Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Wedding traditions in Iraq

I was invited to what we call SAB’A and it means (seven) and I thought to write something about our wedding traditions.
The sab’a as we call it comes after the marriage in seven days (now some of them makes it after ten or 14 days according to their honey moon but it is supposed to be made in the seventh day after marriage). In Mosul they make the party in the fourth day after marriage. This is usually held in the groom parent's house and the guest are from women only; the invited women should bring gifts for the new couple. Only the bride attend this party while her husband usually awaits in another room of his family house waiting for everyone to leave the house. The bride usually wears a party dress and some time more than one, or she may enter the room with her white dress and then change it after a while. The guests starts to dance and celebrate the new marriage.

Most of our marriages are arranged in the traditional way (i.e., not after a love story). When a man sees a woman and he likes her form the first sight he tells his mother about her and his family starts to ask about her family and start to work like a detective and if they match with the groom family socially and economically and in other things they agree about her. His mother goes to the bride house and asks for her hand on his behalf from her mother and gives her all the information about her son and the family, so the bride family will start to do the same thing that the groom's has done but this time, in opposite direction. And if they agree they call the groom's house and ask the groom to come with his mother. Some families let the bride sit with the future groom alone and let them get introduced to each other and talk alone about themselves, if they both agree about each other they will go to the next step and if one of them did not like the other very much they will separate. Also many still prefer the marriage between relatives, like cousins especially in small towns and villages.

The traditions I'm talking about are in the cities not villages. The first thing to do after the initial agreement is called ‘Mashaiya’ in which the groom's family bring the older person in their family with a number of relatives and friends all just men and go to the Bride father who also brings all his relatives and friends all men and sit together to get introduced to each other and in this party the older person in the groom's side make a speech asking for the bride’s hand from her father, the father makes another speech saying yes, then juice and deserts are serviced at once and after they finish, everybody leaves home. This party is very short and almost lasts for an hour only.

Then comes the engagement party, in which the bride and the groom exchanged rings, he buys the bride a ring and she buys his ring, the party engagement party is made by the bride’s family, and usually is attended by close relatives only from both sides, some times if the house is too small only women attend the party beside the groom of course.

There is a limit in the relation between the man and woman in their engagement period (I don't want to go so far with thisJ)

So there is another step and this is (tying the nut) this is the exact translation to the Iraqis language where the couple become legally married in court but they still don’t get to live together. In this contract the man usually writes her some kind of money or gold which she will take if he divorce her or he dies. This is usually done in court and some families bring the judge to the house of the bride where more traditional ceremonies can take place. For Sunnis the bride wear a white dress or Jallabyia, a tradition Arabic cloth, and in front of her they put seven cups, containing different kinds of white things like sugar, yoghurt, cream, (I don't remember the others!) and honey. Also they put the holy Quran and a mirror. (Don't ask me why because I don't know) but I think it’s traditions only and the people like to make it. Usually the judge asks the bride personally if she agrees to marry this man by saying a long traditional speech and he repeats it for three times (I don't know why) and then the bride says Yes. And then return to the groom but he asks him only once! When the judge asked me if I agreed to marry my husband no body told me I should wait before answering yes, so after he asked me the first time I said yes, then he started to repeat it again and again after he finished I did not answer him because I thought he will talk again.:)
For shias : those details I'm going to give you is from what I saw when I was invited to some parties: the bride wears a white nightgown and they also put in front of her the seven whites besides a big plate with different kind of spices decorated in a very nice way, and they bring a shia's cleric instead of the judge and while he asks her, two women stand holding a piece of white cloth above her head and a third woman start to sprinkle white sugar above her head to that piece of cloth, her feet are put in water with some dried flowers in it. In the party I attended, the cleric asked the bride 40 times before she said yes, but as they told me some repeated about 15 times.

Then after tying the nut, comes the ‘Nishan’ which is another party held by the bride family either in their house or a hotel if the house is very small. In this party the groom's family gives the bride jewelry from gold or diamond depending on their wealth and the groom starts to put it on her, while every one dance and sing.

Before the wedding day in one night there is also a small party held in the house of the bride and the groom as well separately, he invites his friends (like the bachelor party but with no stripper! Some of the men might bring traditional dancers.) and she invites her friends. After all both parties have ‘Hinna’ to be put on the guests hands.

After that comes the wedding party. Some they don't have a party just Zaffa as we call it, in which the groom's family goes to the bride family bringing with them a music band and start to dance for a bit and then the new couple go to their home or hotel. Some have a big party.
There are many other traditions before the wedding and after it I shall put in other post because this became a very long boring post. Of course these traditions may differ a little bit according to the social and economical levels and according to beliefs as well but this is the basic thing. Some of the families started to shrink those parties into two or three depending on the security and economical conditions as well. wait for my next post.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

To whom it may concern

I wrote an article about weddings in Iraq, but before I post it I decided to write this post.
I read all your comments on my last post, I respect all your opinions and thoughts and the time you had spent to read my post and write your comments.

To Eric: All what you wrote make sense, but this is only a theory like mine, nobody knows the truth and what is going to happen next. I like the way you analyze what is happening in Iraq and I was convinced by most of it, but how many Iraqis are reading your post and understand what is happing here. I’m really afraid that the terrorist will be able to control the situation here, because as you have said before it is their plan to make the people mistrust their government and that is happening right know. Before I used to defend the acts of the US army and used to say to everyone ‘wait and have some patience, nobody could stand in front of America. They could control the situation here.’ now I’m shocked that the situation became more complicated and now I can’t trust America and their promises of having a democratic Iraq and I began to revaluate my opinions again for the things I had believed in, and I hoped I was initially right. The people’s patience had disappeared and their hope for a better Iraq had vanished. I posted a picture of a car explosion in Baghdad that happened a couple of days ago, you can imagine how many people were hurt in this explosion. It is in a commercial area and the building contained computer hardware selling shops and in the front of the building is an ice cream shop were we used to buy some ice cream, my daughter likes his ice-cream a lot, three of the worker in the ice cream shop had died in this explosion, the shop has completely damaged, six people died in this explosion and 52 were wounded some of them in serious conditions. I don’t know how will my daughter understand why she won’t be able to go to that place I did not tell her yet, I found my self not able to talk when I saw that scene .

One important thing I want you( all the readers) to read and I’d like to hear your comments about:

titled 1.8 Billion lost and counting
post published in Sep.- 16 –2004

There is a technical issue I’d like to ask you if anyone know anything about. We see everyday on TV internet sites made by terrorist showing some videos or announcement of the hostages in Iraq, couldn’t the governments know from where they make the updates? and Why they did not close their sites if they can? some of those sites always have the same name. I never have the courage to enter any of those sites and I never will. but could you answer my question please. It is a technical question as I said before.

Ice-cream shop
Posted by Hello

eplosion in baghdad
Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A Reply from Rose

I gave you a chance to read the emails form Eric and Jennifer, and now I'm posting this reply and I'd like to hear your opinion. It's along post but I couldn't make it shorter.

I think the American policy towards terrorism increased hatred for America from all over the world. For my point of view, I think America did what they did in Iraq only for their interest. If you go back to 1991 I think that USA was involved somehow with invation of Kuwait. I was young at that time to understand what really was happening but when you look for the benefits that USA had from that invasion I think there was a link. 1) they put their hands on almost all the Gulf countries and in that way they gained control over all the Oil in the Gulf. 2) Making Iraq an enemy in the eyes of Gulf countries helped USA in selling them a large amount of weapons. 3) The sanction put us in a cave and made us return tens of years backward. Believe me or not, only the ordinary Iraqi people were hurt from this sanction, while Saddam and his followers only got richer and it was for their benefits. The sanction made us far away from the technology in other countries. In that way we could not endanger Israel and their plants for expansion (Saddam started to develop some weapons that might reach Israel and threaten it). I’m not a politician but these are what I’m thinking.

3) The USA made a large military base in the Gulf and this thing was only a dream to them.
Their plan had come to an end so they started another plan and this time it is war against terror. I think this war was only used to justify all what the USA did, and plans to do in the future. I don’t think there is a link between Iraq and Al-Qaida in anyway. We are different than Afghanistan, we don’t have extremist like the way they had. And now all the terrorists around the world started to come to our country and we become the victims. We didn't have weapons of mass destruction like the USA said otherwise they would have been found after more than a year from Baghdad’s fall.

Anyway, USA made a good thing to Iraq by removing Saddam from his chair. We were just like in a life prison. We never were able to talk against him publicly or even to criticize his decisions or any one of his family. We might be executed or jailed for many years for doing that. A professor I know was about to be executed some one wrongfully accused him of talking against Saddam, but thank God they were able to prove that he didn't do that. A doctor I know was jailed for 5 years because his ex-wife recorded a tape of him while he was talking against Saddam, and so on.

But all the Iraqi people are sure that USA did not remove Saddam for the sake of their eyes only, and they came for the Iraqi oil to put her hand on it as well as the Gulf oil. For me I blame Saddam more than the USA, because he give them a chance to put their hands on our country. He destroyed our country completely socially, economically, all education fields and in all other aspects of life. We need many years to remove the damage he had made.

What is happening in Iraq is a tragedy. Every day tens of Iraqi people get killed either by mistake from American army or by some suicide bombers who found Iraq a fertile land to their acts against USA and their allies and somehow the Iraqi people became the victims instead of the US army.

I’m not against American people or even their army, I know they are only doing their jobs and they are misled by their government but I’m against the American policy which makes the things worse to its people.
During my trip to the north of Iraq (Kurdistan) I noticed one think: the security system they have. One could not drive more than a km without passing through a checkpoint and being asked for ID and questions about the destination and has the car searched. Why did not the USA army and now with the Iraqi police do so in Baghdad? There are many check points here as well but all they do is look at our beautiful faces and say go. When we arrived to Kurdistan's border, they searched our car and checked our IDs but when we arrived to Baghdad's border they were only smiling in our faces. There were two American check points in our road to the north and none stopped us. Can you tell me why? Is it that secure?
All these acts increase the hatred towards American troops in Iraq. The blocks they used to put in the streets only for their security, the carelessness they had shown when Iraqis ask for their help and the way they act when they are under pressure. They could have done a lot after Baghdad’s fall and prevented us from many things happening now but they were careless. I don’t blame them for their acts: It’s NOT their country.

We used to drive our car behind them in the street a year ago because we felt safer because of looters. Now we stop our car far away from them or try to avoid them because we don’t want to be killed. I went to Mousle four months ago with my father and all the way to there, there were an army troop driving slowly ahead of us, and they refused to let us pass them. In the last vehicle, there was a soldier standing with a gun pointed to our car all the road till they got to their base. We spent 7 hours by car instead of 4 and all because of them. I know they are afraid of being attacked and that’s why they act like this, but these acts make the Iraqi people more nervous and increase their hate toward the USA army.

anyway what happen is not in my hand or yours and I know we should work for the best of our country, but if those terrorist act won’t stop, we The Iraqi people will not be able to build the new Iraq that we are dreaming for, I do not know how far could we stand more, but I know all Iraqis are dreaming of peace that they lost for many years, they want to communicate with other people around the world.

I’m hoping to see Iraqi people participate in building their country and be able to say yes for that and no for others, like many countries were humans have a value. I’m hoping to see Iraqi people get rid of the tribunal traditions they had and move forward to civilization and by the way Saddam encouraged the tribunal system to come back after it had almost disappeared in cities. I wish we accept the fact that we are under occupation. Let's give the occupiers the chance to help us to build the country, and don't give them the chance to stay. The Iraqi people lost their patience and that's why they are acting like this.

I was watching the news today, and it showed some new hostages on TV (as usual) their eyes were covered. I did not recognize that my daughter was near me watching the news because I never let her watch such scenes, she asked me why was their eyes covered, I did not know what should I answer her, I told her because they had been hurt and they had put bandage on them, she kept asking many questions, how did they got hurt, are they in pain or not, when they will remove the bandage from their eyes and so on. Later there was another bad scene on TV, this time Iraqi victims in car explosion and they showed them covered with blood, she asked me again how were they hurt and why there was a lot of blood, I just turned the TV off and left the Room because I was unable to answer her this time.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

From Eric and Jennifer

I received these two interesting emails from Americans, I want to share them with you. the first email is from Eric, the second is from Jennifer. I wrote a reply but I will post it in a next article. I like to know your opinion about them .

I'm motivated to e-mail you because of your critical comments about the US intervention in Iraq - Aug 24 entry, I think. I don't necessarily agree with some of your points (such as, the US meant to turn Iraq into the Big Terrorist Fight), but I think your view is still a step in the right direction. Why? Because what matters here is not Americans congratulating or criticising ourselves over the mission. Unfortunately, since we're in a heated presidential election, we Americans are talking a lot these days. What really matters isn't talk, it's getting the job done in Iraq. When we can be plain about what we're thinking, like you were, we can get to talking about productive action.

Still, I'd like to say in our defense insofar as US mistakes inside Iraq, past US nation-building missions weren't perfect, either - even the famous success stories like Germany, South Korea and Japan. In particular, I think about Korea, well, because I served in Korea while I was a soldier. Under UN control, South Korea went through a HARD transition after WW2. In fact, the Korean War was fought 5 years into the UN/US mission in Korea. That's not to excuse American mistakes in Iraq or to say I think there will be a civil war in Iraq. Just that the US has travelled a hard road in the past with other nations while helping their transitions. The best hope I can offer is to imagine where those nations were at the start, and then look at where those nations are today. Through years of cooperation, through much adversity, we have helped build success stories, the kind of success (most) Americans are hoping for Iraq.

We're trying. I think most of the mistakes haven't been sinister or anti-Iraq . . . I'll put it this way, 'It's not you (Iraq), it's us (US).'

First, when Clinton downsized the military in the 90s, we were fooled by Yugoslavia into believing we owned a nation-building capability that we no longer had, not for something as big as Iraq. Second, the CPA I believe was idealistic and well-intentioned, but it got its priorities wrong, and it wasn't practical nor efficient enough with the abundant Iraq-investment resources given to it. Third, if you study our modern American history, you'll recognize the trend that has caused us to make the kind of mistakes we also made in Iraq. Many soldiers I served with in the 90s felt deeply we SHOULD HAVE, as you pointed out, removed Saddam from power in Desert Storm. They honestly felt bad the Iraqi people had to suffer under Saddam and sanctions after 91 because the military wasn't allowed by our leaders to finish the job. You may not believe it, but American soldiers are mostly compassionate people. Why didn't we take out Saddam in 91? Two reasons. One, American presidents after the Vietnam War, until George W. Bush, desperately tried to avoid the next Vietnam War, and in 1991, Bush's advisors were afraid of the Vietnam War happening in Iraq. Two, Bush (again, the father) was trying to build up the multinational community after the Cold War, and he believed that if he continued the attack to Baghdad to remove Saddam from power - against our coalition partners' wishes - he would lose the multilateral progress from Desert Storm. Even today, many Americans believe sanctions are always better than war, and say Saddam could have been toppled without war. Many Americans who are anti-war think we were wrong to end the sanctions and forcibly remove Saddam from power. I believe after 10-plus years of that harmful policy, we needed to end the sanctions. And, it would have been irresponsible to end the sanctions while leaving Saddam in power. America has been irresponsible enough with Iraq, and it's past time to do the right thing - my opinion.

Here are some links to help explain my perspective, and in some ways, the American and/or presidential perspective for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

My Perspective: 9/11 forced us to reevaluate US interaction with the Muslim and Arab world, with the UN/US Iraq mission at the top of the list. Our nation's leaders were faced with 3 options: A. Continue indefinitely and head-lining the corrupted, provocative, harmful and failed sanctions and 'containment' mission. B. End the mission and release Saddam from constraint, in power and victorious. C. Give Saddam a final chance, and if he triggered the final enforcement step, go ahead with regime change and nation-building.

Without the 9/11 impetus, I believe we would have continued option-A indefinitely, long past GWB, and the thought disgusts me. Only one of those 3 choices is both morally defensible and provides a practical path to a better future. It's possible GWB chose 'C' for less than noble reasons, but it is still the noble choice. For years we upheld the easier wrong in Iraq; I credit GWB for placing America on the path of the harder right.

A Strategic Perspective. Dr. Thomas Barnett's article expresses my strategic belief. The evidence points to Bush Jr's belief in a similar strategy. Mr. President, Here's How to Make Sense of Our Iraq Strategy: http://www.keepmedia.com/pubs/Esquire/2004/06/01/463656

President Bush Jr speech: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/06/20040602.html

Tom Junod, despite disliking Bush Jr, discusses the bad morality of inaction and the good morality of Operation Iraqi Freedom: http://www.keepmedia.com/ShowItemDetails.do?refID=19&item_id=505604

President Clinton Operation Desert Fox Speech, 1998:

President Clinton Signs Iraq Liberation Act, 1998: http://www.fas.org/news/iraq/1998/11/01/981101-in.htm

That's quite a bit, Rose, to get to what I really wanted to ask you. Maybe you can talk about this in your blog, too. Practically, what do you think Americans and Iraqis (as persons, peoples and nations) should be doing right now to move Iraq forward in all the vital phases - economically, socially, security, etc? Not just the Americans in Iraq, but the Americans like me in the US. More of a curiosity question - what would you like to see from other nations, your neighbors, Europeans, China, etc? What would you like as the long-term plan for Iraq?

Sorry for the long e-mail. I hope you got through it okay.

Eric (USA)

an email from Jennifer:

Dear Rose,

I can't tell you how happy I am to have found your blog. I guess let me start with, I am a 27 year old American woman, with a 3 year old daughter. I'm married to a military man who had deployed there many times. I have many friends and spouses of friends over there at so many times, and for some reason, no matter how hard I try not to... I can't stop myself from watching the news networks to see what has been happening, or at least what they tell us has been happening. I can tell you that from my viewpoint, I'm so confused. I understand your comment about not being pro-war, but that doesnt make you pro-American. Well perhaps I dont understand it from your feelings, but I can sympathize with the situation as a mother and a wife. People coming into your country under the terms of making it better for you, when most of them havent lived a day of their life in your shoes.. so how can they possibly know and understand your culture and your life to make it any better. It frustrates me to no end listening and reading and watching... and never really knowing how much is filtered through our news media. How the people of your country truly feel, day to day while living through this. My friends, being mostly military, dislike my views.. but I've often said the World Trade Center attack was America's wake up call.. we were almost asking for it. Not that the situation here has to do with yours directly, but that we Americans had gotten so egotistical of ourselves that we thought we were above annihilation. And what scares me most about this war that we are waging throughtout your world, is this. Has our ego once again gotten too big? How many enemies are we making by trying to adjust someone else's life?
You Rose.. You are a woman, with a child, living day to day.. With our upcoming elections the news is clouded with slander and heroics trying to win votes. But what I want to know, from a normal woman living her life is... what are we really doing over there? Politics surrounds everything and it seems to block out the simple things that we simple people who do live in America don't hear about. Do you hate seeing troops? I can't imagine hearing bombs and guns, but do you associate those things, with the men an women who have been taken from their families here because they've been told they are doing something good? Is it the people? Or the politics that cause the not exactly Pro-American view you have? Please? I would love to hear from you. Some REAL connection to a world away, where my families are being affected, perhaps not as extremely as yours are, but affected none the less.
I have weblog too.. Mine is full of flippery and jokes, I use mine to bring a bit of humor to myself. But I would love and deeply appreciate your input. And if you would be willing to write me back.. and tell me.. from a woman's view how you feel.. just your feelings. I would post it on my blog to share with the other spouses of military members?
Would you mind?
Thank you for your time
Las Vegas

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Things I noticed

Well, I was very busy the last couple of days, nothing so important but I don't know how time had passed. I went to an Internet café and checked some web sites that some of you has suggested to me. Anyway most of them were offering free programs that help in designing. Thank you for telling me about them, but I don' think this is what I wanted. I have no problem in using Photoshop, Flash and CorelDraw as well (because in Iraq we can get the above three programs in about $1 so no need for free software!) but now I'm looking for a program instead of FrontPage. Could anyone of you help me if he/she knows a different program. I hate using front page, I don't know why. My husband who is a computer engineer suggested that I should try to learn programming with HTML. This step, I think is too much for me because I'm not an expert with computers and I'm not a programmer so I did not decided what I should do. The last work I had was for FREE. I made a web design to a company and they liked it and asked for more and I made them about eight different designs. But the circumstances we have, I think made them leave Iraq so there were no need to my designs. BAD LUCK to me.

I was wondering how Can I find someone and offer him cheap design as you suggested. I like the idea very much and I don't mind at all but the ones in the internet already had one. If any one from you know any charity organization, I will be happy to help in designing their we site. Thank you again I think I'm asking too much from you.

Some of the comments I read wese wondering what is happing to my dream to be a surgeon, well it had vanished. The terrible system we had prevents us from studying what we wanted. We have what we call an evening study but this is only for some branches in engineer, science, and Art branches as well. But there is no medical study in these kinds of studies. Not all the people could enter these collages and they ask also for the marks you had last exam in high school but the good thing is that they take less averages than what the government accepts in return for not very expensive charges. We don't have any good private collages; they are very few and only contains science and Art collages, no medical or engineering study.

In the past regime, Saddam made a terrible damage to the educational system, I don't think you have heard about it before in any other country. Saddam offered marks to the children of his followers and to those who are senior party members, so if you were one of his followers (who are many) your child will benefit form this. And he will have 5 degrees above the average he will get in the final exam of high school. This was a disaster to many of cleaver students because those raises increase the average rate to enter any collage. Do you believe (I think) two years ago enterring a medical school needed an average mark reached up to 110%, and of course you can't have 110 from 100 anyway. The final exam contains eight lessons which are Islamic education for (Muslims), Arabic and English language, chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics. This exam determine the future of your life, and that's why many fathers were getting close to Saddam and his followers. One of the years the first ranking student in all Iraqi high schools was unable to enter medical school because he had no bonus marks, so the minister of education made him a special offer and sent him to medical school.

In my year at high school there was a girl with me in my school who got about 80% in that exam, but her father was from Saddam followers so her mark reached up to 105% and she enterred medical school and I didn't (while I had 91.5%). This bad system we had made any one with high marks which enable him to enter medical school submits for medical regardless of what he likes or hates. The second choice is always engineering collage which comes in the second level. If not, he will enter a science collage instead and so on. That's why we have a lot of good doctors but it becomes hard to find someone good in engineer and it gets worse for other fields.

We need to have good private universities in this case some people will be able to study the things they like. For me I don't know if I will be able to have my dream come true before it will be too late. By the way I'm fond of reading medical books and I have a good knowledge in many medical fields.

Many things are needed to be changed here from the roots, and this needs a lot of hard work by Iraqis and non Iraqis as well to help us to open our minds that have been in caves for many years and try to raise the new Iraq and make it able to reach other countries in many fields. But I still think if the situation in Iraq will continue to be like this we will return back to dark ages and we will look with agony for the old system we had.

I will write about the law system we used to have before in a next article.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

I’m Back (part 1)

Hello everyone, I’m back again. I missed you all and I missed my blog too much.
It was a wonderful trip. I never felt fresh like this for a very long time.
These are the details of my journey:
We went to a place called Qashqoly it is about 50 km from Sulaimaniya which is a bout 400 km to the north of Baghdad. We went by our car with some other relatives but it was a long journey, we spent about 6 hours till we got there because the road was a narrow two way road and we could not drive very fast. the resort we stayed in is a new one opened a few months ago. It has a very beautiful view that looks over the river which is the outlet of the Dokan dam (Dokan dam is about 1 km from the place we settled in) and surrounded by high mountains. I took a lot of pictures and you can see some of them below. Everything there was quite, no gun shots, no bombs and nothing disturbed the silence we had. I used to put a chair near the river and sit there looking at the wonderful view and for the first time I felt free, free from everything.
When we entered Kurdistan I frankly felt strange from my country, I know they had separated from my country for more than 10 years, but I thought they returned back after Baghdad’s fall. They had their own flag and some ministries started to put the Iraqi flag besides the Kurds flags. I wished they put the Iraqi flag only.
Kurdistan is divided into two sections one belongs to Masood Al-Barazani and the other to Jalal AL-Talbani. AL-Sulaimaniya and the places around it are under Al-Talabani’s government.
We went to Sulaimaniya the second day of our arrival, I had never seen the city before and it was beautiful and modern. The construction movement is moving rapidly there, I think with the next two years the city will completely change. Women are having a great participate in the their city, for the first time in Iraq I saw policewomen in the streets and I saw a soldier woman driving a military vehicle. I was very proud of them at least some Iraqi women succeeded in making something to their country. Women in the north are more liberated than the other parts of Iraq. They move freely alone in the streets, restaurants and their dresses are more fashionable (I’m talking about women in the city of Sulaimaniya).

The first problem we faced was the language. The only language they talk with is Kurdish. Very few people speak Arabic (only older people). I think this is a crime made by Kurdish government not teaching their people Arabic language, their tourism is depending largely on Iraqis and Arabs as well, they have only two Kurds channel on TV while we have more than 100 Arabic channels on TV. Anyway the Kurds people are very peaceful.
We went to Dokan Dam as well on the second day but it was very neglected so we stayed there for only 15 minutes.
The second problem was the food. The first day of our arrival we asked about a good restaurant near our resort and there was only one restaurant near the place we settled in, but the food was so bad that almost no one could eat it. You could not see a restaurant serve more than the tradition food which is (kabab and tuka) so if it is good you will eat it if not you will stay hungry.
When we went to Sulaimaniaya we asked if there is a Rest. that serves other things beside the kabab and tuka and there was an Iranian Rest. The food was good. on our way back we found a take away Rest. So we thought of buying some sandwiches for dinner. The Rest. you will see in the picture is not McDonald but the owner benefited from the trade mark of that Rest. and named it madonal. To our surprise, he did not have hamburger then so we ordered some pizza, other sandwiches, and some salads; but they all were very bad. they don’t know how to make different kind of salads except the ordinary one which is tomato and cucumber .
The third day we went to Shaqlawa which is about one hour and a half from the place we lived in. Shaqlawa belongs to Al-barazani Gov. We went to their markets and stayed there only for an hour, then we decided to go to Bekhal falls and it’s about another 2 hours by car, the road was scary we had to drive up and down the mountains, the view was great. It was a great trip but very tiring. When I arrived home I was almost going to faint so I slept early that day.
The third day we decided to stay at home, we were very tired from Bekhal. we had a wonderful day, and there was a wedding party just across the river. I sat near the river watching the Kurdish dabka (dance), I can’t describe that moment to you. I have not felt relaxed like this. The Kurds like to dance and have fun a lot. I usually sit every day and watch the other part of the river were people used to come and start to dance (dabka) and sing till sun sets. I really envy them for the spirit they have. once I was sitting with my husband and we were wondering if the nature of the land affects the nature of the people living in it. I think it has a great effect. People living in deserts have different behaviors than the people living in the city.
The fourth day we decided to visit the center of Sulaimaniya city were the old and traditional markets. We had a nice time but also the problem was the language. When we want to read the signs we had to read the English ones if there were one. We talk to the cashier in English to make her understand what we wanted, but most of them don’t speak English.
We decided to stay another day at our house this time we decided to have fish at lunch, the men went to the market and bought a very big fish and cooked it in a special ‘fish’ oven. It was the best fish I had ever eaten. I don’t know why? Maybe because it was fresh or the place or maybe because I was feeling different. The trip has come to an end, we returned on Thursday and I felt sick that day maybe because I did not want to return to this bloody life that I had to live with everyday. I heard a lot of bad news since I came I wished I was born in the north instead of Baghdad at least I can sit alone and meditate around me and forget all the sadness we have.

Wait for another post taking about other things I noticed in my trip to the north and my point of view.

You can see some pictures that I've taken at http://photos.yahoo.com/rosebaghdad

I have just read your comments today about my career. I'm in an internet café right now so I will read them carefully at home. From the first reading, they contain many good ideas that might be a good start for me. There are also some ideas I could not benefit from now because of the bad circumstances we have. Thank you all for the time you had spent. You had been a great help for me. I will tell you what I shall do after reading them carefully and study all the circumstances around me, and try to answer some of your questions.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

My Career

I want to discuss my career with you, may be you will find a solution to my problem. I graduated from collage five years ago, as you know I studied civil engineering. I did not like it and I was dreaming of becoming a surgeon but the educational system we had doesn’t make anyone study the things they like and it all depends on the final exam of the last year in high school which is runs by the ministry of education. the marks you take from that exam will determine your future career, so my average marks was 91.5 % which did not qualify me to enter medicine collage. So I decided to enter civil engineering like my father. I graduated from civil engineering but I did not like it. After my graduation Saddam made a new law forcing all the graduate students to work with the government and in the place the government wants us to work in with a very bad salary not even enough for transportation. The government prevents us from traveling outside Iraq unless we paid a high amount of money as a compensation for higher education fees. I was assigned to work in a place far away from my house and I was pregnant with my daughter so I decided not to join that work. later I worked with a computer office near my house. I gave some lessons for beginners in Microsoft office. Later I worked with my brother in law in drawing some plans using AutoCAD and finally I used to prepare some slide presentation for M.Sc. students and for conferences. the last work I liked very much. After I had birth of my daughter I could not go to work because I had no place to put her in, and I worked at home.
After the war many things changed. The office I worked with had closed. I started reading about web design and I like it very much, but the main problem now is where should I put my daughter if I work? there is no good nursery schools near our house actually there are no good nursery in almost all Baghdad and the one I know is very far and also very expensive just the rich people usually put their children in it. and that is not only the problem because even if I find a job and was fit for putting my daughter in it. I could not, because my daughter might be kidnapped if I put her in that place, second it is a far away school and within these circumstances some times the roads would be closed and I would be unable to bring her home. now I found myself without experience and there is no hope to start looking for a job again since the situation still the same for more than a year. web design is still a new field here so it is not easy to find work even but I like it and it must have a future in Iraq.
this is not only my problem but a problem of a high percentage of Iraqi women which needs a solution.


I’m going for a vacation to the north of Iraq with my family. We will travel next Friday and return on Wednesday. We heard that the road is still unsafe especially through Kirkuk, but we will take the chance. we went last year too and we had a great time. The nature there is fantastic and the weather is great. We need to have that visit to relax our nerves under the pressure we have.
So wait for my post when I’m back and I will try to have some photos too.