I am qualified for this job because I'm HOT

We did MadLibs in class today.

This is my favorite line.


Piroze, Iraq

I am sure you all already know the following information, what being such huge soccer fans and all, but Iraq beat Saudi Arabia this evening to win the Asia Cup.

That's right, the Iraqi soccer team is the best in all of Asia and everyone is pretty excited about it (except the Saudis and the other non-Iraqi Asians, I assume.)

There is much celebrating in the streets at the moment, even here in Kurdistan. So, I say "Good for Iraq. Way to go," or simply "piroze" in Kurdish.


My Fan

Yesterday, I bought a fan in the bazaar. My fan was made in Japan and came with a great set of instructions and warnings. Here a couple of my favorites.

1. Keep the fan in the dry place and far from sunlight.

I think Iraq qualifies as THE dry place.

2. Easy cleaning by using the damp cloth to wipe out the dirty.

3. Do not use the fan near a light object. It will cause a dangerous because fan will imbibe all that light object into the fan.

So, my fan is a tiny black hole sucking all light into itself? This one had me a little worried. I mean, I certainly don't want to be the cause of a dangerous. Especially one that involves imbibing the light object.

I used my fan last night and I slept very well, thank you, but I turned off all the light objects before I turned the fan on. Just in case.



This link has famous poems rewritten as limericks.

Here's my personal favorite:

Footprints in the Sand

There was a man who, at low tide
Would walk with the Lord by his side
Jesus said "Now look back;
You'll see one set of tracks.
That's when you got a piggy-back ride."

My First Movie

For a couple of weeks I have seen posters around town for a movie. I was excited because I assumed that meant there must be some theater somewhere showing this movie.

It is called Jani Gal and is based on a novel by Ibrahim Ahmed about life in Kurdistan following the assassination of Sheikh Mahmoud. Well, at least that's what the movie's about. Turns out the book is about the Algerian war for independence.

I kept asking around about the movie and I was told that maybe it would be on TV or maybe I'd just have to buy a copy and watch it at home. Finally, the English-language newspaper published an article that said the movie would show at a theater in Sulemania... as soon as they could find one with quality equipment.

I thought that just meant never.

But, Friday, I saw an ad on PUK TV saying that the movie would play for three nights on that channel. I copied down the dates and the time and told everybody in the office (we were all excited to see it), but I found out later I was wrong.

The movie wasn't going to be on TV; it was going to show at a local theater (an actual theater, not a movie theater) and it would show for three days. We decided to try for the opening night, but we got a call just as we were headed to the theater telling us that it was VIP only and no one could get in. The best we could do would be to get tickets for the next night.

We were already almost in the car so we decided to head to the theater and try to get tickets as soon as we could.

Todd came with us managed to get himself inside the theater while we waited outside watching SUVs pull up and armed guards pop out to protect the Very Important Guests. Before long, Todd came outside and waved us in. He hadn't gotten us tickets for the next night, he had managed to get us admitted to the premiere. He told someone he had American guests and that it would be a shame if we couldn't get inside. The man inside agreed so we got in and got seats and saw our first movie premiere.

More importantly, though, Jalal Talabani's wife was there, Hero. She is Ibrahim Ahmed's daughter. After the movie we got our picture taken with her - again thanks to Todd who schmoozed one of the actors to get us in a picture with the First Lady.

So, I am now closer than ever to my dream of meeting the man himself, Mam Jalal!


Lighter Fare

Ok, so I decided to post a much less heavy post today.

To the left you see a bunch of junk for sale on a cart. You can't see the cart, but it looks like you'd expect. It's flat with three wheels underneath and two handles for pushing.

Men will push these all over town filled with goods for sale: candy, vegetables, shoes, dishes. It's called an arabanna.

Do you know the difference between an arabanna and an Arab?

An arabanna wears the tire underneath and an Arab wears it on his head...

Ah, Kurdish jokes...

Do you know the difference between a traffic cop and ice cream?

Ice cream runs when it's hot.



I know nothing about racism.

Today, I listened to D-Dog, our cook, relate the story of her recent trip to Baghdad to Janie. I heard her say that all of the Arabs are dirty and that she feared for her life the whole time she was there. Janie tried to assure her that, in fact, all the Arabs are not dirty.

But what does Janie know? Like me, Janie grew up learning about pluralism and stereotyping, so we know that there's no possible way that ever member of any group can possibly fit all the stereotypes associated with the group; all Arabs can't possibly be terrorist. The facts back us up on this point.

But how much do the facts matter if you are targeted for murder or worse just because you're Kurdish? How would I feel if I went to Baghdad? And I were Kurdish? And old? And had no choice but to go to the center of Hell just to take my mother to the hospital?

Northern Iraq is being flooded with Arab refugees. The Kurds are very hospitable, but behind closed doors they whisper about the Arabs. They distrust them and warn us to avoid them lest we be kidnapped by one of them. Kurdish television runs heart-wrenching PSAs reminding us all of the situation of the Arabs in the south and compelling us to be accepting of them as they flee the violence.

But these are the people that have been murdering the Kurds for hundreds of years. These are the people who burned down Kurdish villages and forced the Kurds into the mountains. These are the people that murdered 5000 people in a single day in Halabja. These are the people that have always treated the Kurds like second-class citizens belittling them and strangling their economy. These are the people that have laid waste to Baghdad and Mosul and Kirkuk. These are the people that packed a truck bomb under blocks of ice to ensure that their bomb infused with nails didn't explode into the sky, but rather killed as many Kurds as possible last month. These are the people that killed almost 100 people in Kirkuk just a few days ago.

And now, here they are. Living among the Kurds, looking for jobs, relying on the Kurds for their future.

No, it's not the same people. Of course, I know that. I know the difference between Arabs and insurgents. But I also know that if a bomb ever explodes in my city, if hundreds of Kurds die, it won't be from a Kurdish bomber. It'll be an Arab.

But, even knowing that, I am uncomfortable when the Kurds point to an Arab and whisper “Pise.” I shake my head and say, no, they're not dirty. When a certain friend rails against the Arabs and the Muslims, I remind him that Jesus tells us to love our enemies.

Today, I heard that tattoos are all the rage in Baghdad and Kirkuk. It seemed like a very un-Muslim thing to do, so I was surprised and I started to make a joke about it, but then Cory told the rest of the story. It's so families can identify bodies.

People are getting tattoos so their mothers can find their bodies after a suicide bomb attack.

And still they must forgive.

I know nothing about forgiveness, either.


Fourth Meal

So, I read today that Burger King is staying open later. You can read it too. Here.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of the Burger King - just that genius chicken fries commercial. The important part of the story is that "Fourth Meal" is apparently a real industry term. I thought it was just something that Taco Bell made up. I was wrong.

"Fourth Meal" is a meal eaten after dinner. It's not the same as a do-over meal, although they are similar. This is for the hearty eater unsatisfied with 3 meals and between-meal snacks and it's eaten after 10 pm.

Kurdistan doesn't have anything like this really. Except that they eat dinner really late, so sometimes you eat fruit and drink tea after 10 pm, but it can't count as fourth meal because it's attached to the third meal.

I find myself only eating second meal most days because I get up too late for the first one and I'm too lazy to make the third one myself. I think this is why it's so important for Kurds to get married; so no one goes hungry.

Did you know that White Castle was the first fast-food restaurant to stay open 24 hours? Well, you do now. The article is fairly interesting and it warns us that KFC may soon join the late-night fray, so watch out.


Important Lessons

Today I learned some very important things about Kurdish culture

  1. Cures for Jaundice:

    a. If it is a man, he should sit in a room with other men and they will talk. At some point a woman will come in and sit and talk with the man who has jaundice. She will slap him.

    b. If it is a child, he or she should eat small live fish. These fish will swim around in the stomach for a while and the child will be cured.

    c. You can also just take the child to look at some fish. If he or she throws coins at the fish, all the better.

  2. Apparently women cannot be cured of jaundice. Sorry, ladies.

  3. This story passes for humor:

    There were two couple, one was a young man and woman in a village and the other was a young man and woman in a village. The two in the city met at a local park. When the man arrived, the woman said, “Why didn't you bring me flowers?” The man replied,”You are a flower. What do you need with flowers?”

    The village couple met in the village and the woman said, “Oh, my shoe is broken why didn't you bring me new shoes?” The man replied, “You are shoes. What do you need with shoes?”


Friday the 13th

Yesterday was pretty awesome.

A friend - let's call him Harvey - invited all of us to go on a picnic with him to his family's village just outside of town.

When he arrived at the office to take us, he said that we could go swimming if we liked. We all said yes because it's about 75 degrees Celsius here and off we went expecting to swim in a shallow river or mud puddle of some kind. But, Harvey took us to a REAL swimming pool.

His uncles built a a real concrete (of course) above-ground pool in the middle of their plot of farm land and filled it up just for us, so the water was extra cold and delightful. It was great! I don't have any pictures, yet, but I will try to get some from the others, so you can see what I'm talking about.


Lot's of Pics

Picture of the toilet. Jealous?

Stairway to the unfinished second floor and, eventually, the roof

This is my bedroom window from the back corridor.

The shower. I took a picture of the ceiling because it's domed like a real Hamam.

Ok, that's pretty much all of the house pictures. I have a couple more, but now you've seen almost everything, so stop complaining.

Good luck on your passport, Kate!!


This picture is of my "bathroom area." It's actually four rooms: the toilet room, the shower room, the shower waiting room and this big room with the sink, a door to the "outside" and some stairs.

I say "outside" because the door actually leads to what is more of an outdoor hallway. It has two windows for light in the bedrooms and has a roof of rebar lattice. I have a picture of the roof that I'll try to upload after I write my story.

Yesterday, I accidentally broke the hose that connects the water pipe to the sink. I'm not sure how it happened. I just touched it and water started spraying everywhere. I don't have any tools at my house, so I couldn't fix it.

I had two options: leave immediately and try to buy the necessary tools in the bazaar or continue about my day, let the water drain out of the roof tanks and fix it later. I chose the latter.

I tried to turn the tanks off, but that valve doesn't actually work. I went up to the roof to see if I could turn each one off separately. I could not, but I discovered that tank #3 was never actually turned on. That means, I can drain tanks #1 and #2, then fix my problem, turn on tank #3 and still have water while I wait for the city water to fill up tanks 1 and 2.

This happened at 6 pm. I left my house at about 7 to go to a meeting a Pak City. I got home around midnight and the water was still flowing out of the pipe. I want to bed and, when I got up this morning at 9, the water was still flowing out of the pipe. For all I know, it's still flowing at 1 pm.

But don't worry, the water just flows down the sink's drain which is in the floor, so I'm not flooding anything.

Ok, there it is. That's the ceiling of the back hallway thing. It's nice in that it gives the bedrooms extra sunlight, but it's a little weird.

In other news, Lucy has gone back to her home. Todd came and picked her up yesterday. I had been asleep when he came, so I'm a little foggy on why exactly he picked her up all of a sudden, but I thinks it's better that she go back to her home.

Today we're planning to go on a picnic to a village outside of the city. I don't know where it is exactly, but I am told that it isn't far and that we'll get to meet some old Kurdish people, so that should be fun.


Enlighten Away

So, there isn't much going on here... It's pretty hot, but I hear it's hot at home, too. I will remind everyone, though, for the sympathy, that I don't have air conditioning and my house is made out of concrete like some great stone oven.

The Kurds make bread in big stone ovens. They slap it up on the inside wall of the oven and it bakes there from the heat of the fire below and the transferred heat of the stone upon which it has been slapped. Some nights I feel like that bread as I try to sleep. I am nanni gerim.

I have had a house guest the past two nights. Her name is Lucy. That's her pic above. I am not sure why she's staying at my place as opposed to her normal home with Todd's neighbors, but she's here. This morning I woke up and found her in the back part of the house where the bathroom is. There are two glass doors which separate that area from the rest of the house. So there are two scenarios:

1. She opened the doors herself and then the doors closed behind her and she forgot how to open them again, or

2. I let her out and then fell asleep and left her outside all night. She went up the outside stairs, made her way through the unfinished second floor and down the inside stairs.

Oh, or...

3. The aliens from under the dishtowel abducted her and placed her back by the toilet.

I think it has to be option 1 (or 3...). I was tired the night before, but not drop-dead tired. I would have remembered to let the dog back in. Who knows? Maybe there is some mysterious fourth option of which I am unaware.

On a side note, I see that I have comments from Kate, but I thought Kate was supposed to be in France. Voulez vous tell me why you are not in France?


Aliens and My Kitchen

Ok, here are two more pictures of my house. On top is the kitchen and below is the living room.

You'll see that I didn't bother to tidy up before either picture, but I have since cleaned the floors. They were clean for abut 10 minutes before the dust crept back in from the outside.

I have also picked that dish towel up off of the floor.

The bottom picture was taken through a little window in the wall between the living room and the big middle room that I don't know what to do with yet.

Since this picture was taken, I've put the curtains up, but that's the only change. The TV is a gift from Todd, but I am trying to give it back. But I guess I haven't been trying very hard, though. Some nights I can watch English-language movies on local TV. In fact, Signs was on a few days ago.

I shouldn't have watched it, though, cause it creeped me out and, in related news, Todd (or Ernie, now I forget) told me that there was a UFO spotting in Ranya just a few nights ago. He is convinced it's the US military, though, not aliens.

Either way, they are only welcome in my house if they'll help me keep the floors clean.


I have tested my blog and it has been found suitable for all readers.

So does this mean I'm boring?

Free Online Dating


Best in Town

The picture to the right has nothing to do with the following story, but I have more pictures to upload of my house and I thought this was as good a time as any to post one more. This is the foyer.

I have two friends here who are dental students. They help arrange our TOEFL classes and worked with the first two English classes last year. I spent the morning with one of them and I asked him if there was a good dentist in town who could clean my teeth. I haven't had a teeth cleaning since 2002! so I thought it was time.

I figured, hey, I trust these guys, so I can trust a dentist recommended by them. Well, he didn't just recommend one, he recommended the best one in the city and insisted on taking me.

This afternoon, I had my teeth cleaned by an Iraqi dentist.

It was a good experience. Just like in the US, I had to wait an hour in the lobby and, just like the US, the equipment was clean and sterile and modern.

As he checked my teeth, he complemented me on the good condition of my teeth and gums. In Kurdish he told my friend that I have the best teeth in my city!

And it only cost about $30. Not too bad, I'd say.