A diary from Erbil

World’s most loyal readers… Shaw Bash!

Week One, Part One*

How great it feels to be around family and relatives while writing a blog entry. Though I feel rude, aunty is talking to me and I am typing away, nodding every now and then.

For my non-Kurdish blog readers: Before I begin just let me check your knowledge and see how well you think you know Kurdistan. Here are two pictures, can you guess what the objects are used for? (No cheating, answers are at the end)
This is picture A

and this is picture B. Think hard, not as easy as you think.

With all that was taking place at our place this week, I (let me rephrase, THEY) wanted fresh chicken. And of course in a Kurdish family frozen Sadia chicken is not popular, so uncle suggested I visit him and he will take me on a little walk not too far away for great chicken (so proud Sazan can finally cook a meal… after 22 years) So… next morning I arrive at a place near Uncle’s (Maama E.M) and he is already there waiting for me. 

I love the feeling of being at a local market down the road or few blocks away. Walking by uncle’s side he starts conversations with few elderly men, “Bayani Bash!” to this man, and “Sarchaw” to that man. I think this is his early morning walk and all the faces are familiar to him.


A shop owner… how I wished to sit and speak to this Maama
Okay okay. Here we go. Let me get to the point. So we arrive and uncle (in our Kalhuri Kurdish [khanaqini] dialect) assures me I am going to be fine as he reached to hold my hands tightly.
Half a second later I realize why he held my hand and said I would be fine. He knows very well that his niece is not interested in seeing chickens being killed. Simple as that.
A big “am katat bash” to an elderly Maama (word for uncle in Kurdish) sitting like a prestigious king on a plastic chair by his chicken shop and my uncle starts looking around.
I stand at a distance. Making a fool of myself watching young girls and women holding chickens by both their wings, looking at it closely, then returning it to the man. Then they’d point at another chicken.  They would do this a few times until finally they see one (or two, or three chickens … hmmm I think it all depends on the size of that manjal [pot] that will cook tonight’s dinner) they like.
This is the elderly Maama, I think owner of the shop

Notice the lady holding a chicken WITH ONE HAND
There are various options at this little corner shop. 1) you can take home the live chicken 2) you can get the chicken killed and take it home (basically a full chicken without a head) 3) you can get it cleaned out without the feathers and 4) there is the full option this is when they burn out some of the insides of the chicken… not sure what exactly it is, and I wasn’t exactly interested to see or know to be honest. Uncle describes the various alternatives, and I chose option three. No reasons for my request.
eh baxwa zor gunahn – feeling sorry for them 😦
Those chickens looked so innocent. As my uncle made his selection, I called out “Na gunaha” from a distance hoping he’d give that particular chicken a few extra hours of life. The man on the plastic chair let out a big laugh. . .oh well. I tried.
We make our selection and due to the high demand and the crowd there, he says our chickens will be ready in 20 minutes. This is a live event and you can watch it all happen in front of you. I remain outside watching as chicken by chicken lose their lives one after the other. “This is genocide” I think to myself!!
He’ll kill this one himself
I am just wondering if there are health checks on these chickens, if their conditions are being looked into, and whether or not they are being fed properly.
Last night as dinner was served I could somehow hear the sound of mrishk (chicken) flapping their wings rapidly in the stomachs of those around me. Of course I didn’t have a single piece.
It is nice to see the proper side of a city. Walking through the suburban street where there was groceries, food and men and women going on their daily lives gives a great insight to the true people of this city. Erbil is becoming a place where people can live completely different lives even though they are ten minutes far from each other. So the experience was great, the people were wonderful and according to VERY RELIABLE sources, the taste of the mrishk “ZOR XOSH BU” (it was basically delicious).

One of our mrishk ready. Alive one minute, dead another. Lo Loo Looo? (why why why?)

ANSWERS Picture A is of a geesk this is used as a mop to clean the verandah, and picture B… one hint: used in the shower. Guessed yet? this is actually a lifka used on the skin when taking a bath. Interesting right? 

*Let’s actually hope there is going to be time to have a series of blogs as I have in mind. Because there are millions  of you out there interested in reading this. Note the lame sarcasim and DAYA: You reading is equivalent to millions!

All pictures of this entry taken by me, for the use for of this blog only. Loyal readers happily know that your blogger has progressed, pictures now taken by a BB ehem ehem!!  
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