Saturday, January 03, 2004

I want my wife K to start posting in here in blogland. We'll set it up so you can tell who is who with some color code or something.

We are slowly but surely raising funds for our trip. People from all over are announcing it and sending out mass emails. So far we have raised almost $1700!

I do thank you, all of you that have been donating.

I'm still a little nervous about going. But you see, I live in a large US city and when the hour struck midnight there were guns fired everywhere. That, and nightly gang-related shootings. Granted they are not bombs and suicide car attacks...
I'm just trying to put it in some perspective, maybe to make myself feel better. But I am convinced now that I have to go.

I'm really curious to read some of K's thoughts and ideas about our upcoming (always say Inshallah) trip to Iraq.

Friday, January 02, 2004

It's been a little frustrating speaking to some of my relatives here in the US about returning to Iraq. When my Aunt called me to wish me a happy new year I told her about my plans to return to Iraq and she proceeded to become very upset, exclaiming: no no!

The conversation with my mother was also difficult. But I don't blame her for not wanting me to return. She said: how could you even think about returning?! you were the most terrified from all us during the war with Iran! hiding in the bathroom and shaking from the bombs! why would you return to that!? If you were still young I would punish and send you to the bathroom for two hours!

haha, that made us both of laugh.

She continued why not just live your life with your wife and have kids and settle down and stop looking for drama? why can't you go to Disney world!
I said: I hate Disney world.
She said: when you were a kid you liked Disney world.

Yeah well, when I was a kid I loved Disney world and hated bombs. Now I hate Disney world and love bombs. haha. Okay no more joking. Yes I know this is serious and if I really felt that I was putting my life and wife's life in danger I would not go.

But it's been so long. Even if the experience is negative I still want to see and feel with my own eyes and body what Iraq is experiencing.

Anyway, my Mom continued and said that I really have forgotten how bad it is over there. Perhaps I have.

Maybe I need to forget just enough in order to return.

I'm not trying to make some romantic entrance to the land of my birth. I fully acknowledge that I am very Western. But a part of me is Arab and Iraqi and I can't deny that. And really what the hell does that mean?

I may be returning to find something of my past, something incomplete that I need to sense again. But it's also a little more sensual then that. I just miss Iraq. Even in the darkness, when I was there, I was in awe of my surroundings. It's as if the war with Iran pierced an awareness in me. Not so much an awareness of anything political...not yet, at least, but a sudden halt to my childhood worries- flipped over -to another type of fear. Something greater then my understanding of life. I suppose it is death that I started to ponder. And that idea was frightening. Especially the violent death that war stabbed us with.

I know there must be others in Iraq that have been in a similar situation.

I do hope this trip to Iraq transpires. I don't mind moving the dates if the situation gets worse over there. But I hope that things improve a little bit, if only to keep my mother from worrying so much. Please don't worry. Inshallah we will all be safe from harm.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

will it be a happy 2004?

Inhsallah it will be. This journal is inspired by many great bloggers- especially salampax and riverbend. I am sure I will discover more. I'm reading and getting some ideas of what it may be like in Baghdad right now.
I'm nervous and excited about returning. I relish any imagery and pictures from Baghdad that I can find on the internet or from the news. But they are only telling part of the story.

I spoke with my sister and she was very concerned with my safety. I assured her that I was concerned as well. I have been away from Iraq for over 20 years and I'm returning with an American wife and an American accent. My Arabic is not bad, and I hope to pick up the Iraqi dialect when I'm around it.

I have more questions then answers for this trip.

What's going on in Iraq? When some Iraqis say that life was better for them when Saddam was the ruler- this statement is obviously said out of desperation. It must be really bad in order to wish for Saddam.

And what are the Americans doing over there? The soldiers seem just as frustrated and very ignorant of Iraqi cultures and customs.

How ignorant am I? Am I going there naively? Will my video camera help me to understand?

I read about the recent bombing at the Nabil Restaurant. Why are civilians being targeted? Are these violent gestures supposed to represent some form of opposition to the US led occupation?

ahhh. There is so much going on in Iraq. Reading the various internet Iraqi blogs describing the lack of electricity, the fear on the streets, the bombings at night and the sirens, brought back memories when the Iraq and Iran war started. Our family was living in Basrah and things were bad. Nightly bombings, no electricity and the tone of the television programs changed so quickly. Everything became militant. Famous Iraqis musicians singing praises to Saddam and Iraq. That war with Iran is what drove us out of Iraq and into Saudi Arabia. If there was no war with Iran I probably would still be in Iraq today.

Many Iraqis fled after Saddam took office. And many more fled when the Iraq-Iran war raged on. I have wonderful and amazing memories of Baghdad, and Basrah, all of northern Iraq and some town and villages that my father took me to. He showed me the whole country. And if you have not been to Iraq, let me tell you, it is a gorgeous and mysterious place. I felt the history in the soil.