Saturday, February 24, 2024

Saddam’s Great Iraq – 6

After a few weeks I was assigned a project, an execution project of course, in Miqdadia near north-western border of Iran. Here we were provided AC cabins for stay. All meals and tea / coffee were totally free. I was informed that project management authorities were responsible for providing free accommodation and meals for all engineers and surveyors, working on the project. A few days of stay at the project disclosed that the breakfast and all the meals had rich diet value. My job on this project was to provide data to the grader operators to level the agriculture fields / plots for uniform level of water for the crops. The engineer incharge was an Egyptian, a very light hearted and jolly fellow, in his mid thirties. Our first technical meeting ended in a mere joke. He was trying to make me understand the needs of the assignment in his Egyptian English which being not very clear initiated the problem of my cross questioning in pure English. It turned out that very refined English was incomprehensive for him. On my part, as I thought, I was cross questioning in a very clear English language, and I was surprised to see that good English could not make him understand the meaning. We kept looking at the face of each other for quite a lot of time. For moments, we were totally silent gazing each other. Considerably annoyed he resorted to combine physical acting along with his Egyptian English. On the other hand I made an effort to copy his English in broken sentences and words. After such considerably rigorous efforts, we started understanding each other. For closing touch, we both once again gazed at each other silently at the end of which both of us simultaneously started laughing loudly. After that we did not have any problem up to the end of the assignment.

The project engineer, directly under the project manager, was a very handsome young Iraqi, slim, tall and rather beautiful. An unintentional smile always enlightened his face. Unfortunately, a day came when I was compelled to make him serious with a face without smile. One day my helpers were missing early in the morning. I reported him and he greeted me with the usual Iraqi words ‘Mai Khalif’, meaning no problem. I stayed in the cabin for the whole day simply eating and taking tea and coffee. I was much troubled by the inactiveness. To my agony, the next day, it was discovered that my helpers were missing again. I immediately reported to the project engineer and strangely enough again was greeted with ‘Mai Khalif’. I promptly reacted with ‘no it does Khalif’. All the smile cover went off from the face of the gentleman. He gazed at me very seriously. He kept absolutely silent and I further told him that I had come to work on the project. I told him that it was not possible for me to keep eating and sleeping with zero practical work. We finally decided that both of us must meet at 8:00 AM in the office next morning, and that he will see that my working days were duly utilized.

After day’s work everybody liked to have a warm bathing even in summer. On the project, in absolute jungle, there was very good arrangement of hot, warm and cold bath. At first, I did not like the warm bath in summer. There is no such custom in whole of Pakistan. It rather looked quaint to take a bath of warm water in June or July, after day’s work in scorching heat of the sun. Later I felt and came to know that warm bathing did carry some wisdom. All greasy matter of the sweat is properly cleaned and one feels more refreshed.

Meals were carried at self service system in the dining hall. There were no waiters. Right from the project manager, down to the junior members of the team including the foreign experts of various nationalities, used to collect their meals standing in a row with plates and cups in their hands, in front of the distribution window. After finishing with the meals, of course, everybody left for work or for the cabin leaving the plates on the table. There was arrangement for cleaning the pots.

River-DajlaDuring the stay at this project, the Revolution Day of Iraq came during July. Iraqis used to celebrate this day with great enthusiasm. The management of the project managed a site tour to a spot in hilly area where Dajla River enters the flat Iraqi territory. Special busses carried us over to the spot. It was extremely attractive to see fresh, clean, blue and cold water of the river. The semi hilly area was very beautiful landscape. Iraqis started bathing in the river. I came to know that they had brought extra outfits for bathing. I felt an urge for getting into the water. The weather was very hot, so I got into the water in the same dress that I had been wearing. It was a very pleasure full tour. My cloths dried within minutes of my standing in the sun. We returned to the project in the evening. During journey back to the project, Project Engineer asked me twice, “Mr. Muhammad, how do you like the trip”. Every time I told him that it was wonderful. I felt that they were treating me as VIP.


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Category: Travel

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