Wednesday 24 December 2008

Dating 101 or another Rendez-Vous

I need to kill time. It is 6.30 am here and I have an appointment at 8 am sharp. If I lie down, I will never make I need to keep myself very awake.

What better way to do it but to write about my latest "rendez-vous" with Y.
This Y. is not to be confused with the other psycho Y. from previous posts.
It is a different Y. altogether. I am making progress in the Y's...Well, I like to think that I am.

This Y. is less deranged for sure. Mind you, I cannot vouch he will not turn psychotic on me at some later point...given the opportunity.

Y. no.2 has been wanting to "get together" for some time, actually months...
I did not give him the chance, until recently. Not that is ugly or anything. Quite the's just...I guess, the time was not right then.

Anyways to cut a longish story short, sends me a message. " Would love to see you, very soon..."

Of course, typical me replies -- " how soon is soon ?"

And the answer comes promptly - "today, early evening ???"

I was just testing really...and he passed test no.1.

So we met. He was pleasant, well groomed, well shaved, nice smile and looked rather eager in a benign sort of way, which is not a bad thing compared to psycho who looked as if he was about to violently stab me any moment...

An important detail I missed. Before we met, he messaged me and asked " where ?"
I suggested a café not too far. He said "no way" it was not his "kind of café."I messaged back saying - "it is only a café and it is an okay café." He insisted " no way." Fuck it I thought to myself. So I messaged back with "tant bloody pis."

He demonstrated some intelligence and messaged back with - "I really want to see you, but please not this café."

I still could not understand what was wrong with that particular café as it was a café like all other cafés, nay a bit better than other cafés. Anyways, I thought to myself, play it easy girl - let him come up with suggestions. So I text messaged again, and said "you suggest another place, but am taking no cab."

I figured since he eagerly wanted to see me, he could move his butt to where I am at.

I suppose you can call that test no.2. He text messaged back and we agreed on another place that is convenient for me, next to that café he disliked so much for some odd reason I still can't figure out.

I hate text messages unless absolutely necessary or if the person I need to contact is far away. But frankly he could have called instead of that back and forth...

I mean here I was carrying three bags full of shopping, looking like a friggin polar bear with layers of clothes, perspiring and hot, my woollen hat sliding over my eyes and I could see shit and still had to figure out the friggin alphabet on the cell phone so I can message Monsieur. He could have called. After all he wanted to see me, no ? Anyways I could already tell that he would not pass test no.3.

We finally made it to his "acceptable" café. He was late, 15 mn or so...that gave me time to quickly nip to the ladies and comb the flattened hair on my head (from the damn wollen hat) and wipe away any smudges of make up that may have trickled down in sweat, while I was frantically busy figuring out the letters to text message Monsieur.

I ordered my coffee and Monsieur finally landed...

The first 10 mn were quite tense, because Layla had to let him know that the café she suggested was not so bad after all and Layla wanted to know why he was being so complicated...bearing in mind that Layla was carrying heavy weight shopping bags and was suffocating under layers of clothes...Of course, Layla wanted to add -- could you not bloody call me for 2 seconds and agree on a meeting place instead of those silly text messages ? - but Layla bit her tongue as a good polite girl. (who would have thought huh !?)

You must admit, hardly an enticing welcome. But he did take it with a smile...I thought to myself okay he might pass test no.3 but I still had serious doubts...

Monsieur, seeing that I already had a coffee in front of me, ordered an expresso.

The rendez-vous lasted two hours. And Layla was staring at her empty cup of coffee, thirsty and waiting to see if he would come up with - would you like another drink ?
I mean one expresso over two hours !!! But no, he did not.

I felt like saying - listen I will pay for the coffee, just suggest it - but no such miracle happened.

My throat was dry, I was thirsty, I was starting to get a splitting headache, I was hungry and cold...and all I wanted was to run back home...seeing that I could no longer stoically bear another DRY hour of listening to Monsieur's verbal shit.

Towards the end of HIS conversation, he said " Layla, why not plunge ?"
I replied " plunge where ?"

This guy expects me to plunge with him in his dry pool ? He could not even offer another cup of coffee after 2 hours of me listening to his nonsense and he wants me to "plunge" with him? Hahahahahaha, what a wanker !

Of course, I could have said, "I am thirsty, I want something to drink", and pay for my own. I have no problem doing that, paying for my own -- but I deliberately did not. I was assessing...

He failed test no.3 big time, and with a big F.

But to be fair, he did offer to drive me back home...hoping to make it to test no.4.

I don't think that will ever happen.

This guy has still a long way to go. I'm afraid he will need to repeat class 101, several times before passing, let alone "plunging"

Au suivant ! Next !

And a (sarcastic) song to go with the Flops.

Quick translation : Wow to the magic in his eyes when we first met, face to face. Wow to the cuteness of his words....and with one word and one smile, my heart went on fire...He made me lose my head and made me forget my name and where I was...hahahahahaha.

Painting : Iraqi artist, Wasma Al-Agha.

To Iraqi Art.

How can anyone not love or at least appreciate Charles Aznavour, is beyond me.
Whether he is 30, 50 or 70...His songs remain a classic.
Who can produce similar songs today ? Britney Spears or Ricky Martin ?

No way.

Some things refuse to die, constantly defying mortality...

Iraqi art is the same. It refuses to die. Even though the geography has changed, so did the streets, and the names...

But some things remain eternal, even though they have been turned into shadows of themselves... They remain alive - unbeatably, unbearably - alive...

Painting: Iraqi artist, Saad Al-Qaabi.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

" Les Nourritures Terrestres"...

The title is borrowed from André Gide's famous work, best translated as "Earthly Nourishment." However, I don't think this translation does it much justice...nor would "Earthly Food" because all food is earthly and by the same token all nourishment starts on an earthly basis...first with the mother's breast.

I find it quite strange that this relationship to "earthly nourishment" is rather
skewed in the West. Let me give you an example.

Today I met with J. I met J. in some conference some months ago and we exchanged numbers. She calls me and suggests we meet for coffee. J is from Europe, from France to be more precise. Although J. has a pretty face, I noticed her body kind of emaciated, almost anorexic. From afar she looked as if she had the physiology of a male. Flat all over. No hips, no buttocks, no breasts...I was not sure if this was due to severe repeated dieting or to a "natural" constitution.

When we ordered our coffee, the waiter asked if anything else would "please us", and he mentioned a list of freshly made pastries - forêt noire, millefeuilles, apple tart with vanilla ice cream...I don't really have a sweet tooth but every now and then I like to indulge in pastries. So I asked J. if she would like anything from the pastry trolley.

Her reaction quickly dispelled my sense of curiosity as to her physique. She refused with an emphatic, strong NON Merci ! At first, I was slightly startled. After all no one hurled an insult towards her nor made an inappropriate ouverture... My initial doubt was confirmed. J was horrified by the idea of enjoying "forbidden foods".

I wasn't. So I ordered a millefeuilles and took my time savoring it...

Our exchange, or rather J's conversational exchange with me was as flat as her physique, which left me wondering why did she contact me in the first place...

But J.did mention, en passant, that she found Oriental dancing "grotesque" yet she never missed an occasion to watch it. I found that paradox equally startling.

I left our meeting with a sense of if I had come face to face with a living dead. Not your usual - lost it all, bereaved - living dead but another kind of living dead. A Western living dead.

Here was a woman who had a good job, and who according to her, was enjoying herself "in such a foreign country", had friends and had hobbies, one of which was travelling throughout the Middle East to "learn more about these foreign countries" , yet she was so dead... flat affect, flat expression, flat dead.

Even when she talked about subjects that excited her, she was equally flat, as if nothing gave her if she has been going hungry for so long, and no food, any kind of food will ever satisfy...

This uneasy feeling did not leave me and to tell you frankly I was very glad to leave...That kind of death - a soul death - is the most difficult one to deal with...and the most unattractive too.

On my way home, I stopped by the grocer's to pick up some "earthly nourishment" for this evening's dinner.

And in reaction to this emotional zombie I had just met, I bought way too much food, more than actually needed, as if to unconsciously compensate for the "waste land" I had just visited and maybe to defiantly affirm to myself that despite it all, my soul is still alive and kicking in earthly matters, be it food or other forms of nourishment...and as if to drive the point, even further, I deliberately took extra time in picking up the food items I needed, smelling them, touching them, enquiring about their freshness, their "place of birth", feeling them, contemplating their colors, and even tasting them...

And this evening I cooked differently from most evenings. I watched with awareness what I was doing, heightening my senses, observing, listening to the pots simmering...I had to turn it into a ceremony of the senses, wanting to shake off the lingering impressions I had retained from that deadly meeting.

Later on, I went into an orgiastic mode and listed all my favorite (moods) <- that is an uncorrected Freudian slip, I meant foods. Then I listed all my favorite smells associated with food - a solitary orgy of earthly nourishment. I concluded that Rice is my favorite grain. Rice with saffron, dried raisins and almonds, rice with cardamon and cinnamon, rice with green fava beans and dill, rice with lentils topped with golden brown onion rings, rice with sour cherries, rice with spicy minced meat and carrots, rice with shreds of dried orange, rice cooked in a well scented tomato sauce, rice with vermicelli, rice salad with peas and tuna fish and tomatoes adorned with parsley...

I also realised that prawns are another food "aphrodisiac" for me. Prawns sautés in fresh coriander and garlic, curry prawns with mango chutney, prawn cocktails with avocado and lime juice, sweet and sour prawns, prawns with bamboo shoots, prawns with tagliatelle and fresh ginger, spicy prawns cooked with onions and rice...

I also noted that I love a carrot salad in orange and lemon juice, mixed with black olives and cinnamon. Actually the list of salads is too long, but I will also add fatoosh, with rocca, cucumber, tomatoes, mint, spring onions and sumac plus olive oil and lemon juice and of course tabouleh - parsley, bulgur or cracked wheat, mint, onions and tomatoes.

The list is getting too long and I can't write it all down...

But I do have a special place reserved for desserts and mind you I don't have a sweet tooth !

Sorbets - in particular flavored ones with cardamon and cinnamon, topped with pistachios, walnuts and almonds, mocca ice cream with fresh cream and chocolate sauce, cheese kunafah with little syrup, kahee - an Iraqi delicatessen made of thin layers of puffed dough and filled with fresh buffalo cream, ma'amool- semolina based - either stuffed with pistachios or walnuts and covered with a dust of ice sugar, crème caramel, orange salad with cinnamon and roasted sesame grains soaked in honey and rosewater, rice pudding with rosewater, orange blossom water, sugar and topped with a cocktail of nuts, lynchees in syrup, mangoes blended into a purée and served with mint leaves, baked apples with cinnamon, honey and cream...

I think I better stop here...J. is missing out on so much. And mind you, I don't even consider myself an epicurian nor a hedonist...I guess as an Arab woman, I am not considered "liberated" enough to be either...Ha!

And before I sign off, I leave you with a short poem from André Gide which I will try to translate for you.

"Nourritures !
Je m'attends à vous, nourritures !
Ma faim ne se posera pas à mi-route ;
Elle ne se taira que satisfaite ;
Des morales n'en sauraient venir à bout
Et de privations je n'ai jamais pu nourrir que mon âme.
Satisfactions ! je vous cherche.
Vous êtes belles comme les aurores d'été."

Earthly Food
I am awaiting you, o' Food !
My hunger will not pause half way ;
it will only be silenced when satisfied ;
Morality will not quench it
and from Deprivation I was only able to feed my soul,
Satisfaction! I seek you.
You are as beautiful as a Summer's dawn...

P.S : Of course, you do understand that this post is not only about Earthly Food per se, well at least I hope you do...

Painting : Iraqi artist, Saad Ali.

Saturday 20 December 2008

On Younger Men and in praise of Older Women...

I don't understand what the fuck is going on...the older I get, the younger men I attract...or let's say, they are attracted to me.

It can't be my high levels of oestrogen neither my oxytocin or pheromones, so the biology of hormones theory is out. There must be something else, for sure.

And damn it they are getting younger and younger...or maybe am getting older.

Seriously now, can anyone explain this enigma to me? Is this the last, kind, gesture from Mother Nature before I wither away ?

I tried researching this new phenomena in my life, and discovered that they have a name for older women with younger men. In America they call them "Cougars." What the fuck does that mean, "Cougars" ?

Examples were given - Demi Moore and some juvenile delinquent. Susan Sarandon and some acne ridden boy. Sharon Stone and some other dude. And Madonna and her ex to whom she had to pay 75 million dollars for him to bugger off...
I don't personally have that kind of money...

Anyways, my research left me rather disappointed, because 10 times out of 10 ,it is the younger men who pursue me and not vice the mystery is left unanswered...

When am talking of younger men, I don't mean 5 years younger. I mean 10, 15 and 20 years younger...One of them told me candidly - use me as your toyboy.
I thought to myself, I never played with toys when I was a kid, surely am not going to do it at 40++ !

I guess my only consolation is that I can postpone botox injections, for the time being...but what to do with the law of gravity ? Can anyone lift this one UP ?

I could not find any plausible "scientific" explanation for this sudden outburst of interest from younger men towards Moi.

And then it clicked...

Why did I need to go searching the web and psychology books for answers...It was right there under my nose.

The prophet Mohammed, at age 25, married Khadija who was 15 years OLDER than him. And that was 8 centuries ago. They did not have terminology such as "cougars" then.
It was a non-issue. It certainly was a non-issue for the Prophet of God, himself. Neither was it for Khadija, his first wife.

And the Prophet at age of 40, when he was still married to Khadija, received his first Koranic revelation. Khadija was the first one to convert to Islam, and it is in her arms that he sought comfort and re-assurance... Re-assurance that he was not hallucinating nor going insane... And I must add, that while married to Khadija, the Prophet was very monogamous. Khadija was the Materia Prima for him, the quintessential Feminine.
A lesson in total Wisdom to ponder here. I shall not say more...

And one thing I have to admit about the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia in particular, they don't have taboos about age. I saw and heard of many partnerships with women much older...This does NOT seem to be a "problem" for the Saudis and some Emiratis as in the UAE, contrary to the rest of the Arab world -- like Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq...

Countries, where I heard women in their very early 30's, from the "Levant", calling themselves "old". And other women, mothers in particular, when "searching for a bride" for their dick - oops sorry meant - son, calling a woman in her late 20's or early 30's, "old".

Old in the Arab world is when you reach your early 30's and when you are not married and have not tied the proverbial knot nor have you produced any bambinis...babies.

I only have one thing to say to these idiots. Follow your Prophet's example.
He defied all these nonsense "tribal" laws... And he lived up to God's precepts...and one of them was marrying someone 15 years older than him.

I do not wish to go off on a tangent here. So let me bring it back to Me...Moi... Away from Prophets and Seers since am neither...I am just a Woman. An Arab, Iraqi Woman.

So what was I saying ? Ah right, younger men...

I went through my psychodynamic books to elucidate the mystery. And this is what I came up with.

- A Mother figure. Reminding him of the mother he had, the one he wished he had, the one he never had, or the one he wished he never had...

- A figure from his past. A teacher, a nurse, a doctor, an air hostess, the neighbor next door in her skimpy dress whose husband abandoned and whom he had a crush on...

- An actress who titillated his senses when he was 16...reminding him of how he squeezed his pimples before going to bed and lulled him to sleep...

- Or maybe the "initiatrice", the "initiator", the "Eternal" Woman, bearer of secrets with her promised revelations...Keep on waiting for the revelation, darling.

- Or some archaic Archetype...stored in some collective unconscious, nudging him in one direction or the other...Some Isis, some Ishtar, some...

What the fuck does it matter ? What the fuck does it matter whether you are his mom, would be mom, his teacher, his priestess, his Goddess...or the neighbor next door...

Defy the Law of Gravity. All is possible for those who think they can...

Enjoy it, while it's raining men...

But do excuse me. How old did you say you were, are...?

Painting : Iraqi artist, Saad Ali.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Simple Things...

Nothing makes me happier than simple things...I am a firm believer that nice things come in small boxes. An ex thought I was after some diamond solitaire in a small box. He was stupid, no fault of his own, he was born that way...He missed the point.

I was actually alluding to simple things...

For me, happiness and moments of pure joy are made of those little simple things...
You know what I mean don't you ? Those little things that leave you feeling complete, grateful, blessed, alive and in love with life. Those little things that restore your sense of fulfillment, of purpose, of connection, of mission...

Those little simple things that murmur in your ears - you are still here, all is not gone, all is not finished...

You are touched, again...somewhere deep inside of yourself. Touched in a manner that you know is true, that is real, as if someone has caressed your soul...

It is really an inner state. An inner state of receiving...And you've got to be ready to receive it, to receive those little simple things...because they are around you all the time but you have never paid any notice, or when you may have just skipped over them, believing they are unimportant, thinking to yourself that you have greater more important things to do, say or see...

I made a list of these little things, those simple things...I imagine them like tiny beads, like little pearls, invisible pearls that have always been there, always preciously present...

I made a mental list of them, those simple things...I am sure you have your own too.

Mine are and in no chronological order:

The smell of coffee in the morning, a sunset, a full moon, flowers blooming in a vase, the smell of a damp wet earth afer the rain, a good book well read, a piece well written, a hearty laugh with a friend, an embrace from someone who cares for you, a passionate love letter, a sincere act of charity, a gift given or received in genuiness, cooking with love, setting the dining table with artfulness, a good glass of wine with a well prepared meal, champagne and strawberries, the smell of incense lingering at your altar, kneeling, prostrating in prayer and feeling so close, lying on the grass and observing clouds pass by, the sound and smell of the sea, watching trees swirling in the wind, a bird's flight, a desert storm that leaves red trails in the sky, a full starry night in the summer, hugging your parents in mutual forgiveness, a painting that can still leave you in awe even though you've looked at it everyday for years, mixing and matching colors, touching fabrics and feeling their smoothness, planting and watering your plants and see them grow, burning candles and watch their light flicker in the darkness, a kiss that leaves you breathless, an allegre or slow danse à deux, a top quality cigarillo with a café crème, the smell of baked apples topped with cinnamon and honey, strolling in any old city and listening to the ancient secrets and wisdom that permeate its walls, crying on your friend's shoulder, listening to your favorite songs, a piece of music that moves you to tears, a sight that leave your heart wide open, strangers smiling at you, an unexpected visit/call/message, that makes you jump with joy, rummaging and haggling in markets and bazaars, a good film, contemplating patterns on hand woven carpets, a hilarious joke that leaves you laughing for many hours, principled stands that leave you in total admiration, a stranger offering you a flower out of the blue, walking barefoot in the summer rain, reading your favorite poem and making it your mantra, writing your favorite poem in many different styles, a job well done/ well completed and leaves you with a "yes" feeling, making a small/big difference in someone's life, quiet, tranquil moments of total solitude, beautifully framed mirrors, getting a "high" feeling after having finally cleaned your own place, giving away things you no longer use or need, browsing bookstores and the smell of the printed page leaves you in an enchanted state, peeing after you have held it back for so long because no toilet was available, a sensual scented warm bubble bath, having your feet/back/neck/legs/arms massaged, walking alone in the early morning hours on the sea shore, picking fruits from trees, watering your garden and splashing yourself or each other with water to cool down, sweeping your terrace, balcony, barefoot with buckets of water and feeling the cold water refreshing your feet, making funny faces, dancing, kissing yourself in front a mirror, jogging/running and imagining yourself transformed into a ethereal wild horse, longing for the one you love and finally meeting him/her and your heart misses not one beat but a hundred beats, eating mangoes and having your face covered in juice, dribbling down your chin, onto your lap and not giving a damn about it, stroking your pet and hear it purr and have it snuggle next to you and feeling it pulsating with life, caressing your lover's hair/head/face...and vice versa, holding hands in complicity, remembering his name and his name repeats itself in your head like a prayer...

And the list does not stop here, it goes on and on...The little simple things that you have either taken for granted or never paid enough attention to...

The simple things...

Painting : Iraqi artists, Saad Ali.

Monday 15 December 2008

Celebrating Shoes - From Iraq with Love...

An Italian acquaintance promised that he/she will send me a 100 pairs of hand made high heels Italian shoes...just the way I like them...
I also know that Y. loves Pizzas...
So combining both, on this memorable occasion, I am dedicated this song to well as to all other parties concerned...
Ain't I sweet ?!
And, back in old Baghdad, it's Amore too...

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Love Conquers All ? Not So.

Do you remember an old post I wrote about my relative Tara ? It was called "Love and Sectarianism".
In it, I shared the story of my relative Tara, a beauty in her late 20's who fell in love with a Shiite.

Wallahee, by God, I warned her. I told her - this guy will never marry you and it has nothing to do with your looks, family name, status, has to do with the fact that you are not a Shiite.

She refused to believe me. She is still young, she believed that Love conquers and overcomes all.

How stupid can one be ?! The writing was on the wall. I took one look at him and figured him out...maybe she needs to reach my age before she is granted that same talent...the talent of figuring out people within seconds, in an age of Occupations and Love...sectarian Love.

He finally told her - after many emails, after many stolen meetings, after many phone calls, after many love parodies and silent hopes, after many secret embraces...
He finally told her - Sorry Tara, I love you, but...


Poor Tara who believed that Love conquers all, even Shiite sectarianism...

He told her, bluntly - I can't marry you. You are a Sunni.

Of course, when I met Tara, Tara was in tears. I bit my lip, and did not want to rub it in by telling her - I told you so.

Mind you her Shiite was a Lebanese, not even an Iraqi. But what does it matter, whether he was a Lebanese or an Iraqi Shiite ? Tara is another victim of an illusion called - Love conquers all.

In the beginning her Shiite, told her he did not care what her sect was...until he satisfied his conquest instinct...And now he came up with the truth. But as I said, his truth was clear from the very beginning.

No one in his family married a Sunni. His parents were totally pro-Shiite and consequently anti-Sunnis. They were/are very active supporters of that megalomaniac Sayyed Hassan bateekh. They loved Iran and visited that whorehouse many times...

It was so fucking obvious. This wimp would never go against his family's traditions. It was too obvious, but Tara refused to see it...

Ya Allah, why are women so blind ? What is this desperate thing that drives them to blindness when it comes to matter of the heart ? Why can't women understand and finally accept that when it comes to "love" and "politics" - politics will win.
Whatever the "politics"...

I accept that there have been exceptions in history where love primed over politics -beliefs, ideologies, sense of belonging, sects, religion, roots.. and the like.

But not since Iraq 2003. Not today. It was like that before, yes it was. I have too many examples of mixed marriages, to count. But not anymore. The turbaned ones have made sure that Love does not conquer all...

Tara graduated from the "old school", she was taught that these issues are a no,no.

The other day, I was talking to an Iraqi and I mentioned sects, he is a Sunni Arab, from the "old school" as well, he said to me "Do me a favor, don't mention these words again, Sunni/Shias, that is shameful..."

Tara's beau, on the other hand, did not find it shameful to mention it...

Not at all, he made it a point, to break a love story that has been going on for over a year...and break a heart in the the name of whom exactly ?
Ali, Hassan, Hussein, Khomeini, Khameini or Sayyed Nasrallah ?

He forfeited a pure love in the name of a turban and a fake ideology. And some women are stupid enough to believe that Love conquers all...still.

There is no Love under Occupation my darlings. The only Love there is, is the one you carry for yourselves, your close loved ones, for those who are on the same wavelength as you are and for Truth...that kind of Love will conquer all...

All the rest is politics and...illusions.

And a song that goes with it...
Haramt Ahebak - I promise to never love you again, ever again - by Warda Al Jazeeriah.

A quick, short translation - Please don't "love" me anymore. Keep your "heart" away from me...Leave me alone and let me live...

Arramt ahibbak - Orchestre national de barbes

Painting : Iraqi artist, Saad Ali.

Sunday 7 December 2008

What Love ?!?!?!

I like that song by Umm Kulthum, played on the Oud solo with no lyrics.
I remember a few introductory lines so I hummed along as it was being played.

" What Love are you talking about. Do you know what Love means first...
Love and you are so far wide apart, worlds apart. A world you would not even reach in your imagination...You oppress Love so much, had you loved for even 2 days, Love would have metamophorsed you into an Angel...So before you come and pontificate about Love, tell me what Love are you talking about..."

So on and so forth...

Saturday 6 December 2008

To an Arab Motherfucker...

Truth be told, I, an Arab woman, no longer like Arab men.

Let me qualify that - before you get on your high horses, the masturbating, Anglo-Saxon, English, American...notice my wording. I said - I no longer like Arab men.
I did not say Muslim men, I did not say Arab Muslims, I said Arab men. Full stop.

Yes that is the truth. I don't like Arab men, no more...

I have a few exceptions, but overall, can't stand them.

I don't care where they come from, which part of the Arab world, I don't like them.
And am talking here as an ARAB woman, not as some Westerner, or some white female tourist in search of a bit of exoticism to beat the winter blues with sex, sea and sun...and the local gigolos oblige, be it short or long term.

When it comes to Arab women, REAL Arab women, Arab men suck.

This is my own personal opinion backed with many years of experience. I can tell you that as an Arab woman, they are the most vile, horrid, fake, hypocritical sons of bitches around.

Wait a minute. That asshole is not that way with a non-Arab, but with a true Arab he is.

She becomes his sounding board, his punching bag, his scapegoat, all the shit he wanted to exteriorize but dared not with someone else...A cumulation of his own history, both personal and collective.

As I said it before, that Arab man, in front of the Westerner is like a DOG, he bows down and obliges...And he is only good at showing ME his might - his might akin to a limp dick in need of a thousand Viagras. Push it up with one more fake bravado...and bravados, I have heard. So many of them...Like an empty pot which you strike, and its sound reverberates miles away. An empty echo that strikes one flank of the valley and falls back into a pit of utter darkness - his.

The Arab man when it comes to a Real Arab woman, is an eunuch growing a penis, trying hard...trying to.

An observer does not understand that, does not understand that intimate dynamic where all - his history both personal and collective gets played out.

And I have some who write to me and tell, "Oh but they are so nice to me" - to which I have a standard reply - "Of course they are, you are not an Arab woman."

Arabic Music 2003 (HipHop Darbuka RemiX) - AdemCan and Jay-Z

Painting : Iraqi artist, Saad Ali.

Thursday 4 December 2008

To a Faceless Man...


Is this the faceless man,
dressed in smoke ?
One minute he appears
and the other,
disappears in a
cloudy fog...

One minute,
his shadow silhouette
on satin cushions,
holding to his lips
a silver goblet
flowing with red,
red wine
pressed from Love stanzas
and the other,
he is a beggar with no abode,
erring in the wilderness,
searching for crumbs...

Is this the faceless man
out of a thousand
ethereal nights
a king with no palace
a warrior prisoner
in his own fortress,
fortress of bricks
and steel wire
wires turning
to ink,
and the faceless man
becomes poet...

A poet in a jasmin
perfumed garden
a starry night,
visiting him
with prose,
carried by a tired
evening breeze...

Is that the faceless man,
sailing on
unfriendly tides,
taming the unnameable
or is he just
a supplicant in the Ka'aba
drowning himself in a sea
of pleas and prayers...

Is that the faceless man
or some magician
changing hats
bright colored hats
that fly away
and evaporate
like his face
in a thick smoke...

Painting : Iraqi artist, Saad Ali.

Monday 1 December 2008

La Vie en Rose - Bollywood version

Since am on the subject of India and Pakistan, I thought I should brighten it up a little bit with a Bollywood version of La Vie en Rose...

La Vie En Rose...Indien - Pascal Of Bollywood

Saturday 29 November 2008

Blues for Ali.

An East and West Jazz Fusion.
I need not say much, Ali knows what I mean...

Friday 28 November 2008

An Expressive Silence...

I am torn between writing and getting some rest.

I have not slept in what seems like ages...I am tired. A fatigue that is hard to describe...It comes from an unfamiliar place. Not your ordinary kind of fatigue...
In French they have a better word for it - it is called "usure"...
I don't know how to translate "usure" into English and I can't be bothered to search for an online dictionary either. So "usure" remains "usure" and I know what it means.

Of course, in the back of my mind, there is another subject I have to write about, but am postponing it.

Whenever I postpone something important, it is usually because of two things and not necessarily related. Either am too lazy and that particular thing requires lots of efforts and energy from me. Or because that thing is too close to write about.

So I will write about not writing what I need to write about. I will circumvent the subject and flirt around, knowing fully well that like in any flirtatious situation, the essential is never said, never expressed...

What are these iron rods that block me, as if I am in some prison ? As if I am caged behind steel bars ? Is it fear, avoidance, or just a lid of silence, since silence is more clement than expression, at times.

Silence has this knack of being very kind...blotting out, at least momentarily, the shouts that need to explode, the cries that need to erupt, the screams that will awaken everyone around...Silence butts in and stops them... A garde fou.

A balancing act, a dance, works its way between silence and expression, like someone walking on a tight rope, measuring every step, tethering either way, knowing that on each side is an abyss awaiting...The abyss of silence and the abyss of unbridled expression.

Expression. Ex-pression, De-pression, Op-pression, Re-pression, Su-pression...

I like that pression business. Pression, press, pressure...

Pressure out, pressure in, pressure down, pressure back, pressure...

I am pressed.
Pressed for what - I ask ?
What is pressing you ?
Who is pressing you ?
How are you pressed ?

I am pressed.

Like pressed grapes, squeezed out, squeezed in...

Pressure - the exertion of force upon a surface,

You pressure and you have a compressed file, you zip and unzip it...Zip it up. Silence it. Unzip it now...Zip and Zap...

Zap it away, fast...a fast forward.

Obliterate it, zap, zap, zap.

But it lingers...

Zap shouts, zap.

But it lingers...

Silence it then.


Shut it,
take that lid
press against it
compress it
turn it off
switch it off
silence it
for now,
until expression moves back in
sneaking itself
and swivels around
the iron rods
through the bars
and the wires,
through the cracks of Silence...

Last Tango In Paris - Gotan Project

Painting : Iraqi artist. Wissa Zako.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Evil Ways...

Evil Ways, or better still -- You don't fuck with true Iraqis.

Take that song and absorb it fully...Interpret it the way it fits you best, mull it around, contemplate it, give it new dimensions, expand its lyrics, enhance it in whatever the fuck you want...but remember your Evil Ways, and the fact that you will NOT get away with any of them...

Evil Ways - Santana

Saturday 22 November 2008

Trapped Desperate Women...

I met S.for a couple of hours. From the minute we were seated to the minute I say Goodbye, S. did not stop berating herself.

Her thighs are too this, her butt is too that, her breasts are not quite it, her nose is not in vogue, her arms are that way, her calves are the other way...and she went on and on about what was not right with and about her.

At some point I asked her -- is there anything about you that you like ?

She paused for too long and finally replied -- Yes, I suppose my eyes are OK.

So I suggested to her, that since she had "OK eyes", that she changes the lenses through which she was looking at herself.

I have a problem, a big one actually with women who keep putting themselves down. Be it physically or otherwise. That bugs me, a lot.

Too many years of watching American crap like Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives and reading absolute junk female magazines have had their toll on women's self confidence.

All the above have one common message, a subliminal one if you wish -- to keep you in a state of chronic, constant insecurity, so you can watch, read and consume more of their Western garbage.

You know something, I never, ever, read women's magazines. I don't even flip through them. I know the traps.

They will give you advice about this or the other that is totally divorced from reality and will insinuate down the line, that you really need "them" to get your act together. In other words, they are meant to keep you in a constant state of low self-esteem by bombarding with brushed, glossy images that you can never measure up to, products you can never have enough of, tips you can never follow...Stupid advice that will you give some seeming feeling of complicity and achievement - when in fact all of that is just destined to make you feel more insecure and consequently more desperate...

I always tell my female friends : The first step to feeling good about yourself, is to stop buying, reading, perusing these nonsense women's magazines. And some women are totally addicted to them -- a real sad case.

I neve buy or keep any of that junk around. I know it is destined to make me feel like a loser who will never be able to match up. It is supposed to do that to you, otherwise how would they ensure the sales of their next edition ?

Men also fall for that kind of crap. It is all Western crap, that unfortunately, the Arab world is catching up with.

In a man's head there are all these visual images of how a woman should look. The nose must be like this, the waist like that, the breasts that size, the hips the other...etc...And unconsciously they measure up each single woman they meet to these rather impossible standards nested in their heads...At some point you ask yourself --Am I really here ? Do I really exist anywhere ?

We have reached a stage where the lines between fantasy and reality have become very blurred, dangerously so... This has resulted in much conflict and unhappiness for all parties concerned, in particular women. They have pit you one against the other, because of your looks and you fell into that trap, stupidly so.

I can understand the difficulties...I can understand that vile, vicious circle we are all caught up in, but I also know that there is a way out.

The way out for me, is simple yet hard. It basically consists of reintroducing the I in the equation. The minute you do that, and start with I, even if you don't feel it at first, you are allowing a space for your I to grow.

It starts with I want, I desire, I need. I, I and I...

Do not worry about being too selfish. I can already tell you that most of you have not been selfish enough. In fact you have been so selfless, that you have no sense of self left. And once there is a void like that selfless you, any man can fill it up with just about anything -- including his endless tedious fantasies that you have enabled, by being so not there, here...

And the easiest entry point is your body image. The way you look. That one is a piece of cake for a guy. This is where they have kept you the most insecure and this is where he will pull all your strings, overtly and covertly.

Either by alluding, comparing, contrasting, insinuating, reminiscing, and the like... Don't let him get away with it. The whole system is geared in such a way to keep you so dependent on his desire for you.

And you will ask yourself a thousand questions. Am I pretty ? Am I too fat ? Am I too thin ? Am I too tall ? Am I too short ? Are my breasts the right size ? What about my face ? And my nose ? And my eyes ? And my lips ? And my skin ? And my legs ? And my thighs ? And my buttocks ? And my belly? And my hips? And my hair ? And, and, and...and there is NO area of your body that you will not question for HIS desire.


Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, the most important question of all ? Do I desire, want, need...Him ?

I suppose 9 times out 10 you have not. Again you have given away your power...again and again...for what ? For what ? In exchange of what ?

I will not answer that one for you. You can answer it yourself. I am 100% sure that the reply will come within seconds...

Take that reply, look at it, see where it is coming from, see who put it place there, and how you have maintained it and functioned according to it...

Once you do that -- chuck it away, throw it away, burn it, dispose of it, bury it, drown it...I don't care what you do with it, as long as you separate yourself from it.

Then you do the simplest thing on earth, the thing that men have been so good at doing for centuries --- reintroduce the I in your self.

By then, I am assuming that you have mentally grown a few inches and that you will do it with wisdom, intelligence and the utmost of pleasure.

Painting : Iraqi artist, Jaber Al-Saria

Tuesday 18 November 2008


I feel terribly sad tonight.

In a mere 5 years our lives have been turned upside down. My country has been handed to the Americans and the Iranians on a silver platter, by none other than some Iraqis, themselves - Shiites and Kurds for the most part. Two despicable categories. And I don't care what you think, they are despicable to me - they sold Iraq for the cheapest of price.

I really don't know what to write anymore or what to say.

For 8 years, we fought the Persian filth and lost our best men, thousands of them, so we can keep our independence, and now this.

I can never look at another Iraqi the same way as before. Never. The traitors within.

They have allowed America and Iran to embed themselves in our fibers for years to come, all out of hatred and envy. Nothing more. A old complex that they reenact over and over...

A Shiite acquaintance called me the other day, well he used to be more than an acquaintance. He mentioned Sistani once during our phone conversation, and I could detect in his tone some reverence for that Iranian whore. He then asked me if I would like to meet him for a coffee, I turned him down - flat.

This is how radical I have become with other Iraqis. The slightest mention of anything that is pro-occupation, pro -sectarian Shiite rule, pro-Kurdish, pro-Iran and they are completely and totally out of my sight and life within minutes. And I mean that literally - minutes.

I keep my interaction with other Iraqis to a strict minimum and am on the lookout for any sign, to send them to the hell they asked for.

I don't know, maybe I have become a self- hating Iraqi. I don't think so, though. I am just so disgusted with some of my own people. And I still love Iraq too much.

At times, I say to myself, to hell with all of them, why should I care ? They wanted it that way, let them have it. Some of them don't seem too bothered. They are living their lives as if nothing happened. Why should I bother ?

I see other Iraqis, be it in reality or virtually, and I want to throw up...

I want to vomit on their callousness, their lies, their deceit, their duplicity and their stupid ignorance. I feel embarrassed to be associated by name or by nationality with them. Maybe because I have known a time when this vermin was nonexistent. And I saw the great strides and achievements that were made without their kind of presence.

For God's sake, will someone explain to me where did this scum resurface from ?
I know some of them were in England, others in the US and others in Iran. And they had their little opportunistic slimy followers inside the country, covertly working for that day.

It is as if Iraq had already vomited them out and some high wave brought them back to the shores, like some garbage that refuses to sink into the depth of the ocean. The non-recyclable, the non-biodegradable type of GARBAGE.

I see them like those rusty tin cans, broken glass bottles, ugly dirty plastic bags that pollute the shores, once the beaches are deserted, at the end of a long day.

And everyday, I keep vomiting them out, myself, when the night becomes thick and am alone with my thoughts, I vomit them out of my system. I vomit them out in waves, as the sea tides do so every evening, when the sun sets...

Painting : Iraqi artist, Malak Mathloom, 1999.

Friday 14 November 2008

Stuck in Boredom...

Frankly, the more I mingle with people, especially "en société", the greater my boredom...

Oddly enough, am hardly ever bored when am alone or when am with like minded people, for the most part, very close friends. Is this a bad sign or what ?

My capacity to tolerate nonsense is next to zero. OK fine, I can chit chat a little but that's about it.

It feels as if I am living in a different, parallel universe and people "out there", whatever that "out there" means are living in theirs...
A feeling of total estrangement.

This kind of schizophrenia can get a little scary at times. It feels as if all basic connections have been cut off. As if the umbilical cord that use to tie me to the presence of the "other" has been radically severed.

At times, my boredom manifests itself as some fidgety restlessness. At other times it's just my nodding my head and looking at the corner of some ceiling. And if you knew the number of ceilings I have memorized by heart. And sometimes it's me excusing myself for the 100th time to go to the toilet. I am sure the "other" has come to believe that I suffer from urine incontinence.

I remember once I was with two female friends and one of them, mentioned this guy who was really interested in her and she was not. She added by saying " but you know he is really nice - but when am with him am so bored what should I do ?" So this other female friend said matter of factly "Drink and you will find him interesting."

This piece of conversation never left me. But how much can one drink to digest the "other" is the question - short of requesting/demanding, some ethanol intravenous drip ?!

Take for instance this evening. A friend had a party, celebrating some thing or the other...not quite sure what it was - shows how interested I was.

And here is this 35 something man who proceeded to nostalgically tell me about his trip to France when he was 18. And boy, he did not stop.

He recounted in minute details his camping trip in some village in France, and how he met Babette, Brigitte and Georgette. And what he did with Babette, Brigitte and Georgette...And how Babette, Brigitte and Georgette found him soooo fascinating and what a memorable trip that was...etc...

Excuse me, but what the fuck do I care about his camping trip over 20 years ago in France ? I mean how is that relevant to me and to my life today in the year 2008 ?

Or take the other one, she went on and on about what a bastard her boss is, because he really fancied the secretary and he wanted to demote her so he can have the secretary instead, a "promotion canapé" sort of clip.

OK fine, I can understand that she feels upset about this asshole, but really do I have to listen to this shit for 2 hours ? I mean, how is that of any relevance to me ?

Fuck, I have been legally unemployed for so long, I would not recognize office furniture if I saw them, let alone a boss and a secretary...

How does all of that concern me ?

People are just so caught up in their own little bubbles...and I guess am caught up in mine.

But there is a little difference here. X. can find other Babettes, Bernadettes and Georgettes on a new camping trip. Y. can change departments, bosses, offices or jobs...

But If I leave my "bubble" where will I go to ?

I guess my only "consolation", short of an adequate term, is to remember that another 4 million or so are stuck in the same bubble as I.

In all likelihood they are as estranged as I am and are thinking along the same lines - Where will we go to ?

Yes indeed, them and I are very stuck. And seems like we will remain so for quite a long time...

Painting : Iraqi artist, Abdel Ameer Alwan.

Friday 7 November 2008

Fear of Flying, Men in Love & all that Jazz...

Fly Me To The Moon - Diana Krall

I can't sleep. Another horrible bout of insomnia. Besides I have fear of flying. That reminds me of a mug a male friend once offered me as a present, it said -- You send my spirits soaring, but am afraid of heights.. Well that's kind of me - when it comes to airplanes.

What has that got to do with men in love ? Nothing and everything...

We were gathered in A's living room. I am not sure how the subject came about, but War, Peace and Love were discussed.

K. my best friend, whom I have known for donkey years as a "revolutionary Marxist", flabbergasted me tonight. He has become so mellow with the years. He spoke of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Of course K. loves to smoke his hashish daily, coupled with his favorite drink. Hell, if I had as many joints and glasses as he did, I would become Gandhi myself, let alone preach him. I will metamorphose into a female Gandhi, like Muqtada al Sadr, the expert driller and rapist.

This asshole believes he is the Iraqi version of Gandhi, so does his idolater, Cockyburn. Fuck, people are so stupid. Maybe Cockyburn also smokes bango. Stupidity and bad faith are a lethal combination. Ask me, have seen it all.

So K. was going on about war and peace, I was yawning. I love K. to bits. He is my best friend, but frankly when he goes off on his love and peace trip, he bores me to tears. For many reasons.

Firstly K. has not known exile nor war -- the Iraqi style.

Secondly K. can afford pontificating through his joint.

Thirdly K. even though very knowledgeable, seems unable to grasp the extent of the disaster and tragedy that has befallen Iraq.

So from War and Peace we moved to Love.

A. tries to come across as more posé, as they say in French. I suppose that would be level headed in English. What does level headed mean ? Does it mean that your head is at a certain level, above a certain level or below a certain level ? And which level is it ? So many mysteries still to uncover...

A. said without blinking, that men fall in love as easily as women, if not more but they try to hide it, and they do so successfully. He added that men fall in love so easily and sometimes they are not even aware of it. The realization comes later on...sometimes too late.

Quel bordel !

OK. I can figure out K's metamorphosis from Karl Marx, Che and armed struggle to Gandhi's style pacifism but what was A.'s message ? And was it directed at me ? He did look me in the eye when he said so...

K. sort of nodded. But K. is a hardcore celibate that no one and nothing will sway him away from his hardened single status. But what about A.?

I don't are too complicated for me. They get their emotional/sentimental knickers in a twist for nothing. It must be fear of attachment or fear of losing their "freedom" or maybe fear of flying...

And freedom ? What freedom ? Men take away freedoms they don't lose it. Ask me, have seen it all.

In any case these lovely men, and A. and K. are lovely men, may send my spirits soaring, but I have a plane to catch terribly afraid of heights.

On Places and Paths...

Tamally Maak - Amr Diab

Time to head "home" whatever the fuck that means.

I finished packing, and counting the hours with dread...I don't like where am heading to. Can't stand the people, their non existent sense of humor, their frowns, their avoidance of life, their stupidities and shallowness, however hard they try to be sophisticated...their lack of imagination, their lack of passion for anything, anything they are incapable of copying. Because this is what they do best, copy. They copy everything. They are the most boring, infertile, tedious people I have come across...

I guess places are like people. One either loves them or hates them. It is indeed a package.

Love and hate are also a package.

You can say I like this about this place and dislike that. That is very rational of you. But then I will tell you that you don't love the place. As simple as that.

If you can dissect something then you don't love it. Love takes it all. Liking and disliking are for tourists not for lovers. Lovers live love. Be it a place, a person, a cause, a piece of music or a painting... You live it, you love it or hate it.

You experience it, you love it or hate it. But liking and disliking are for lukewarm, cold feet fellows. People with no fire in them. I can't stand people with no fire in them. Fire brings warmth and light but it can also burn and consume - granted. But life is tasteless without it.

And love, or loving a place is the sort of fire am talking about. It means opening yourself up to totally experiencing whatever it is you need to experience. The sounds, the colors, the smells, the streets, the faces, the hidden meanings, the overt and covert...Only then can you really say you love or you hate. But not before.

You don't have to travel throughout the whole country. It is not the distance, it the one who does the walking, who makes the miles...not the other way round.

It is not the number of people and places you have encountered or visited, it is how you encountered them and how you visited them that counts. This is not about the bulimia of the senses and adventures. This is about experience on a deep soul level.

I have met people who have not left their own cities, yet in my eyes they have travelled the world. And I have met some who have travelled the world and lived in various places and in my eyes, they have not left their own doorstep.

Immune to change and to learning or open to experience, that is the question.

If you don't do the latter, how will you ever discover and find your own element ? Impossible.

Finding one's element is crucial in life. Well, it is in my opinion at least. Once you are in your element whatever that element is, and you say to yourself - this is me, I have found myself, finally - then you can do and achieve great things. Before that, you are only buying time...And you may buy time till the rest of your days and until you reach your grave.

I am a great believer in taking one's passion to its ultimate realization. In the positive sense, of course. I say in the positive sense, because some have a passion for destruction and nihilism, this is not the kind of passion I am talking about.

I am talking about your heart here and your heart, deep in its recesses, only knows love and its flip side, hate.

Love with passion, hate with passion if you need to, but harm not nor destroy what you have not created.

And when you think about it, you have created nothing, for you are only another creation among millions of others...

Painting : Iraqi artist, Fareed Zaidi.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Out in the Night...

Come away with me - Norah Jones

A. is busy with some relatives. H. is busy with his new date. S. is busy with her kid. L. is busy with the husband...Everyone is busy.

I thought to myself -- hell, am not going to sit around until everyone else is no longer busy. I am re-claiming the night, alone. Besides I've been in all day, making liberal use of A's computer -- all too myself.

This is not the first time I re-claim the night alone. I have dared it- so many times before, in whichever city I find myself in. I do not let the night deter me, even though those who claim to be her masters and who occupy her may act as some sort of a deterrent.

I always arm myself with the necessary psychological and other tools, just in case...But hey am a woman, and the night is my domain. I represent the moon and the darkness...The insides, the hidden, the that not so ? So what is the hassle about a woman going out alone at night and claiming what is rightfully hers ?

I chose to go to a bar/pub, that I know relatively well. It is a relaxed atmosphere and people there are generally quite respectful and not bothersome. When am out alone, I like to sit at the bar, on those high stools. Maybe I feel safer there under the watchful eye of the barman...or maybe it is some sort of defiance, I am not sure...and it really does not matter what prompts my behavior, I was out there, and that particular spot and time belonged to me, for tonight.

Just as I was about to get ready to leave, my phone rings. I did not recognize the number, so I answered...It was him, it.

- Layla, I beg of you, don't hang up this time. I have to talk to you. Your voice revives me. Oh how I wished I did not say hello, maybe he could still be dying without my voice...
- Layla, I truly love you. Layla is silent and raises her eye brows to the ceiling and notices a spider's web...
- Layla, I worship the dust you walk on. Layla is dying to ask is that after you murder me and I turn to ashes and dust. But Layla is silent...A strange sort of silence, a cold silence, very cold silence that actually gave me chills.
- Layla, say something for old times sake. Layla, please...Layla listen, am running out of credit here, why don't you call me so I can explain to you...

At that point, the cold rage simply hung up on it.

The gall ! Not only this thing was vicious, vile and violent but he also had the audacity to ask me to call him because he was running out of credit ! I shook my head in disbelief, then remembered that I shall not waste more time on that creep, the night was awaiting me and I did not want to be tardy with her.

So I got to where I was supposed to be. Chose my seat. I glanced around me, to assess...just a glance or two, to evaluate the "atmosphere".

As I was making myself comfortable, I noticed a guy standing at one end of the bar, not too far off, staring at me. I must admit, he was quite attractive.

And he kept staring and staring and I could sense his stare from the corner of my eye. Then he lit a cigarette and I noticed his wedding ring. And I stared and stared and stared at his right hand. He felt my stare and pulled his hand away and tucked it in his pocket - the idiot. I wanted to crack up laughing but I moved my stare at the perfectly lined up bottles in front of me and loudly giggled inside of me...

Then came an African lad, manifestly drunk. He did a Michael Jackson stunt dance, even though only Jazz was being played...He kept at it for a while. He was trying to be impressively "cute" while in fact he looked ridiculous. I thought to myself just because a half black man won the elections, is that a license to try to become the center of all attention. I really wanted to crack up laughing again, but I just smiled and loudly giggled inside of me and looked at the perfectly lined up bottles instead...

After a while, landed another one, he pulled the stool next to mine, and kept a relatively ok distance, which allowed me to breath unhampered by too much close proximity. I thought to myself, give him a few minutes and a classic line will be thrown your way. And true to my expectations - he politely said :

- Do you mind if borrow your lighter, I forgot mine at home.
- Sure, you may even keep it.I have another one. Hoping that will not give anymore excuses to address me. No such luck.
- So are you visiting ?
- Yes.
- First time?
- No.
- Do you like it here?
- Yes.
- Can I offer you a drink ?
- No thanks.
- I am a student by the way. A social science student.

I thought to myself this guy can't be a student, he is well into his late 30's - unless of course, he is a very late bloomer. Then I thought to myself again - take it easy on the guy, girl, he looks harmless, and what have you got to lose ? Let him have a's not like you are obliged to date or God forbid, marry him.

- Oh! a student. Which exact field in the social sciences ?
- Right now, am taking a course in gender studies.

I must admit this is a novelty of a line. None of the classical ones -- I need a lighter, what time is it, have we met before ? sort of nonsense...

- Ah! Gender studies. What a coincidence! I am a Professor in Gender studies myself.

He swallowed hard and I saw his Adam's apple go up and down...

- So what are you teaching, which aspect of gender studies ?

- Actually, I am undertaking a research project with some of my students. I asked the female students to imagine that they are a male for a minimum of 48 hours and asked the male students to imagine being a female for the same amount of time.

- And what were your initial findings ?

- The females were quite enthusiastic. They wanted to know what it felt like being in a guy's head. They also wanted to experience what it must feel like not to have so many limitations imposed upon them and they were dying to experience what it must feel like to walk into a bar alone and pick up girls and what kind of lines they would invent to "score" for the night.

- And what was the males reaction ?

- They felt awkward doing this imaginary exercise. One said he was willing to be a female as long as he could shop as much as he pleased. The other wanted re-assurance that he would still find himself a "man" after 48 hours. Another one was quite worried about being a female and then having some jackass harass him and he would not know how to defend himself. Another one said he would be willing to play the game as long as he got to be a "bitch" for 48 hours, and as long as he did not fall in love with any of the guys he bedded...

- You must be an interesting professor, he muttered rather perplexed.

- Only when I want to teach some memorable lessons...

It was time for me to leave and as I preparing my exit, I said to the "student",

- Here you keep the lighter. It is a souvenir from me to you.

I took one last stare at the perfectly lined up bottles and loudly giggled inside of me.

I headed towards the door and the night was faithfully there, waiting to embrace me once again, in her obscurity...

Painting : Iraqi artist, Jaber Alwan, 2007

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Will Never Forget You...

Never, ever.

This is originally a Greek song - Iraqi version by the Iraqi Guitarist Saif Shaheen.

We had guitarists then, before your fucking liberation. Now, we have nothing.

We go on you tube or some old video, rummaging through and trying to find things and catch up so we can remember. We have even formed groups and archives, so we can remember who we are. What have you done ? Do you realize what you have done ?

Now that we are "free", everything is forbidden.

God, how can I not hate you ??? Ya Allah, I hope all of you rot in hell for having stripped us from everything...everything, even a song.

And I dedicate this one, found on youtube after much search -- to my friends in Greece. They stood by me/us while we lost it all. And they have remained ever since...

Terre Rouge or...Failed Men

I am back in full gear and have even managed to convince all parties concerned that I am good with computers, and will not fuck up their "programs", ever. Promise !
So am "allowed" a few hours, until I go "home".

I don't feel like going "home". I am enjoying myself here. People are lively and there is a buzz in the air along with the pollution. There is lots I want to write about, but I only have two hands...

I wish I were some female octopus with so many tentacles, arms, I would write, write and write until I saturate all the pages...

Until the pages rebel and push me off their cliffs, back into the depths of the dark blue ocean, into the depths of Silence where all is shut away from vision...

How convenient it is to shut things off, to sweep them under the carpet, or hide them under some Western garment, or under some veil...

I was in some restaurant with some friends. I excused myself to go the "ladies".
And what do I find in the "ladies" room ?

A woman in some black traditional garb, sitting in the corner of the toilet floor, handing out tissues. A common sight in this part of the world, it is called masked unemployment. This woman lives off the tips that are given to her.

She handed me a tissue to wipe my hands, but she would not look in my face. She kept her head down and pulled a piece of her veil over one eye. She did not hide it enough. I saw one big bruise over one of her big beautiful brown eyes. A dark,ugly, blueish brown, brutish, bruise on her eye, whose colors were streaming down like a strangulated, coagulated, frozen tear, down her cheek, all the way to her jaw...

She had been punched. Punched by a husband, a brother or a father...

The French call it "l'oeil en compote". A sarcastic term to designate an eye turned into mash...a smashed, mashed, fruit...

This woman looked embarrassed, shameful, or maybe guilty...She was ashamed to show her blackened eye. What was she so ashamed of ? Him or her own powerlessness to stop him ? Maybe she felt shame about the outward signs of having been so humiliated and demeaned, a humiliation that trotted along her cheek with pride - his pride, his false pride.

Or maybe she was ashamed for him. So embarrassed to let the other know what kind of "man" she was living with. Was she protecting him ? Enabling him ? Or both ? Or maybe she was just covering up and trying to protect her own hurt ?

I don't know for sure.

All I know is that I felt a rage swell up in my belly...I was pregnant with a red hot rage and had that bastard of a husband, brother or father been present in front of me, I would have smashed that face of his, right there and then.

I am no boxer, and I don't have much muscles...I am a woman.

He would have probably punched me to the ground with one blow. I care not. I would have kicked his balls as hard as I can and maybe bit him so hard, digging my teeth in his repugnant flesh, reminding him of the animal that he really is.

Why do I say animal ? I am wrong here. He is no animal. Animals are much better. Animals are true to themselves. But alas, some men are not. They never bothered to find out who/what their true selves are.

This man is no stranger. He may be a brother, a father, a husband, a lover...He is someone with whom you had some form of intimacy. Some sort of familiarity. Some sort of love.

That is why when men proclaim out loud, that they want to protect women with their usual -- I am your protector, I laugh almost hysterically. I say to them - how can you protect me when you are the one who attacks me ?

Where and to whom do women have to run for security ? Short of learning some martial art or some self defense, against their own -- closest and dearest. My God the irony is too much. But it is not funny at all.

What is worse than a macho man, is a failed macho. A macho will bark like a rabid dog, but he is tameable. I know so. He will keep pretending but never mind, you are the one who holds the whip. And with every macho comes the appropriate whip.

But with failed machos what do you do ? Short of taking that dumb, atrophied skull of his and bashing it against a hard wall, what do you do ?

I tell you what you do. You take your distance and I don't care how close you were to him, and you expose him. You denounce him and you expose him, naked...and if you can have him arrested, then please do so.

Let everyone see what a frail rag of a man he is. Let everyone see what a spineless worm he is. Let everyone become a witness to a failed virility. Let everyone point their fingers at the coward. Because this is what he is, a COWARD.

Let me give it to you straight -- you men, flexing your muscles in our faces.

If you were true men, you would take on a duel with an equal in physical force.
Yes that is right. An equal in physical force.
Had you been a real man, you would take on someone equal in physical strength.
Only then, would you be allowed to show us your punching balls, if you can.

But taking it out on someone who is weaker than you physically is COWARDICE.

Cowardice means that you are a failure of a man. That you have no bravery and no strength whatsoever. It means to me that inside of that little self of yours, you are nothing but a rag doll. What they call in Egyptian-Arabic dialect "ragel kheekha". A man so soft inside, akin to a worm. A spineless insect, with no backbone. A loser.

And I like that word backbone. It is actually one of my favorite words. It denotes verticality, standing upright, elongated stature, head proud, integrity -- A Man.

Don't get me wrong here,I do understand that Testosterone is active and needs to be "worked out".

Go hunting, do some sports, or go defend your women and kids...Go and fight for your rights and those of your community or society. Go and defend your territory and push out invaders if you can...

But what do you do instead, you failed men, is take it out in your own territory, on your own turf, in your own land, on your own Earth... on your own Women.

What is the difference between you and the invader/occupier ? This latter flexed their muscles on a weakened country - land, weakened by sanctions and poverty...

Did they take on someone of equal power to wage their wars of occupation ? Of course not. They chose someone who was fragile and vulnerable through years of constant harassment, assault and attack...but who still managed to remain whole. And they savagely attacked Her.

And you do the same.

And you speak of victory ? What victory ?

Cowards, cowards and nothing but cowards.

Shameless bastards that you are. Shameless and shameful. Wallah - by God, even spitting on you is a waste of saliva.

What futuwwa, what chivalry ? What disappointment! What derision! What a rag clown!

Images of my wonderful grandmother are flashing back, like some black and white film...

I remember when I was growing up and I had just "discovered" boys, I would run to her and seek council. I would give her details of who he was, what he said and what he did...

She was so clever and so smart, my grandmother. She always heard what was not said... she was on the look out for omissions. She was always on the lookout for the failed gaps, the failed words, and the failed acts...

So she puffed on her cigarette, raising an eye brow and before uttering one word in my direction, she would throw a glance at whatever she was wearing on her feet - could have been a shoe or a slipper.

She gave me the message early on about failed men.

What I retained is rather rudimentary and may come across as obfuscated, but I will share it with you nonetheless - the Iraqi Female way.

Look down at your feet. And if necessary grab whatever it is you are wearing on your foot, preferably a shoe and simply throw it very hard -- in his direction...
We call it in Iraqi/Arabic dialect - Bil Kundara or in Egyptian/Arabic - Bil Gazma.

Failed men deserve nothing less and nothing more.

To accompany you, I am posting this very old Iraqi folk song, about 150 years old, before you were even born, about domestic violence interpreted by Elham Al-Madfai, in a newer, "modern" version.

I am not too crazy about the video. I don't like to see failed Westerners doing a failed "oriental dance", but does not matter. The juxtaposition of images are enough for me. And of course, the lyrics - which I have no time to translate for you.

The song is called "Heyya Bina" meaning -- LET'S GO ! (or let's leave.)

Painting : Iraqi artist, Shawkat Al-Rubaie.

Sunday 2 November 2008

On becoming an Orphan...

A. is peacefully sleeping. A. said I can use the computer provided that I do not fuck up the "programs". I wanted to retort, I have already fucked "programs" before, but I bit my tongue. Writing to me is more important than winning an argument. Not that A. was going to make an issue out of my reply, but still, I need to write...

I do miss my blog. My blog is a bit like my baby, my child...It is not so much a matter of a misplaced maternal instinct, but more of a message carried with every new born...

This automatically takes me to the subject of parents and children.

I was discussing the subject earlier on with a friend and I told him matter of factly -- it only takes 5 minutes maximum to be a parent but it takes a life time to BECOME one.

In other words, anyone can be a mother or a father. You fuck, you impregnate, you conceive, you simple as that. But how many are true parents ? My guess is -- very few.

That is why when I see expectant mothers and fathers holding their heads in pride, I smile secretly to myself. They are holding their heads in pride after the event, not before...

I shall explain myself.

I have heard many say to me -- you know, I was told I was a mistake, or It was not the right time, or I was not planned, or I was a surprise that they finally accepted, or I was told --I came too early, or too late, or I was not wanted, or I came in difficult circumstances and my parents wished I was postponed... or they wished I was a boy instead of a girl, and the variations are many...

But they did away with "it"...

Imagine coming to life carrying any of the above messages inside of yourself.
Imagine living life having been told you were not wanted, desired, expected, planned for...etc

What are they telling you exactly ? They are telling you, OK you are here now, we had to deal with it. Not exactly what we were expecting, not exactly what we wanted, not exactly what we planned for or desired...but you are here. BUT you are here -- now, so they add.

You grow up and squeeze yourself in, trying to find the place -- here.

Sometimes you may feel like an outcast, sometimes like a reject, sometimes like a surplus, sometimes on the margins, sometimes being here is a mistake to start with...

So you grow up, carrying the message and sometimes the message becomes like a burden, a cross...but you carry it nonetheless.

You reach maturity, whatever this may mean. Two thirds of the people I come across have not reached 12 yet, some have remained infants...but that is a subject for another post.

You reach maturity and you may form a family. And you repeat that same shit all over again...and you complain the same complaints. And you sound like your own parents...and you wonder what the hell went wrong.

They say you have baggage. You say -- that's life and you continue prodding along...
Your kids carry your baggage and by that time they have their own...A mule carrying two loads. And then comes a day, when you disappear, leaving an orphan behind you.

An orphan with a double message, yours and his/hers.

So he/she is probably strolling some street or in some cold orphanage or with some foreign family, remembering you...If he/she is lucky, he/she will be spared physical and sexual abuse, molestation and the rest. Anf if he/she is lucky, will find enough to eat and enough warmth and maybe some schooling and toys and friends to play with...And he/she will in the silent moments, try to remember your face, presence or love and along with those, your initial message will pop up -- your first message...

So you go away leaving him/her with the double load not even fit for a mule...What are you telling him/her exactly ?

You are telling him/her by your disappearance which may not be your fault after all
-- you may need to ask the Occupiers here , that not only he/she was not planned, wanted, desired, etc...but that also you will not be there for them. Not because you have decided to abandon them and yes that does happen, but because an even "greater force" decided to fulfill that prophecy for you...

The orphan sees a double abandonment here. Your message -- as a parent and theirs the Occupiers - whom the child perceives as a "higher force"

Stop for a minute and imagine what kind of adult this orphan will become...if he/she ever makes it.

Just try. And once you do that, next time you think of becoming a parent, think twice and think deeply before engaging in your five minutes hop.

I, from my side, will reassure A. that I did not screw up any "programs" and I surely hope I did not screw up yours either...

Good night.

Painting : Iraqi female artist, Najlah Al-Ramhee.