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?'
"Six"
"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.

20 comments:

Sarah Lynn said...

Dear Confused,

I was searching through blogs for ones that I like when I stumbled upon yours. I am pretty picky about what I spend my time reading. I just wanted to share with you that your writing is something I can't even describe. You're writing so eloquent, heart wrenching & yet witty. It was like I was feeling what you were feeling. Keep up the blogging and keep reminding those of us in the U.S. what it is like over there. I am going to put a link to your website on my blog. I think it is worth sharing. Thank you for writing......I will be back.

Jon in Maryland said...

Ditto for me Kid, but I already said something similar a while ago. I'm glad to see others expressing a similar appreciation of your writing.

And I'm very happy to hear that you're now in Amman and away from the mess in Baghdad, with not too much fuss. The news from there creates a vague sense of dread for anybody who reads Iraqi blogs and has come to care for some of the bloggers despite never having met them in person. I just hope this is only a temporary situation and that those of Iraq's best and brightest who've gone abroad will be able to return to a safe environment sooner rather than later. Take good care of yourself and your family.

Melantrys said...

Yeah, they seem to be getting a bit paranoid about Iraqis over in Jordan.
I read on both the sites of German Foreign Affairs and the Jordanian Embassy that Germans do not need a visa in advance but will be issued one at the border/airport (How long might the waiting time be for Germans....?) Iraqis living in Germany though should apply for a visa beforehand, as they might be rejected at the border otherwise...

I will be applying for a visa to keep the waiting time at the airport short. :D

That was some... interesting... flight you had...

Konfused Kid said...

Sarah and Jon, thank you so much.

As for Claude the Clawed, well, we're all awaiting for you, I was supporting Germany after Italy btw...

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Melantrys said...

Claude the Clawed? If I didn't know better I'd say you've been drinking. :P

All waiting, huh..... oh dear... ;)
Less than 5 weeks to go... like I said to 13 yesterday, this still seems a bit surreal to me.

Anyway, for all I care Germany could have lost their first match, lol, but thank you I suppose. :)

Oh, and enable word verification, pleeeeeeeeeeease!

Mike Ford said...

Great to here you made it safely in Amman. I hope you enjoy it there.

Matt said...

"France not winning the World Cup..." Kid, I am so happy that didn't happen! I'm glad you made it Jordan have a good time.

Morbid Smile said...

It's good to know that you're in Amman now, and better to hear about the meeting with 13 and Attawie! ;) It seems that it was fun.

Sorry for your loss. I didn't know what to say when I heard about it, and still don't know what to say..


Take care.

honeywild said...

Wow I am so glad you posted, I have been missing you and thinking about you. I have enjoyed you for a long time and have all of my friends and co-workers reading you. I live near Chicago, am a disgustingly spoiled and bland American girl who really appreciates the insight you provide. Have a lovely visit with your family and I look forward to more :)

Nick said...

Great post as always. keep it up. & take care of yourself.

Magda said...

3azzizy wa jarri (i don't know this for sure but some of what you desribe sounds very familiar) itha kunta 3aa'id lil3raq enjoy your holiday, we itha kunta kharij we len ta3ood all the best of luck.
As others have said your posts are uniquely written, and in the midst of the hell very entertaining. Thanks and take care

Anonymous said...

Hey Kid,

Been reading your stuff a long time, Really outstanding. Look forward to the time when it comes out in book form.

BTW remember to change yr profile to say you are now 21 (and have been since last Sept/Oct). In your first blog you explained why you call yourself confused. It's the world that's confused - u r a very together guy.

In some ways you show Libran charteristics at their very best.
The ability to see the other's point of view, even across some deep divide - like when you sent happy Eid to everyone, even Jews.
Your tolerance and great sense of humour in the face of great provocation - the jam sandwish.
Your feelings of anger in the face of secterianism. It was that libran anger vs that which causes a lack of peace, division and hatred - which fueled the protests of John Lennon, and, to give the supreme example, of Mahatma Ghandi.
It needs to be controlled, Kid, keep on smiling.
It's yr best weapon in a crazy world.
In this world there are 3 currencies: of the coin, of the bullet, and of the smile.
It is the smile - "that makes the world go round".

Kid keep blogging, stay safe, May God protect You


S.O.Mebody

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