Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meet Bewar!!

Guess Blogger
"Saz it is 12:30 am and you are taking me to a journey to my own life! Thank you!
I am Bewar Abdullah, 21 years old. Graduated from Political Science and International Relations at University of Kurdistan Hewler, and now working in my own university in the Media and Public Relations department.
I will take you to a typical day of my life
 Waking up early in the morning (snoozing the alarm several times) then its off to work. I love my way to work; it is a good time for daydreaming and thinking ahead.

What I love about my job is the fact that I write articles and make short videos about various subjects, and do workshops for Social Development from time to time (me and my manager usually argue about the workshop part. he says this is not my job, but it is not in my hand I do feel responsible to go out and share what I know and make my people more aware, but he is a great man in the end he allows me!).  It gives me a special feeling to work for my own university; I feel I am paying back the second home that taught me so many lifelong lessons during the four years of studying.
In my job I basically I sit in my office, and do my work. When I am free I usually try to go to the campus to catch up with a friend and chat or to the library and borrow a book.
Then its back home, by that time I'm all out of all energy. Without planning ahead sometimes I fall asleep for really long hours which later on I regret.
During weekends, I usually try to meet my friends or go out with family. But, the coming weekend it won’t be like this, because….Saz I will take the chance to tell you here, do you remember last year you did some workshops in high schools? And how much I wanted to be a part of the project, so hopefully I will do it soon. I am really excited about it; I wish you were here, so we would do it together!

Favorite place in Kurdistan:
I love all parts of Kurdistan, but I guess you can predict, my favorite is my homeland Rwandz. Despite the breath taking landscape and the fresh air of Rwandz, it also takes me back to my childhood and the beautiful memories I have there.
Favorite place in Erbil:
It is the citadel, the homes are made of clay, all the equipment’s are Kurdawari it reminds me of my grandmother’s home in Rwandz!
Favorite month:
 April, though I prefer cold weather, but Kurdistan gets so green and wet in April; nothing can be compared to the beauty of Kurdistan at that time, everything blossoms.
My favorite day of the week:
Thursday is my favorite day, I go home and I can do all the things and thinking I want to do which I have not been able to do in working days.

My role model:
My father is my number one role model, I wish to be like him, he ispatient, strong, caring, reliable and other countless characters!
(Saz, you are also one of my main role models)
Best thing I like in my life:
The people in my life; family, friends, my orphan friends. They are all the blessings sent form above and are the main source of my happiness.

One thing I don’t like:
Recently I feel very distracted from nature. All week long, home –office, office-home, and the cycle goes on. I want to reunite with nature ASAP!
Words for Kurdistan:
Hay Zhyanimn..Hay Ro7i Rawan! …
(I was listening to this old Kurdish song and then when I thought what would be best to describe Kurdistan, the song started speaking)
One thing in the Kurdish culture I love:
Aside from women’s case everything about Kurdish culture is BEAUTIFUL…I love the warmth among Kurdish people, the sense of responsibility to protect one another is unique. Something can be found in Kurdish culture which other societies miss isRESPECT.
The only dark point in our culture is when it comes to women; we are over protective regarding women. Though there are real attempts to raise awareness among people but still there is a lot to be done to change the mentalities.
Some of my wishes,
For Kurdistan: I wish to see one United Independent Kurdistan
Career: I wish I can get a job that allows me to make some changes in the education system in Kurdistan."

Blogger Note: Bewar, is one my best friends. We have worked together in organising many projects and over the years we've grown up as sisters more than anything else. If I went on for page after page and book after book of writing it won't describe Bewar, instead I just wish you get the chance to meet her, and only that can prove to you how right I am. For me, Bewar is one of those people that I wish every person could meet, she is a school of her own! Get to know her more through her blog: 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meet Sayran....

To the most loyal, greatest and sweetest blog reader in the world*


Here is something fun and different for a blog entry. I am going to introduce you to different Kurdish girls over the next few weeks- a brief insight into their life. This will also give you, my dearest reader, a look into Kurdistan, and I hope through this you will also have an understanding of how it is to be a Kurdish girl living in Erbil.

I must thank all the girls in advance for taking the time to reply*. You will realize over the weeks how each of them is different in her own way. Not just how they lead their lives, but also their personality!

So... for week one, let's meet Sayran Ibrahim Shawkat.

Quick Bio:
"My name is Sayran and I am 24. I studied politics and IR at the University of Kuristan Hawler and I'm currently working at the British Consulate General-Erbil.

A day in my life- aaaaah... I wake up early in the morning (although many times I force myslef to do so) but as I believe that if you want to change the world you need to learn how to wake up in the morning! I then have a quick breakfast then it's off to work which is about a 30-minute driving. Most of the time I start my busy day with a hot cup of tea or coffee and if I'm lucky enough sometimes my line manager does that for me. I don't remember the last time I didn't have a busy day! But at the same time I enjoy the part of my job where I am always helping others, often feeling that if I am not there something will be missing. Everyone says: "sayran khan ...sayran khan..sayran khan" and "I want to speak to sayran khan..." I am trying to be as much helpful as possible, however sometimes I feel that I can do better and be more patient when dealing with worried and stressed out visitors. I spend all my day at work and go home when its dark (that doesn't apply if it's summer) when I come home I feel that my batteries are low and need to charge them again... so just relax for an hour and of course this means eating my sister's yummy food (God bless her, as my mom is sick and unable to cook my sister has taken the lead in the kitchen ) later facebook and checking what friends have done and also checking my notifications and messages...I realy like facebook because I feel it connects me with my beloved frends and people that I love and appreciate...then some little house work and things related to home before preparinng for the next busy day!

My favourite place in in Kurdistan is the beautiful nature...or any place thats is green and breath takeing and that means all of kurdistan is my favourite place.

My favourite place in Erbil is the malls. I'm sure you wil ask why and i will say shooooopoooping and shopping and having a nice discussion with a friend over a hot cup of coffee :)

My favourite month is my birth month is July. It's summer, hot and a good time to have some time off work. Also because sooo many good stuff has happened to me in July..

My favourite day of the week is sunday and thursday..sunday because I feel energetic for work after relaxing at home at the weekend and thursday because I will get tired after a busy day and will be missing the wekend ;)

I have more than one role model in my life, I am always taking something from different people. First, my mother for her patience and kindness. I admire Ghandi for his tolerence, peacefulness and simplicity. I am also one of Obama's admirers for the new path and new accomplishments he did as the first African American President of Muslim origion.

I am grateful for everything in my life...and always think and feel of how lucky I am to be surrounded by great famliy, friends and people...and feel pround for the things that I have accomplished and the goals that I have in my mind. The best thing in my life is my positive sipirit, energy , enthusiasm and confidence, I feel that they are the key of happiness and take me to other horizons in life.

The not so good is that sometimes I feel that I am an impatient person and always have so many plans and to do in my head and want to do all of them at the same time, often rushing in everything. I think I need to be more patient and take each step at a time.

Kudistan in three words: Dream, life and beauty

Saz, it was a nice feeling to write and to talk about my self...a bit of relaxing activity :)

loove uu zoooor

Blogger Note: Sayran is one of those people who would tell you in your face exactly what she thinks of you and what you have done wrong, and would talk in front of anyone with confidence and fight for what she believes in. Inside, a soft-hearted sweet girl with much talents and very working. I have taken Citadel tours with Sayran many times, and she is one of those people who would go with me for article interviews even if she was busy. You would learn a lot upon meeting her.

*Why are you all that? Simply because you're on mandalawi.blogspot :)
**I have left everything as written by the girls, but one of them in particular (Argh! you know who you are!!) used U instread of YOU... had to change that. That's about it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The journey ends....

1:12 a.m.
5th January 2012
I watched as B.M pick up the children in the living room and took them to their beds, she was in the room between both of them, I passed by she was playing with one of the little one’s hair and talking. I am guessing she was telling him a story, while the other one was already asleep. As I am going to bed, her night is just beginning as she probably won’t sleep till the morning to study for tomorrow’s exam.

The last place I was in, when in Kermanshah, before going to see other relatives, in a different city
Her study on the kitchen floor didn’t last more than half an hour, she was up to get water, up to get father’s medicine, up to serve food, up to say goodbye to guests and so on….
While washing the desert dishes and the millionth pyala (glass used for drinking tea—OK, so I am exaggerating but I swear I am serious! Well… 5th, but still.) B.M. and I had a quick conversation. She is so happy of her life, and where she is. She wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world, she is proud of her Kurdish background and has maintained a strong affection and connection to her Kurdish roots. I discovered my cousin is a writer, who has written many poems in our Kurdish dialect. She likes to read and write in her free time, I am just woundering when she managed to have free time with all the commitments and responsibilities she has.
Funny, how we are both Kurds, both from the same family, both related by blood; yet we are so different in the life we lead… but we seem to understand each other well.  
Approx. 2:15 a.m.
My journey ends tonight, early tomorrow, at 7:30 a.m. we are off to the border, where an “EXIT” will be stamped into our passports and it’s back to Khanaqin for a night, then back to Erbil where I will spend  my last day with the family before flying off to my room in Nottingham—where the deadlines are waiting for me*.
As everyone is asleep, and in a matter of minutes I will put my head down on the pillow too for one final time in Iranian-Kurdistan I will go to bed, but will probably toss and turn for the next hour or so. I will be thinking about how upsetting it is for one big family to live apart and far from one another because of reasons beyond their control. I am still upset that my father for over twenty years hadn’t seen some of his far relatives who he so closely loves. I sleep having in my mind how interesting it is that my parents throughout all these years have always had contact with all the relatives here—something that I hadn’t known. They had always known each other’s news and were aware of who had died, who was unwell, who had kids and who married who.
Tonight, once again I am going to go to bed, my eyes will be closed but in the middle of the black paper in front of my eyes my mind will write “KURD” and around it, I will brainstorm what it means to be a Kurd for Sazan, this experience has opened many questions in my mind and has introduced many thoughts as well.
In the past six days I have met over hundreds of khezm, I have seen things that have made me think greatly and deeply about many aspects of not only my life, but the life of all of our family, and I have met great individuals (especially B.M) who have inspired me. Above all, 6 full days with my family, the three people who are everything in my life. Next week this time I am going to be in my lonely room, far from everyone. I will leave all these people behind, but with me I am going to carry lessons learned and memories to cherish for many years to come. I am tired of all the visits (and sloppy kisses), tired of going from house to house and sitting for hours talking, but I know when I leave I will miss all this (the sloppy old lady kisses included!!!)…
Maybe one day I will write a book about this very HUGE Kurdish family of mine that has half of it in Iranian Kurdistan and the other half in Iraqi-Kurdistan. Or maybe I will write a book on why these two families shouldn’t need a visa to see each other; maybe I even won’t write a book at all; maybe I will stand on my feet and do something about it chunka bakhwa aawa nabet, na, na, nabet!!!
I will say goodnight now, the sound of typing is getting annoying so I might as well take the initiative and stop on my own before being told off by M.M junior.

*I need a chance to sit alone and recap the last three weeks and everything that has happened

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Darded La Gyanm....

10:52 p.m.
4th January, 2012.

I am writing on the kitchen floor back in my aunt’s place, B.M is opposite me reading her book in preparation for her exam tomorrow.

I took this picture in Terika Bazaar (in Kermanshah) , which dad took me too, he said I'd like it, and I did. I just can't remember which day it was that we went, and I don't know how I haven't written about it
We left to one of the houses here, he is basically the “eldest” which means he is basically the “big man” we visited his place, which was already packed with people (and of course we all get our 10 sloppy kisses on each cheek. Their women kiss the men as well, on the bases of family [wink wink—dad!] and the hospitality is very warm they insist that you stay overnight, and when you make a good argument why you can’t stay over at night they then insist you sit another ten minutes, half an hour later once again they insist you don’t leave, and when you finally do, the kisses begin once again.
They are very interested in what you do, where you study and how you lead your life. One of the elderly woman sitting next to me asked me to speak English to her, she wanted to know if she can understand it or not. Having said this, most of her children are studying their masters in places like Tehran and Kermanshah, including her daughter. I am over the moon, studying here is something people are very proud of, even though “they are jobless afterwards!”
As I type, B.M stands us to serve more tea to the guests at her place tonight. It didn’t take five minutes before her son asked her for something, back to her book then she had to go and pick up the empty cups… how proud I am of her. I know I could never do this; this is the peak of dedication and motivation. (We—B.M and I—are both very busy, me on the laptop and she is sitting facing her book—both on the kitchen floor—every now and then we smile or laugh together as we hear the conversations taking place on the other side of the kitchen counter.) I don’t dare to stand up to pick up the mid-night desert plates, because she will realize and leave her studies to do it herself. “You’re a guest, you aren’t allowed to do anything” she would tell me.

On the left is where all the guests are sitting, one the right, behind the counter, is my cousin (B.M.) studying, and me in the middle of both sides. I took this picture while typing this entry
As I watch B.M I can’t help but think of what the Kurdish nation have had to go through. Here is the only child of two elder parents with severe health conditions whose house was taken by the Saddam regime, who were forced out and put into prison where they were mistreated and abused in ways you can never imagine. She began to study in a different language, managed to get into university and look after the house and her parents on her own, she then worked, graduated, worked again, got married, had children, worked, and now studying again while looking after her two elderly parents and managing the entire house next to her husband.
For two and half weeks since I have left the UK on my Christmas holiday I have complained that I couldn’t work on my research papers and study for my narcoterrorism exam because of the funeral, family commitments and the unplanned travel to Iran. As I see this Kurdish cousin in front of me, with all the responsibilities on her shoulders she is studying her second college degree despite all the difficulties. My excuses are lame! I feel guilty.

[Aunty keeps looking at me and says “darded la gyanm” I have no idea how to interpret this into English, it’s something along the lines of: May I bare all your pain and suffering. (I don't know if that makes sense in English)
*please excuse all typos, miss-spellings etc... these entries were all written on the go and I haven't read through them again before posting on the blog Thank you for your understanding!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kurdistan Here Kurdistan There

31 December 2011
2:15 p.m.
Today was emotional. Dad met his nephews and nieces (who are almost his own age) it was reunion after almost two decades. It is interesting how we are both Kurds but have been raised and brought up in different ways. We still speak the same language, but sometimes they put in Persian words, the way they pronounce some words is also different, but at the end of the day there is mutual understanding.
  • We have just had lunch, people keep coming in and out, I have already been introduced to people I have never met, but they treat me like we have grown up together—they are also Khzm (relatives). Some hug my parents and begin to cry. At some points I hear them swear at Saddam, because he is the reason for the distance and them being deprived from seeing each other.
  • Few interesting observations about my Irani-Kurdistani relatives:
  • Their voice is a low tone, they don’t scream
  • If the TV says no chicken tomorrow its dangerous no one eats chickens, no one eats it. My relatives back home, would be like “if it kills me, let it kill me”
  • As much as they smoke, no one smokes at home or in the car,  
  • They have picked up from the Iranian culture as well.
  • The ones here are a little more religious,
  • After saying all this, it is the ones back in Erbil who are enjoying their life more, and are more optimistic. The ones here seem to be very depressed. One of dad’s major conversations over lunch was why the mothers spoke Farsi to their children. His argument was something along the lines of: “They will learn Farsi from the outside, from school, and education and the neighbour… but if you don’t speak Kurdish to them you will lose it and so will they,” I agreed. One of the younger mothers said her child would be teased when she went to school if she can’t speak Farsi fluently.
I asked to be excused so that I can pray, so better get the prayers done and go back to the living room where everyone is.
I am living an interesting experience, but I am not making the most of it, with two major papers to submit and an exam to prepare for. I feel guilty that I haven’t read a single word for any of them. Hence the minor depression. 
1 January, 2012
1:50 a.m.
We returned back to my aunt’s place half an hour before midnight, where we had a brief get-together for New Year while watching the celebration on Kurdish channels. They are still busy talking, there is so many years that they need to catch up on. The highlight of the night was when the clock stroke 12, we made New Year resolutions and mentioned some of the highlights of 2011 and wishes for 2012. Two people made a loud prayer for the fall of the regime in Iran.
A wish for 2012
It was around 10 pm in one of the relatives places, we were having fruit and of course chay (by the way the people here have very light tea with little sugar, opposite to how they like it at home) M.M. reminded me tonight was New Year’s eve, he winked at an elderly woman sitting down “you think she knows tonight is New Year” I gave a little smile, and told him not to mention anything.
I don’t think other than my aunty and my own family, anyone realized how important tonight was.  I was looking at the eldest woman in our family, Mimi I. New Year is not important to her, I doubt she even knows the significance of it. What a way to end 2011, being with some family and relatives that I have never met, others I had met once at our house back in Erbil many years ago.
My new friend in Kermanshah, Terika Bazaar... (If you know how to rotate pictures on blogger please do let me know, why don't you believe me when I say it is not possible?!)
I take the opportunity for my mind to leave the noisy living room (though my body is still there) and think of 2011. What a year it was. Although as I say goodbye to it, I know it is a year that I learned a lot from, I grew up as an individual. It was a year of experiences. I feared that for the first time in my life I will spend New Year far from my family, though tonight I am just grateful I can spend such an important day in the company of not only my own family, but a greater family that I have recently got to know.
Many of the Kurdish folklore are actually hand made here, in this part of Kurdistan, as usual I manage to find my big love....
I miss Erbil on a day like today, where the sky glows in sounds and colours. I remember not too many years ago there were huge, scary sounds, my mother and I hid under the stair case. Earlier, as it became 2012 I watched the sky in Kurdistan light in colours, the sound of fireworks—happiness and celebration in the sky. I am just happy, at such a date our children today can acquaint that “bomb” sound to celebration and joy.
As for 2012, I wish to finish my degree with success. And beyond everything else I wish for good health, success and happiness for all the important people in my life. As for you, my dearest blog reader, I wish for you to get a chance to see Kurdistan in 2012, I wish for you to keep reading my blog… I wish for all your New Year resolutions to come true. I wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

*please excuse all typos, miss-spellings etc... these entries were all written on the go and I haven't read through them again before posting on the blog Thank you for your understanding!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The journey continues

January 2, 2012
10:47 p.m.
Yesterday and a part of today it was just visiting people who would not leave us alone unless we went and at least drank tea at their place. It is al….

[I was so busy that I didn't end up finishing this entry... I remember that more people came and I had to go and say hello...but I will post some of the pictures with captions to fill in the gap of what happened then]

4th January 2012
6:45 p.m. local time

What a day it was today!
We left Kermanshah to Ewan early this morning. Ever since it has been a pact day, this area of Irani Kurdistan is the land of my ancestors.
On the way here we stopped at the cemetery where my grandmother and grandfather were buried. It was the second time I have visited in my life. What a world, one family, but we are separated in different cemeteries, across different countries. My grandparents of mum’s side are here, while their children are buried in Iraq. How I wish they were all in one place.

My mother.... praying to her mother......
I met my cousin B.M. today, she’s an inspiration. When they were forcibly displaced from Iraq to Iran under the Saddam regime B.M. along with my aunty and her father were in prison for eight months… the reason? in straightforward words, because they were Kurds.
Despite all difficulties she managed to start a life again in a different country, and with much difficulty made it to university where she studied mathematics, after being a maths teacher at school, she is now back in university studying law, with one year to go she is planning to study her masters right away. Being the only child she has the responsibility of looking after her elderly parents, in bed as well as her two kids. She holds the responsibility of the house, while her husband is working.
Even right now, as I type she is serving tea, after having made dinner—and she has an exam tomorrow.
A little earlier we briefly went to see some families who dad knew (of course, they were relatives too. I couldn’t stop laughing, M.M. Junior keeps complaining that he is getting too many sloppy, slippery kisses from the elder people here!), they are in the villages of Zarna and Taran. Speaking to the village girls I learned many of them are studying for university, one of the girls was studying law, another wants to go to medicine, the other girl has graduated from college of sports. Yes, these are all Kurdish girls, in villages in Irani-Kurdistan who have education as their priority. Having said this, many are hopeless. “I have graduated with no job,” said one of the girls. This is a major issue here, many of the graduates are jobless, she was saying she doesn’t encourage her sister-in-law to go to university because it “doesn’t make a difference… she will sit at home at the end of the four years!” I tried to influence saying sometimes education isn’t just about having a great job. They agreed. Their parents also encourage their studies and it is widely accepted for a girl in these villages to go to Kermanshah or even Tehran to study in university; this was something that I am surprised about, and did not expect.
I realize that the educated younger people despise the regime here, while the olders or those with less information seemed to accept and like the regime. “I don’t watch TV, so I don’t follow news here.” Said one of the girls in the village of Zarna, her brother who is studying his masters in Kermanshah has taught her to use the internet and takes her to net cafĂ© when he comes. So she was telling me how she follows the news online.

*please excuse all typos, miss-spellings etc... these entries were all written on the go and I haven't read through them again before posting on the blog Thank you for your understanding!

Friday, January 6, 2012

My journey to Kurdistan- the other side of the border (Part I)

The Kurdistan jigsaw puzzle piece that falls in Iran.
30 December 2011
11:33 p.m.
Writing from Kermanshah. Today we arrived in Kurdistan- Iran. It was a six hour trip from Erbil to Khanaqin yesterday and this morning at 9 a.m. we crossed the border into the Iranian side of Kurdistan. Can you believe we needed a passport and a visa just to see the other half of my KURDISH family, in KURIDSTAN?!!

The sign pointing to the direction of Iraq

A little background information to set the picture: My grandfather, who lived in Mandaly—Iraqi KURDISTAN—married two wives; one in Iraq, one in Iran, (he basically worked between the two countries, so I think that’s why he wanted one here and one there). So the wife in Iran, also a Kurd, had many children, and so did the wife in Iraq. Hence, when my father and I decided to put together a family tree, we realized one, two or even six A4 papers together won’t be enough. The family one both sides are HUGE (xwa lekman nakat). Most of them have also married relatives so when you sit down and try to understand how we are related it can become very confusing…and often interesting, because you realized you are related from dad’s side and mum’s side, and then you realize your cousin is married to the cousin of your other cousin and then he is related to your aunt’s husband from a stepmother, whose father is related to your father because your grandfather’s brother-in-law is related to this person through their wife. Phew!! I did my part in writing it, now you can figure it out. In the real world you wouldn’t even know these people, but in our family you are considered as relatives by blood and all the protocols of ‘khzm’ (being related to someone) will apply.
Beautiful sunset on the way to Khanaqin, yesterday
Anyhow… we decided to travel on Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening our passports were stamped with Iran visas, Thursday it was off to Khanaqin and on Friday morning, when the border was very quiet we crossed to Iran (KURIDSTAN!!!!) via the Khisrawi border point.
The situation was very awkward, on the Iraq side the ‘office’ where you go through to get the passports stamped made me feel like I had committed a crime and had to walk through here before being kicked into a prison cell. There was a cat which jumped over the small broken walls INSIDE the building, it then did it's dance (walk) on a computer keyboard. I gave it a really angry face… if only it knew I had a cat-phobia it wouldn’t have gone to hide under the desk. I saw it under the desk, because that too was broken.
we received our stamps within minutes, can you believe it!! Except M.M. junior’s name looked ‘suspicious’ so we had to wait for the big boss to come. A little waiting, then Mr. Boss came in his tracksuits half asleep sat behind the antiqued computer, pressed few buttons, asked few question, clicked on the mouse a few times began a conversation smiled before stamping “EXIT” on M.M. junior’s  passport.  I must point out if Mr. Boss wasn’t as nice and friendly as he was then I would have made a big deal of the fact that he was sleeping during working hours and came out in his PJs.

There was a barbed wire and a small door at the corner, we said our goodbyes and within few steps we were in Iran. I was almost in tears here, my uncle was on the other side of the fense speaking to my auty. There was a metal door at the end of the fense where those with an exist stamp can step through. As we passed, aunty was holding the gate on one side, and my uncle less than one metre away on the other side, both were talking to each other. Very uncomfortable situation to be in, the guards on the Iranian side would particularly pay attention and stare at them as they said their hellos like prisoners. I looked up, where aunty was standing the Kurdistani and Iraqi flag were fluttering above her side of the gate, on the other side where uncle was just the flag of Iran, not a sign of Kurdishness, despite the fact that this too in reality is Kurdistan.
Kurdistan (Iraq) walking towards the arch, from that point it's Kurdistan (Rojhalat)
A few more steps and two sign-posts the right says Iraq, the left says Iran.
Here from Iranian side of Kurdistan, looking at Iraqi Kurdistan.
On the Iranian side it takes about 20 minutes to get our an “ENTRY” stamp.
*It is easier to travel into Iran with an Iraqi passport, very quick and easy process via the consulate in Erbil. Don’t get me started on the passports issue. I still want my Kurdistani one, and I still don’t think I should have a passport to see my Kurdish family, on Kurdish soil. L Sad that in a Kurdish city there is no sign of the Kurdish flag….
From the Khisrawi border gate in Khanaqin to Kermanshah it was about a three-hour drive, interesting sitting next to dad as he told us stories of the many areas we drove through.
Met my aunty and one of my uncles* so far, tomorrow is going to be interesting, I am going to meet the bigger family. Not sure what I am going to expect, especially since many are still mourning for the recent death of a dear uncle, H.M. I am interested to see the way of life here... what the Kurds think, what they do etc...

**My mother’s family, Kurds who lived in Mandaly, and later in Baghdad, were forcibly displaced in the 1980s to Iran. They were told that they are not Iraqis, at the time Iran also refused them saying they weren’t Iranians. They were Kurds, but denied Iraqi and Iranian identifications. Over the years many of my mum’s family returned to Iraq, although two of her sisters and a brother still remain in Iran. Those who chose to remain in Iran up to today don’t have Iranian IDs, they were also forbidden to go to university and finish their studies. Dearest readers… see just how complicated it can be sometimes to be a Kurd….
This picture, taken earlier today inspired me to write this week's Memoirs column in KG...
[The blogs that are to come in the next days were written on a daily bases during my trip, but as I didn't have internet access then I am posting them now with pictures. It will automatically update one post every second day]

*please excuse all typos, miss-spellings etc... these entries were all written on the go and I haven't read through them again before posting on the blog Thank you for your understanding!