I went out for dinner last night with another nurse from London as well as another lovely female intensivist…this one is from Czech Republic. We wandered around a little and eventually found this restaurant on the top floor that served local and Mediterranean dishes. We got a bottle of wine, a bunch of appetizers, had desert and great conversation that centralized around the differences in medical culture around the world. It was really a treat.
However, when we set out that evening, we had started with the plan of crossing the street (always a harrowing experience here with the four lanes of swift traffic and no guarantees that anyone will stop for you). Our planned destination was what appeared to be a bar and hookah joint. I was really curious about smoking some fancy tobacco out of one of these things since we have seen similar such establishments all over town. Seems like a pretty authentic cultural experience and I wanted to jump on the opportunity to check it out. When in Rome right? Or…Kurdistan….whatever.
Anyway, the three of us walk up to the door and the “bouncer” (although, he might have actually been just some dude) told us emphatically “NO WOMEN.”
Damn. Really? Even here?
In Nasiriyah that sort of thing was expected. Most of the women wore abaya and I didn’t see a single woman with fitted clothing or even her hair uncovered. It is a totally different story here in Northern Iraq. Yes, many women are very covered, some even truck around in abaya. But there are also pretty modernly dressed women running around as well…fitted jeans, fancy high heals, stylish blouses, etc.
Caroline, the British nurse I mentioned, and I had gone out for some site seeing earlier that day. We got some looks, sure (“Is it really that obvious that we are foreign?” I asked her; “Yep.”) but nothing like the way I was starred at in Nasiriyah…I felt like I was running around with two heads in that city of 4 million people.
But not being admitted to the “boys club” was still sort of a surprise. Maybe not conceptually, but still.
Over breakfast this morning, one of the night shift nurses (Jennie from Philadelphia) was relating her experience through the night with an eight year old boy we have had in the ICU most of the week. He is sort of a brat. I know, I know, I shouldn’t talk about these kids this way, he is sick and all, but we have had some legitimate issues with children who will defiantly not cooperate and will go so far as to hit their own mothers (they try to hit us sometimes too, but we are evidently more adept when it comes to restraining small children during their temper tantrums). Anyway, she was telling me that she actually made some progress with the kiddo…she kicked him out of bed, sat him up in a chair, put on a movie for him (someone had conveniently left their iPad lying around, with movies on it…and evidently Shrek is amusing even if you don’t understand English), gave him a soda and he was very cooperative and contently sat there, watching his movie, drinking his soda. Then his mom came in…total turn around. He started whining, slumping down in the chair, wanted to go back to bed (Jennie would not allow it…someone has to set some freaking boundaries!)…the compromise for not getting back into the bed was that he could put his feet up on another chair. But then the father wanted to sit in said chair…so the mother sat on the floor in front of her son and put his feet up her shoulders; “She was a human f***king foot rest!” Jennie related…horrified.
The things we as women take for granted in Western countries…