Gilded Serpent presents...
The picture was taken from the courtyard
behind my office. The smoke is rising from behind the
old Ministry of Records building. It is from the big
car bomb of a couple of days ago.
Undercover Belly Dancer in Iraq
sound is bass-y and the vibrations wash over me like
a quick, strong wind. My heart races as I dive to the
ground and wait for another. As we warily stand up
and look around, a thick column of black, greasy smoke
shoots into the sky. A car bomb just claimed the lives
of 17 people. In that moment I heard death. I can't
keep hearing this without having to run to the bathroom
and shed tears for those whose lives have been snuffed
out and for the families that will never be the same.
work with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense to support
the rebuilding of the Iraqi military. I really want
to help Iraq take
of itself in a peaceful democracy without taking a
murderous tyrant to keep control. I wish things were
simple. War really is hell..it brings out the very
worst in people, no matter what country you call home.
Without diving too deeply into political waters here,
I think there were huge mistakes made in the way the US came
here. And certain individuals or groups of individuals
have behaved abominably while proclaiming their righteousness
loudly. We can't change the past and if we stop now,
utter chaos will ensue. But democracy does not work
well in situations where poverty is so rampant. For
many, life is worse now than before. Then again some
would say that the thousands of Kurds wiped out in
one of Saddam's "chemistry experiments" would argue
that point, if they could. It is a big, ugly mess.
came here wanting to connect with Iraqi women.
While women would NEVER screw up something as badly
as this political and humanitarian tragedy, it's
the women who bear a disproportionately large amount
of the after effects. There are some of us US civilians
who are doing what we can to help as many Iraqis
as we can.
of the young Iraqi men who works with us has supposedly
brought dishonor on a young woman by being seen walking
and talking with her at Baghdad University. He wishes
to marry her. We took donations and paid her dowry.
Her life would be hell if he did not "do the honorable
thing". Sometimes he would take my car to visit her,
so I felt irrationally guilty for some of her pain.
Some things are very inconceivable to me in this place,
like the bathroom conditions for the women working
in the Ministry of Defense. One stall for 30 or more
ladies with a toilet that rarely flushed. It was nasty.
I tried to bring it to the attention of the maintenance
department, to little effect. I was baffled. The men
had at least 4 multi stalled bathrooms that worked
and the women only had one toilet that did not.
It took days and threats from my supervisor to get
it fixed. I asked, stupefied, why on earth it was such
hassle. The answer? Basically, females did not matter
enough. Women should not complain too much and heaven
forbid they bring attention to anything having to do
with their "nether regions". I wanted to cry. Either
that or get really mad and throw something. (That type
of behavior is rather frowned upon however.) The women
who work in the Ministry are brave women. At first
they looked at me with suspicion, not sure of my ethnicity.
I sometimes get thanked when they realize that I share
the Arab blood. (I didn't have a choice, but
hey! I like it!) When they see I'm trying to help,
they are very happy to see me. Sometimes I get hugs
from the grandma types; sometimes they shake my hand
when I pass by. Then there are times military personnel
treat me poorly because they think I am one of the
local workers. That makes me absolutely furious. They
usually get an earful at that point. Biting one's tongue
is oh so hard. But as a civilian, I can usually tell
just about anyone where to go and how fast to get there.well,
JUST about anyone.
get me wrong, as with any time a group of human
beings get together, there will always be the very
good mixed with the very bad. It just isn't black
and white anymore, maybe it never was.
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Belly Dancer in Iraq by Meena
name is Meena. Until a month ago, I was a professional
belly dancer in Phoenix, Arizona.
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