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All that glitters

July 21, 2014

A lovely hotel in southern Iraq, looking over the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

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Fly-over country

July 17, 2014

Flying over the desert in southern Iraq, we saw the oil fields burning.
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City limits

July 14, 2014

The landscape of the developing Erbil suburbs, and from a beautiful vantage point just outside the city limits.
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Just another day at the office

July 10, 2014

Cleaning out an old desk, we found a ‘souvenir’ left by a former colleague. Oh goodness.
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Lunch break

July 7, 2014

In Iraqi Kurdistan, we eat a lot of Turkish and Lebanese food. My colleague’s favorite lunch place is a Turkish restaurant, where we always order chicken shwarma. (These photos were taken before ramadan… Now many restaurants are closed during the day for the holiday as people are fasting until sundown.)
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Retail therapy

July 3, 2014

I’m making a cultural wardrobe adjustment for work in Iraq. First I looked around to see what women here are actually wearing; there is huge diversity in the way they experiment with personal fashion within the framework of cultural and religious convictions. I’ve gone for long, light tunics as a first step. I am still getting used to shopping alongside women in hijab. A woman (in hijab) behind me at the cash register saw that I was buying these tunics and did a double take of me in my skinny jeans. Hehe.
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My other story about hijab– before I left Bosnia, Auntie Djemila told me, “Don’t even think about covering yourself! I am Muslim and pray 5 times a day and fast during ramadan, and I don’t wear hijab.” This puts a whole new dynamic into the morning ritual of standing in front of the closet deciding what to wear.

These days I am so inspired Un-Fancy‘s strategies for paring down, creating a capsule wardrobe, buying strategically. I’m still figuring out my strategy…

Wedding and funeral song

June 30, 2014

On Thusday I went to a wedding. On Saturday I went to a funeral. Life is short and sweet.
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Neighborhood

June 26, 2014

A photo from my balcony. I love the little yards in our neigborhood; the best times are quiet bbqs in the gardens. There is even hookah delivery!
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No blood for oil

June 23, 2014

Gas prices rose 1000% in 48 hours in Kurdistan. There are lines over a kilometer long in front of the gas stations which are still working. (The lines of white cars in the photo is one of those gas queues). My friend says he’s going to buy a bicycle! That’s the spirit. The Turkish prime minister promised gasoline from Turkey to fill the gap. But for now, these lines have a culture of their own. People set up umbrellas in the car to make shade; others leave their cars to chat; venders open little stands to sell cigarettes and snacks to the ones who are waiting..
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‘Qahwa’

June 19, 2014

Arabic coffee. With all that may go wrong in the world, nothing can beat the soothing ritual of that perfect cup of coffee. This coffee is served just a teensy bit at a time. It’s simmered for six or seven hours, then kept to sit for a month or more, becoming more mellow and rich the longer it sits. This coffee that I had was aged for a month! It’s spiced with cardamon and is not sweetened. You are supposed to indicate that you don’t want a refill by shaking your cup, otherwise they keep refilling and refilling.. I didn’t know. Next time!
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