Lydia Phillips

>Fun times in Park Azida

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2010 at 8:39 am


Fun story from tonight:

There’s a huge park here called “Park Azida” which means “Park Freedom”. They called it that because its on the same grounds that Saddam Hussein used as his headquarters 30 years ago! Land that used to hold offices, prisons, barracks, mass graves…is now a park where Kurdish folks walk, picnic, and socialize.
To clarify–MEN socialize with MEN and women socialize with women. Its completely common to see same-gender hand holding, arm linking, etc. Men and women can be arrested for being alone together if they’re not married. Seriously. So both genders are very affectionate to each other.
Tonight, me, Preston, and Alex decided to go hang out in Park Azida. Which is great fun if you ignore the stares, glaring looks, and stink-eyes from pretty much everyone we pass. To clarify, its very strange for Westerners to be there as it is. Its especially strange for a girl to be alone with two guys. Not only is it strange, but its also offensive. Kurdish women perceive my presence as “showing off” in front of their husbands and families. Bottom line: people notice us.
Now the story:
We’re sitting at a table and this girl (about my age) walks up and stands nervous/excitedly in front of me. We make it through a broken English conversation about if I’m from America (or Britain) and where I got my earrings because they looks Kurdish. She pauses, still smiling and nodding. Then she goes, “I think you are so nice!” and asks, “Can I take you?” then grabs my hand and leads me over to her friend. At this point Alex and Preston are both laughing and we have no idea whats going on. So I take a picture with her and her friend, before the guys come over and take this picture on our camera. Now there’s a mini-crowd around us and they’re writing down their names and phone numbers. (All the while holding my hand, remember). As we’re walking away from our new friends, the first girl runs after us and gives me a rose!
So, fun evening in Park Azida! Lots of time spent at the bazaar today too, maybe photos from that later.
  1. >I love fun stories/experiences like this! Is it bad for you to act like a westerner, if it's offensive to them?

  2. >I do too! I'm beaming with jealousy! I want to see more pictures! but don't spend too much time online, live it up in Iraq!

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