January 28, 2008

Having a Bad Kurd Day...

First of all, I do like the Kurds. My Kurdish friends are dear and close to my heart. Just...not so much today. Not all Kurds. Just some Kurds. Today I am Kurded out. I will get over it and love everyone again tomorrow. So I would like to apologise in advance to my close and eternally dear Kurdish friends, because today I thought BAD thoughts about your people. And here they are:

I had quite a long day today, culminating in a couple of difficult meetings. I won't dwell on the detail, none of your business, but somebody else's so not for this page. But anyway, suffice to say that I was bloody annoyed by the end of it, and questioning my faith in a certain section of humanity. So the following is in that context.

When i got back from that meeting, I paced up and down in my room for a while with steam coming out of my ears, then went for dinner in the hotel restaurant. On the way...i got into the lift and there were three young Kurdish dudes in there.
I said "are you going up?" in Arabic.
They said "yes".
Then one of them (this is so stupid) said in Kurdish...to his friends...
"hmm....a Maslawi..."
Now...what do you think Maslawi is in Kurdish? Yep, it's Maslawi as well, so of course i understood.
And of course he then realised I understood, and looked embarrassed, and one of the others sniggered at him.
Because he said it not in a nice way.
Iit was in a "hmm....bloody Arab trouble maker" kind of way.
Anyway, it was funny....i've never been from Mosul before...I'm normally Lebanese or Syrian...
So, yeah, get to the point...I went for dinner.
While i was waiting for my food (that's another thing....order anyting you want, you will have kebab no matter what) ..I called up my friend Sameer from Baghdad who lives here now with his lovely Kurdish wife...
...and said "sorry to bother you Sameer..but wallah i need to talk to an Arab",
and then shouted and cursed about the Kurds for ten minutes and felt much better. Lots of laughing from Sameer
But yeah, the kebab thing, it's funny...there is a menu here...that lists (I shit you not) "American, French, Italian, Argentinian, Chinese, Australian" dishes. But, whichever section you read, there is barely a single word in there that makes any sense. Well a few, probably best not understood, like that Argentinian classic, "chicken and bananas". 
But the majority of entries are...I mean...totally random words, no resemblance to English or Arabic...or anything else.
So you try to ask "kaka...aysh huwa....yeeji kayf ya3ni?"
He says "uuuuuuh...well...it's kind of...ya3ni....chicken...I think...but...wait..let me check with the chef EXACTLY kayf yeeji..."
Twenty minutes later...he comes back and says "Sir...sorry...the plop bong stick fop from the Italian menu is OFF."
So i say "OK i'll have a salad and a kebab then please". Which is fine.
But after fifteen kebabs in four days, tonight, I swear to god, this is how it went:
"Hi, i'll have a Coke please (i finished dinner, waited 20 mins for the bill, and came back to my room three hours ago, and i will get my own coke from the mini bar in a minute)...
....and i'd like some...chicken...grilled chicken...
..do you have boneless...musahhab ya3ni?"
"Sorry no, ma3a al asaf..."
"Do you have any other chicken?"
"we have tikka and mix grill..?"
"Can I just have a piece of grilled chicken, some rice and salad?"
"No, sorry, we have steek eskaloob?"
"No, thank you, I don't want escalope, I would like something grilled, not fried please"
"We have tikka and mix grill".
"OK, I'll just take the tikka please and some salad"
"Tikka mix grill, yes"
"No, just one tikka please"
(walking away now)
"mix grill....."

So I eat my mixed grill and eat my salad and drink from the 1.5 litre bottle of water I didn't want and wish it was the Coke I did..and then head back to my room. 

Oh, I forgot to mention the other thing about the lift. It's got a terrible memory. Tonight, perhaps refreshed by the power cut during dinner, it took me straight back to the fourth floor. This morning though it thought the fourth floor was in the basement. And the other night, we tried a few times, just me and the lift...we tried to get down from the restaurant on seven..the fourth floor button glowing cheerfully all the way. We tried the second. And the fifth. And then we tried what I think was halfway between three and four, because it's hard to tell when the door opens onto the lift shaft wall and just a tantalising six inch flash of the outer doors. And then it remembered....home we go, fourth floor...lovely.

Anyway, all this time I'm still stewing a bit about that last meeting. Stupid people I can deal with, it just needs patience. But these were not stupid people, they were people making me look stupid, which is something I generally try to do for myself....anyway, I said I wouldn't dwell didn't I?

I'm calm now; got it all off my chest as it were. But I can't help reflecting on a saying I heard earlier, a famous Kurdish motto: "No friends but the mountains", that's what the long-persecuted Kurds say about themselves.
And I'm thinking...

....well mountains can't bloody hit anyone can they..?
My idiosyncratic sign for the hotel room door...same guy that did the menu?