A Christmas tent erected for baby Jesus at an ‪‎Iraqi‬ Christian refugee camp in Ainkawa, ‪‎Erbil‬, Iraqi ‪Kurdistan‬. Thousands of displaced from Mosul and other areas across northern Iraq are preparing to celebrate Christmas this year in the camp and in many like it across Kurdistan and other parts of Iraq. 

Ainkawa, a primarily Assyrian Christian suburb of Erbil, has become a major host-site for Iraqi Christians displaced from across Mosul and the Nineveh Plains.

Spending free time in Erbil (July 30 2012) * Addition to title: Leaving Gang

Entering a social group is interesting - whether expats, sports, culture or other group because you are privy to the secrets, mores and social norms of that group. However sometimes when you leave it - it may seem like a betrayal to the members of that group. I found that when I changed schools and funny enough I find that now with leaving Guangzhou and moving to Erbil. Persons when they talk to me now, I can’t help but notice there is a slight rage that comes out under the playful banter. I find it slightly amusing, bordering on annoying when people who I used to know there ask me or tell me (or try to guilt me): 

  • “Hey I bet you miss Guangzhou now…”
  • “I guess you miss the night life now?”
  • “Guangzhou was better I guess ;)”
  • “Ooh no more ladies’ night free drinks.”
  • “Guangzhou is like a drug…”

I will agree, when you stay in a place long enough no matter how bad it is, you get into a rhythm that you do not want to change. And in that case, Guangzhou is like a drug. But I realized that I started to enjoy my free time by going out not only because it was enjoyable, but because I wanted to escape from the stress and the depression I began to feel with being there. That is not healthy for anyone and a person should not get used to that. I think I am better than that. Living in a location is not just about the night life or how you can enjoy yourself -  if the social and the work scenario in the space is not good which does take up at least 45% if not 50% of your time, then no amount of going out will bring any inner peace. I want something more substantial that shopping malls, western restaurants, cheap souvenirs and a vivid night life with the price of being stressed and defending my right in being treated as a human being. Erbil has its problems and I will write about it but it has been a month and I feel good where I am.