madly in love with Iraq


Mind the gap!

What? Are they reading my mind?

I was on my first train trip in London, and I heard this announcement “Mind the gap” I was thinking of all the possible gaps ahead of me, and how am I going to overcome them. And this statement just spoke my mind. It turned out to be the gap between the train and the station platform!

More than 10years now, and on another train journey, I am thinking if I have managed to fill all the gaps, and if there was really a point in doing so.

Unlike many Iraqis I wanted to be part of this society from day one; so I could live normally. I wanted to block myself from the life I had before. The last thing I needed is feeling homesick.

I went shopping and clubbing like mad during the first few years. I later became more sensible and started enjoying long country walks and developed a real interest in theatre, I even tried my best to understand what cricket is all about!

I’ve always been capable of forcing myself to do things until they become habits; if and only if; I am satisfied they were right for me.
Sometimes it does work; this is how I learned to appreciate and enjoy the English sense of humour. And sometimes it doesn’t; that is when I decided that falling in love with an English guy would close all the gaps!

The biggest barrier was and still is “The drinking culture”. I have nothing against alcohol, but when it becomes the main purpose, the main reason and ultimately the only enjoyment, I and many others cannot really understand.
Going for a picnic ends up in drinking; a sunny day means drinking, watching a football match, going out anywhere is the same, drink till you drop!

The problem is the effect of it on people, not only any conversation turns to crap; but people start to allow themselves more liberties, and sometimes say things which might offend you or change your view on the person completely.

Recently a woman neighbour knocked on my door at 3:00am in the morning, when I opened she begged me to let her in because her cat has fallen from the second floor, and she needed access to the rear garden from my bedroom. The woman was completely drunk, and while she was struggling to squeeze herself through the window, she started telling me what she really thinks of Arabs! Especially when it comes to animals; and that she doesn’t give a .… to what I think of her, but we are barbarians and backwards!
Usually I have very good relationship with her and mutual respect. She is a high-flyer who works in one of the most famous accountancy firms. Since that incident, I started to look at her differently, and I try to keep my distance.

The problem is not what she thinks of me as an Arab. As long as I don’t know, it suits me fine. You can only judge on peoples’ actions not on what is going on in their minds.

To sum up my achievements on the social level; All I can say is that I learned to enjoy myself company more and more, in other words I go along in life as an individual.

This is a country where you go and see your parents once a year in Christmas. A country where there is only one family bathroom upstairs in a big house; so it was originally designed not to entertain or invite someone over. A country where nearly half the population sell their houses on retirement age to go and live in Spain!

On the personal level, I discovered that I could easily understand Iraqis; I can read through their eyes and judge from their body language. But till this minute I cannot do that with others.

Before I reached my stop, I looked around in the carriage to find familiar faces of people I’ve been living with for quite a long time, I do love them in my own way, I do share some of their problems, but they are not mine..

Suddenly I felt happy; I remembered that I came all the way to spend the Easter holiday with my neighbours in Baghdad, who happened to live in a small village in Yorkshire.