Thursday 26 June 2008


When I want to blot out all the noise surrounding me, I listen to her - Cesaria.
Miss Perfumado was my first introduction to her Cape Verde music. Since, I have collected ALL of her songs.

This one is a beautiful duet with Gianni Morandi "Crepuscolare Solitudine"

and this other one. Cesaria - Voice & Sax.

Tuesday 24 June 2008

On Love & Sectarianism.

I am really not supposed to be writing. My wrist is sore and bandaged but I couldn't resist the temptation. A temptation prompted by my relative love story.

She - Tara, a beautiful, smart, Iraqi woman in her late 20's, calls me and tells me that she is very much in love and that she finally found the "right" guy.

He - a Lebanese beau (according to her - I never trusted her taste in men), early 30's, from the South. According to her, kind and gentle but a few problems...

Problem no.1 - He didn't want her to wear a bathing suit even though he met her by the pool side! Problem no.1 has been sorted out after much advice from me, urging her to put her foot down NOW or never. If she concedes on that, then she will have to concede on everything else.

Problem no.2 - Is the latest development. According to her last call, everything is honky dory.

So my natural question was "When is the wedding?"

She paused, and said "I am not sure it will be possible"

So I, switching to my mentoring mode, said to her "you know very well what it is like with Arab guys. If you date them for a while and they don't propose, that means they will never propose. And that means he has absolutely no intention of marrying you. And if you accepted to date him, in his fucked up mind, he says to himself, am sure if she dated me, that means she has dated others and will date others...she is no marriage material..."

To which she retorted " No, no, he is not like that at all..."

Of course I took her affirmation with a huge grain of salt. I know Arab men, most of them are totally fucked up when it comes to personal relationships, in particular of the "modern" sort...Their double standards, their messed up minds, their messed up priorities, their warped logic, their hypocrisy, a total disaster...A DISASTER.

- So what is the problem then ?

- His parents.

- What about his parents ?

- Layla, am a Sunni. His parents are opposing any idea of marriage because am a Sunni.

- Bloody Hell, I can't believe that ! And what did he say ?

- He said nothing yet.

- Tara, call me when you put your other foot down. And if you take that nonsense then you're not as smart as I thought you were.

So that was our conversation. But my mind wandered to when I was introduced to my then future parents in law. They were Shias from Lebanon too. And that was a decade ago.

I walked into the kitchen, my ex-mother in law was there muttering something to her "jewel" of a son and I overheard her say to him "Did you have to bring a Sunni to this house! What is wrong with your cousin Ibtissam? " And the "jewel" of a son, did not budge. No reaction, not a word, nothing.

I had come from a very secular home, where Shias, Sunnis and Christians intermarried. I had no fucking clue what she was on about. And in Iraq, we really, at least not in my environment, ever heard or uttered such drivel. It was "Ayb" - shameful to say Shia and Sunni. The proof is that most of my friends and some of my family members are married to Shias. And I was too. Thankfully, in the past tense.

Everything went downhill since...since that conversation I overheard.

And I only realized many years later, with the occupation of Iraq and the disgusting sectarianism that was totally unknown to me, the extent of Shia sectarianism, and how embedded it is in their mentalities.

Of course, not all Iraqi Shias are that way, but a lot of those who came with the occupation and filled ranks are that way and this is where the Iranian Khomeinist/Shia revivalist influence is most felt. The same is very applicable to Lebanon, amongst the Shias there. They are even worse than their Iraqi counterparts.

Ten years ago in Baghdad, no one and I mean NO ONE would say -- why did you bring a Shia or a Sunni to this house. But ten years ago in Lebanon it happened in front of my very eyes, and 10 years later it is happening to my relative, the same thing all over again.

What is the matter with these people ? They really come across like those hardcore Zionist Jews who believe in the purity of their own race/religion as being superior and above everyone else. How disgusting!

I feel totally grossed out. I hope Tara will revert to her senses and kiss this Lebanese slime goodbye. And let his mama find him a cousin to marry. A good way to keep the moronic retards in the family. Don't let their genes multiply outside their narrow, limited, backward, retrograde, sectarian circles.

Painting : Iraqi female artist, Sawsan Al-Saraf.

Friday 20 June 2008

A message.

I tell you, God is fed up with the whole bloody lot. He/She/It is sick and tired with you lot.

He is fed up, truly fed up with your collective stupidity, your ignorance, your pettiness, your limited vision, your shadows that cover you like a safety blanket....

God is tired of seeing you strip naked your bodies yet incapable of looking inside of yourselves.

God is sick and tired of your politically correct nitpicking. Your hypocrisy, your idiocy, your laissez-faire that you mistake for tolerance, your intellectual laziness, your reliance on fake authorities to guide you and your turning them into small gods that you worship.

He is tired of your borders, your fences, your nationalities, your governments, your weapons, your industry, your lines of production, your wars, your barbarism...

He is tired of your greed, your covetousness, your gluttony, your rapacious appetite for more...More money, more things, more food, more sex, more titles, more, more, more....He is sick and tired of your "more" that is never enough.

He is tired of your nonsense, your empty verbiage, your squareness, your small stories, your little rules, your bureaucracies, your pigeon holes, your colors, your races, your genders...He is fed up, truly fed.

You are a drop of clotted blood and mud that have turned into a sour grape...a bad wine, and there is no final, last dinner to participate in...

You've had your fill, you filled your stomachs till you burst, and others had their stomachs burst with nothingness....bloated with nothingness...God is very, very, fed up with you.

He is tired of your eternal quest for the perfect lifestyle, the perfect partner, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect bank account, the perfect body, the perfect family, the perfect set of teeth...He couldn't care less about your perfect imperfections, nor about your perfect quests...

God also doesn't give a damn about your religion, believe it or not. He couldn't care less...Your crosses, your laws, your veils, your kippas, your statues, your feathers and your masks...You created them for you not for Him. He has no need for them. You do.

You are all so self-sufficient, you don't need anyone. So don't whine if He doesn't show up.

OK, that's it for today. Try not to mess up things even more while God takes a holiday from you lot. I don't blame Him/Her/It. I am not God and I need one myself.

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Women --- the perfect Bitches.

Before you accuse me of being a self hating female, you may want to know the reason for this title.

Summer is here. And every summer I go through the same boring ritual of putting away the winter clothes in suitcases -- one day I would like to have a walk in dressing room like in the films and none of this suitcase, moth balls shit. I hate moth balls actually, I try to get some that smell of lavender, but I always end up with the moth ball smell on my clothes, hence have to wash them or dry clean them.

Anyways, as I was saying, this ritual is tedious. So today I had to do parts of it. Get the summer clothes out and put the winter clothes in. And some stuff I've had for more than a few years. And since most of the time am in jeans, I never really get to wear the stuff I really like. So spent all morning trying out dresses, skirts and what not.

Horror of horrors, some of them - a good deal of them, don't fit me anymore.
Yes, I've put on weight. Like 3-4 kilos. Sigh.

But that is not the most annoying part. The most annoying part is when I checked the size of my old -- no longer fitting garments --they were all a size 36 european, 10 english and 6 american.

Why am I telling you all of this and what has that got to do with my gender hating title ? I'll tell you.

When I was a smaller size, all the women I know and I remember that very clearly, kept saying to me --- "my, you've put on weight". Or they'd say "you look fat" Or they'd say "you need to lose some weight".

I was a size 36 for God's sake! But for them, I was never the right size.

But stupid, naive, trusting (and trustworthy me), believed them and bought into it. So I'd look at my body in the mirror and say " they're right, I need to lose weight."

What were they trying to do - turn me into an emaciated anorexic, banishing me from their optical field, one imagined threat, less ?

And this morning I understood. Women are bitches when it comes to other women.

Not all of them, but a great deal of them are and that is a fact. Forget female solidarity -- that's nice to read in books and give ourselves a good conscience.

Women are bitches because 9 out 10, in their personal dealings with other women, their jealousies, enviousness and petty retarded insecurities take over and rule their thinking, feelings and vision.

So now am one or two sizes more, I suppose that would make these women very happy. I've joined their clan made of perfect obsessions, deformed bodily images, skewed projections, insane insecurities and the rest...

But trust me, they will find some other thing to point out and let you know in their own way -- "it's not good enough."

They'll move from your body size to your nose, to your hair, to your skin, to your eyes...anything...until you're pushed out of their imaginary contest, their diabolical illusionary race. A race for numero Uno. Whatever this numero Uno is or means.

Women -- the perfect bitches to other women. And I dedicate this post and the art work that goes with it to THEM.

OK, now I need to go and try the rest of the clothes...and maybe lose a couple of kilos.

Painting: Iraqi female artist, Alia Al-Wahab. "Women Series".

Web Traps...

Every time I come to check my email inbox, I spot some story on the
Like there is a feature story and below that--the news. So I occasionally read some of the feature articles. They usually revolve around celebrities, fashion, sport and dos and dont's tips for dating.

Today was online dating. A "coach" was giving advice as to what women and men should or should not do when writing up their profiles for an online dating service.

So he urges both men and women to be very specific about their looks, give exact measures, height, weight, very current photo...basically a business like approach while maintaining this "mysterious, enigmatic edge."

Bloody hell, everything is getting so complicated. And these idiots actually go shopping online for a partner. Well it is online shopping.

You say to yourself, OK I want a man/woman to be like this and behave like that, and be interested in this, and look that way, and share that, and you start searching for the one that will fit your exact ideal image - physically, emotionally, sexually, socially, financially...

This is MADNESS, sheer madness.

OK I concede, one reads stories about "it" clicking but 9 times out of 10, it's a total flop. How come? Because you set out with a shopping list and end up in the wrong supermarket. That's why.

It's OK to have an idea of what you're looking for, but people are not items on a shelf that you check out and read the labels before purchasing. How grotesque and how insulting.

The other thing I noticed is that there is this new in vogue thing where men keep saying and I've heard it so many times - " sorry, but am visual". What the fuck does that mean "I'm visual". Hell, we're all visual. We all have two eyes and we can see.

But guys keep saying -- "hey am visual" as if they stand apart from the rest of the human race with a peculiar trait to them alone -- visual.

I find this whole online scene with its tips and dos and dont's quite tedious, boring and a total waste of time. The chances of meeting someone who fits your shopping list are 1 in a million. Sure you may want to spend the rest of your days checking out the items on your grocery list, but that's what you're going to end up with -- a grocery list.

You might as well pick a mirror up and contemplate yourself for the rest of your days - It will amount to the same thing. And you can pat yourself on the back for having lived up to your utmost narcissistic standards and expectations.

Painting: Iraqi female artist, Alia Wahab.

Friday 6 June 2008

The Tattooed Belly in a Hammam.

The first and only woman who taught me how to sing traditional Iraqi songs, was my grandmother.

She'd sing them to me while I watched her cook. I remember she used to sit on a very low, small stool called "Takhta" in Iraqi, in a corner of the kitchen and show me how to peel vegetables. I would squat and rest my head on my hands, on my little palms and watch her prepare our daily nourishment, whilst singing...

So when she sang one of her favorite songs, I'd ask her "Bibi" (grandma in Iraqi dialect), "why are these songs so sad ?" And she'd reply "because, life is so."

Other instances where my grandma taught me how to sing was when she would give me my bath. She had an old Turkish looking bathroom. A small version of a traditional Hammam. It consisted of two spaces. A space to wash, separated by another space to dry. The space to wash had another "Takhta" in wood, two taps -- hot and cold, and a big brass bowl and a smaller one floating inside the bigger one. This Hammam meant that you would fill the big bowl with water and use the smaller bowl to rinse yourself.

The "drying" room on the other hand, consisted of cushions and special wooden slippers called a "Qubqab", like open wooden clogs. The common folk wisdom was that, after a bath called a "Hammam", you should not expose yourself to drafts. Hence, I would be forced to sit in that small cushioned room until I was totally dry and wear the wooden "Qubqab" so as not to slip and fall on the wet floor.

In that small room, tea would be served and occasionally a home made biscuit called a "Klecha" filled with dates or pistachio nuts covered in a golden hue of Saffron and smelling of Cardamom.

Grandma would often bathe me. It was an elaborate ritual. First she'd shampoo my hair with special home made soap made of olive oil, called "Saboon Ragee", then she would rinse my then, very long hair, and mix some "Teen Khawa" in water and use it as a conditioner. "Teen Khawa" are pieces of special clay/mud taken from the river banks, and they turn your hair silky smooth. In North Africa, they call it "Ghussul"

And while my head was soaked up in clay from the Dijla banks, she would use a small hand towel called "Cheess". "Cheess" which means bag, is a glove, made of a rather coarse material, and when you scrub yourself with it, you scrub away the dead skin...

After the "Cheess", she'd use a "Leefah" also known as "Loofah", made of another rough natural fiber that grows on trees, with which she'd give my body a second, soapy scrub.

On the face, she'd use what we call a "Gorssa". A "Gorssa" is a small roundish white colored piece of clay, specially designed for the face. You rub it on the face, to remove all impurities. It also makes the skin glow...

Then she'd rinse my body and my long hair and I was to sit in the "drying" room.

In the "drying" room, she'd comb my long hair with a traditional wooden comb, then braid it and wrap it in a towel, followed by another piece of cloth called a "Cheetayah." She'd say, "your hair is your treasure, you must keep it shiny and am teaching you how to..." Then she would use her essence made of Rose, Jasmin or Amber and dab some on my body...

And all the while she would hum the old Iraqi songs...a lullaby in a mist of water and perfumed scents...

When I grew older and she too, it was my turn to help her have a bath. I had learned the whole ritual by heart. So I would follow the exact same rite from beginning to end.

One day, I noticed three small tattoos on her belly. Three small tattoos in a vertical line and one bigger tattoo that looked like a star, right below the navel.

Bibi, what are these tattoos on your belly? I asked,

Habibtee (my darling), it's a long story, she replied.

Tell me Bibi, please. I want to know.

I had sensed there was some secret behind her tattooed belly. I had to find out.

So she shared her secret...

"When I was forced into marriage, I couldn't get pregnant. I heard of some "mullaya"(a sage femme/witch/healer/religious woman) who would help me. She tattooed my belly a first time. Nothing happened. So she tattooed it a second time - your mother was born. But it was no boy. So she tattooed it a third time and your aunt was born, but it was no boy. So she tattooed it a fourth time, and finally came your uncle...and then she did not need to tattoo anymore because I had more boys after that..."

I must have noticed her tattoo before learning her secret - because I also remember when I was still a little girl, every time she made Henna designs on her hands and mine, I would also ask her to draw a star on my belly with her Henna.*

And this has not left me since...Even today, whenever I can, I seek to have Henna tattoos on my belly and the small of my back...

And I can't help but hum the same old Iraqi songs every time I am tattooed...

*Henna - a natural dye, made of a plant, that usually washes off with Hammams and Time...

Painting: Iraqi artist, Said Shnin.

Wednesday 4 June 2008

It's too (fucking) Late.

Great Songwriter - Carole King - and still strong after all those years.

Monday 2 June 2008


Am not a terrible fan of Elissa, but I must say this song is GOOD!

Just like a Virgin...

I really have to write about this date I had a few days ago.

"Date" here, in this part of the world, does not have the same meaning as in the U.S.

Actually in Europe apart from contaminated Great Britain, there is no equivalent word for dating...I always found that quite interesting. The French call it a "rendez-vous" adding sometimes, the adjective "amoureux",always hoping that things will turn out -- amorously, yours.

And here, we have absolutely no equivalent word for dating in Arabic even though we have over 99 synonyms of the verb "to love"

I suppose a date for me is when I am introduced to some guy through relatively "kosher" channels and I agree to meet him alone for a drink...without seeking "permission" from the elders...And this is my WAY at 40+. About fucking time too.

Anyways, I really have to get this out of my system, because it has remained like a bitter taste in my mouth, bitter enough to make me gag at the thought of it.

This friend called me and said that X saw me at some gathering - I am not sure if it was a funeral or a wedding...does not matter, and that he really wanted to meet me again.

I can't remember any X. at a funeral or wedding party. I suppose am too involved in my inner world to pay any attention .

It turns out that this X, late 40's, has lived nearly of all his life in England and has finally settled here, because he "missed home". Divorced and looking...

I accepted to meet him. We agreed on a small, not too crowded café.

I went with no expectations, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. When there are no expectations, every positive trait become a bonus.

I made sure to keep my appearance sober and simple. Nothing too fancy. A pair of jeans and a black t-shirt. I didn't want him to get ideas...

I was not particularly elated nor anxious, so that meant I was holding my grounds. Good sign, I thought to myself.

When I saw him, I remembered who he was. I had vaguely noticed him at L's wedding party not too long ago, but thought nothing of it/him.

He was quite attractive, had this clean crispy look to him, well trimmed nails and thank God, no white socks. He also greeted me warmly and had a nice smile. I thought to myself "now that's refreshing."

So we talked - generalities.

Then he asked me - " Have you been married before? "

- Yes, was...
- How long ago have you been divorced ?
- Several years.
- Anyone else since ?
- What do you mean, anyone else since ?
- Have you had boyfriends since your divorce
- I am in my 40's and have been divorced for over 10 years...
- How many boyfriends ?

At that point I got a hot flush. No, not the peri-menopause hot flush.

This one started at the sole of my feet and engulfed my toes, spread to my ankles and calves, settling in my knees ... It was my preparing myself to kick him real hard under the table, right in his balls.

But being the "nice, polite Arab girl" , I decided to play it in a different manner.

- How many boyfriends ? Oh my goodness, I can't remember, had so many of them, I lost count...

And I comfortably reclined in my chair and observed his facial expression...

To my utter delight he nearly choked on his coffee. He coughed and coughed and I just smiled.

The gall ! Here was a guy who lived all of his life in England, probably fucked half of the UK and comes and asks a woman in her 40's if she had any boyfriends since her divorce and on a first date! What was he expecting me to say?

"Of course I've had no boyfriends. I have been frozen in time for over 10 years, hoping to grow a new hymen just for you." ?!

Had I told him, I had one or 100 boyfriends it would have not made a difference.

I understood from his question and the tone of his voice, that this guy was of the all too common kind, driven by a the all too common fantasy, secretly and not so-secretly shared by many Arab men, whatever their religion -- that of the eternally virgin woman.

I am so acutely aware of the way this male psyche works that I can describe it to you in the most of tedious details and reveal to you what the exact fantasy is all about.

The fantasy is about possessing a woman who is all experienced and at the same time all virgin. Go figure now.

I can affirm to you, with all confidence, that if Arab men had their ways, ways that defy the laws of nature and of "God", they would re-create a married/divorced woman who remains an eternal virgin just for them.

This is the extent of their mental sickness - their male ego pathology that reflects itself in their insane, inane, expectations.

What prompted this post, apart from this bitter taste I had in my mouth ?

Ah yes, I now remember. It was an article I read about a French-Arab couple in their 30's in Lilles-France.

The husband had his marriage annulled in the French courts after discovering that his wife, contrary to her claims, was not a virgin. He could not see the blood stained sheet. The French courts gave him justice.

They echoed his beliefs and they unanimously gave the verdict -- "Bad merchandise."

Painting: Iraqi artist, Serwan Baran.

Fall from Eden...

I can tell from a good majority of the comments I get on this blog, that this World is a Mental Asylum which provides no treatment whatsoever for the total Insanity that plagues each single one around...

Oh Dear God, I would have never thought that this Occupation will reflect the state of "humankind" the way it has...

It all began Here, where the first gathering of a seemingly intelligent caucus took root, and it is also Here that its Fall has been most revealed...

Lucidity is not always a good thing.

Painting : Iraqi artist, Fouad Mirza.

Sunday 1 June 2008

Some of my Roots....

Turkish, Armenian & Kurdish...

Kardes Turkuler - Kara Uzum Habbesi