More tidbits about my experience so far:
b’ser chao: sure, ok (literally means “on my eye”)
The main thing I’d heard about Kurds is that they are incredibly friendly. And so far I agree! On my final flight from Istanbul to Sulei, I met a woman about my age named Keshang, who within minutes offered to show me around Sulei, introduce me to her family, and help me with learning Kurdish. The flight itself was very funny, too – It was like a party bus. Although it was 1am, kids (there were a lot of them) were up and shouting, people were walking around chatting and laughing, and the whole place was probably the noisiest flight I’ve ever been on. But not in an annoying way, it was fun to experience.
Buildings are really spread out, and the whole city sprawls. Most of the buildings here look like, if they were in the states, they’d be about to be torn down. Ads are peeling off walls, many buildings are half-whitewashed or made of bare concrete, storefronts are dingy. But that’s by US standards. You walk into the buildings and they are perfectly operational and nice, it’s just the outside that looks cheap to me. I’m adjusting how I expect things to look. The style of infrastructure is just different.
They drive on the right side of the road.
Our compound has a bunch of armed guards at the gates. There are some when you first drive in, but the compound also houses other businesses and housing (I’m not sure the extent of it yet), and at the entrance to a bunch of the other sections of the compound there are guards. Another expat mentioned to me that she found it really unnerving to see guys our age in fatigues holding rifles. It’s not a big deal to me, though – I think since I got used to seeing IDF soldiers everywhere in Israel when I was there last year.
Kurdish food is often cooked in a lot of oil. This was very obvious at lunch yesterday. We ate fried dumplings, french fries, sauteed meats, and kouba, a quesadilla-type food made of rice “tortillas” filled with meat. They said the traditional Kurdish was to make it was as a dumpling, forming the rice mixture into a ball, filling it with meat, and then frying the whole thing.
I CAN’T FIND GOOD COFFEE HERE. They only drink instant, all the time! I’d never had instant coffee before yesterday, and I don’t want to repeat the experience. Zeno said she found a little coffee shop in town, so I’m eager to go there with her. I’ll be really happy if I can find a grinder and a french press, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
Tea, on the other hand, is the drink of choice. People drink it with LOTS of sugar.