Kurdish Lesson 01*

So, you know how I love to teach people things, right?

Anyone who knows me, though, knows that I hate to teach things. I think you should be able to pick up most things on your own and, let's face it, your inability to do so just makes me angry.

Haha. Just kidding...

No. Not kidding. Totally true. I mean, get with it.

I have noticed that I get a large number of hits on my blog from people searching for Kurdish stuff; Kurdish food, Kurdish recipes, Kurdish air force and, most recently, Kurdish months.

So, I have decided to add a new feature! I will start teaching Kurdish stuff. I know that when one searched for Kurdish things on the internet, one finds about... oh, nothing of use. At least nothing in English. But, that's about to change.

That's where I come in! Now searches will be rewarded. I have everything necessary to change lives:
  • A Computer
  • A Blog
  • English fluency
  • Knowledge of Kurdish things
I'm like the Socrates of the Kurdish education blog world.

Lesson 01 is below. Enjoy.Sulaymaniyah. Mangi paynj.

The Kurdish Months:

First things first, I must tell you that there are two sets of names for the Kurdish months. There's one that people use and then one that they don't.

Set #1:

Mangi yek
Mangi du
Mangi say
Mangi chwar
Mangi paynj
Mangi shush
Mangi hewt
Mangi husht
Mangi no
Mangi duh
Mangi yanze
Mangi dwanze

From this list we learn two things: the kurdish word for month (mang) and the numbers 1-12. It's simple and easy. January is month 1, February is month 2 and so on.

Set #2:

This is the set that your Kurdish teacher will teach you. You'll spend days memorizing it and practicing it.

Then you'll go to Kurdistan and try to use it. Everyone will be all "Huh? What...yeah. No."

This is not the set for the conversational speaker. This is the set for... Well, I honestly don't know. I never heard anyone use it.

You know what? I'm not going to teach it to you. You don't need Kanuni duem and friends.

That's it. That's the end of lesson 1. Did you learn something? I hope so.

I plan to try to teach a different lesson regularly so that 13Months give back to the community rather than just take, take, take.

Let me know if there's anything you'd like to know about the Kurds or Kurdistan or even Iraq. I'll try to teach what you want.

* all language lessons are Sorani Kurdish as spoken in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq (Southern Kurdistan). All spellings are an attempt to simplify pronunciation.


The Dark Truth

On the trip to VA, after we checked into the hotel, I took a nap while Angie, Devan and Nila went to Schlotzsky's Deli for lunch.

This is what happened.

You'll notice that Angie did not post this pic on her blog. I think she's trying to keep some things secret from the blog readers.


Did You Notice I Was Gone?

If you read Angie's blog, you know that her grandfather's health is bad enough to warrant a visit from his granddaughter.

We initially decided that Angie would go with her friend Devan and Nila and I would stay home. That all changed at literally the last minute. Nila and I joined them for the trip to Norfolk, Virginia.

First, Angie's grandpa is "better than expected, but still not good," as Angie says.

Norfolk was nice, the drive there was unreasonably excruciating and the drive home was good - I may have talked nonstop for eight or so hours. We stayed in a nice hotel, ate crab cakes, had breakfast outside, visited Angie's family and dipped Nila in the ocean.*

*Technically Chesapeake Bay, not the ocean.


Internet. Check.

We have been without internet since we returned home. It seemed like an eternity, but it's been about 13 days. Now we're back and I have important things to say.

#1. It is too cold in Ohio. The above picture was taken from my window looking into the courtyard of my apartment complex. It may also be of the indoor ski facility in Dubai. You be the judge.

#2. Gas is way too expensive. Today, most local stations that I saw were holding steady at $3.99 for regular. I expect one of them to make the jump over $4 any moment. By my estimation, that should put a gallon of gas at about $9.25 by the Fourth of July.

#3. There is far too little protesting against #2. I am thinking about making a sign and heading down to the Statehouse. The price of gas has quadrupled in the last five years. I even remember 79 cent gas back in 96 or so. While I understand that the price of oil is at record highs and that demand is at all time highs, I have trouble wrapping my head around record profits for oil companies while truck drivers pay $1000 to fill up - and I pay $54 in a single trip to the Giant Eagle gas station where I saved 60 cents per gallon!

#4. My home is too far from the nearest bus stop. It's 1.8 mile to be exact; one mile with sidewalks and .8 without. While I could walk almost two miles to catch a bus, it's more difficult when you have a baby. She could stroll for the last mile, but the beginning part involves narrow shoulders, ditches and railroad tracks. It all feels very hobo.

That's all for now. Check ya later.


Back in the CMH

Nila in Dubai

We are officially back in the US. We don't have internet, so that's why you haven't heard from us.

We hope to get that problem fixed this week.

Hey, Jen. We got your e-mail and you're in our prayers. Ain't no party like a Yemen party. That's what I hear.

More later!


And Then We Came to the End

So, it's finished. Tonight we spend our last night in Kurdistan.

It won't be our last night forever, but it'll be our last night for a while. It'll be our last night as part of this group and as a part of this organization.

When we return, things will be different.

But, we're very much looking forward to going home and seeing our family again.

I'll miss this place while I'm gone. I've grown to love it and hate it all at the same time.

As odd as it may seem, this city is like Columbus' eastern sister. It's overlooked and under-appreciated, but it's great nonetheless.

We sat outside after dinner tonight and had tea. It was a beautiful night and I wanted to sit out under the sky for hours, but Nila gets tired around 8, so we had to head home early.


Kurdish Food

In the history of 13Months, the most popular post has been the one entitled "Kurdish Food."

Unfortunately, instead of actual Kurdish food, I posted a picture of a burrito. Why did I do that? The answer is simple; I was tired of Kurdish food and I wanted a burrito.

With this post I hope to atone for that.

Below you will find two pictures of two different Kurdish meals as well as a recipe for Kurdish rice. This recipe was originally given to me by a kind Texas woman, but I have made a couple of small changes. I think it's pretty good.

In fact, Goran told me that it's even better than his!

I've never had his rice, though, so I don't know if it's a compliment or not...

This picture is from a picnic (sayran ba Kurdi) we took a little over a week ago.

Kurdish picnics are an all day affair, though ours only lasted about 5 or 6 hours from start to finish. This was a simple picnic, so we had dolme or yaprax followed by meat skewers and fruit.

Dolme is rice-stuffed vegetables and leaves. Ours was wrapped in sulik (a leaf that I don't know in English) only; no veggies or grape leaves.

We ate that while the meat cooked. Also, while the meat cooked, I cut up the vegetables for the Kurdish salad: cucumbers, tomatoes, green pepper and onion. Then we put lemon juice and salt in it and it was done.

You should also know that we cut the meat at the picnic site. Then we skewered it and cooked it over coals.

To eat the meat, you simply tear off a piece of the flat bread, wrap in some meat, onions and greens and have at it. If we were fancy, we'd have had sumac to add to the meat, but we aren't so we didn't.

This is a photo of a meal Angie and I ate tonight. I can't give you the cooking details because I didn't cook any of it. I just showed up and ate it.

These meal had the Kurdish staples: rice, beans, chicken, lamb, greens, salad and home-made bread. There was even okra and mast aw (a drink made of yogurt and water). I don't like either okra or mast aw, so I avoided those.

We met a guy at a cafeteria a couple of days ago and he invited us to his home for a meal. He works with the US Military and heads back south tomorrow morning. We head home on Tuesday, so this may be the only time we'll ever see him and his family. We had a great time, though.

Ok, here's what you've been waiting for:

My Kurdish Rice:

  • Boil some water.
  • Get some rice. I use Jasmine rice and it doesn't really matter how much you use.
  • Pour the boiling water on the rice. Use enough water to cover the rice. Cover that and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • Drain the rice.
  • Put enough oil (corn or sunflower) to cover the bottom of a frying pan. Don't go crazy, but don't skimp either.
  • When the oil is hot, toss in some raisins. The amount depends on the amount of rice you're using.
  • Fry them a little and then put in the rice.
  • Fry the rice a little bit.
  • Pour in about 1.5 times as much water as the original amount of rice (if you started with 1 cup of uncooked rice, then use 1.5 cups of water). Keep your eye on the rice and add more water if you need it.
  • Also, add a chicken bullion cube to the water (this is key!).
  • Cover and let it cook until it's done.

This isn't a true Kurdish rice recipe because, I cook the raisins at the same time and I add chicken bullion. BUT! The cheat makes it taste pretty authentic, and, like I mentioned earlier, Kurdish people like it.

Up in Flames

"When we get home, we need to get Nila some new pajamas. These are too big. Babies are supposed to sleep in well-fitting pajamas, not loose pajamas. I think because they can catch on fire."

-Angie Meeker, May 2, 2008

I made fun of her, but you can click here for the truth!


You're Welcome

Angie and I spent a long time wandering around the bazaar today. We're trying to find gifts for some of you at home. We're not rolling in dinars and there isn't much local maufacturing, so it's pretty hard to find the right gifts.

However, Angie didn't really even try. She suggested the following items:
  • plastic apron
  • plastic tablecloth
  • phone card
I am almost certain that the phone card suggestion was a joke, but it's hard to know.

You'll be happy to know that we didn't buy any of these.

We settled on Kurdish clothes for Vanessa's kids. They're the only ones who are getting good gifts