Friday, July 19, 2024

Saddam’s Great Iraq – 4

surveyor-at-work To live and function among the company of engineers and staff of different nationalities was a beautiful experience, but first of my life. Engineers came from three nationalities or sectors i.e. Asia, Europe and Africa; extreme white, extreme black and the medium colored people of the world working together. So everybody enjoyed the company of others. In spare time we exchanged general knowledge with each other except for the Polish engineer, who was absorbed in his thoughts most of the time. He was, perhaps, absorbed in his own personal problems more than anything else. During that period Poland was a very poor country and even politically not very stable. Interference of Russian forces was another serious problem. Polish engineer’s family was in Poland and naturally he must be worried about their security during civil unrest. But he was a nice gentleman. Later when he was leaving for his country on the expiry of his contract, he had a long and very cordial sitting with me talking about his future programs in his home country. I would say that didn’t like him much before but I loved him at the time of his departure.

Complete cooking kit had been provided by the government including refrigerator. For the period during which the cook was on leave or absconded, we in groups cooked for ourselves turn by turn, keeping regard to the overall taste of the group as a whole. Abundant salad was consumed at meals times (Iraqis used to enjoy midway snacks, that is eating before of after lunch or dinner and it is common in Iraq, at least so far as the cities are concerned). In case there was no meat or vegetable dish, Samoon was eaten with salad. Rice used to be sure part of every meal. Except for Pakistanis, everybody liked tea without milk. Sometime later Pakistanis also became habitual to have tea without milk. I liked to take tea without milk. Meat and vegetable dish was extreme sour due to addition of a surplus quantity of tomatoes and tomato sauce, during the process of cooking. All Arabs like Yogurt very much, but only when it is extreme sour. Extremely sour yogurt is eaten that its flavour can be smelled from quite a distance. Onion is used mercilessly in all main and mini meals. The dish that I liked best was beef, mutton and chicken cooked only with oil, salt, onions and uncut lemons. I think it has a great diet value as also in so many ways beneficial for the body. This was the second item that I specially got prepared at home in Pakistan. Out of fruits orange was best liked by Arabs. They called it Purtgal. Local dates are also eaten for good taste. I was astonished to note that inspite of such a large local production, this fruit was at par in price with other local and imported fruits. Maybe they are consumed more then I could guess. Out of imported fruits were French and Turkish apples, Jordanian oranges and Somali bananas. Packed fruits in various forms including juices had a long list like the packed meat and other fruit items. On packs of frozen chicken I could read “Halaal according to Muslim faith”, but on pieces of beef I have not seen any such writing whereas, tons of it was consumed daily. I heard more careful Iraqi Muslims talking ill of it, calling it to be not Halaal.

Working hours were very comfortable or the Iraqis had made them so. The site of work was an hour drive away. Everybody observed no more than four hours of site work, including journey from and to residence. I felt it to be very unjustified. I made up my mind to work at least six hours daily in the field and I started doing that. To my amazement everybody disliked my working in the field for such long hours, not only the member surveyors but also the driver on duty with me and the local helpers. The driver and the helpers disliked working with me. At first I thought I am doing my duty in my own way, but the protest against me became stronger day by day. In the end they were forced to manage special squad and special driver (an army reserved) to be attached with me. So, ii gained my way to work at my own satisfaction for the job. Still that was not the end of the world. For me, seriously, it was just doing the needful. But for some of my companions, it was over doing. They gave indication of putting it in the line of “display merely to impress”. A Palestinian and two Egyptians secretly formed a group to prove that I was not competent to produce work. After a planning of days together, one fine day they came to me with news that job done by me was found to be wrong. I saw a great amount of satisfaction on the face of Palestinian and I myself was deeply shocked. In technical works, mistakes cannot be ruled out. I kept fighting with my own self for quite sometime. In my own mind I thought that I have been providing self checks due to which the chances of mistakes were eliminated. But on the whole I had been very much shaken and disturbed, thinking that although mistakes do happen but the two gentlemen were not pointing out the nature of the error for my future precautions. I felt that they have started a project of defame against me. There were so many Pakistani surveyors who had been taking instructions from me in Pakistan. What they should be thinking about me and my capabilities? I could very clearly see the calm on the face of Palestinian. He had a perfectly comfortable sleep that noon. Parties remained coming and going but I was not aware of anything else except my mistakes in work. In the afternoon, the same day everybody gathered for tea. They started the story of check to my job. Then a senior member of the team, also a Palestinian, started discussing the topic in a different way. He asked me that he wanted a deal with Mr. Falah (Egyptian) and myself. I asked him to explain himself a bit more. He said that he wanted to solve the problem by giving a check to my work with the electronic measurement machine. Proceeding ahead he said that if any work was found to be wrong, I shall be liable to pay such and such amount of money to the team for managing a party. On the other hand Mr. Falah (the person who located the mistake in my work) was found to be wrong, he will pay the same amount of money as a fine. I told the senior member that I do not have any objection in this way of checking and fine. At the same time Mr. Falah told everybody that he was not a party to such way of checking. The senior member Palestinian smiled and smiled and then laughed. He said that he had already given an electronic check to locate the mistake but Mr. Ashraf’s work found to be perfectly correct and had no mistake. He further said that Mr. Falah’s instruments of work were found to be defective and faulty.


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Category: Travel

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