Monday, October 31, 2011

Nose Compass

Ka was investigated by Kadife, the sister of the woman he is foolishly in love with. She drew a pistol and asked him to take off his clothes, piece by piece, and she searched his clothes with her "delicate hands". She was searching for microphones and wires. Her apologies followed. Then it was time to take Ka to meet Blue. Blue hides in a secret place, so their trip to Blue secret lodgment would be highly secretive. I was reading that on my way to arrange some papers in a governmental department in central Baghdad. I was already searched for holding an explosive belt in the entrance to the bus station. As we have learned since 2003 we would stop crucified in front of the guards who usually pass their hands fast on the contour of your body and concentrating on the back of our body, for it seems that the explosive belt can be caught from sensing that sight. On the first days after 2003 war I was feeling so estranged in front of such searching and I used to feel tickled by their hands. I'd even raised some suspicions when, few times, since years, I took a step back when the guard was about just to start the body search. The tickling didn't continue since I grew fatter and less sensitive.

I was body searched again, with the same mechanism, at the gate of the governmental department. When I entered that department that I had visited for the last time about 2 years ago, I was glad to see that it was renewed, with now many new benches and seats for the waiting citizens, many fans for the ventilation, and the more white walls. I went to the same window that I used to find my dossier in, and find it less crowded than ever. I was glad. Since I was talking to the clerk I started to feel strange. The clerk, a young slim girl who must be in her 20s and was non-veiled and reasonably made-up, told me to wait few seconds. While waiting I wondered why do I feel strange and caught the detail that that strange feeling was due to smelling a strange strong scent. My nose compass led me to the source after about a half minute of dizziness. The smell comes just next to my right feet. Poop. Yay. In the spot.

In today's Al-Mada newspaper there was a short story written by Nazar Abdul-Sattar. It was entitled: "He Loves that Odour". It fixed my day complexion. It started with that cleaner leaving her job in a non-specified governmental department. As usual, she must be body searched before leaving to prevent her stealing things from the department. The police woman who used to body search her hates her and that is said frankly in their daily conversation. The police woman hates that cleaner and always reminds her that she is found often sleeping with other male cleaners. And reminds her often of how many times she was found to smuggle tea-bags in her bra. The police woman is irritated also by that man, who used to wait the cleaner in the gate of the department, a man, who is neither husband nor relative. Today the police woman was about to search the cleaner's bra when a black bag caught her attention. The cleaner was so shy to reveal what was in there. The police woman said triumphed: "A panty!". The police woman started interrogating our poor cleaner asking whether she is now going outside wearing no panty. She even tried to pass her hands under our poor cleaner's skirt. The cleaner was about to cry when finally revealed that that man who used to wait for her is her lover and that they did it yesterday on phone and he asked her to give her panty as a souvenir, because he likes its odour. Our cleaner added that she is now wearing another clean panty.
The short story's narration is clever and perfect. I would understand its core idea as the privacy invasion in our eastern society where the concept of personal space is not maturely developed. The cleaner's innocence and weakness is so evident and sad. She is especially weak in front of the police. She doesn't know her rights. The writer's insight is trust worthy enough that I will read anything he will write in the future. His name need to be remembered: Nazar Abdul-Sattar. Nazar Abdul-Sattar's boldness reminded me of psychological books, and I don't know really why (how much I wish the story is translated to English so that you can read it). The dialogue between the two women is a kind of dialogue that we, men, don't hear. Since our society is highly sexually divided with many walls and taboos between the two sexes, I wondered how it was difficult for a male writer, from Iraq, to write such a dialogue and wondered how fictional vs. realistic it was.
Fictional it was or realistic, I found my daily life more vivid and complex than my days in the last year in Algeria. I am back to Iraq where I can think easily and can find things that provoke thinking and writing in me. I have even started again to cook and to enhance my cooking abilities. Broccoli soup was delicious today. It is September and I buy pomegranates daily. I don't know what is in common between the pomegranate smell and the smell of coffee, but I can be sure that I like to eat pomegranate slowly when I wake up from my long siesta (in Baghdad I regained that habit of sleeping more than an hour at noon because of the noisy streets in the morning) while coffee is being prepared and their aromas (pomegranate and coffee) mixes.

What about Snow? As you remember Ka had to meet Blue. He must not be seen heading to his secret lodgment. A horse-drawn carriage came. Ka was told to hide under the canmvas that is usually used to cover the goods the carriage delivers. He didn't know that he would lie next to Kadife:

"Without a word, he lay down next to Kadife among the empty propane canisters.
The journey, which he knew at once he would never forget, lasted only eight minutes, but to Ka it seemed much longer. As he wondered where in the city they were, he listened to the people of Kars commenting on the creaking carriage moving past them, and he listened to Kadife's steady breathing as she lay quietly next to him. A gang of boys caught the tail of the carriage and were pulled along with them for a while. He liked the sweet smile Kadife gave him; it made him as happy as those boys."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Paranoid Pyramid

Yesterday a friend invited me to a night tour in Baghdad and to spend some minutes in a new café that you will be served by females. In Baghdad, cafés are still a man zone. Since ages, no female is allowed in Baghdad to sit in a café. So, being in a café that some of the workers are females seems enough privileged to pay it a visit at night and drink a cappuccino even if the price would hit nearly 4 US dollars a cup. My friend told me about a new DVD series that gaining fame in Baghdad, named "The Arrivals". The series is a documentary about how every disaster that occurred to us is programmed by some evil willed secret persons. One of the detail of this long series is about 9 September, and how it was programmed by those devil worshipers who they supposed to give this message: God's number is 10, so when we reach 9 we jump to 11, and you got to call 119, to ask to be rescued, but not form God.

I thought of what is left for the poor paranoid schizophrenics to believe in, and how large is the "culturally accepted" ideas that I must know so that I don't jump to diagnose a delusion, in the near future, hoping that I may go back to work.

The weather was great at night in Baghdad, and I went to sleep refreshed after that delicious cappuccino. I woke up the next morning and took Orhan Pamuk's Snow and headed to regulate some of my father's retirement papers. In the almost exactly two hours journey (the same time that took me before days to reach Karbala) I read about that granny sherbet conspiracy theory in Kars. Before two years, a couple of Turkish Army soldiers had strange symptoms that were diagnosed in Kars hospital as cases of food poisoning. Investigations revealed that they all drank that day from that granny sherbet café. For the past two years, and the secret agents of the Turkish Security were following that granny café, and following the drinkers of the sherbet for some time to see whether they were poisoned or not, so that, if some were poisoned selectively, another investigation might start on the goals of the deliberate poisoning of the sherbet. One had noted that all those who were poisoned were Turkish, not Kurdish but this note wasn't taken seriously for the simple cause that the Kurds and Turks are very alike to a degree that the granny would fail to discriminate between them and selectively poison the Turks deliberately.

After I went out the retirement ugly building, and set off to Al Mutanabbee street, I bought Al-Mada journal. Searched for "Studies on Hysteria" by Freud and Breuer for about 2 hours in vain, I ended standing near the Turkish Restaurant in Al Tahrir Sequare. Took the bus back home, held the journal, and red Ali Abdul-Ameer Ijam's column. He wrote about the political history of Iraq from 1948 till now and its very striking character of being always frightened form "conspiracies" of "enemies". The column was entitled: "Iraq Fascinated by Conspiracies". He gave many examples and ended saying "Iraq is not fascinated with life".

I reached home, ate the pomegranate my mom had advised me to eat to help curing my diarrhea, ate coffee and wondered how much it goes well coffee after pomegranate. I even thought about putting some few drops of pomegranate juice to the coffee. I re-held the novel and the journal. I re-read and contemplate. At last, I have this silence again inside me, as if snowflakes are falling slowly and calmly from my skies to improve whiteness and silence.

Friday, October 28, 2011

İstiklâl Caddesi

Rootless Origins

Sprinkled are my origins, as I prefer to imagine, and scattered aromatically among the pine tree spiny leafs. Somewhere in Bou Saada, somewhere in every lost civilization. In every Diaspora, in every minority, sprankled are my origins, for the love of the poor, and the white hearted.

"The last [bullet] struck two meters over the projection booth, hitting the face of the clock, which, having stopped working sixty years earlier, was now covered with dust and cobwebs." P 161

I read those lines from the novel and put my head back on the pillow. As the electricity power was lost, and I shut my eyes, I remembered him with his yellow umbrella.

When I marched so fast on that moving forward ground I reached Aksaray so fast in that rainy black night in Aksaray-Istanbul. I threw my heavy bag in Uzbek hotel. Took a quick tasteless snatch of a sandwich. Sat next to rain when he approached. An elderly in 80s. or might be in 90s. or even more. He got many lost teeth as evident from his giggle.His yellow childish umbrella is so specific. And he used to say things like:

The Mediterranean didn't contain me,
Nor did the Red,
In the Atlas I got a wrecked ship,
In Uzbek a bed.

My Danube joins the Caspian to the Black,
I'm Armenian in Diaspora,

My duduk is my identity.

I'm the Kurd, the Chaldean, the Amazeigh,
The Assyrian out of Nineveh.
The Yezidi, the Mandaean,
I am the rootless origin.

I had walked after Saint Augustin
From Thagast but didn't reach Rome,
I've ended in Efes,
Making a soup out of mushroom.

I remember how he used to come and disappear. He still remember how estranged I was with his line "I am the rootless origin". I remembered Amin Maalouf book "Origins" in which he said that he prefer the term "Origins" to the term "Roots" cause we are not tress. We are not fixed, unmovable. I remembered also Shakir L'Aibi poems collection entitled "Roots and Wings", a collection that I didn't read it per se, but read an interview with the poet about it, about roots, wings, and travels. I decided that I need to travel so a lot. I went to sleep that night and woke the next morning to find the old man waiting for me in a café. He was nodding his head as if saying: yes, you need to travel a lot dear. Speechless, he offered me a sea food dish. The seagulls were quaking above our heads. White we are, snow our novel is, frightened our scary hiding dreams, yet in the day, we find some peace to meet and exchange some silent ideas.

Iraqi Architecture

Typical Iraqi modern quarter and houses from Kirkuk.


In Ankara the skies were grey. A white derwish was turning around his heart over a clock. There was a brige too. White and grey, were the colors.

Hours after travel I succeded to fall asleep. Woke up to see a face of an owl. A symbol for wisdom according to the westerners, a symbol of bad luck according to us. I remembered that brige in Ankara. Remebered Ataturk. A brige between East and West. I am already longing to go out of Iraq.

Here is Kerkuk.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bou Saadi Last Moments

In my last days in Bou Saada, I started to spend some considerable time sitting on the bench of our door smoking.

The very last 24 hours I visited one of the oldest cafes in Bou Saada. I somtimes sit here and watch the stork couple who got their nest in the front tower (not shown in photos).

Pine tree aroma is now linked in my mind to Algeria since it was here that I mostly smelled it summer and winter, under sun and under rain.

Took a hair cut, put a headphone, and go Tracy Chapman.

Wondering what the clouds may offer from shapes. I didn't want to believe that they may offer a map of Iraq.

Contemplating one of my favourite dad's painting of the Espresso machine.

Dad came with me at dawn to the airport. My dad offered me my last Espresso drink. I took an Espresso maching with me to Iraq but the coffee beans' types are different from Algeria to Iraq. I failed to got that same flavour I used to love in Algeria.

Kissing goodbyes. Viva Turkish Airlines.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

La Nuit des Origins

Our ancestors live in El Alleig, a village about 10 km south to Bou Saada. El Alleig literally means Blackberry. It has a natural water source. It is older than Bou Saada. We headed to El Alleig that evening to bring some water from its source. All El Alleig inhabitants are our relative. There was a wedding and we were invited. When we asked to leave an hour after that we weren't allowed to do so because the bride was expected to arrive few minutes later and we were told that we should stay to witness the entrance of the bride. We were invited to dinner. After dinner, Ouled Naïl percussions and that special flute named Ghaita started to play. Ouled Naïl dancing started. It was a night of going back to origins.