbidden from having any sexual activities with the “host” country nationals. I became really disturbed and something inside of me hurt. I remember when I first got here back in May 05, how the young Iraqi children, would be lined up in the street selling chewing gum and DVD’s. HUBBY and I used to always stop and chat with them, joke around, and give them some money. They were the cutest things you see in this Twalled prison. They were the only life that gave flavour to this place. Plus they talked in such a smart ass attitude with a typical Iraqi accent which always made me laugh. Sweet little things talking that way, I just found it very cute.

A few months later, there was a flyer distributed asking all of us to stop talking to the children because some of them were paid by the insurgents to become informants. Supposedly some of them were trying to get info from everyone working in the GZ. After that flyer, we stopped seeing any of them around. Not even in the streets. But you do bump into them in the side streets playing nearby their shabby homes. But to think that these innocent beautiful kids are being pimped, that just tells you how BAD the situation REALLY is. For me even if the girl is 12, she IS a kid dammit. I don’t give a damn, These are children for god’s sake. Children..We never ever had kids being offered for sex. Women yes. Saddam’s son’s used to have many muses, but prostitution was totally forbidden. Thta doesnt mean it wasnt happening. Hell yes it was. Women were desperate, just as I mentioned in my last post. So Im not gonna deny that, but kids, no, not like that. No, not in this manner.

So the answer to Roger’s question is Noooooooo. No, this is not the norm. It was never the norm. And it shouldnt be the norm in any place in this world. If only this government made it worthwhile for all those who voted for them and became unselfish for awhile and tried to help its people. If only this government tried to supply Iraqis with better services, build them better homes, provide them with security and electricity, jobs and commerce, instead of spending it on their own security, on their own homes, on their own families, then none of this would have happened. None of it. But this is one of many horrible phenomenons. This War's Phenomenon…
posted by neurotic_wife at 5:08 PM 41 comments

February 09, 2008

The Silently Grieving Black Veils...

After already gulping down four mugs of coffee by 9 in the morning, my bladder was ready to explode. I entered the bathroom, only to find both cubicles occupied and a girl at almost every mirror applying some make up. I couldnt be bothered to walk to the outside bathrooms, so I asked if they were all waiting in line, thankfully, no was the common answer. So I just stood there waiting.

Two or three minutes later, this girl barges in, wearing black from top to toe. The head scarf was black, sun glasses black, the coat was black, everything was black. I was curious to see who this new person is. As she took a place infront of the only unoccupied mirror, she started removing her huge black sunglasses and her black scarf, to reveal beautiful long naturally blonde hair flowing beyond her shoulders in soft golden waves. It was non other than Sandy Belle (Not her real name, but she does look like Sandy belle, the cartoon character). I smiled and said, “My god Sandy, I didn’t even recognize you”. She looked at me through the reflection of the mirror with her striking blue eyes, and smiled back gently. Yeah I know, she said while smoothing out her hair. I look scary don’t I. I shook my head, not scary per se, but different. Then she said with a sad tone, "I have no other choice “Neurotica”. Its either I cover up or I get killed". Then she took out her eyeliner and started applying the dark blue Kohl around her eyes.

Its very rare that I find myself speechless, but today, and in that particular moment, I just stood there utterly speechless. Speechless and filled with shame. What am I supposed to say? “Oh Im sorry that you cant walk freely in your own country?” or “Oh Im sorry that you have to go through all this shit and I don’t???” or just a plain “Oh Im sorry!”. What the hell was I supposed to say to a stunningly beautiful young Iraqi woman who is supposed to be enjoying her life to the full instead she is being forced to hide behind the darkness of the veil??? After a few seconds though, I said “Sandy, I just read this morning on the CNN website that this situation is mostly in Basrah, is it also happening at that extreme level here too???”

She stopped applying her makeup, turned towards me and said in the saddest voice ever “Oh Neurotica, this is happening everywhere in Iraq, not just in Basrah or here but everywhere. We have become easy targets for those animal extremists”. The sadness in her voice slowly turned into anger. “Yes we suffered under Saddam’s regime, but atleast then, we knew who to blame. Now Neurotica, now, we don’t even know who to point the finger at? The Sadr Militias? The Badr Brigades? The Al Qaeda Wahabi extremists? Who do we blame Neurotica? Even the US forces are guilty.”

“I don’t even know if my neighbour will tell on me, or my friend. Or that old man I buy the vegetables from. Or that small boy sitting in the corner begging. I don’t know who will shoot me first. The militia? The police? The Americans? Or maybe a drug addict, or a drunk man? Who is it gonna be? If it wasn’t for my elderly parents I would have left long long time ago."

My bladder seemed to have forgotten about its dilemma. Both of the cubicles became free, yet I felt awkward just leaving Sandy like that. The only words that I managed to muster were “Allah Kareem, Inshallah things will change, and you will be able to live your life like all the normal people in this world”. “When Neurotica? When? I pray to God everyday, but whats the point, Ive been praying non stop, yet nothing has changed. Nothing at all. In Saddam’s time, we lived in fear, and now, we STILL live in fear. Do you think its possible for things to become normal again? Ever?”. “Inshallah they will”, I muttered, Inshallah…And with that said, I rushed to the cubicle before it became occupied again.

It angers me to see how these women suffer just because they ARE women. Who do they go to? Who do they go to, to complain? On whose shoulder do they cry on? If they get raped, they suffer in silence from fear of getting killed by their own families in the name of the so called “Honour Killings”. The never ending wars took their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons away just like that. They swept floors, cleaned houses, cooked food, sewed clothes, sold their belongings just to feed their flesh and blood. In some cases they were even forced to sell their own sacred bodies for a few measly dinars, they sold their own bodies out of despair.

In my eyes, those women, those constantly supressed Iraqi women, are my true heroes. All they witnessed is constant sorrow and pain, yet their constant hunger for survival puts everyone to shame. Everyone, including me. I send my love and utmost respect to these women. These tough, resilient Iraqi Women. The women behind the Abbayas and Veils. The Silently Grieving Black Veils...
posted by neurotic_wife at 6:04 PM 23 comments

February 06, 2008

A Smoke Free Way

Last night, for the first time in my whole life, I actually was thinking of quitting smoking. I called HUBBY…

HUBBY: Are you ok? Was there an attack? Whats wrong sweetie?
Me: Must there be anything wrong for me to call you?
HUBBY: Umm no, not exactly, but its past 10, and youre usually in bed by then
Me: Yes I know, listen, I need to tell you something very important
HUBBY: What happened? What did you do now? Did you get yourself fired?
Me (Laughing): I didn’t do anything, but I think I wanna quit smoking
HUBBY: Oh good, if you quit I will quit too
Me: No HUBBY, No. You don’t understand. This is a big deal you know. I never ever wanted to quit in my life, theres a difference between wanting to quit and not being able to, and not wanting to quit at all…
HUBBY (Silence)
Me: Helloooooo, you still there
HUBBY: Aha, oh wow, look at that, the plane is in the air
Me (Confused): What plane?
HUBBY: Oh Im watching the national geographic channel
Me: WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT…Here I am confessing to you that I wanna quit, and youre talking about bloody planes
HUBBY: Oh right, sorry sweetie, yeah sure lets quit…

And so the dream did not live on. First thing I did this very morning was grab that pack and smoke a few!!! Reason I actually thought about this quitting business is two things. One is I guess my broody instincts. I have been reading a lot about how smoking has a huge impact on conception. And, unfortunately, we both are very heavy smokers, especially HUBBY. And two, as I was talking to a coworker of mine, I started sniffing, thinking a cigarette was burning right inside the office, it infact was HIM SMELLING LIKE A CHIMNEY!!! I was horrified, and asked him, “OMG, so Steve, when you pass by meeeeeee, do I smell that way too???” He smiled and nodded very very slooooooooowly. I was in SHOCK!!! And kept saying NO WAY!!!

A lot of people here have only started smoking when they came to this place, I guess the stress gets to you after a while. Yet there are many who quit and became health freaks. Im abit of an extremist when it comes to certain things. Theres an Iraqi saying (Loo 6ukha loo iksar mukha)…Not sure how to translate it. I guess literally it would mean you either shoot him or break his brains out, theres no in between. Basically its either black or white…So if I quit, I will be one of those people that I cant stand, who would start coughing uncontrollably when they see someone smoking miles away. I HATE THAT!!! Especially in restaurants, when they’d choose to sit in a smoking area cuz there isn’t any place in the other area, then they give us dirty looks and cough, and roll their eyes..I mean, Hey, YOU chose to sit here…So to become those people is something I can never ever imagine..But you never know....Things can and do change...Hmmmm

Oh well, I guess quitting time will come when we decide to have kids. And only then, I will really do it. If theres a will, there definitely is a Way…A Smoke Free Way…

Footnote @19:23pm: I just crossed the road on my way to my room, and an Iraqi police car passes by. I just saw the new Iraqi flag for real rifraffing on its trunk. That thing is pure Ugly!!!I want our old flag back!!!
posted by neurotic_wife at 5:57 PM 25 comments

February 05, 2008

A Short Slow Mile...

The day started out with a minor scare. Im helping M out with his CV, and so I needed to ask him a few questions. I called his desk phone, he didn’t answer. I walked to his area, he wasn’t there. I asked about him, no one saw him. My heart started to pound. That’s very unlike M. I called his mobile, no reply. My mind started playing scenarios that weren’t very pleasant. I asked someone else to call him, because I know, M doesn’t have my mobile number, so probably that was why he didn’t pick up. Thank God A was able to get through to him, and thank God M was fine…

The day progressed slowly with very little happening except for a few rumours here and there. I hate rumours. Because we are in such a small environment, you’d be surprised how words get twisted and turned to serve the individual’s purpose. Sometimes, I just wanna throw up, especially when its people you know, and people you thought you liked. Oh well Shit happens doesn’t it…

The highlight of the day though was two coworkers of mine coming back from their vacation. V, the health freak and L. I actually did miss them alot, they bring a kind of normalcy into my life. We can talk about anything from shoes to hair to shopping to work and even people without having any reservations. And believe me, that’s one thing that’s missing here. Privacy…Privacy and minding ones own business…Oh and not forgetting the number one trait that you can rarely find in this workplace, genuine people. People who truly smile and mean it, not smile then stab you in the back!!! UGHHHHH

On to a completely different subject though, yesterday, HUBBY called me up during lunch telling me that Maliki is on TV, at an opening ceremony of one of the bridges that has been recently constructed. I dunno why I got abit excited. Maybe cuz I know the bridge he was talking about. I have read about it through my work many times. The Sheikh Saad Bridge was one of many projects that’s part of a new initiative taken by the reconstruction office to try and help with the rebuilding efforts. Because of the drastic failure of some of the Design Build US contractors (from corruption, to bad schedules, to erratic costs), which you are fully aware of from the media, the recon office decided to implement a new strategy and see if it works.

This new strategy is basically a government grant. Where the Ministry of Construction and Housing together with the provincial government prioritizes what projects should be done in that area. Projects are solicited to mainly Iraqi contractors. The main idea is to engage the local provinces in the decision process and it also helps reduce costs. Unlike the design build, these are firm fixed price.

Although it’s a minor achievement amidst all the chaos that’s going on, but it is something that I wanted to note in this blog. The initial reconstruction efforts didn’t really go as planned, and time and time again we read in the news why. Im not really an advocate and I do speak against many of the things that’s going on, but in the middle of all the hay stack of chaos, blood and corruption, tiny nests are really getting built. Hopefully, they wont get bombed like many of the other projects.

I know of five brand new clinics worth almost millions, that were on the verge of completion when heartless insurgents bombed the sites inside out. In some cases it was insurgents and in other cases, it was later found out, the sub contractors that didn’t get paid, were the culprits! I mean these were clinics, that were supposed to relief the congestion of the badly maintained Iraqi hospitals. State of the art clinics that were to act mainly for the interest of pregnant women and children. But no, the selfish criminal bastards dont want stability, they dont want good things to happen to Iraqis. Let the women be treated in measly, dirty, destitute conditions. Infact, let them die, Who cares….Right??? God!!! That just boils my blood...

For now though, this tiny bridge may be, just may be the start of that one mile. I doubt it, but it is a mile nevertheless. A Short, Slow Mile…
posted by neurotic_wife at 5:31 PM 7 comments

February 03, 2008

Chunky Monkey Ice Cream...

I hate it when people stare, infact I despise that stupid habit especially when its done to meeeeeeeeee. Ughhhhh, sometimes I can really hate men. You’d think I’d get used to it by now, especially being out here, a male dominated place, for almost 3 years. But nope, cannot for the life of me get used to their eyes scouring every inch of me. At times I want the ground to open and swallow me up. I mean seriously, if you see me, you’d think Im a tomboy. I deliberately dress that way so I don’t have idiots looking and I know Im no where near sexy. So what is it with these men?

I also know they do it with all the other women around but me, I just couldnt hack it anymore. So today, as I was walking back to the office, a group of men just stopped their conversation and began their eye scavenging habit. You know what I did? I stopped, stared back, gave them one of my dirtiest looks and said “Is there a problem?” You woulda thought they’d get embarrassed and quit, but nooooooooooooo…They friggin smiled and said “How are you doing?” OH MY GOD!!! I have to thank the Lord I don’t own a gun!

And no, I don’t get flattered, and I never will…Ughhhhhhhhh. Maybe I should start wearing a abbaya and cover my face as well. How about that? As Im writing this I remembered a very funny incident that happened to me a long long time ago. Its funny now but believe me it wasn’t then. I was out with two of my girlfriends in AD. We were walking in what was then known as the “Indian Souq”, which they demolished by the way. Anyways, as we were walking, I felt someone touch my derriere, and MY GOD, did I have an excellent reflex.

I turned around, slapped the man’s face and started screaming atrocities at him. At that precise second, in the most crowded place you’d ever find in AD, if a needle was dropped Yes you would have definitely heard it. That’s how silent the place became. The man’s face went all ashen, and my girlfriends freaked out having no idea what had happened. Lol…I guess that B***** didn’t expect such a reaction, thinking hey, she is a woman, she is weak!!! WRONGGGGGGGGGGGG, some of us may be weak in the muscle department, but Im definitely not weak in the tongue (which happens to be the strongest muscle in the body) department… ;-)

Maybe it aint my day, cuz that wasn’t the only unpleasant episode taking place. Ive been put in a situation where two men, yup story of my life, are fighting each other’s egos’. But I aint gonna go into the details, cuz Im simply not in the greatest of moods to disclose anything yet.

On a different note, whats the big deal with this superbowl thing??? We got numerous emails today saying that anyone wanting to watch the superbowl game, and cant come into work early (cuz they will be up all night for the lateness of the game here), its ok, but they need to make up the hours later. I told you this is a male chauvinist place. Would they have sent a similar email if it was lets say, ummm, the Victoria’s Secrets annual fashion show??? Nooooooooooo…ofcourse they wouldn’t….Ughhhhhh. For now though, ignoring all that’s happening around me, life would be nice if it was just me, myself and HUBBY…And maybe some of that yummy Chunky Monkey Ice cream…
posted by neurotic_wife at 3:58 PM 34 comments

February 01, 2008

Fatal Deadly Lava...

The dust found its way to my nostrils keeping me awake all night. I probably had four hours of sleep when I found myself waking up at 830 in the morning. So much for sleeping in. After awhile I switched the TV on and I honestly wish I didn’t. First thing I saw was the Al Sharqiya channel showing us pictures of the bombings that took place in the 2 markets. I had vowed that I wouldn’t watch any news for the sake of my mental health, but I am Iraqi afterall, and I cant just ignore whats going on around me.

The news said that at both bombings, 2 mentally disturbed women were the culprits. WOMEN people, WOMEN!!! That’s how bad things are here in Iraq. And we still have worthless people still disputing the Lancet report, asking whether its a true study? No its actually a fake one, done in really weird circumstances, they tell the world. No dont believe this report they argue. This report is all lies!!! If this report is all lies, then all those millions of Iraqis that got martyred and are still getting martyred everyday are but film characters in a sci fi movie, right? These deaths arent real right? Those kids who died today are plastic dolls whose tiny limbs happen to be scattered on the street right??? The majority of today’s victims were kids. Real kids!!!Kids whose parents wanted to take advantage of the weekend to entertain them. Entertain them instead of keeping them locked up between the walls of their cold, dark, lonely homes. But no, entertainment in Iraq is wishful thinking. For even the thought of it is a sin by itself.

The only people here that have the right to the word “entertainment” are Al Qaeda and the militias. Oh yes. They probably are sniggering right now at the sight of the scattered tiny limbs of those innocent children. Sniggering and laughing. I still cannot fathom how these people are called humans??? For they definitely have no humanity in their blood whatsoever. They are resorting to mentally disabled people to carry these cowardly acts. That’s how low they are. The lowest of the low. No words in my dictionary can describe these animals.

And just as I was chatting with HUBBY, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM, a large explosion took place very close to him. It was so close that even I heard it over the speakers. I guess its official now that the 6 month standoff of al Mahdi militia is over. They have started their demonic acts yet again. And our great government, our amazing nationalistic one and only government is busy disputing the colour of our flag and making numerous ads encouraging the people that left to come back because “your country is safe now”.

Noooooooooo. No the country isn’t safe. The country will never be safe if it has people like you in place. No the country will never be safe if it has faces like Hakeem, Muqtada and all the other cockroaches like Al Qaeda and the Wahabi’s etc surviving on Iraqis’ flesh and blood. You know what they remind me of? They remind me of Dracula. Dracula dressed in turbines and abbaya’s camouflaging the holy verses of our purest Quran. They tainted our religion with their vengeance to kill. They tainted our rivers with their thirst for our blood. And all of you out there, number crunching the deaths of Iraqis and lying about it claiming that its nonsense, YOU, in my eyes, ARE WORSE THAN THOSE DRACULAS! All of you culprits made my Iraq a volcano. A volcano thats erupting slowly. A volcano full of lava. Fatal Deadly Lava…
posted by neurotic_wife at 8:19 PM 18 comments