Back in Iraq

Ok, so I am finally posting something here.  I think about it frequently; I walk about my life mentally composing phrases and passages but thus far, nothing has made it so far as my keyboard. So, to start, and just to appease my insistent sequentially-driven mind, I am just going to post what I’d written as I made the final leg of my journey here to Sulimainayah, Kurdistan, Iraq.

To Sulimainayah:

So, moderately awake (off and on anyway), I’ve been sitting in The Kitchenette in the Ataturk airport.  Quite a chi chi little place actually, cozy, trendy couches and chairs, jazzy upbeat music, huge plants in huge planters and excellent lighting.  Beer seems to be the main beverage of choice and about 5 or so when I order dinner, I order a beer too.  After spending a good hour, off and on, studying the menu several times and deciding that since it was quite expensive but I wanted to eat here and not in the food court, I should make sure I ordered something I really, really wanted.  After finally deciding the grilled prawns and sole shish kabob with salad would be perfect, and giving my order to the very sweet, very friendly waiter, I immediately conceded to his suggestion of the sea bass with grilled veggies and salad.  “Is very Turkish”, he said at least 3 times and when I looked at his earnest, beaming face, I found myself saying I’d love to try the sea bass, thank you.  Not the first thing that leaps to my mind when I think of typical Turkish food but, hey, he’s Turkish; he should know.  So I had my meal (delicious) and my beer and several hours later, a perfectly made Turkish coffee – beverage of the gods – and felt very satisfied, very nourished and very happy.   Other pleasant encounters included the tall young Turkish woman beside me (we watched each other’s things as we took turns going to the ladies room), the very young-looking boy at the information desk who had no information at all but who was heart-meltingly sweet about everything I asked and he didn’t know, and the female Turkish Airlines agent who was helping me resolve the issue of whether my luggage had indeed been successfully transferred from Air Canada to Lufthansa to Turkish Airlines.  She rattled away to herself and to her colleagues and then suddenly exclaimed, in English, with a huge grin and arms extended in triumph above her head, “Lady! Your baggage go already to the Turkish Airlines!”

After eleven and a half hours in the Ataturk airport, I went to the boarding gate at 11pm for the fifth and final leg of my two-day journey.  I looked around, vaguely wondering which obviously-non-Kurdish people were my future colleagues but couldn’t guess and was far too stupid-tired to focus on anything but getting myself successfully into my seat on the plane.

On the plane I sat next to a man who said he was from London and assumed I was too.  Although obviously Kurdish, he also obviously preferred to be thought of as “from London”.  Turned out he’s a jeweler who has jewelry shop here in Sulimanayah (somewhere in the bazaar), as well as one in London.  He was a very kind man who helped me understand what was being offered for breakfast, asked one of his compatriots sitting in front of me to put his seat forward until I could finish eating my meal and taught me a few new Kurdish words.  Pleased that my brain was still functioning at all, and eager to begin my new life amongst Kurds, I immediately turned to the airline attendant who had just served me and thanked her politely, in my new Kurdish, for the delicious scrambled eggs.  I was disappointingly met with only a confused look and, in my own confusion, turned back to my companion to check on my pronunciation.  “She is Turkish”, he said gently.  Ahem.  We were, after all, flying Turkish Airlines.Image


About maurdian

I am a nomadic ESL teacher who, not surprisingly, travels and teaches English, largely at the same time.
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5 Responses to Back in Iraq

  1. René says:

    Gelek spas! Love your updates. Speaking Kurdish was against the law in Turkey until 1991, and even after that people weren’t allowed to write it. Things are slowly loosening up, but it’s still uncommon to hear it spoken here. I know about 10 words from two Kurdish students I had, and from travelling in the east.

  2. ourmerrybee says:

    Well, a good start to your journey with all those lovely people encounters!

  3. I need more photos – have no idea what this area might look like!!! The bazaar??? Lovely piece again, giving me itchy feet inside my comfortable Oxfordshire slippers

  4. maurdian says:

    Well, you know just slightly less than I do then! The poor Kurds have had it rough; fortunately, they’re now prospering and enjoying a much happier life than they have in quite a while.

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