Monday, December 26, 2011

The Exact Distance of a Tank, Shooting at You

Street shepherds and butchers are gathering in the sideway since months. I don't know if there are still slaughterhouses in modern Iraq. Slaying sheep occur as a daily routine in the sideway in our neighborhood.

There is a campaign of making Baghdad beautiful by building fountains and making gardens in some sideways. Yesterday, a new work of Ghani Hiqmat, the deceased, has been accomplished in the center of Baghdad entitled: the magical lantern, which relates to a story from "A Thousand Nights and a Night".
 As far as I know, no driving license has been issued since 2003 in Iraq. Today I was in a bus reading about "Nairn Transport Co." when a passenger in our bus asked the bus driver to stop just at the start of a bridge in a highway. The bus driver hit the break with his feet as if pressing on a cockroach and we stop just few centimeters from a taxi driver who was out of his car for unclear reason at the mouth of the bridge. "You was about to hit me idiot" the taxi driver yelled. "Learn to choose your words," murmured our bus driver with anger. The taxi driver went inside his taxi and yelled: "ZMAL (=jackass)" and hit the benzene pedal with his feet as if killing a roach.
 I read from my newspaper that Nairn Transport Co worked in Iraq from 1920 till 1960. They were taking passengers between Baghdad, Damascus, Beyrouth and Haifa. Because of the Bedouins that were attacking the buses frequently every traveler need to know that his "LIFE ASSURANCE IS CANCELLED" during his trip with the Co.
Agatha Christie had travelled in that same Co. when was in our area for some period.
 I then read about Badr Shakir Al-Sayyab, the Iraqi poet. Every Iraqi knew that Al-Sayyab spent the last days of his life diseased in a hospital in Kuwait. Today I read why he ended in Kuwait. A poet from Kuwait had come to Iraq to visit his friend, Al-Sayyab. That poet who came from Kuwait was surprised by the ignorance and the dirtiness of the Iraqi hospital. He managed to transfer Al-Sayyab to a Kuwaiti hospital with the agreement of the Kuwaiti government to help him. That was in 1964.
In 1991, Iraq invaded Kuwait. I still remember the nearby carpenter who brought a box full of video cassettes from Kuwait. I know a person who filled his garden with air-conditioners brought from Kuwait. My father managed to buy us a video recorder. We burrowed some of the video tapes from the carpenter. All were Indian movies. There was no subtitle. We understand nothing from the films yet, we bought a half-dozen of video tapes. My father was very anxious that a movie might contain a romantic scene that reveals some part of a female body. I managed to find some minutes of romance in one of the movies which were a big addition to my romantic experience and an enrichment to my fantasies.
I reached my destination, went out of the bus, and knew that I had to wait for a while. I managed to find a place where I can wait. A man joined me. We talked for few minutes then there was a silence. Suddenly he smiled and asked: "How can you calculate the distance between yourself and a tank in front of you in a battle field?"
You might think that there was a context that brought that question. Well, if there is a context then I don't know it. We didn't talk about tank, bombs, nor anything related to war before that man asked me the question. I drew a smile of surprise on my face, a smile that I wanted it to say: "how much you are informed man. I wanna know. I wanna know how to calculate the exact distance between me and the tank that is shooting me please!!!". I asked the man: "How can I know the distance?". With a glorious smile the man drew his left sleeve up and held his watch in his right hand and said: "you keep looking that the tank. The minute you see it firing you start counting seconds till you hear the sound of the firing. Then you multiply the number of seconds by ### (I forgot the number). It will be exactly the distance in meters between you and the tank in front of you."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Exceptionally Difficult Days for Ordinary Simple People

Our days in Baghdad are difficult. Here is a diary of me, with my neighbors and friends, in the last few days:

21st December 2011, Wednesday night, Baghdad
I just reached home in the evening after three days at the working place. I got no electricity. With the help of the hand light I saw that I got bread, and a half cabbage that had lost its water. I empathized with the cabbage.
 22nd December 2011, Thursday, Baghdad
I wanted the last day newspaper but the seller didn't have it. My neighbor heard me as he was standing near. He is a history teacher and a friend of my father. He had that last day's issue deep in his big bag which is full of papers. He gave it to me along with its supplement. The supplement was about Isabelle Ellindi. I promised to bring him back the newspaper that same evening. I knew about the explosions in the bus while going back to home. The road to our area was blocked. I concluded that the explosions were so severe and multiple that they started blocking roads. A car ban might occur. I completed the way to my home walking. 

I didn't like to go inside immediately. A neighbor who had witnessed the period when Iraq was a kingdom was there. He approached me and started one of his stories:
"God knows I am frank my son. One day – he took a deep breath, eyes fixed at a corner in our neighborhood- one day my son I went out of my home and saw golden bracelet. I saw it there – he pointed at that same spot he is fixing his eyes on-. I took it, felt how heavy it was. I looked around. Nobody was there and I started to sweat and tremble. I wanted to go back inside home but I found it so difficult. My thighs didn't carry me and I run short of breath. I finally went in and hide it in my room. I didn't tell my wife. I brought a piece of paper and wrote a confession of what happened and registered the date and signed. I waited for days to hear if any neighbor had lost something but no news was there. My wife started question the cause of my lack of speech. She was a good woman and didn't have the habit of insisting. I got a friend who was a big soldier in the army so I headed to his working place and confessed to him. He advised me to visit another friend of ours who is a goldsmith. Trembling I confessed to my wife, took the bracelet and headed to my friend. When the heavy bracelet was in my pocket, I felt guilty, like everyone sees me as guilty, I felt as if carrying a rocket in my pocket and that that rocket might shoot itself at any minute. I reached my friend the goldsmith and told him a lie: "friend, a relative of mine is a widow, she got this golden piece, she want to mortgage it for me for 50,000 ID, I came to seek your advice." My friend the goldsmith smiled as he took the piece in his hands and showed me that it is not gold. He proved that to me by applying it to fire. By applying it to fire it becomes black. I am telling you this story my son to tell you how much frightened and confused I was. How much guilty I was. I am asking you and myself, how come a man can put bombs in a school of children, or in any civilian place and explode it to kill us? How can his thighs carry him? How can he withstand guilt? I don't understand."
The old man left, I opened the newspaper and read about years of war and violence in Chili related by one of its gifted ladies.

23rd December 2011, Friday, Baghdad

My friend and neighbor called me early in the morning and offered me to accompany him in a tour in central Baghdad. He reassured my worries about block road or car bans. I like my neighbor, I like central Baghdad, and logically, all of our days in Baghdad are dangerous so, nothing is special about a day after explosion. I agreed. 

In the bus he told me this story: "When I was a college, I had a strange friend. He got many ideas, beautiful ideas that sometimes seem strange. We ended friends and I respected the way of his thinking although I didn't understand it all the times. He came one day with an obvious small swelling in his pocket. That particular day his movements were refined paying attention not to move a rough movement. I asked him, since I am his friend, about what is in his pocket. He took it out: it was an egg!!! AN EGG!!! Feeling confused I asked him: but what it is for? He answered: I want to know whether I can take care of a delicate thing in my pocket not to be broken for a whole long day of studying in the college. "

I like my neighbor a lot. He teaches me to cook sometimes. He had taught me many things. He was a soldier in the Iraqi army in the 1980s war and he got many memories. We were walking today in central Baghdad when he was happily surprised to see a DVD copy of a movie of Sofia Loren.

"SUNFLOWER, what a memory," he started to tell me the story while the DVD was now in his hands, "in 1980, and for few days before the Iraq-Iran war had started, in Cinema Al-Khayam, they started to show this film. I saw it. It is about how Sofia Loren married that guy, then after just few days the World-War started. She asked him to play the role of a madman so that the Italian army doesn't take him from her. They made a scene in the center of their city, her husband running after her with a knife. They took him in an asylum and monitored him, while she was visiting him, though an opening in the door, and they saw them making love. The psychiatrist decided that he is sound and sane and they took him to fight. She gave him a coat. A thick one for he was going to fight the Russians in Russia. He went. In Russia, the Italian army failed. They were dead but he was saved by a lady, a Russian lady that dragged him to her lodgment from his feet. He married that Russian. Sofia Loren kept waiting for him. Then she went to Russian and found out his wife and his daughter. She came back to Italy. He, while under the Communist regime, was banned from travelling outside Russia. He started to ask the governmental institutes to let him go away. It was a film about war. The film was banned to be shown in Iraq just after the very first days of Iraq-Iran war. It is just today that I see it in a CD. What a coincident. The film got wonderful music that you must here."
We bought black partridge since he promised to show me how to roast it. After the lunch we heard together the music of the introduction of the film. An Iraqi poet had said once: "in Iraq, death is the rule, life is the exception." I had put that poet's saying in my memory. My neighbors' experiences and memories were also integrated in me.

26 December 2011 00:32                                                                                                                       
I reached Iraq before 2-3 months I ain't sure since I didn't count them. I received my first salary before days. When I reached home, I headed to the local electricity supplier and asked him to register me. He asked me to bring him a 150 meters wire of 2.5 width. After some expected obstacles, electricity reached my home. When it was night and sleep didn't come easily I remembered that I got a copy of a movie in my computer. A friend in Kerbala gave me a downloaded copy of the 1998 movie "Patch Adams" which is based on a true story.  The movie starts with a sky view of a forest in the winter. A piano is being played wisely slow and simple. The following words by the sound of Robin Williams (Patch Adams) are uttered calmly:
"All of life is a coming home. Salesmen, secretaries, coal miners, beekeepers, sword swallowers, all of us. All the restless hearts in the world, all are trying to find a way home. It is hard to describe what I felt like then. Picture yourself walking for days in a driving snow, you don't know if you are walking in circles. The heaviness of your legs in the drifts, your shouts disappearing into the wind. How small you can feel, and how far away home can be. Home. The dictionary defines it as both a place of origin and a goal or a destination. "
After all, I am writing all this, with the tension in the Iraqi political scene in my preconsious, linked to the last Thursday explosions. If I don't like to state that "I am not frightened", then let me put it as "I don't feel enough secure." Still, I got a generous friend in Kerbala who gives me treasures like "Patch Adams" movie. I got Isabelle Ellendi telling me about how it was difficult in Chili. I got my neighbors and their memories: one about the Iraqi Kingdom, and the other neighbor who had survived the battle field of an 8 years war. I got dry half-cabbages to empathize with, and I got more cooking lessons to learn. 

Monday, December 05, 2011

Identity and Privacy

I am reading these days L'Interdite (The Forbedden Woman) by Malika Mokeddem. While her protagonist came from France to Algeria to face the different understanding and approach to the concepts of "Identity" and "Privacy", I feel empathized with her in my position as someone who came back from Algeria to Iraq. Identity and Privacy:

"I didn't forget anything. Didn't forget that lashing nosiness. Didn't forget that interference which alleges to have all the rights. When arbitrary inspection is regarded courtesy, the questions become orders, and being silent is regarded a scandal"

"The women: (Oh sister, like somebody is hitting me with a dagger here and here, and there, and also here). She points to all the abdomen, the chest, the back, the head, the legs, the the same time. (God kept you from all the diseases, when it comes, my head turns around, I sweat, I vomit, I feel by joints cracking, after that, I feel myself fatigued, so I don't sleep, dont eat, and I have no desire to lie in bed. Please sister, treat me!). All this in Algerian slang language, everything hurts me, it is everythingitis, endemic in womens here, and well known. Everythingitis are the symptoms of the females' earthquakes and tightness."I bandage. I suture. I plaster. I examine and hear the long complaints. And when I put my nose to write the prescription, the women regain the eye of the eagle and the vigor of the beak. She contemplates me, measures me, analyzes me before she dares to: (Do you have children?). The danger alarm rings in my head. If the answer will be no then come the avalanche of whys, the luster of the look of disgrace, or of compassion. I will not safe myself this interrogation easily. To avoid that, I said, using a proverb: "here, it is me to ask the questions, don't flip the roles!" Attenuated by a dosed laugh. Sighs of relief. Smiles."

"- She said that our ancestors are all Blacks that came from the other side of the desert. Yacine said that his grandfather, no, his ancestors were Jews, for that many Kabyles were in that state. Do you think that there are people who are the real sons of a real origin?

-I think that there is no real but the mixture. Everything else is either hypocrisy or ignorance."

When the Sun Scattered my Watch


Monday, November 28, 2011

Inferiority Hunted

When I am an Eskimo
Waiting at my fishing hole
Adler surfaced and burbled
Things about complexes
I took a complex back to my cold wife
She baked it in her oven
She gave birth to a child
We called him: Alexander the Great.

12th Oct. 2011. Istiklal Cadeci. Lost in translation inside the libraries. No Turkish writer is known to the mind. The artistic covers, the type of papers and the libraries decoration intensifies the feelings of ignorance. When the eyes caught the Latin alphabet they jumped to the conclusion that all book were in English, to be shocked later that most, if not all, were in Turkish. Forgotten was Turkey's use of Latin alphabet. The mission, the boring mission, was to differentiate the name of the writer from the title of the book. It was easy. The titles were not understood, while the authors' names were more close to the heart especially with their Easterners' sounds. And finally the eye falls on a known name. Orhan Pamuk. Orhan Pamuk? "I know that!!" A smile force itself into the silly face.
Most of Orhan Pamuk's novels were there. Among them are the translated ones. "Snow" was chosen because it is translated to English and its back cover tells about a suicide epidemic in an isolated rural area in Turkey. That goes well with the …. with the…. mood? No, not with the mood but…. with something… anyway.
For about a month, different English dictionaries were used: the Oxford, the Penguin, and Al-Sakhar electronic bilingual Arabic-English dictionary. The final conclusion was that not only Turkish language is covered by the cloud of ignorance but also, the English!
The about 400 pages novel deals with the epidemic of suicide in, let us say, 20 pages. About 5 per cent. A post about that part might follow in the future since this novel will not be forgotten easily. Between the events, between the lines, there was the description of the village of Kars, and of its people and their life. Rediscovering the self in Orhan Pamuk's words. Rediscovering the self, under the lights that somebody sheds for you at your dim part, is not always an easy-going experience.

When I was a shrilled-voiced Kurd
In front of Notre-Dame de Paris
My melody was shy and naïve
But when Quasimodo added percussion

La Esmeralda danced
The crowd started to love it
They filled our hats with shillings.

While there was a bloody coup d'état, Orhan Pamuk didn't forget to shed light on people's psyche. First, the reader was little annoyed by the writer's tendency towards delaying the description of the bloody killing for the sake of describing, what was called by the reader as, "silly things", by then. After sometime, the reader finally decided: even at war, our most deep instincts and drives, master us. Wouldn't it be more close to the truth to state: sometimes, our deep drives, come to the surface, especially at the time of war?
When it come to the surface, like a fish for an Eskimo fishing through a hole in the ice, it is better to be hunted, and quickly.

For how long that shrilled-voiced young Kurd dream will stay in the mind? That young Kurd who saw once, before four years from the date of his speech, a Western woman who came for tourism in his village, to visit the Armenian Church. He, who saw that Western woman, for the very few seconds that were enough for her to go down the tourist's bus, kept dreaming about her. He remembers the details. He says: "She was wearing a blue dress that revealed her shoulders." P.288 In the dream, which is already being forgotten to a degree by the reader's "resistance" curtain, he was in front of a screen. Big screen. That same woman was on the screen. He joined her there. She liked him. She even passed her hands kindly and gently upon his cheeks (was it upon his hair? The reader cannot remember exactly). He felt so happy. But then he discovered that he was a child, in that scene, and that she passed her hands, kindly, on him, just because he was a child.

I can still remember how I was annoyed when the adults belittle me. Just before few weeks I was in a visit to my parents, and now that I am 33, I am still in rage when there is a tiny allusion for my "weaknesses" or "immaturity". I even had imagined threatening allusions in love-driven innocent approaches. And like it is the case for the shrilled voice Kurd, the West is another opponent, for the child inside of me.

I think I should read Alfred Adler.

Thanks Orhan Pamuk for such a work. A work that is intermingled inside the psyche of the reader shedding light on the dim corners. Such a rare work. Such a rare effect.

The Man who Stares at Flies

Another morning. Still functioning in the waiting mode. Waiting the answer to my job application. The coffee types in Iraq are not the same to those in Algeria. I miss Algeria. Is that evident?

Putting the coffee down I held the novel: The Men who Stare at Goats. I spent the last night with my dictionary reading it. It is so funny. But, reading in the morning is more difficult since, the weather is warm, and the flies are active.

I put the novel down. Put a drop of my coffee on the cover and ordered one of the flies with few clear words: Land, Drink, Coffee. And you know what? She obeyed!!!

To confirm my abilities I ordered again: Enough, Leave!!!

She subdued quitely and sadly.

I think I got super psychic powers.

My neighbour brought me broccoli. I fried the broccoli and grilled an eggplant. I enjoyed the rest of the day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday's Rendez-vous

It was another Friday in Al-Mada Publication House in Al-Mutanabbee Street.

A middle aged woman with short hair, beautiful face with no makeup, comfortable clothes that doesn't reveal her body, came and distributed a short-story collection to us. The cover was a colored painting resembling Van Gogh paintings signed by the name: Hayat (=literally this female name can be translated to: Life). The author of the short-story collection is named: Safira Jameel Hafudh (Safira is a female name that can be translated to: Unveiled). I merely had the ability to thank that lady with a faint smile surprised by the initiative, since I never had received such a beautiful colorful present, from a lady, that I didn't know, and that had such a beautiful name.

When the conference had started that morning in Al-Mada Institute in Al-Mutanabbee Street, a conference about the deceased pioneer Iraqi painter: Hafudh Al-Duroobi, an old woman with cotton-white hair, had surmounted the platform. The old man sitting next to me, who had sat next to me without any word, just a glimpse of a tired sight, talked to me without any introduction saying with a smile: Son! That is Safira Jameel Hafudh.

My mouth and eyes opened and I swayed my head from the north to the west, scanning for a better view of the lady in the platform, avoiding the heads of the people sitting in front of me, since we were sitting little far in the back. Back with my eyes opened to send a look at the old man sitting next to me I was asking myself: How did he know that I didn't know who is Safira Jameel Hafudh? Did he even know that I identified her wrongly in that middle-aged woman who distributed the book by her hands?

I was looking at him in that same fraction of the second in which he sensed my look and started to nod his head just slightly up & down while his eyes were fixed at Safira as if answering me: I know son, you didn't know who is who, you are trying to discover your ancestors, good for you.

Safira Jameel Hafudh had started talking telling us about Hafudh Al-Duroobi coming back from Europe to Iraq and wondering what to do with his degree in painting in this land. The idea was to open a studio for painting in Baghdad University (there was still no College of Beaux-Art in the middle of the 20th century in Iraq). They gave him a bath (or a W.C. I am not sure) that seems to be not strongly needed. He started the work by his own hands on that bath to change it to a studio. Few enthusiastic students joined him; most of them became later his students, and known artists (like Hayat, Safeera's sister, whose painting was on the cover of our present).

Another student of Hafudh Al-Duroobi, named Khaldoon Al Bassam, attended the platform and told us about his memories in that studio. He told us that the company of the students and their mentor was wonderful and that even the cleaner who was in charge of the studio started painting with them.

Another student named, Sami Al-Ruba'ai, told us some lovable personal details like about the type of cigarettes their mentor was smoking, it was called THREE FIVE. He told us laughing that he was, sometimes, in charge of preparing the Mezzah (Mezzah is the different types of salad that is eaten by the Easterners when they drink Alcoholic beverages) for the company.

Thanks again for Al-Mada House for these activities which introduce my ancestors to me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Another Journey (Passing Through Turkey)

"The silence of the snow, thought the man sitting just behind the bus-driver. If this were the beginning of a poem, he would have called what he felt inside him "the silence of the snow". P.3

Accompanied me in my travelling seat. Accompanied me in my bed while diseased. For more than 20 days, I was walking like an Arabic ant in this foreign language 436 snowy mountain of words, my dictionary was my provision. I remember that sometimes I felt bored from it, and asked it to let me free, but now that I am about to end it, I am already missing it. Snow is such a non-forgettable novel.

"He was more at peace than he ever had been before." P.312

I was feeling strange about Ka's ability to feel peace and his ability to write poems in the middle of that ridiculous coup d'état and the killing that struck out between the PKK, Islamists, Communists, Kemalists (pro-Kemal Ataturk fighters), and the military of the Turkish government, each killing the other, all are enemies to each others, while Ka is feeling at peace and is in love with Ipek and is writing a poems collection.

"Kadife will appear on the stage wearing a headscarf. Then, in defiance of the ludicrous customs that have given rise to the blood feud, she'll bare her head for all to see." P.314

Standing in that crossroad between the west and the east, standing in Turkey I imagine Orhan Pamuk trying to tell us through his novel that we, the Easterners, are:

1. Theatrical,
2. Violent,
3. Concentrating on the wrong detail of trivial things.

Putting those characteristic in an example I would say: we, the Easterners, can react theatrically violent to the degree of killing in the sake of silly trivial superficial causes. I might be wrong but that was the conclusion I found myself in.

"I don't want to turn myself into a target for the Islamists. When they see her bare her head, those students will think I'm the atheist who arranged the performance. And even if I can manage to escape to Germany, they'll track me down- I'll be walking down a street late one night and someone will shoot me." P.315

An Iraqi poet living in Tunis said after an Islamist Political Party won the elections in Tunis that: "fear from the Islamists is permissible according to the Sharia." Since last Saturday and we are in a holyday in Iraq which will continue till next Sunday. This also means that we have no journals during those days. I fell nostalgic to Algerian journals that appear in the market everyday even at Fridays. A used the internet to read some of the Algerian journals and found Dilem cartooning about Tunis election results in Liberte:

"… in a brutal country like ours, where human life is "cheap", it's stupid to destroy yourself for the sake of your beliefs. Beliefs? High ideals? Only people in rich countries can enjoy such luxuries." P. 320

Kadhim Jihad was asked one day: "if one would ask, how far is the present of Iraq, or of Arabs, from the present of this city you are living in (Paris)?"
He answered a long answer which can be summarized by that he believes in diversity and does not believe in the accumulative classification of cultures and he gave the following direct sentences: "I don't believe that the French culture is richer than the Arabic culture, at least on the aspect of fiction in literature." He admitted later that in the west there are huge advances in the analytic fields, like philosophy, humanistic specialties, or literature criticism but still, the Arabic literature according to him is not that behind.

He added that the difference is clear in the systems of living and the political dealing with each other. He added finally that in the west: "... The human is not anymore fearful about his self when he say a protesting contradictory opinion. This is the difference, it is the ability to talk and to express your ideas and to try to change without risking the life of the person, this is the essential difference, and this can be summarized in one word: democracy."
I got the last chapter unfinished. I am feeling like I am having a treasure. I will read it and try to sleep. I will dream about democracy.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thawra (=Revolution), now Sadr, City

Was an agricultural territory belonging to Al-Attar family (an old Baghdadi family.) There were many swamps there and many illegal houses built from simple materials that don't shelter from coldness in winter nor hotness in summer. Those illegal lodgments were belonging to those who ran away from the feudalism in the south. They prefer to be near Baghdad to work in this big city. That was when Iraq was a kingdom. At the start of the Republican era of Iraq, Abdul-Kareem Kasim had ordered to build houses in that land and to put them into the possession of its inhabitants.
"I will put an end to shanties." said Abdul-Kareem Kasim.

The ministry of municipalities, ministered by then (1959) by the first Arab female minister Dr. Nazeeha Al-Dulaimy, was the ministry which planned and execute the plan.

In 1960, the building started. The Army canal was its west boundary. It lies to the east of Baghdad and thus why Baghdadis used to name those people living in it as Shroogies (Easterners). It was belonging administratively to Al-A'athameya, and was divided into many quarters: Seville, The Kurds (majority of Kurds lived there), and Jameela (after Jameela Bou Herd the Algerian female fighter who visited Iraq and asked Abdul-Kareem Karsim who was renting a simple house for his own lodgment by then why he don't have his own lodgment so he took her to this city and told her that he will manage to have his own lodgment when those people can have theirs, and since then that particular place was named Jameela).

The name of this big city was at first, Al-Thaora (=The Revolution). It was named by Abdul-Kareem Kasim himself who was loved to a great degree and if you use your attention you will find that many of the newborns in Iraq between 1958 and 1963 were named Kareem for males and Kareema for females.

When Abdul-Salam Aarif succeeded in his coup d'état against Abdul-Kareem Kasim he changed the city name to Al-Rafidain (the two rivers, referring to Mesopotamia).
When Saddam came to the regime the city name was changed to Saddam's city.
After 2003 the city started to be named Al-Sadr city.

The city surface area is about 30 km cubic. Its population is approximately 3 million living in 144 cubic meter houses. Some of those houses were divided into two when the family enlarged (e.g. after the marriage of the elder son) to two 72 cubic meter houses. Some of the original 144 cubic meter houses lodge 3 to 4 families.

Dr. Muthaffa As'ad

Opened his private clinic at 1963 and was taking 250 Fils for a patient (A Dinar contains 1000 Fils). Dr. Muthafar specified a day in the week in which he saw patients for free. He was much loved and respected and till now the crossroad where his private clinic was is named Muthafar's Square.

Mreadi Market

Mreadi was born at 1930 in Al-Umara. He was from Al-Fartous family. He volunterred in the Iraqi army and participated in the 1948 war in Palestine. After retiring from the army he started to sell vegetables and fruits (greengrocery) then had a kiosk selling nuts and gasious fluids.

The lovable book contains valuable information about the history of sport and art in the city too. Contains some poems written on the city. It is a book that has no reference to the publication house, with bad quality of paper and pictures, sill it has in its back cover the number of registration of the book in "Documents and Books House" in Baghdad in 2008. Much more important it contains the love to this city which is easily felt with every single line Hasan Abdul-Aba Al-Waheali wrote.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The forgetful Misconi and our heritage

Al-Mada newspaper supplements were heartily missed. From Algeria there was a non-humanized possibility of reading them PDFed. In their paper-form, non-electrified (I live most of my days without electricity using chargeable lights), smelled and humanized goes the reading of the Thursday supplement, Iraqis, from the Blazing Era, issue no. 2290 entitled: "Yusuf Misconi".

A friend of him asked him to help him marry that girl. Yusuf Misconi agreed to help. He went to talk to the girl's family about his friend intensions. He saw the girl. He forgot that he was supposed to talk about his friend's intensions. Instead, he asked for the girl's hand for himself.

From his wife, he got seven sons and a girl. From his sons there are now the doctor and the astrologist among other scientists. His house was open weekly for a cultural meeting. He was the translator of one of Dorothy McKay books about Iraqi old cities. He translated other books and wrote some like: "The Aramic and Western Melodies and Recitations in the Eastern Arabic Churchs" Published in Beirout 1965, and "Quhramanat El-Muqtadir" about that historical woman. He got some other works in history, literature and linguistics. He wrote some books with Mostafa Jawad (especially in Linguistics).

In the left, Misconi reading from a book with the cover picturing A'nistas Mari Krimli

An article by Dr. Ali Kamal (psychiatrist) about his personal memories with Misconi

Misconi pictured with Massinon, the french orientalist, when he visited Baghdad

Misconi and his family with my lighter's light

Misconi and his wife in the last page of the suppliment

Back to Al-Mutanabbee Street

For the first Friday since more than a year a visit to Al-Mutanabbe Street was feasible. The aim yas specifically to attend the meeting held in Al-Mada Library House to discuss the works Yousuf (=Josef) Ya'akoob (=Jacob) Miskouni had left us. Salim Al-Alousi was talking about his personal memories with Yosuf Yaqoub Miskouni. He told us about Miskouni's interest in Henry Field's works in Iraq and the opening of the Iraqi museum by Miss Bell.

Salim Al-Alousi lecturing in Al-Mada House about Miskouni

Other lecturers told us about Shamoon Al-Safa school in Mosul which was attended by Miskouni, a school that gave Iraq many of the pioneers in different specializations.
We were told about Miskouni being an orphan early in his life and coming to Baghdad to accomplish studies and his lifelong friendship with Mustafa Jawad and Georges Awwad, and about being a student to father A'nstas Mari Alkrmli.

Tariq Harb lecturing in Al Mada-House about Miskouni

Tariq Harb came. He told us about the love of Yosuf Ya'aqob Miskouni to his last name Miskouni which is very old in history back to the Babylonian era and means in Chaldean language: The Poor. Being a judge, Tarik Harb told us that one of the Miskouni family had taught them in the university: "The History of Law".
Taking my influenza and Snow with me I went back home.

On my way home I went to buy vegetables and fruits. Eating an orange before lunch gave me some energy to make a quick lunch. Eating another orange after lunch encouraged me to write this. I may make some coffee and then take Paracetamol and Allermine and go to sleep so early today. Visiting old Baghdad, reading few papers of Snow, knowing about Miskouni, taking Allermine after drinking a coffee, seems so relaxing. Hope I will remember my dream tomorrow morning when I wake up.