Thursday, April 19, 2007

Going Indij & Ensha Allah

28 Feb 07
Adnan is 43 years old and has an 18 month old daughter. I commented that 43 is considered slightly old to have such a young child in the U.S. He said it is normal/the standard in Iraq. Men have so much work to do to prepare for adulthood and marriage like going to college, getting trained, finding a job, saving money, etc. that men are normally older when they marry. Additionally (and probably more to the point) everything is so expensive and Iraqis are so poor that men must save for a long time in order to afford to get married. A lieutenant in the Iraqi Air Force makes $500/month. Adnan knows several men in their 40s that cannot afford to marry and will likely never marry. Adnan married when he was 30 yrs old and his wife was 23. As is customary in Arab cultures, their marriage was arranged by his family. Before then, they had never even been on a date or alone together.

While talking with Col Sami today one of the maintenance technicians, Qasim, approached and asked Sami if he would hire his son to work at the base. Sami said, “na’am, ensha allah” (“yes, God willing”…or “it will happen if God makes it happen”…or “not unless God makes it happen will it happen”).

Sami hired his own brother to work here so they can protect one another. Sami uses disguises when he gets to the gates of the base and removes his Iraqi Air Force pass “for to confuse bad guys.” Everyday when he leaves his house he believes that he will be killed. His wife wants him to go to Jordan to fly private IL-76’s there. He refuses and explains that he wants to be apart of the Iraqi Air Force, that he wants to live near his family, and, most importantly, that Iraq is his country and he wants to help rebuild it. There are patriots all around the world!

Went to dinner tonight in the Iraqi “restaurant” (chow hall). The guys call it going “indij” or “indigenous.” Was interesting. We ate with Capt Dhiaa (aka “Dale Earnhart”), Capt Ali and Maj Uday. The food was very good…we had a large piece of flat bread, sliced/fried potatoes, meatballs in a sort of soup, tomatoes, cucumbers and some sort of beans. They put the meatball, cucumber and tomato in the bread to make an “Iraqi burrito.” The beans were similar to pinto beans but they had a thick skin. They eat them with their hands, squeezing them then eating the inside and discarding the skin. I was very conscientious of eating with my right hand but despite everything I'd heard, I saw them eating with their left hand as much as their right.

The Iraqis are regular guys and enjoy goofing off. They have a sense of humor very much like ours so dinner was a lot of poking fun at one another. Ali used to fly French Mirage F-1s and spent 2 years in Cognac in Bourdeaux, France. His French accent trickles over into his English. Uday speaks Korean and worked for 2 years as an interpreter in the South Korean Embassy in Baghdad. Dhiaa lives in Baghdad and commutes to Basrah for 3 weeks before returning to Baghdad…very dangerous.

Dhiaa explained a little about the headdress the men wear (can’t remember name) but explained that the colors indicate what region they are from. Red seems to be universal while blue is worn in the west, and white is worn in the south like Saudi. Black with the large round headdress indicates that the individual is a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. Muqtada Al Sadr wears the black headdress.

Chet and Sci Fi are in Baghdad flying missions up there. Chet got intercepted by an F‑16 fighter aircraft on the way up…very tense I’m sure. They are not excited about the missions, especially Chet. He asked to go with Sci Fi to see BGen Hoog about canceling the missions or at least state their concerns…think they got the “noted.” Huge potential for being shot down via small arms, RPG, and/or shoulder fired SA-7s. I wouldn’t want to be them.

Our internet has been down for some time. We went to the Brit compound to use their computers but they went into "Ops Minimized" as soon as we got there. Ops Minimized means no computer or phone use and occurs every time a British soldier is wounded. Apparently early in the operation a British soldier was killed. Someone heard his name and thought it was his friend from his hometown. He called the dead soldier’s parents to tell them except it was a different guy by the same name so it took some cleaning up. We go into Ops Minimized almost daily and can last in excess of 24 hours. It’s a somber period to say the least.

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