Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So much more to say.

It has been a while since my fingers roamed the tops of this keyboard and unleashed another chapter into the memoirs of this pissed off Iraqi. I am angry, and reserve the right to be angry, and refuse to put on a smile so the majority of talking heads can feel more comfortable in their slow uninspiring lives, or deaths.

My anger doesn't mitigate my love, however. They are two kisses on the same eye. Nor does my anger detract from the beauty of being the son of an Iraqi mother, who needs more than one day or lifetime to celebrate or be thankful for.

Unfortunately, it has not been an extended fit of rage that has kept me away from this writing exercise. It has been work related stress of the sort that is irrelevant to the aims of the blog, and as such will remain on the design boards and rough drafts of my day to day drama.

The Weather and Saron

The tinted windows can no longer fight the sun. Sandstorms and thunder bring with them the vengeance of thousands of silent souls to beat up the baking beauty of nothingness. Things are heating up. Those are the weather conditions here in Doha.

Since when was the climate just the aggregate sum of all matters meteorological. The sunniest and sweetest of Sundays could not brighten up the gloom glazing over Gaza, nor can the most beautiful bravest bounties of color hide the red, white, and blue mural suffocating Baghdad.

Weather is inherently politicized. From the mismanagement of temperature readings in the Gulf that keep workers wilting away under the sun to the running joke called Canadian culture, where conversations are cracked into "It's too cold," or "It's too hot."

For me, my active internal life usually allows me to see and feel the weather the way I want. Although I must admit that I have spent the better half of my life being overwhelmed by the cold calculated cut throat coup of diasporic winters. Those are moments that I don't miss.

I continue to miss Saron, however, more desperately and through a greater multiplicity of ways. I follow her news like a drop of rain moving down the grooves of a leaf to its edge, before falling. I need the strength of her achievements to carry me through obstacles of which I grow more wary of everyday. To see and dream of Saron moving forward with so much strength, beauty, and wisdom through her daily life leaves me humbed, ready to fight.

From combating racism to getting accepted into a Ph.D program, Saron reasserts two undeniable and universal truths: women are much smarter than men, and without great women in our world, men would rot, cigarettes in hand.

Mighty Manama

I recently made the mistake of taking another flight out of the Doha International Airport, leading contender for the world's most anti-access airhub in the world. But it was the best mistake I ever made, as the destination of my flight was Manama.

After a heated discussion with an Air Bahrain ground crew member about the fact that I had to pay twice as much for my ticket in order to take my wheelchair on board, my friends and I quickly lept over the Gulf in the region's newest budget conscious carrier.

I have been to Manama before, once, five years ago, as a soccer fan thirsty to see the Iraqi football team, a dying symbol of Iraqi unity in the face of gunfire and money. I remember seeing Baghdad in the streets of Bahrain, in the soccer fields of dirt, the proud nakhal (Iraqi-Arabic for date palm trees), but mostly in the wisdom and strength of its people.

My second visit, which came days ago, sealed the deal, a festering love affair with a quiet island, easy to forget, unless you are the 5th US Naval Fleet, which likes to make Manama its home. Despite the struggle waged by Bahrainis for more human rights, higher standards of living, and for a constitutional end to their much wealthier monarchy, Bahrain still suffers from the ills of greed and apathy, although with much less intensity.

I like Manama, capital of Bahrain. I like a place in the Gulf where tires and the rest are burnt to light the streets. I like a place in the Gulf where the site of a citizenship yielding local brings comfort to your heart and not a painful reminder of who and what you are. I like Bahrain, and want to move there. I am grateful to all those that were a part of my trip, despite many of them moaning and groaning along the way.

Home is where the art is.

Here in Doha, there is much of the same lame mind game. The long standing quest for the mighty dollar leaves little room for any mental activity outside of making and showing off your money. However, there are pockets of hope that peep through like light fighting its way past perferated clothing.

To the credit of some of this country's leadership, there are tremendous efforts being made in the areas of culture and education. Last week, I attended a global art forum at the Museum of Islamic Art, based on an invite that I received from a close friend, W. W-asan is a dedicated and energetic curator of Qatar's Museum of Modern Art. Her talent status and stature often have her confused via patriarchy for a man by those that haven't met her.

I am wary of Art, when it is detached from the harsh realities dancing outside the gallery door, or when Art is no more than decorations trying to cover up faces of misery. But, the discussion at hand, at the Global Art Forum, was honest, provoking, and necessary in a world where Arab art is sold faster and cheaper than recently-thawed hamburgers under golden gates.

Coming to life from the calm seaside shores of Doha, the Museum emerges and introduces itself as uninviting monumentally square building devoid of life and culture. From the distance, that is. My visit last week, however, made me realize that the Museum was in fact a delicately designed treasure box holding on to glories and stories of the past, and offering the people in Qatar, a chance to create for the future.

The museum might have been built by large institutions with larger budgets, but it is being kept alive by the passion of young Arabs, mostly women, and their drive to show the world Arab Art with no strings attached.

I have to confess that my initial interaction with the Doha Art/Museum scene was heavily influenced by my skepticism regarding cultural activies in the Gulf, although I have always been a fan of the Doha Song Festival, and the attempts it makes to perserve traditional music. However, fallic flops like the Louvre in Abu Dhabi seem to be grounded in the same race to fame that relentlessly factors in to decision making, as opposed to considerations like relevance, accessibility, originality, or sustainability.

The efforts being brought forward by these young people, and the energy in their eyes go a long way in making Doha a liveable city for all. The Museum is open 6 days a week, except Tuesdays, and offers free admission to all.

Other matters on the mind.

There is much to say about media, in all its forms, but I will hold off on making comments that could seal my fate as the world's most unsuccessful journalist. I did manage, with the help of those that I interviewed, to get another article on Al Jazeera's website. This time, my coverage focuses on the supposed withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

There is much to say about football, the people's sport, but I will hold off until my first article in Arabic is published about the Death of Iraqi Football. Iraq's exit from the 2010 World Cup has left a taste in my mouth more bitter than dirty dinars dripping with oil and blood. In the meantime, my football fix will come in the form of watching European giants stutter along their quest to merchandising greatness. Man U's latest loss to not-s0-Egyptian owned Fulham was described accurately by my friend Hani as "a spoiled kid throwing an anihilist tantrum."

There is much to say about love, but I will pour my emotions into the sea of sorrow that I swim in everyday, everynight, and about all other times that I can think of. Saron recently lambasted me for my mopey masquerade, and she told me to stop it. So I have stopped, I think.

There is much to say about Iraq, but I will wait until I visit it next month, and bury my face into its worries. I yearn for the tastes, smells, sounds and sights of Baghdad, with all its magic and might.

There is much to say about Palestine, but I will let the actions of fellow anti-Apartheid activists set the tone for Israel's demise. My open invitation to Bethlehem won't last forever, and neither will my separation from the land that has given me the most.

In the end, whatever I say, and how ever I say it, will mean nothing unless it reverbates into the consciousness of those that read.

Fancy words are just sugar melting in tea, what matters is the cleanliness of the water.


  1. Goddamn son, you make an arab wanna write more. Or re-learn to write

  2. here here. you make a non-Arab want to write more too. i really hope you're writing a book. it could change the world.

  3. Ahmed!!! From one pissed-off Iraqi to the next, I drink up your words. Or drink to them! You're going to Baghdad? Kharab3arthak. And you're writing an article in Arabic? Kharab3arthak x 2!

  4. The way your anger transforms into words and sentences is more than fathee3. As I last visited Baghdad as a boy in summer 1989, i look nervously forward to reading/hearing about ur upcoming trip to our beautiful City.