Sunday, July 30, 2006


This makes fun of everything and everyone....It is hugely offensive, but is hugely hilarious as well, take your pick.

Osama and Saddam - video powered by Metacafe

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Wise and The Willing

Since my month-long absence, dozens of stuff crept up to my head, I bookmarked each and everyone for future posts, but, alas...
I am real lazy.
But aside of that, I managed to get my lazy ass safely to Amman two days ago, this is how it went, you can compare this post with Zeyad's own 'Amman' as they are somewhat different:

Having finished my final course exams, I am now obliged to pay a visit to my family who have more or less settled in Jordan; I have travelled over there 3 or 4 times in past two years, I couldn't go with them there as studying in Jordanian colleges requires money (for no good purpose, I am afraid, they're just as bad as the ones in Baghdad, in my friend's words: Here a donkey, there a donkey.) so I finished up my B.Sc. studies in Baghdad.
I digress, I travelled in the past by land, it is a horrible, horrific, catastrophic experience, considering its terminal ability to kill you out of boredom, hellish border stop which could go as far as 10 hours, and more recently the eclectic sectarain spices which added an ominous streak; thus, my ever-watchful parents were sold on travelling by plane, which I curiously wanted to try.

Iraqi Airlines, as Zeyad said, were booked until way along the line, this time to August, however, nothing is impossible for the wise and the willing, my grandmother knew a connection, and when I told her I wanted to fly out 'July 8', two days before July 8, she managed to squeeze me out a ticket, the customary price for a return ticket is 625$, but considering our most unusual 'squeezing' we had to fork an extra 100$ - a fitting tribute to administrative corruption.

Having arranged that, we had to land a taxi deal to take me to the airport, we negotiated one for the price of 35$, the route takes usually half-an-hour.

At July 8, I was waiting for my driver at 9 o'clock, he arrived at 9:30 o'clock after trouble broke out near his wife's residence, the route was surpisingly simple and straightforward, unlike what Zeyad had recounted: empty streets, followed by a lone dog-sniff, a singular vehicle examination and a simple luggage examination, I noticed that all of the checkpoint guards, the traffic men and everybody else knew my driver and made jokes with him, maybe it was that...

At 10:30, I was safely seated inside the Baghdad Intl. Airport, waiting for my 2:00 PM flight. the tough-as-nails driver gave me a wheezing advice: 'When Amman is announced, abandon all moral wise-assness and jump aboard, it is just like Allawi al-Hilla my friend', the latter being a ghetto-style bus station at Baghdad.

Having that hocus-pocus image of the airport in mind, I was keenly intent on getting inside any way possible, I made some small-talk with a nearby kid who pointed to an obviously newly-weds with the girl's family (the girl's head was on his shoulders and they were holding hands furiously, she was wearing a short skirt and the guy was feeling her touche, it was very unreal) and told me that they have stayed the night with them because their plane was full! It seems that the company prints a list of each flight listing the passengers names who will be on that list, as they book reserve seats for each flight, seemingly their names were not on that list, the kid told me that 25 people, including his family and Assfeel's, had to sleep the night in the cold, uncomfortable seats of the airport, they could not return home because no taxis were available after 6 PM and the road was dangerous, and all the airport personnel did to them was write on their tickets that they have 'stayed overnight' with a promise that all will be well tomorrow. I was afraid to look into the list.

As I said, the wise and the willing always finds his way, I thank God a million times for two things: France not winning the World Cup, and making me sit near the delegation folks:

By 12:30, I had did all I could to forget my tension ; I dug out a copy of Agatha Christie's The Clocks and was reading into it when I overheard people next to me wondering about their flight times: Supposedly there were two flights: 2 and 4 pm but one had 1:30 on his ticket, the other had 2:30, the third had 4:00 and I had 2:00 PM, as we laughed over that, I made some more small talk with them and found out that they were some sort of governmental delegation, real nice folks by the way, they told me that half the delegation was inside and that they are outside, but their 'connection' inside might be able to do seomthing, seeing them as my ticket out of here, I buttered my way with some nice-guy smile and joke before I asked them:
'How many of you are going in now?'
"Why don't you make it seven?"
Some of them laughed, others were silenced at my audacity, in any case, the smily folks of them were real sugars and invited me onboard, especially after knowing that one of them was a distant encounter with my old man.
forcing my way in with them when they were allowed to go through, they reached their airline 'connection' who took the tickets, and returned half an hour later with the boarding pass, he also carried much expected news: 'The trip will be at 6 o'clock', apprently, the only plane they've got has to go to Basra, then to Sulaymaniya, then to Amman.
As my luggage was being loaded, the guy asked suddenly: 'Checked your name on the list?'
I said immediately: 'Yeah', I never did.

Push comes to shove and the time on the clock read 2:30 pm, we're in the Transit area, I broke connection with the delegation after my interest was fulfilled and managed to kill my boredom by pretending to be asleep, eating, or plowing more through The Clocks.
We finally boarded at 7:30 pm, both Assfeel and Kid's families were with us, but I shudder to think of the may people who were left behind....

The trip was better than I expected, the scenery wasn't much, basically Google Earth with a plane's wing, but the staff was very nice, they even gave out food and soft drinks (although the food was kinda modest, but it was still food)...the waitress wasn't hot, but was so very kind.

At Jordanian Queen Aaliyah, they made us wait for 30 minutes before stamping the passports, some of the passengers were grumbling but I found it very natural, in my past travels, these took sometimes 7 hours...

New this time were questions about my tribal name, there were no reactions as my tribe was a mixed Sunni-Shi'ite, and a fingerprint thingy with a camera snapshot. I've heard dozens of stories about Iraqis between the ages of 19-25 returned or held in the airport, but as I said, the wise and the willing always finds his way.

I was through, my old man was waiting for me downstairs, he was praying at a small mosque nearby...he has grown fatter, but somewho healthier. I really missed him, and in a flash regretted all my rebellion agenda and quarrels, and hugged him in a loving embrace.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Kid escapes Death

It was probably June 14, two days after my four friends were killed. We decided to hold a funeral for them in the college, I remember being a cold sense of detachment from the world and everything in it...I quickly dressed in ALL OUT BLACK. Black shirt, black pants.
Looking at myself in the mirror, I realized the danger in my uniform, so I opened the buttons of the shirt, reavealing an olive vest underneath! cool, now not only I am in the Mahdir's Army, but also a member of the army.

I whatthefucked and hurled ass out, after all, I was just going to go up the street and rent a taxi...
I told you earlier, I was so detached, however, as soon as I walked to the tip of the street, I changed my mind, and decided to return home.

Tough luck. Three dudes about my age in small motorbikes (lovingly called Bestas in iraq) came lazily behind me, passed me a little bit, then barricaded me.

The guy who was directly at my center was dark of tan and ugly of teeth, he was obviously the leader, his teeth stuck out, Ronaldinho-style. He calmly said :
I replied, calmly too : 'Aalkumsallum'
'What are you doing here?'
'I am returning home.'
'Where is your home?'
'Near the mosque'
'What mosque?'
The mosque was small and had two name changes, I took a wild bet and after a moment of hesitation I spoke the latter.
He paused for a moment, and then:
''Hop on, let me drive you home'
I was a little panicked now.
'Wait a minute, this is my area, right here is house of Mr. A'
He didn't answer
'I am going to a funeral ; I was just going to pick up a taxi'
It was certain they all carried guns underneath their casual clothes. It is also of no coincidence that they chose to do this here, the place was adjacent to an abadonened farm, where bodies are regularly found, our street witnessed about 10 deaths in the very same area. Even if he bought I was of the area, he could kill me if he thought I was a Shi'ite.
'Show me your wallet'
I showed him, my attitude was a smily nice dude.
'Here's my wallet, and ID'
My first name is neutral, but my second is somewhat more of a Sunni name, although Shiites do name it every now and then. It was not proof enough in my opinion.
The only ID i regularly carry is not my Civil ID, it is my college ID.
The second guy asked, he was more of a wiseguy:
'What's this ID?'
'It's my college ID, university of [Cornyname]'
'[CORNYNAME]', he was enjoying this. but the first guy nodded in approval with me
he looked through the wallet, took out the money, looked in the sidepocket where I keep my keys, asked of my other pocket, I showed him my mobile.

'Okay, you're free to go' He returned the wallet, and the money. My impression of him was somewhat positive.
They could still shoot me when I turn my back, but there was a certain change of pace that I recognized that they really are going to let me go.
Ronaldino said, as an aftertaste: 'You're wearing black...'
I quickly said, arms out 'You really think I am THAT stupid if I was of them sonovabicthes?'
'At least you could look more neat'
This was true, my shirt was open and my hair was unshaved, I could pass a decent slipper-torn Madhi's servant anywhere. In a sense, they had a right to stop me, precautions matter, I could only be thankful that the dudes who stopped me had some time to think it over.
'Well, the guys were killed yesterday and I am pissed'
'How?' The wiseguy asked, the third guy was just compars.
'Karrada explosion'
'That's terrorists work' but the side-cracking smile on his face strongly added another dimension to his sentence.
'Okay, bye'.

On thinking it over, I think subconsciously that day, I wanted to die. I was so filled with meaninglessness that day I just wanted it all to end, I couldn't imagine that a living person I talked to just the other day could just vanish....


I returned home, and some of the ominous dirge of the past 10 minutes caught up with me, I murmured in quick prayers, but in an hour or two I managed to forget about it.

I changed.

I arrived in college, attended the symbolic funeral and was about to return home when a few friends took me aside and told me not to wear that shirt I am wearing right now again.

'What for?'
'Are you crazy? How could you dare to wear a blue shirt, that's the sign of the FPS police, they could kill you second.'

Shit? You bet your fucking ass!

They didn't understand why I was laughing, you can't dress black, can't dress blue, can't even dress the collegeboy's white after the recent killings....well, that's Iraq for you.

I apologize, I haven't told you about my friends' murder, I have no energy to discuss it again! even if I wanted to, I wrote it twice, and one of them was for the NYT, so I can't publish it.

Maybe I could work it out sometime, but not now.