Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hooters, Kaiser or King?

23 Mar 07
Dhiaa has been invited to go to Ft Riley, KS for nearly all of April. He’s just waiting on his visa now. He has only ever traveled outside of Iraq once to Turkey. He only wants to spend the time required at Ft Riley and intends to spend all of his free time experiencing American culture. Before Gary left, he convinced Dhiaa that he absolutely had to eat at Hooters. Dhiaa has no idea what kind of restaurant this place is but is determined that he must eat there—I would give anything to be a fly on the wall! He also wants to see skyscrapers…do they have those in Kansas?

At breakfast, Dhiaa asked me about “mara-guana” in the U.S. They had no drugs during the regime. He said it is slowly gaining foot in Iraq but is mostly trafficked thru the country enroute to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Knowing how intolerant Saudi is, I’m astounded. After all, beheadings are still commonplace there! Anyway, he wanted to know how it is smoked, etc. “Mara-guana”…too funny.

Ali’s English is very good. Nonetheless, he and several others are in English class. None in that group have begun flying in the squadron yet. For the last week, all of them have been on leave so it has been very quiet around the squadron and compound. They got back tonight and it was good to see them—it livened the place up. I went indij for dinner and we spent the evening catching up.

Several of the guys told me about what they had done on their vacations. Lieutenant Abdul Aziz worked on his house in Baghdad during his vacation. A father of two, his house has three rooms including the bathroom. There is no kitchen. I asked where his wife did the cooking. “On the roof” he replied as if I should have known that.

I asked Kaiser about his name and he said, “It is Arabic for ‘Caesar’ which is Italian for ‘king’.” I told him that my mother’s family name is Kiser and that it is also German for “king” (along the way her family dropped/lost the “a” in “Kaiser” but there was no point going into that level of detail with Kaiser). Very politely, he said “Yes but my name is the just the Italian word ‘Caesar.’ I think this other word is different.” I pleaded my case for the German word but he was sure his name only translated to “Caesar.” I did my best but I’m saddened to report that the Kaisers/Kisers of German descent have been relegated to obscurity in Iraq.

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