A Kurdistani Day

To my dear blog follower… no matter where you are in the world*
It is now past midnight in my small and cozy room very far from home. There is a lot of reading to do before tomorrow’s seminar, but something inside me said to leave the highlighter and pages photocopy papers and make my way to the laptop.
To the voice of Karim Kaban I began looking though pictures of my last weeks in Erbil. Not surprisingly it was hard going back to readings on the Italian system of diplomacy at he time compared to that of ancient Greece. Hence, I decided to share with you Kurdistani Times, in the hope that it gives you—my dear reader— an insight to life in Kurdistan.

The last outdoor Dolma I had with family friends
My love for Dolma is beyond what words can describe. Hence, it is only natural that I begin with this picture.  You see, in Kurdistan we don’t enjoy eating alone. When Dolma (otherwise might be known as yapragh) is cooked at home it has to be shared with others- the uncle, the aunt, the cousins and if all else fails then you just invite the next door neighbour. You know what is most interesting? Usually the man of the house is usually called to flip the large pot of dolma into what ever it is that it will be served on. Special touch maybe.
And then the Kurdish chay – tea
Before you even have time to fully digest the dolma, and before you have enough time to indulge in the juicy tastes moving every single taste bud there is, everyone is making if the chay is being prepared. This picture reminded me of dad, a picnic was not complete with tea that made my mum’s tea pot as black as coal. I really can’t tell the difference between a tea bag dipped in hot water and tea that takes one hour to make, but let me tell you this: A KURDISH MAN knows his chay.

Step 1: Buy Mr. Shooti- watermelon
So… you had the chay? It is time for the shooti. Usually the shooti is bought on the way to where ever it is you are going. Once you arrive, you put it in the cold water that flows nonstop and it is ready to have right after the chay!
Step two: Allow for Mr. Shooti to cool down, the natural way
Step 3: Kill Mr. Shooti
Step 4: Let my little cousin M. S. Mandalawi show you just how to eat a cold, sweet shooti

 You think by the time you eat the shooti then you’re done. But that is just the start of the joy. Usually in most places there is the local food that you can have**. However, after the food big picnics usually end up seperating into small groups. One group will play some games, another will go for a walk, the little ones will get themselves wet and the good girls (like me) wash the dishes… not on a sink with warm water, but with running, cold kani water.
Still can’t play it, but the men and the younger guys can go on for hours

Aaaah.. I recall this game very well. I lost every single round!
Usually there are many conversations going on in the picnics. I seem to enjoy the part where they all sit and begin telling the latest jokes that they’ve heard. Then it will slowly move into politics issues and that’s when the talk never ends. (Meanwhile, someone has to do the dishes!)
Sometimes it’s just best to stick to what you can do well, in my case, believe it or not it is washing dishes.
This picture was taken moments before my camera went out of charge. Minutes after this all those kids (who all seem to be daring each other to have that tempting swim in the water) were all in the pool. I must point out this pool in Akre, fills up every single day with natural water. There is a man there who blocks it during the day for the kids, and lets it all go in the evening.

notice the rockmelons floating in the pool
My dear reader, you see, in places like these you don’t book online a week or even better a month before. You just turn up earlier than other people and take a place. Usually in summer months when it gets a little more crowded areas are sectioned off and each family takes there own little area. A small payment for the entire day, and most of the time it is free of charge anyway. There are many who bring lights and blankets and sleep the night as well. That’s an idea for you!
Just be the first and you have a variety of choices 
In Kurdish picnics you often see or encounter certain things that maybe very simple, but the meaning that they carry is spectacular. For example, in this last picnic we went to, the mother of a close family friend was really quiet the entire time, she would eat, pray, and sleep by the little waterfall, far from everyone but from her very strategic place she could see everything that was going on. Here daya gawra is pictured using her phone. Sadly I can’t tell you if she was dialing a number, texting or miss-calling anyone. But it sure does tell you a lot about modern day Kurdistan.
Maybe she is Tweeting and I don’t know
The nature back home is definately the ultimate way of releasing stress and really enjoying your time, mainly because it is enjoyed by close family, friends and relatives.
This water keeps flowing non-stop, it actually tastes and smells very pure!
And sometimes you come across some very special creatures:
My favourite animal
 But what I like most about the little picnics back home is that it makes you reailze the importance of the simple life. The beauty of the simple life. The life that isn’t complicated. A life where you can be happy with the most minimum of things, a life where you live only by your needs. A life that I certainly yearn for… you go back to the time of the rocking cradle…
A local woman insisted that I visit.. during my visit I met baby Hama*.
I can talk about the hospitality of the people in outer city areas for every, but it will never reflect the reality. Dayki Hama (Hama’s mother) 
Chay at the verandah of Hama’s house
I miss that day, as its one of my last memories of back home. Though deep inside I am content, because I know there are somethings that won’t change back home. I know that anytime I can go back and this will still be there. I can take a note pad and a pen and sit by the little waterfall, or maybe rest my head on daya gawra’s lap. Meanwhile I will conclude this blog (by the way it is well past mid-night and I am certainly not going back to anything about Italy or Greece) by a photo that I took of my little angel M. S. M giving me a leaf. I put it in a little notebook after she gave it to me, and right now, it is here, with me!
Indeed Kurdistan has taught me that the greatest things in life are priceless

Shaw Bash!

**Wait for future blog entries 🙂
*I actually forgot the baby’s name, but there is a 80% chance that he was Hama anyway 🙂 

7 thoughts on “A Kurdistani Day

Add yours

  1. Thank you for sharing these memories and photographs. I have learned so much. Your love for you home is overflowing in your writing and I am not at all surprised that you left your studies to soak up all of that love. I am sure it did you good and you felt recharged and ready for more studies afterwards. I will want to visit and read again.


  2. when you write i can imagine how you are writing where you are and what you are doing. I read every word you write and i know you write each one with passion.

    i enjoyed this waiting for more very soon, dont keep us waiting for too long


  3. Miss Mandalawi,

    I hope you have this subject more often so you leave your papers and blog instead. My favourite blogger keep it up. I'm going to Kurdistan soon and this blog is like my pocket guide to Kurd land.


  4. The most cool is Daya Gawra with the mobile – yeah, kurdish women are unusual, whatever they handle: heave weapon, mobile or just a portrait with shahid during demonstration.
    Food is aslo a trade mark of Kurdistan. How many times my brothers at work used to feed me during the breaks… Dolma was two weeks ago, as i remember.
    I am still not in a good mood about last events in Kurdistan. Today i will check how much money i manage to collect in a box which i put in kurdish restaurant for Wan and tuesday probably going to London to support my people.
    Waiting for March….


  5. The best part of all this is the Dolma… it is one of my favorites too… in Palesitne they call it Waraq 3inab… and you are right… once one pot is made it is shared with the whole family and so they would be invited to join… this is probably because it takes such a looooong time to make and it is not made daily but mostly on special occasions… when everyone is gathered… it is hard being away from your beloved Kurdistan… hard to be away from family and friends… but you are studying to further yourself… so well done my dear… stay strong.


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