7 years of blogging in My Nest in Kurdistan!

Dearest most loyal blog readers in the world, have I ever said how much I love you?

seven years of Mandalawi blogging
Seven years of blogging…. Happy Birthday my dearest blog!

Happy Birthday to you, to me and to this blog! This week  I celebrate SEVEN years of blogging. Seven years of my little corner on this World Wide Web. Seven years of people, stories and experiences. Seven years of great moments and… not so great times. If this blog was my child it would have crawled, walked, went to kindergarten and would have been at school by now. On a personal level, as a person I grew up with this blog, and those who have been around for a while now, realize this.

I would like to take the time today to go through some highlights of the last seven years on this blog. But before I go any further, I just want to thank you, every single loyal reader, no matter where you are in the world.  So, let’s rewind seven years…. shall we?

In this entry I will look at 2008 till 2011 and tomorrow we will continue…. ready?

Wait. Did you get your pyala of chai?

2 halabja 2008 september
My first trip to Halabja – 2008 blogs

In 2008 the blog began with afternoons spent in the university garden, deadlines, essays and settling in with new colleagues. We took a class trip to Halabja, it was my first visit, and I wrote passionately about the experience. That year, I also did a little about out & about in Erbil, at the time there were definitely not the options we have today, and the applications, Facebook pages and websites never existed. I visited Family Mall and it was still a long way away from being complete, I remember I sat with one of the management team and he showed me the plan and skeleton of the building.

1 june 2009
My love for Kurdish folklore & culture flourished, I sometimes still see this man when I visit Erbil’s citadel.

The following year, 2009, was full of discoveries, I realize now it was more about discovering myself, while learning more about the people of my nation. I can’t forget my endless visits to the citadel, the blog was updated with posts about general life in Kurdistan, it was a big transition phase that time…. In July that same year I voted for the first time in my life and shared every single detail of the experience. I wrote of Ramadan & Jezhn (Eid) celebrations year after year on the blog. I even feel now that the celebration seven years back is different to the way we celebrate today.

1 october 2009
Individuals like him always inspired me, he took care of individuals who needed to be in mental institutes.

I loved seeing, communicating and learning more about Kurdish people, how they live, what they do. The more I learned and met people the more I fell in love with Kurdistan. I can’t forget meeting Maama Najat who took care of those neglected in his teashop., Then there was my first visit to the women’s prison in Erbil, years later, I went back and did a little bit of research there as well.

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Even beggars had a space on the blog

In 2010, five years back, the adventure of discovering people and places continued. I wrote about Haji Salaha Rash, I covered one of the first times where Middle Eastern, Arab celebrities visited Kurdistan for converts, I remember going to the airport when Najwa Karam came.   Then there were trips to the orphanage, visit the retirement garden in the heart of Erbil, the busy picnic seasons of Kurdistan and then even spent a morning with beggars, Ramadan after Ramadan, and Jezhn after Jezhn, I celebrated, and shared experience. I even went as far as using Khana by Kurdish girls in villages in particular.

1 jan 2010 haji salaha rash
Haji Salaha Rash and his friends, I couldn’t get over this story when a former colleague of mine told me about this amazing man

On the blog I wrote to my daughter, little did I know my first child will be a son; I wrote about Khanaqin visits and the making of Kala Pacha 

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The blog came with me to picnics on the mountains of Kurdistan

I watched as there were more and more malls in Erbil, few new ones to add to that list in fact. I met people who loved Kurdistan as much as I did, like Mr and Mrs. Kutschera, the French couple who had documented pictures from way back.

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And we met some great individuals, even non-kurds

2011 was a journey of it’s own, I had graduated by then and it was a different journey. My love for Hawler, walks in its second hand bazaars, out and about in its cafes and leisure places, visits to the elderly people’s home continued, I watched as they moved from what was a disgusting place to a proper home, Newroz was celebrated, the development and changes in Kurdistan, along side

1 mala hamid 2010
Mala Hamid, in his antique shop

The journey of Peer Education took me from a school in Tayrawa,in 2011, to refugee camps vulrnable women, youth in prison, in 2015. In 2011, the book my Nest in Kurdistan was born, and that on its own was a dream, I was only 21 then.

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Waterfalls of Kurdistan, perfect for picnics

I wrote of summer vacations, foods, visits to villages, orphanages, visits to Khanaqin, and then I said good bye to my nest for a while as I flew to complete my post graduate studies and the blog was still part of my life during those tough, lonely days.

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I lived some of the best moments in My Nest in Kurdistan. Moments cherished forever.

Back home, there were more picnics, slowly in Erbil coffee shops emerged, and things began to change, but I always loved the simple Erbil the most.

1 dfs
Nothing I love more than local markets

Looking back, the memories are many. Every story was close to my heart, every person I met I admired and respected and it all made me a better person. Within this week I will rewind a little more to the treasured memories of this blog.

For now, lots of love from

My Nest in Kurdistan

Saz,

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