February 14, 2007 - In honor of Valentine's Day, I decided to dedicate a page to Love and the pursuit thereof in the IZ. As a married woman, I'm not all that in tune with the ins and outs of being single in the IZ, but I did talk to some of my single female friends to find out the "scoop" on social life for singles in the IZ. "Ha!" They said. "What social life?" When I replied that there were thousands of men here and very few women, one commented "Yeah, the odds are good, but the goods are odd." Many of the men are married, or have girlfriends back home or just not interested.
So how do they meet men? At the gym, by sitting at a table in the DFAC with an interesting-looking person and striking up a conversation, by going to the music nights, yoga, etc. I suppose it's not much different from meeting men in Washington. Oh, wait. That's nearly impossible too! Well, what can I say? I'm glad I'm married. . . . and I hope I haven't offended anyone, but this is just what I've heard!
Now, to give men their equal due, I have also heard a rumor that, once upon a time, when the C-130 took off from BIAP, the pilot would make an announcement "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are leaving Iraq air space. Ladies, you are no longer beautiful! Men, all promises are off." I don't know if it's true, but it certainly makes a good story!
If anyone reading this who has been to Baghdad has any tips on meeting other singles, please send them to me and I will include them here!
January 14, 2007- In spite of all the problems with meeting men, there are some "locationships" going on here and even a few romances. So, if you do find "Mr. Right" or even "Mr. OK for Now," what is there to do? Well, let your imagination run wild. After a few dinners at D'Faccio's and the BabyFac, you might move on for coffee, tea or whatever at the Green Bean. They have jazz there every so often; there's Country Western Night, Salsa Night, Hip-Hop Night and Dance Music night if you like to listen to music and/or dance. You can take a tour of the IZ, go to the gym together, go to Liberty Pool in the summer, etc.
There are a couple of restaurants available in the IZ. One is at the Al-Rasheed Hotel. I've never eaten there, but I hear that the food is adequate and the atmosphere is similar to a mid-priced restaurant in the States. On a scale of 1-5 stars, those who have eaten there give it 3 stars. The food is not spectacular, but apparently it's more like a "real" restaurant than its competition.
There is another restaurant that I have been to - the "Blue Star Cafe." Now, I have been here seven months and finally went with a group of friends to eat there last night. And you know what? It was pretty good! (and, most importantly it was NOT DFAC food!!!) They serve pizza, hamburgers, etc., which you can get at the DFAC, but they have Middle Eastern food such as hummus, mixed grill, baba ganoush-type stuff, pita bread, etc. And best of all, you can get a cold beer or a mixed drink (no Margaritas, though!) and wine. The wine was declared "not rotgut" by one of my dinner companions, and after several attempts we actually got glasses for the beers. The total bill for five people was $70 (without tip), so it wasn't bad at all. On a scale of 1-5 stars, it's about a 3. But that's only because it's very basic (PVC tables/chairs, plastic cutlery, etc.) I would go back there again.
Now, if you're on a "date," you might want to sit outside of the Blue Star. There are tables outside, and the nearby palm tree is decorated with little blue Christmas lights for a festive/romantic atmosphere. Or were they green? After going without alcohol for so long, I was confused after a beer and a half. . . Anyhow, if/when you come to Baghdad, do pay a trip to the Blue Star. It's basically the only game in town!
February 25, 2007 - Last night I went to dinner in the IZ, hosted by a contractor who I met through a common friend. It was so nice. She has a house with regular furniture; we ate at a table with a tablecloth, real plates, real silverware, real glasses, cloth napkins, even candles! She served a home-cooked meal and we had lots of red wine. Oh, it was almost normal - until the mortar fire interrupted our conversation; and then we all knew we were in Baghdad because we all recognized it was outgoing instead of incoming mortars. How did we know that? Because we're in Baghdad!
Anyhow, the other women there were all single, and they gave me some insight (again) into dating life. Not much different from my initial paragraph, but they did give me some local terminology which I share with you:
TDY (normally it means "Temporary Duty") but here it can also mean "Temporarily Divorced for a Year."
Walk of Shame - the walk from the hootch where you spent the previous night (not your own), wearing the clothes you wore the night before. Of course, I asked if only women walk the "Walk of Shame" and then we universally decided that for men, it would be "The Walk of Fame."
Locationship - A relationship based on being here, now. The relationship usually doesn't last beyind time in Iraq.
Queen for a Year - Yup; all women are beautiful in Iraq. We are all indeed "Queen for a Year."