Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Here or Home?

9th April 2007

The last time I went on holiday was over three years ago. I went to Syria and Iraq and then came back here and have been imprisoned home eversince. The thought of going on holiday seemed far-fetched due to many reasons, financial as well as practical. It's pretty hard to explain. Anyways, I finally managed to escape my dangerously-tedious daily routine; washing dishes, making tea for guests, trying -and failing- to get some revision done.

Providence paved the way from London to Kuwait, where I will be spending the next 9 days. Boarding a British Airways flight was a novelty to me, as I have only travelled with Syrian Airlines (cheapest and lousiest). I starved myself so that I enjoy whatever food they served me. I also abstained from carrying any books on to the aeroplane in case I get distracted from enjoying the 'High Life', the entertainment program they had provided.

It was the first time that I travel by myself; I anticipated risky encounters with shady figures adding to the excitement of it all. I checked in, grabbed a bite and then I wandered around in the Duty Free section, pretending to be vaguely interested in the Lacostes and Guccis they had on offer. At last, passengers were instructed to board. The two seats near me were empty so I was able to lie across all three when I was tired. They were showing The Holiday, a heart-warming tale of uncomplicated affection, so I watched it with an ear-to-ear grin. After that, I tried to sleep but wasn't able to. By this time, the sun had gone up and we were flying over Kirkuk. I didn't know that we were to fly over Iraq on our way to Kuwait. Having realised that this was the case, I braced myself for an unexpected plunge into unstirred waters that lay in my heart. it wasn't exactly a pleasant surprise.

The little screen that was attached to each chair was showing a map of the journey and the cities we were flying over. I would look at the map and then look out of the window for a long time, scanning what I could see, breath out a heavy sigh and then look at the map again. Looking out of the window, my eyes fell on my soil. I was deeply saddened by this harsh reality; I was passing over Iraq, as if over-looking it, not showing much interest in it, choosing to restore my physical and emotional well-being not on the banks of Tigris, but amongst some of the most arrogant of nations. Engulfed by guilt, I stuck my face onto the window to get the fullest possible view, and after a few minutes of staring into the vast lands, roads and scattered buildings, my watery eyes let loose a quick, rebellious tear that ran across my cheek before I could move my face away from the window to rub my eyes.

The captain announced that we were landing in a couple of minutes, much to my relief.

I descended from the aeroplane and made my way to the Visa section. There were eight desks but only three of them were operating. After a long wait, the obnoxious Visa person thought I was funny.

"So your name is Mehdi, born in Bombay and you have a British passport. Are you Indian or Iranian?"

I was slightly surprised at how rude he was. He's supposed to be a taster of what the country and his countrymen were like.

"I'm Iraqi, it just happens that I was born there and I have this passport."

I paid the fee and made my way to the Arrivals lounge. Waiting for me there were my cousins. A few kisses and hugs and we were off.
We made our way to my uncle's house, dropped my bag and decided to head to the beach. This sense of urgency was only natural.. I love the beach and I hadn't been on a beach for over seven years. I hadn't prepared flip-flops for the sandy shores, so I had to wear my trainers. Eventually, I took them off in order to run in the water.

The day went by much slower than it would have in London. By the time it was 11 o'clock, I had gone to the beach, Marina Mall (the trendiest shopping centre in town), Tche Tche cafe and Layali Al Hilmiya Restaurant. Not only that, I even managed to get a few hours of sleep and a short visit to the local super-market.

What I like most about this place is that it feels like home.. it has the tiniest resemblance of Baghdad in terms of the city planning, the width of the roads and the cool, soothing breeze that fills the air at night.

Nothing compares to Iraq.. the deserts, the palm-trees, the dull, monotonous buildings, the crowded markets.. they're unmatched treasures of Mesopotamia.

I'll be holidaying here, in Kuwait, but it's beyond doubt that my heart lies elsewhere.. in London where i'm treated as an equal, or at Home, in Iraq, where I'm the king of the world for simply being Iraqi.


Anonymous said...

oy oy ya na3im lol

karroma said...

touching...i'm speechless
everytime i attempt to read any of ur blog entries...i'm on my toes...i'm so anxious and
i read it with bated breath...i don't know when my eyes will reach that very sentence which will make me weep