Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Poetic Hair Cut

I went for my hair cut in Al Rasheed street. From all the barber shops in Baghdad I chose a classic one. It was the barber shop of the Beatles fans in the 70s as one colleague said to me one day in 2006. I went there once and found 4 men above 50 running the shop. They are calm, slow, and silent. There are always some old Arabic songs played on their TV screen. Um Kalthum songs are the most common. I cannot change them now. All of them had cut my hair at least once. But sooner me and him, the third chair one, knew that I should always come and sit in his chair cause he will know what I want without talking. The other three men know that I will wait my turn to have a hair cut in that third chair. The price of the hair cut is the lowest in Baghdad in their wonderful shop. They don't start talking at all, but if you talk they would talk with you for a while seriously and kindly. Then they will go back to their silence waiting for you if wanna talk again. Sometimes they are visited by a friend of them when they will start talking spontaneously with him a little. Their friends always don't stay too long.

I always feel great after I went out from my hair cut. I went to Al Mutanabbee street to find it paved and clean. This street had suffered a wild explosion since about 2 years. I didn't know that it is fixed. I knew they were working on it but I forgot that. Wow it is nice and some new things are added here. Oh yes it is time when I feel I like my Baghdad. I found 2 new novels of Taher Bin Jalloun, and 2 books on Iraq, one of Khalid Al Kishtainy and the other by Rasheed Khayoun. I bought them and went back walking slowly over the bridge of martyrs above Tigris smiling widely to Baghdad.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Shape of my Heart

"He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect
He doesn't play for the money he wins
He doesn't play for respect
He deals the crads to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden loaw of a probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance"

I reached Mosul at one of April's rainy evenings. It was 2007 and I had just survived the dark gloomy nights of Baghdad that I hated. I held my bag containing all my clothes and a sum of money and my new mobile phone was in my pocket. It rained on me while I was lost between the surgical, gynecological and forensic buildings. I entered the surgical house of doctors to know that the internal medicine building is little far. I don't belong to surgery. I went out after I felt I was not welcomed in the surgical part of …. Of what?....
I went walking again in the rain till I saw a huge building out there. The road was going up a little, then going down and down more and more till that building is standing near the river. I asked a police man about the house of doctors. He asked me many questions. Some were personal. He was asking me those questions while walking slowly and I was walking with him. I thought he was taking me to the house of doctors. But he finally told me that the house of doctors lies THERE!! And he pointed to the other side. He was walking away from the house of doctors. He made my road longer. I thanked him but I never greeted him during the next months. I let him feel that I don't like him. He kept wanting to greet me, or just to have an eye contact, but he fail. Ohh yes he failed.

"He may play the jack of diamonds
He may lay the queen of spades
He may conceal a king in his hand
While the memory of it fades"

I diagnosed her easily with histrionic personality disorder with panic attacks. The female rotator whom I thought was arrogant and looking at psychiatry and psychiatrist with a small eye asked me: "how did you reached that diagnosis doctor? May I ask?" I looked in her eyes while thinking that she was making fun of me. She added after a while: "I want to learn". Well, she may be was trying to make fun of me, but her late eye contact revealed a childish frightening from my WISE EXPERIENCED psychiatrist eye deepening contact. She felt I may analyze her with my eyes. I make take her clothes off. So she took a step back and added "I want to learn". She must have remembered how her father did spank her on her ass when she tried to make fun of him. so….
I started listing the histrionic personality disorder DSM IV criteria one after the other while her eyes were getting wider and wider, bigger and bigger, astonished by my strict English accent and psychiatric terms fluency which ended in something like "….and lastly her theatrical display of emotions made her nearer to a histrionic personality disorder diagnosis than any other".

The rotator commented: "she got all that and I didn't know!!"

I liked how she was trying to make fun of me. I must have been silly. She helped me to be more aware of myself and my childish theatrical display of my little knowledge in psychiatry. I felt that this rotator was older than me. So when that lady came with her beige stylish costume and her short hair cut I asked the rotator in a heard voice: "who is this lady?" the lady heard me. Everybody heard me. I wanted to be as theatrical as could be. As silly as it could be. The rotator smiled and delayed her answer till the lady saluted the two other doctors and she even shake hands with them, a thing that doesn't happen in modern Iraq very often, and she never looked at me and went away. The rotator then told me that this lady is a nurse.
I said with a hearable sound and a theatrical facial expression: "she is a nurse??"
"yes, she is a nurse" the rotator answered and left me alone and never did talk to me really during the last week she had to work in our unit.

"And if I told you that I loved you
You'd maybe think there's something wrong
I'm not a man of too many faces
The mask I wear is one"

When I bought my new mobile phone my friend installed oxford dictionary for me in it. He added a song entitled "the shape of my heart" performed by Sting in it. He never knew that this song would be my morning alert tone for all some long time in Mosul. I woke up everyday thinking about that nurse. She always neglects me. Never greeted me. I sat next to her one day while she was talking to another nurse. She turned away giving me her back. I looked at her legs and saw some varicose veins. I thought of those varicose veins for long time. I wanted to be a varicose vein in her legs but in vain. In vian. She kept neglecting me while I was hearing "the shape of my heart" every morning.

"Those who speak know nothing
And find out to their cost
Like those who curse their luck in too many places
And those who fear are lost"

One day one psychiatrist from Duhok started talking to me about how beautiful is the city of Ba'ashika. I asked him if he can take me there. He said the road is not safe anymore after the problems in with the Izidi cities. I asked him to bring me something from Ba'ashika. I thought he can bring me some photos or something symbolic. He brought me 6 bottles of beer. We locked the door that night. He started reading form a textbook of psychiatry while I opened my diary and started writing some lines which were going more and more primitive till I get naked in one of the poems and started playing percussions on African drums.

"I know that the spades are swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart"

The next day he told her that I love her. She started smiling to me very often. I stopped loving her. I changed the morning alert tone. I went walking outside the hospital for some long distance till I found a huge trash bin into which I threw the black nylon bag I was holding containing my ripped diaries with 6 empty cans of beer. When I came back I saluted the police man.

Words between brackets are the lyric of the song "shape of my heart" of Sting

Friday, December 05, 2008

Jack Abboud Shabi

I asked many about him. Nobody saw him but one of my neighbors. My neighbor worked in the 50s-80s as a manual worker in plants arboretum in Karrada in Baghdad. He told me that Jack Abboud Shabi was a regular customer of their arboretum. And that he was not tall. Did that mean he was short? I don't know really. Our neighbor added that he was average in shape and "nothing remarkable" as he said. Maybe my neighbor thought that I was expecting that Jack Abboud Shabi was a very strange looking man. Actually I thought he got something remarkable, like for example, a long uncombed hair. My neighbor understood my widely opened eyes and wanted them to look more normal at our history. Let us forget the cinema and surprise and look at books. I was with my friend taking a walk before few days when I saw this book.

Its title means "Jewish Celebrities in modern Iraq" written by a writer named Meer Basri. I saw it with other books being sold at the street. A man standing and below his feet are some books. I turned it on the index to find easily Jack Abboud Shabi waiting for me. From 206 to 207, for allover a who page, I read while at the street and my bored friend next to me saying something in his mind like: "I failed to change this guy, he will stay as possessed as ever, no matter how I learn him to dress like other people he will stay behaving strangely".
The strange thing I was doing is that I was trying to have that paper in memory because the book is of a high price relatively and I don't need it. I need this paper only. I kept repeating it but finally I bought the book.

And at night, when everything was calm, I read it again:

Jack Abboud Shabi was born in Basra in 1908. It was in Baghdad where he studied in secondary school. After he graduated from this school in October 1926, he was assigned as a teacher. The next year, in 1927, the Royal Medical College was instituted, and Jack Aboudi Shabi was among the first who joined this college to graduate from it in 1932.
He was sent to London to study psychiatry. He came back to Baghdad in august 1933 to work as a doctor in the Royal Hospital.
He worked as a lecturer in medical college in 1939. And in October 1948 he was chosen to be the director of the hospital of mental illnesses (didn't specify which one, was it Al Shamayea?).
He stopped working for the governmental institutes in 1950, after he had opened a private clinic and a private hospital (was he forced to leave the work for the government? Any information about his private hospital? where it was? Was is having a name?)
After the world war II, an Austrian psychiatrist came to live in Baghdad. His name was Prof. Dr. Hans Hoff. Dr. Jack Aboud Shabi was known to accompany Prof. Dr. Hans Hoff and to profit from his experience.
Dr. Jack Aboud Shabi was known to have many studies and researchs in Arabic and in English that were published in the medical association journal and other journals. (I never heard of this Medical Association, let alone its journal).
He left Iraq in 1971 and went to London to work as a doctor for the prison institutions.
He died in London in the 18th of july 1980.