I love Cuba and like the Cubans.
And I like Fidel Castro. I don't care what you think of him.
You probably have demonized him as much as you have demonized Saddam Hussein.
But then, come to think of it, no Leader has been wilfully demonized as much as Saddam Hussein. And we all know what the end result was/is. The end result is today's Iraq.
I love Cuba for many reasons. One of them is Salsa and then, there is Cuban music, and Cuban cigars. But these are not the only reasons...Am not that frivolous!
I had learned a few Salsa steps, which I have unfortunately no way of practicing.
Saturday night would have been a perfect opportunity to studiously put what I have learned into full swing.
And what better way to dance salsa but to the wonderful, exhilarating voices of Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portundo and Compay Segundo.
Do you know why the word Salsa was coined to certain Cuban melodies ?
Salsa music is a mixture of many ethnic backgrounds, with an African predominance. Hence the word Salsa in Spanish, meaning a Sauce.
You know what Sauce is, dont' you?
It's like when you order a salad or a hamburger and they ask you what kind of dressing/sauce you would like it with.
I remember vaguely one had the choice between blue cheese, swiss cheese, a thousand islands, mushroom sauce, barbeque or red hot chilli...
In Iraq, we have different kinds of Salsas/Sauces, as well.
We have the a thousand islands salsa. It presents itself like that.
You are walking in the street and a bullet hits you and you don't know where from exactly. It can be from a thousand and one places. Each place, each district, has become an island onto itself.
Then we also have blue cheese salsa. It is when you leave your front house door and see a couple of blue faced decomposing bodies, rotting away in the sun and the stray dogs are nibbling at them.
Radhee (from Adhamiya - the soooneeee stronghold) told me that, only yesterday he saw two corpses lying in front of his house and the dogs were feeding on its owners.
"Who murdered them ?" I asked.
"How the hell should I know. This place is sealed, even a fly cannot enter."
Makes you wonder...
And we also have red hot chilli salsa. Don't you dare think you are the only ones who can taste these wonderful sauces.
In Iraq, red hot chilli is when a thug, usually a sectarian son of a bitch, throws acid in your face, or on your body, or when you are burned alive because your name is Omar or Aisha.
We also have Swiss cheese. You know that cheese with holes in it ?
That is when you find corpses with drill holes in them. Drill holes by the turbaned black crows.
And of course we have the barbeque salsa. No, not barbed, we have barbed too but this is barbeque.
Barbeque salsa comes in different flavors.
You can be carbonised by an explosion, that is usually a car bomb. Or die of thirst, and that is barbequed by heat and lack of water. Or you can end up like Raouf, with broken ribs, swelling, pus-ridden wounds, and ankles that look like baked potatoes due to being chained.
Then, you have the mushroom salsa. Mushroom sauce comes in two basic styles.
One is when you discover you have depleted uranium in your piss and you develop a thousand tumors that no medicine in the world can cure.
And the other is the less offensive one, but offensive nonetheless.
It is when you go and search for a job because you have been unemployed for over 2 years and you present 3 university diplomas and 5 languages.
And some American motherfucker who can't spell and who is in charge of "reconstruction" of your country - a country which he has managed to destroy - tells you in his twisted, ugly, nasal accent:
" Why don't you grow a mushroom farm." And who happens to be an ex-salsa teacher.
And, no, I did not learn the steps from him.
In Iraq, we move to salsa tunes too. We just don't know who exactly is playing the music though.
To be or not to be and with which salsa does one end is the Question.
But more importantly, Who is who and who is exactly cooking all these wonderful sauces? Remains to be seen in further gory episodes.
And as the French say and I like the French for their very pertinent proverbs:
" On ne sait plus à quelle sauce on va être manger."
A rough translation : We don't know with which sauce we will be devoured, eaten.
So tell me, can you Salsa?
It is Saturday night after all and I miss dancing.
Dancing away from moving sands...
Painting : Iraqi artist, Jaber Alwan.