Monday, April 22, 2024

Saddam’s Great Iraq – 11

IRAQ, the beautiful country of beautiful, courteous and generous citizens, is a land of jewels, gems and fossils. The country might have been captured by colonial adventurers for some time but you will never find a citizen with slaves’ mentality. Liberty is studded deeply into the temperament of everyone in cities as well as in villages. Hospitality and respect for guests is their nature which they have donated to the most of the nations of the world. Iraqis of all faiths and beliefs love their country. The first and foremost civilization of the world still speaks out about its past glories.

In rural areas where ever our team had to work near any village, the whole team was offered midday meals which generally consisted of roasted chicken, bread, potato chips and dates. I was the only foreigner member of this particular team. I can never forget the spirit of hospitability of that young housewife who had been living with her family in a solitary house in open fields badly affected by salinity. Hearing us working in close vicinity of her house she came out with her child in her arms. She welcomed us with prayers “Allah Saadookum”. She was an embodiment of female beauty in face, figure, stature and health. She was almost in rags which pointed to her financial conditions. It was already midday. After her greetings process she returned to her house. After about half an hour she approached us with a number of warm loafs in a tray made up of straws, and asked us to accept that for lunch. She did not have anything else to offer. Maybe the family had to go without midday meals that day. I, the only foreigner, was moved to the core of my heart. Irrespective of the financial status, character, conduct and sense of hospitality are the crown of Iraqis. Other peoples can still learn from Iraqis.

Fieldworks for surveying and mapping for various projects, involve a lot of walking on foot. During these very spans of walking through sandy deserts and barren undulations in Iraq, following my usual habit of gazing the terrain, I came across very unusual pieces of fossils and very beautiful tiny transparent and opaque natural stones. I picked up whatever appeared to be curious or charming. I got a fossil of half eaten fruit that has now gone extinct. Looking at this fruit fossil, I imagined a child on top of one of the camels of a caravan moving throw desert. As soon as the child split up the fruit into two parts, one of the parts having seed in it slipped out of his hand or mouth and dropped into the sand. The layers of sand covered it deep inside the sand to give it the formation of fossil. This must have happened thousands of years before in my estimate. Then the layers of sand were reversed to bring the fossil of the part of this fruit over to the top of the sand. The very colour of the fruit partly exists on the surface of the fossil (photo).

Fossil of Fruit

Outer and Inner view of fossi – Photo By Author

Next comes a fossil or stone which very much resembles the shopped off part of a male’s left foot. Only laboratory test can determine its real category. In my case it is an interesting piece of antique (photo).

Fossil of Human Foot

Fossil of Human Foot (Supposedly) – Photo By Author

Then there are some attractive colourful tiny stones, transparent and opaque (photo).

Natural Gems Stones

Natural Gems Stones – Photo By Author

I found a number of small pieces of non gold ornaments scattered by the side of a visible part of deserted old canal mostly filled in by sand dunes, in southern Iraq. Among these pieces I found a coin with imprint of head part of some wild animal on one side and imprint of some specie of fly or mosquito on the other side. This coin appears to be made of copper (photo).

Ancient Coin

Coin of Ancient Civilzation of Iraq – Photo By Author

Job on the project ended and as usual we moved to Baghdad, with baggage, to start attending the head office and to enjoy the comforts of hotel life. It was quite expensive to stay in hotel in Baghdad but I enjoyed it much. Good companions in office and good friends in the city. There was vast variety of lifestyle. Colourful life moving to and fro, especially during evening walks. But some times there were many disturbing scenes along the road. Pakistanis in ‘Shalwar-Kameez’ here and there were found stretched by the side of the foot path, unconscious due to over drinking. This was not all because sometimes they were found to be drenched in their own urine which they expelled during unconsciousness. One day a close Iraqi friend asked me with great curiosity “Mr. Ashraf, do Pakistanis also drink. I saw a fellow in Shalwar-Kameez lying unconscious by the roadside”. He had such great confidence in Pakistanis that he appeared to have been shocked. I told him “Mr. Mehmood, there are bad people in every society and he must be an unfortunate bad Pakistani”. One day I overheard one Pakistani speaking loudly to his Pakistani friends with him on the street “We earn and have a lot of money and we also drink. Compared to anybody else we are great”. He was a young man in his twenties, wearing pant and shirt with his working hat in one of his hands. I did not know about their topic of conversation.


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Category: Travel

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