Saturday, January 17, 2009

Post #7:

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to say anything about what’s been happening in Choo8i’s life. Here I must say not much was happening to begin with-- he’s bid farewell to 2008 the same way he’s welcomed it one year before; maj6ool 3al 8anafa bel dishdasha, murmuring a few things to the effect of “an3al abu el denya”!

Needless to say, my life has consisted of watching that, and collecting the crumbs of his table. Bountiful crumbs, I must say, since it was 3ashoor, otherwise marked on my calendar as the 8eema festival (Though oddly enough, some people sent some Biryani. And of course, Hareesa!) and for a while, I was spared the horrors of his cooking as he was spared the horrors of having to change and go out to get food. Lunch was virtually always served to his door, and he enjoyed it for a few days from his headquarters on the living room couch.

There’s been this interesting thing as well, the war on Gaza thing. I know about that because Choo8i turns on television and tries to figure what could be happening in the streets of Baghdad, and is instead plastered with a “3ajil” banner, Gaza subtitles, and a live reporter talking about the miseries of the situation there. Olmert said, Abbas said, Hannyeh promised revenge. Sometimes I wonder whether humans forget that the world is watching.

At first, I could see that he was sympathizing; I’ve heard him groan and murmur some “tara77umat” on the souls of women and children lost in the conflict. It’s somewhat difficult not to, with all the graphic material being shown on television to draw sympathy for one party and…well…reap anger for the other. That is, between snickers and fits of laughter over Arab Summits and responses…or the lack of thereof. But after a while, even I could tell he’s lost interest. I overheard him complain about it on the phone just last night:

-Ya akhi it’s been 60 years. Had it been any other nation in this world, they would have sorted their things out. Mtayheen 9ol ch3abhum, and now innocent people are paying for it.


-W tali? Well, we’ve been da nehtefelhum for 60 years as well. What did we get?


-Nope. My money stays put, in my pocket, for when I’m hungry or out of fuel. Not donating anything.


-Speaking of humane, where were they since 2003? Beside selling us terrorists and naffug-ing shi3arat fargha and accusing us of having given Americans some kryptonite, betraying Saddam!


-Ahoo…w ani yahoo matti? Khallafit Fala96een w niset-ha? Nobody tossed a nickel about Iraqis. If I were so humane, I’d be donating my quid to one of the hundreds of thousands of families that have lost someone in this country. Humma awla beeha, ham 3ira8iyeen. I’m inhumane and I’m content that way, now, have you watched any new movies recently?!

And that was the end of the Gaza discussion from Choo8i’s end, and apparently, from the other end as well. Because an hour or so later, Mazin showed up with a good stack of new DVDs with all the US Box Office top 10 pirated for a buck each. And that was some 10 bucks he’s spent happily for the wellbeing of himself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Post #6:

Like most people already know, the media’s been particularly busy with Muntather al-Zaidi and the shoe-hurling incident. Akhookum Choo8i whose days often revolve around the TV screen is no different.

At first, he was laughing his guts out; he even googled and youtubed the incident just to keep watching it.

But then, as the hilarity of the event wore out less than 24 hours later, he began thinking. By thinking, I mean he engaged in a variety of activities that involved expressing his opinion vocally, from picking the phone and calling his best friends, to logging on to Iraqi voice chat rooms and engaging in arguments that soon bloomed into yelling at the top of his lungs, and interrupting my meals, sleep and other vital activities…

Regardless of all of that, here’s what I deduced…

9a7ebkum is actually upset now; why did the man hurl a shoe at George Bush, while he’s probably had numerous opportunities to hurl a variety of items at people who, on a national level, have gone above and beyond to deserve it. And though Choo8i didn’t really want to mention names, he was giving descriptions like ‘abu 3yoon’ and ‘abu karish’ and ‘abu sidara’ and ‘abu 3amama’ and ‘katkoot el 7awza’ and went as far as stating that there's at least 100 kalb ibin si66a3ash kalb yestahloon el 8undara taris, on an Iraqi level.

I don’t really see an end to his argument, since he’s woken up at noon today and for the third day in a row, he’s screaming at his computer screen and into his microphone. And the more he argues, the more convinced he seems to become that the man is an attention whore who sought mass-media attention, as opposed to a true patriot who, in the altruism of…well…a martyr, tossed a shoe in the heist of expressing the opinions of millions of Iraqis.

Personally…I kind of find it ridiculous that humans would be oh-so caught up in arguments over a man who tossed a shoe. And on that note, it’s tea time—might as well catch some stray sugars from Choo8i’s tray.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Post #5:

Like many people know, these days are supposed to be Eid and all. But akhookum Choo8i, like many others in this country that hasn’t witnessed an Eid without disagreements for years now, was as confused as the next Iraqi dude when it came to deciding when Eid is supposed to be.

Monday morning, Choo8i woke up somewhat early- surprising, since he’s stayed up somewhat late the night before, struggling with the somewhat enigmatic nature of house chores consisting of mopping, vacuuming and dusting between the generator and the temperamental wa6anya, clearing two weeks’ worth of accumulated dirt and stubborn traces of gahwa-revival in the form of piercing odors of feet and cigarettes.

Where was I…

Ah, yes. So, he woke up somewhat early, shaved and had a long shower, only to show up in the living room in a clean dishdasha, his cologne’s radius probably extending to cover a few blocks. And after a typically-heavy breakfast in front of TV, he picked the phone to call his friends for the typical mu3ayada call, though his ulterior motive turned to be in the form of having an Eid lunch, since he’s all solo in town.

His first phone call was to his best friend Mazin, who despite being a Catholic Christian, was always included in Eid plans, especially those related to food, since Eid was about…basically eating, drinking and having good time with family and friends. And after a few moments of beating around the bush, Choo8i admitted to wanting to see whether his friends would have lunch at a 7artheya restaurant, since they’re the closest he’s got to family in the country.

Mazin was apparently welcoming, and Choo8i was quite pleased, so next thing he did was call the rest of his friends, and that’s when things started going wrong—Some were actually welcoming, but some apparently told him that Eid only started on Tuesday, while others said even more perplexing things that I couldn’t hear, but that seem to have left Choo8i dumbfounded regardless.

I heard plenty of frustrated arguments resembling this one:

-Agullak latkhabbulni, what do you mean “today is not Eid”? It’s on TV!


-Ha? And what’s that got to do with anything?


-Well, isn’t this Eid supposed to be about pilgrimage? Pilgrims were on Mount Arafat yesterday, I saw that on T-…


-….Are you actually telling me your people weren’t there yesterday? Ya3nee 7atta b hai?


-Aha. El sayyid gal. Okay, gotcha.


-Okay then, we’ll come up with something else. I’ll let you know.

So after a few hours of arguing whether Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday was the ideal day to have the darn lunch, and after many obscene statements regarding 3amamt el bedha w 3amamt el khadhra w 3amamt el soda, Choo8i cursed el yom el aswad and it was agreed that in the best interest of friendship, the lunch was postponed to Friday—by then, it’s supposedly guaranteed that everybody has at least began celebrating Eid sometime earlier, regardless of whether it was over already for others. And on that note, frustrated Choo8i left to buy himself a barbeque lunch.

Today though, Tuesday, his parents called from abroad, to exchange good wishes. Turns out it was their first day of Eid too…and I hesitate to quote the blasphemous statements Choo8i muttered upon hanging off, after a conversation of confusion and false cheerfulness.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Post #4:

Choo8i spent a big chunk of his time as a college kid hanging out with his friends and populating gahawee Abu Nawas. It seems like he enjoyed sitting there, smoking a hookah that seemed to expire suspiciously fast, slapping old domino tiles onto the scorched wooden surface of the table with a do-shesh, or screaming his lungs out as his next move is mal9 in backgammon. His estikan or glass with a tarry drink that is allegedly tea is constantly refilled by the chaichee. And they could sit there and play at their own leisure for hours, occasionally drawing a small crowd of neighboring gahwa dwellers over a game of aznef or 6era, of which he would be the undisputed champion and winner…

That’s how Choo8i was describing it on the phone at least, though his descriptions are a bit more vulgar and I’ve chosen to gild things up somewhat.

Yesterday, Friday, Choo8i woke up somewhat early and went out without changing, in his dishdasha, to pick the usual Friday-morning Kahi and gemar supply. As he was back, I prepared for my weekly journey to the kitchen for Kahi crumbs and some sugar, but I was surprised with more interesting happenings in Choo8i’s life in addition to a good meal.

As it turns out, 9a7ebna was having gahwa-withdrawals; like most of our gahwa-dwelling youth, he was forced to give that particular habit up due to a number of reasons, ranging from curfews to Mahdi Army and Badr Brigades and of course, check-points. The latter of which Choo8i detested with a passion, as he says it always gives him a tingling feeling in the back of his neck, as though he was going to get shot.

But I digress, as always…

So Choo8i decided if he cannot go to his favorite gahwa, he will bring the gahwa here; first things first, he called Mazin his best friend and discussed the idea of having a bunch of people over for a revival of the good old days. And apparently, Mazin immediately agreed, as long as it wasn’t going to be revived in his place, which he shares with the rest of his family, particularly his dreaded sisters that would very much never let him live out of not letting them watch the next best Turkish drama on MBC4.

A few phone calls later, preparations began. Choo8i took out a couple of kettles buried in the depths of his kitchen cupboards—it didn’t occur to him to wash them though, 8oori el gahwa never sees the water. Like a little army, he slowly began to construct a small troop on the countertop- the two kettles, a big sack of sugar, a big sack of tea, a bunch of mismatched, dented old glasses and estikanat (Nope, he wasn’t going to use his mother’s good sets…), and a bunch of tin tea spoons.

He filled the generator with fuel, ignored the fact that the living-room needed vacuuming and dusting, cleaned his two hookahs and prepped them, checked his m3assal and coal supply and called Mazin to get some more. An hour or so later, he looked around and all seemed to be…ready.

Sure enough, the horde of old gahwa-buddies showed up not long afterwards, armed with two more hookahs, an ancient backgammon set and a domino set. And the moment they walked in, they kicked their shoes off and the room immediately began to stink of feet, and I began to see the first sign of regret from Choo8i, who could envision himself spending the rest of the night in the stinking room, after they were all gone.

The geriatric 3ala2ildeen was placed by the dining table, around which the horde was decidedly placed now. And upon the old 9opa, Choo8i placed the kettle after dumping quite a number of tea spoons in for the desired tarry drink, and a cardamom or two for the unmatched gahwa effect, and at that it was left to brew for a while.

I will not get into the details of the conversations they’ve had, because of course, no decent reader would have any remote interest in those. But it does seem as though the horde enjoyed their time, perhaps considerably more than their host, who not long afterwards realized that an average living room doesn’t have the ways and sorts of ventilation an outdoor gahwa would have, or even an indoor one, and that opening the window to let hookah and cigarette smoke produced by half a dozen of men was painfully insufficient. Refilling the kettle came at the cost of having someone peek into his domino tiles or such. In other words, despite his playful spirit, Choo8i was somewhat disenchanted with his very own gahwa reproduction.

Not long afterwards, bored after a game or two too many, the horde disbanded, and immediately upon their departure, Choo8i picked the DVD player from its shelf under the television, a few stray movie DVDs and left the living room for the remainder of the evening.

Today, it still somewhat stinks of cigarettes and feet.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Post #3:

Unlike many Iraqis that spent the past few days raving about the Iraq-US Military pact, which I saw on the news on Choo8i’s TV by chance, Choo8i himself hurriedly changed the channel back to MBC Action with a shrug. The only comment I’ve heard from him regarding that was “ra7 tijeena 3ajajat’ha”. I’m assuming, and just assuming here, that he simply doesn’t care, since apparently whatever effect it’s going to have on his life will just always be out of his hands.

As a matter of fact, Choo8i himself had been very busy tending to his so-called “Love Life”, which essentially consists of idling on the couch in front of television with a small stock of Iraqna cards on a nearby coffee table—within reach that is, and the cell phone permanently glued to his ear, exchanging whispers with some girl. Of course, when electricity went off, Choo8i somehow managed restraining himself from cursing the government and such. And when it got cold and it was time to light the 9opa, the geriatric 3ala2ildeen, he did it with phenomenal efficiency and quiet that do not resemble the typical mumble-jumble that could stir Noah out of his grave.

Choo8i was being lamely amorous. And somewhat uncharacteristically polite and charming.

Here’s the story of that; one I also overheard from his numerous phone calls with her and his best friends…

So apparently, like many of our 3awi youth, Choo8i had wasted many hours of his young life stalking girls’ high schools, as soon as he was old enough to drive. Without a license, mind you—Um Choo8i would send him to get some 9ammoon men ras el shari3 and he would be gone for a couple of hours. Anyhow, so on one of those quests which he apparently spent writing his number on a small piece of paper and dropping it for girls to pick and hopefully call, something had happened. His ever-sharp genius somehow lead him to drive a little further from the school he was stalking one afternoon, get out of the car and follow a horde of girls among whom he spied a pretty Missy. And here comes the interestingly lame part; he followed them for a few meters then called after one of them “Excuse me! You’ve just dropped this!” and he handed her a bunch of intelligently-folded random papers from his own school notebooks. The girl, apparently quite the catch, and I quote ‘gave him the most charming smile ever and winked as she took them’.


Ever since then, Choo8i and his lovely Missy have been…talking to each other on the phone; youth’s idea of having a relationship. And since I discovered that she lives just around the corner, I realized that Choo8i’s sudden impulse to “take a walk”, a rare event in this country, was only driven by his wishes to see the girl. With whom he would otherwise be repeating the very same lines day in and day out on the phone, for years, wasting a considerable amount of his money on keeping a fat stock of Iraqna credit in her cell phone…because she asked him to.

(Spells “sucker” if you ask me…but let’s not discuss my opinion here)

But see, today was one of those days when things were just a little different between the two of them. Apparently Missy had just gotten a fresh stock of DVDs, some of which apparently include the complete DVD rip of “Noor”; for those unfamiliar with that series, you’ve probably managed saving precious hours of your lives by not having watched it, being a gut-wrenchingly, lamely-dramatic and mind-numbingly repetitive Turkish drama by the name of “Gumus” . Regardless, ever since Missy’s landed her digital treasure, she’s been nagging Choo8i to treat her like Muhannad does!

I suppose she wants him to keep walking out so she can cry, get stabbed or shot or beaten near what would have been a VERY timely death, so she can cry harder and try to donate a kidney. That is, after having experienced everything on the hue from miscarriage to all forms of rejection. The sort of unrealistic drama that would give people hypertension and then a heart attack by experiencing one tenth of. All for the sake of an occasional candle-lit dinner—a luxury the government provides for the masses in this country, as Missy has failed to notice.

Very-very charming.

Unfortunately though, Choo8i himself decided to get a similar set of DVDs just to study Muhannad’s character closely. Consequently, as they grabbed the phone for a prolonged, repetitive chat today, it eventually strayed to that series.

-I know 7ayati. Bas Noor is a little 3u8ad…


-No 3umree, I’m not calling you 3u8ad. I’m ju-…


-…Ee but they’re married, that’s how he wakes her up with a breakfast tray…

-….*I actually assume she asked him about marrying her…which is perhaps why Choo8i went comically pale and stuttery!*

-Of course, 3umree. But not just yet. I need to-…

-…*And here I assume she nagged more!*

-Missy 7abeebti, Allah ykhalleech now is not the time to talk about marriage.

-…*She probably said a thing or two about Noor and Muhannad again*

-Well, you’re not Noor and I’m not Muhannad!!!


-…*Sounding somewhat apologetic though he was getting pissed…* No 7abeebti, I didn’t mean it that way. I just mean that you’re more beautiful and that I’m not like that dude. They’re 3aween, and we’re beyond that level in our relationship…

(Notice the irony; the phone relationship is being compared to a fictional TV relationship that was already very bad…)


-But I’m not ready to get married; otherwise trust me, I would treat you better than Muhannad treats Noor!

(I hope he would; otherwise that would be one fucked up marriage)


-Agullich, I’m getting sick of thi-..


-Well, I won’t call you till you’ve gotten Noor and Muhannad out of your mind, alright? I’m not marrying anybody anytime soon. And if you want a candle-lit dinner, turn the darn generator off! *And here, Choo8i hung off and pretended to throw the phone away—he simply tossed it onto the neighboring couch though*

The phone rang again and again, and after a while he received a message; probably a break up message, because after reading it, he turned his phone off in a few profane murmurs then got up, grabbed the stack of Noor DVDs and broke them one by one, tossing them into the trash can as he cursed the day he met Missy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Post #2:

As habit would have it, Choo8i would go out on a job hunt on odd mornings every week, in effort to put his degree to use; see, he has a degree in comunication engineering, the diploma is only a few meters off the corner where I live. Quite dusty, and apparently useless nowadays, but there. Today is one of those days; he got up early, shaved and dressed up in his best button shirt and pants—straightened creatively rather than ironed, for the lack of electricity, and for the fact that his feeble generator wouldn’t support an iron. He simply sprayed them with water and hung them out to dry in the shade, the heat took care of the rest. So, he spiffed-up, sprayed on a ton of cologne, picked up a meager file containing his diploma and CV, and off he went.

But after a few hours’ absence, which I used to increase my food-stock from a variety of crumbs and stray sugar crystals, Choo8i came back somewhat frustrated and fuming. I would know, because I could hear him calling everybody an Ibn Kalb, among other unflattering names, while he went off to shower. It’s only logical to deduce that his search for a job was fruitless, as it had been for the past few months since he got fired from Iraqna.

I overheard plenty of conversations regarding that latter part, and from the bits and pieces, I concluded that apparently, Choo8i’s boss had replaced him with his newest conquest—a girl. And according to Choo8i, the girl might be mu7ajjaba and all proper-looking, but she’s a well-rounded tramp. I wouldn’t trust Choo8i’s judgment in that area, given his prejudice regarding being fired on short notice, and given that his replacement’s degree didn’t qualify her for the job. But then, from the bits and pieces, it sure sounds rather suspicious to me. And when I eventually heard that the ‘tramp’ was replaced by another ‘tramp’ who was better looking; whiter and blonder, I started seeing Choo8i’s point of view. Though I began wondering how he’s gotten the job in the first place…

At any rate, by the time Choo8i came back in his dishdasha, showered and all, he was still murmuring audibly, about one specific “zmal” who turned down his application regardless of being more than qualified for the job. The details of that I only overheard a while later, when Choo8i decided to pick the phone and fume to his best friend, Mazin:


-*I obviously can’t hear Mazin, but I’m assuming he said hello!*

-Lak you don’t know what happened to me today!


-Lak today I went looking for a job, and stopped by ***** company; I heard they had a vacancy for a telecommunication engineer. Anyway, so they interviewed me and il Kalb ibn il Kalb turned me down!!!


-Lak laaa! I wish! You what he said? Someone had already applied for the job! W tali when I was leaving, his secretary, probably his girlfriend or whatever, bragged about how I shouldn’t insist about getting the job; he’s granted it to his cousin, ibn il zmal!! *And here, Choo8i lost it and explored new depths of profanity unfamiliar to man…*

-*And here I assume Mazin participated in the profane expedition…*

From that conversation, I assumed people in that office were all a bit ‘in your face’ regarding how and why they’re employed; it’s better for Choo8i not to have gotten the job. But he was very pissed, nonetheless.

Right now, he’s still fuming on the phone, despite the 3awya network and the occasional profanity regarding the bad reception. He’s gone down the list of his friends from the most-favorite, and he’s now in the middle of the list, talking to someone he doesn’t like so much, only to fume and let it out. Apparently determined to run out his phone credit.

Meanwhile, I should go have a nap—I won’t be missing out on his raving, he’s been at it for a couple of hours and could well be at it for a few hours yet.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post #1:

I believe I am an ant with potential!

I mean to say, I wasn’t born to labor the labor of my few-million fellow colony ladies and gentleants. I was born to sit on the blades of freshly-mowed grass and…contemplating the meaning of life while enjoying my morning crumbs—the harvest of lengthily and risky trips of my fellow ants, into the house of my giant bi-pedal neighbor.

But see, that’s really far-fetched. And here, I must elaborate…

Where I come from, it doesn’t really rain much. And by God’s grace, the sun shines so bright it boils eggs before they’re lain. And from what I hear, there isn’t enough water to keep grass alive anymore—ridiculous, since they say there are two massive…rivers, or something. Now, when grass does grow, it grows so high because nobody mows it. Otherwise…it really just doesn’t grow. Even those gigantic palms began withering…it’s kind of sad. Anyway, to make a long story short, I prefer not to live outdoors, because I don't have a death wish.

Therefore, I live in a humie’s house! That is, Choo8i’s house!

More specifically, in a rather comfortably-situated crack in his living room’s wall. Where he keeps epic products of human advancement; like his television, his computer, and his dreadfully-old 3ala2ildeen 9opa which reeks of petroleum, probably passed to him from his grandparents. The kitchen is a few hours’ journey from where I live, a convenience given the fact that I’ve chosen to live alone—and though it’s not always stocked with foods of nutritious value, I do occasionally get enough 9amoon crumbs to last me for a few days. Some sugar, and if I’m really lucky, leftovers of Kahi on the table on Fridays; an extra bit of effort and an hour’s climb up the table for the Kahi, but worth the trouble.

It’s been particularly easy to get food recently, actually, since it’s often dark. Electricity is scarce, and after a couple of years and a total of four generators of various sizes, they finally realized that to keep a generator, lots of money must be spent on maintenance, repair and fuel; not buying benzene maghshoosh is always a must, even if it meant painstaking hours of search and fortunes spent per gallon. That advice is a virtue of Choo8i’s neighbor, Um 7amoodi, whose son had proudly 7osam a gigantic generator during the farhood days and who, despite being a dentist, makes his living off selling electricity per ampere to the neighborhood now.

Needless to say, 7amoodi didn’t like that his mother told the neighbors about the secrets pertaining to keeping a generator alive—he could use the few extra bucks earned from selling Choo8i’s family some electricity. Him and Choo8i haven't been on speaking terms since.

But I digress…

It’s been easier to get food recently, since it’s often dark. Because precious amperes are spent on keeping the TV and the fan going, and occasionally the computer—which soon evolved to a laptop, as the need would have it. And since it’s dark or somewhat dim at best, I find it infinitely easy to sneak around for food, even from under Choo8i’s couch or such. Though the food-quality has declined painfully since Choo8i’s family left the country; apparently his sister finished high school, and to attend university without worrying her parents to death every day, they took her out of the country. To Jordan or…Syria or something.

So now, it’s me, Choo8i and Choo8i’s not so brilliant cooking and idle shopping habits.

I will have to elaborate some about Choo8i, but that would have to wait for some other time; Ija el wa6ani w Choo8i ra7 y7awwil!