In the west, when we think of Iraq, we think “war torn,” “military,” and “how in the hell do you drive in a burqa?”
The stereotypes that come across to use on news blogs don’t give the whole picture. First of all, war is not the only situation that can land you in Iraq.
In the case of Gretchen Berg, it was debt. Considerable debt. 401K eating, credit beating, moving-in-with-your-parents level debt. In this lightly written memoir, I Have Iraq in My Shoe, she shares her adventures as an English teacher at a university in Iraq. She navigates university politics and local, usually oppressive custom with bouts of shoe buying and hilarious observations not only about Iraq, but about the Western men and women that choose to work in Iraq. She in no way makes light of the Kurdish people, and she is fully aware of the seriousness of her work – but she is very human, and funny, and finds some light in what to most Westerners is a dark and dreary topic riddled with horrific attitudes towards women and scores of fatherless children because of all the wars. (Despite what your holy leader may tell you I understand this faith perfectly well – and my conclusion is “horrific.” If you think you’re elevated, you’ve just bought into a con job. Thus the phrase “Once you get her to your cave, you can eat her.”)
If you’re looking for a light beach read, or something to make you at least happier to be where you are, pick up this book. It will give you a chuckle while it gives you some insight.
- Gretchen Berg: A Road Trip Through Northern Iraq (huffingtonpost.com)
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- Sex and the City 2 Mania on Sugar: Highlights of All Our Coverage! (bellasugar.com)