21 January, 2006

Ozymandias and me...

"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. --Shelley

Things progress here at our base. I and the rest of the new folks are getting familiar with our Iraqi colleagues. We are learning the many social axioms that apply to Arabs and Iraqi’s in particular. For instance, Iraqi’s talk loudly to their enemies/strangers and softly to their friends. A holdover from the Saddam era when informants were everywhere. So one of the pilots was speaking quietly in a conspirational tone to me (a sign of friendship) and related the following:

Look, I am telling you this! (An Iraqi colloquialism for a sincere statement, friend to friend) The day you leave we are putting the ash trays back in the airplanes.

He was telling me this as he was smoking a “Camel” brand cigarette (no irony there).

I/We are Ozymandias.

Another sign of progress for our friends is the matter of pay. Ala’din (remove the apostrophe and yes it is Aladin) has proudly (but quietly) told me that he is making ten times what he made prior to Iraq’s change in management. He now makes $700 a month. You can do the math and see how they are living.

Ala’din, like most of the Iraqi’s, had to have something on the side to support themselves. In Ala’din’s case it was a used car lot. I can just see the tag line now…

Come on down to Baghdad and visit Honest Al(adin)’s used Magic CARpet lot. Let him take you for a ride!

Speaking faux softly…

Look, I am telling you this! (An Iraqi colloquialism for a “sincere” statement, from a guy trying to sell you something) My cousin Jafar, he can patch the holes of bullets, no problem!"

All in all things are fine and I am coping. Right now I am waiting for the sand storm to stop so we can take off. I used to laugh at people who wore goggles in the desert. When not flying I am relaxing I my tent feeling very Bedouin.