At the naanawa

Good morning!

Today, like all other days I am confused and lost. You see, over a decade later, I still don’t understand the etiquette at the naanawa (equivalent to bakery where only bread is made). Where do you put your money? where is the end of the line and the start? How does the baker know whose money is whose?

There seem to be a hidden, secret etiquette that everyone knows- except me!

There is always the scrunched up money, the money that is neatly placed, the ones under the piece of steel so they don’t fly away, or the lonely thousand dinar somewhere on the table, out of queue.

There is always someone who is fixing everyone else’s money, this is called nanawa OCD; there is the person who is always admiring the bread quality to everyone else; the one who who greets everyone; the 19 year old boy kicked out of bed by his dad- he is yet to brush his teeth or wash his face, still in his PJ bottoms and pair of naa’el (na3l!); the older man with the clean shave, in his attire for the day and awake since morning prayers; the family loving businessman already replying emails at the queue; the elder mother who will have the breakfast out and ready by eight sharp for her kids to eat before rushing out of home; and every single naanawa queue has an angry bull, the one who the rest of us exchange humble half smiles about. Then there is me. plane o’l Sazan. The owl observer.

Today I am at hay shurta. It’s Friday, and some naanawas don’t understand we eat breakfast on Friday mornings too.  Although it is just how I like it. It’s a quieter weekend morning. it isn’t too early for breakfast.

Those at the naanawa in the early morning are the same people with a routine to their life. They are the exact same faces you see every day of the week, every morning. Soon you become friends. You have conversations as you wait for your turn (a turn that I still have not figured out how it works, although I have a panic attack at the sight of a fiver [5, 000 Iraqi Dinars] on the table– it means a longer wait. That’s about 20 pieces of bread!)

Here there is no class, no difference if you’re rich or poor- you pay the same for the same thing- bread. However, you can easily tell who has a big family and who doesn’t. Those who order 3, 000 Dinars worth and more and a bigger family, those who order 500 worth are probably a couple, those who order over 5, 000 worth of naan have a home packed with guests from Ranya!

If you’re fancy you order your naan with kunji, if you’re healthy you order it with jo, and the rest of us order it plane. Fresh. Warm. Smells devine. You dip it in maast and have it alongside your chai for breakfast, and if there is any leftover you tear it into your shlay bamya for lunch!

No one throws away naan. That’s a sin. Which is no surprise to find the same people you saw in the early morning are there again at 6 pm after the mulla’s call for the evening prayer.

The person selling the bread is a totally different story. He touches everyone’s money, touches the bread, and places it into a plastic bag too – you’re never given an opportunity to lecture him on any hygiene. He is always rushing, speeding, and there is rarely any form of communication other than times of money miscalculations. Although he knows us all too well. He knows how much we will order, what type of bread we want and if we want it a little over cooked or not.

I just wish he smiled a bit more.

These are my mornings, and this is probably one of the reasons Kurdistan will always be my nest…

Love from

My Nest in Kurdistan



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: