For the last few days, we were having some rains in Baghdad. The city witnessed torrential rains yesterday.
Torrential rains are quite uncommon in Baghdad. There were a few such occasions last year too.
The city is not equipped to handle torrential rains and there were water-logging in many areas. The water on the roads made street movement difficult.
Last night, it was declared a public holiday in Baghdad due to heavy rains in the city causing a lot of inconvenience to the general public. In India we are used to heavy rains during monsoons and cyclones. So, we don’t get any such public holiday because of rains. We have to manage through the flooded streets and traffic blockades there.
As the holiday is declared for Baghdad only, all our branches elsewhere are open. Therefore, Ibrahim and Mustafa came to office today for providing support to non-Baghdad branches. I also walked down to office for some time during the day.
Sometimes I feel great to be in Iraq as I can have the luxury of enjoying rain holidays.
Today has been declared as a public holiday in Baghdad to commemorate the death of Imam Moussa ibn Jaafar al-Kadhim, the seventh of 12 principal Shiite imams, who died in 799. Shiites walk for hours, and often for days, from across the country to reach the mosque in Kadhimiyah, known for its twin golden domes. The mosque was built atop what were believed to be the tombs of Imam al-Kadhim and his grandson – Imam Muhammad al-Taqi, the ninth of 12 principal Shiite imams.
Hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims converged on the golden-domed shrine as security forces tightened security after a wave of deadly attacks across Iraq. Many of the main streets in Baghdad were closed in recent days to prevent attacks on the pilgrims, who travel on foot.
The traffic restrictions caused hardships to many of my colleagues. Many of them couldn’t come to the bank yesterday. The working hour was reduced by one hour since Sunday. Yesterday, it was decreased by two hours so that all the employees could reach home safe and in time.
The holiday has been declared today only in Baghdad province. Therefore, all our branches outside Baghdad province are working as a normal business day. So, the banking system will be fully operational today. The branches need support from head office as well as some transactions need authorizations. All routine checks are to be carried out to ensure the transactions are booked and recorded properly. So the back office is open today.
An empty Baghdad road
I am in the office to supervise the back office work and for authorizing the required transactions. I stay in the office complex and hence it’s not a problem for me. Mustafa stays close by and so he has come. Ibrahim also can manage to come to office walking, so he too has come today. The vehicles are not allowed on the road today in Baghdad. As the Baghdad branches, and Head Office are closed, so the volume of work is much less today.
“If you have a work instead of a job, every day is holiday” ― Paulo Coelho
Happy World Environment Day to everyone! Today is also World Environment Day. Let’s make it everyday.
This week started with a dusty morning yesterday. It became hazier as the day progressed. Later in the afternoon, the dusts settled down to a clear sky. Little did we know then that there would be a sudden change in the weather from a hot, dusty day to a cool, cloudy, wet morning!
I was waked up at 4.00 am by the night’s silence killing thunders and intermittent lightning splitting the sky here and there and lighting up my windows. I could also hear the music of rain as it was raining mildly then. I opened my windows; a gush of fresh, wet winds swept through my room brushing my sleepy eyes. I love the smell of rain-wet earth. It takes me back down my memory lane, when as a child I used to play in rain water filled ground, in mud in gay abandon. There was a fun then even getting slapped by my mother as she had to wash and clean those soiled, muddied dresses. Mothers are the God’s best gift to the humanity.
This fresh coolness was weighing more on my sleepy eyes, much better than the air-conditioned air inside. I closed the window and went to my bed to be woken up by the alarm at 6.00 am.
Yesterday was dusty and this morning started with thunder and lighting. It’s a welcome contrast. It reminded me of a line from a poem of Rabindranath Tagore –
When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy one, thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder.
White is the color of fluffy clouds fluffing their way across the sky…
Since the morning, billowy white clouds are lazily drifting across the sea-blue Baghdad sky today. It made the morning beautiful, bright, and quite pleasant.
“The first thing I notice is the sky, so full of blue and the kind of brilliant white clouds that make you ecstatic to have eyes. Nothing can go wrong under this sky…” ― Jandy Nelson, The Sky Is Everywhere
The birds are also seen enjoying this weather as Baghdad is getting ready to welcome yet another ultra-hot summer.
Two pigeons are enjoying and playing on our roof.
The moment the date palm trees bloom, it is a warning sign to all from nature that – the summer has arrived. It is now the start of a new season, a new cycle. Slowly, the now flowered dates will develop, grow, and ripe as the summer reaches its peak. In Iraq, summer is very dry, and hot with day time temperature shooting beyond 50 degrees Celsius. I like any blossoming as it heralds a new life, a new hope despite all odds. It’s a harbinger of new beginning!
It’s a cool, cloudy day today with some light drizzle in the early morning. This is a lovely break from other warm days. Well, summer is just at the doorstep.
As I started posting this article, it started raining! I love the music of rain as it hits the ground. I love the smell of the earth when it rains.
This evening, around 1.3 billion people will go without light at 8:30 pm and at 9:30 pm, and at 10:30 pm, and for the rest of the night, just like every other night of the year. Having no access to electricity, darkness after sunset is a constant reality for these people.
At the same time, another 1 billion people will participate in “Earth Hour” by turning off their lights and non-essential appliances from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm in symbolic support for climate change mitigation.
Yes, anything to save the environment. But do we really have to wait for this each year to make a difference?
After so many years of announcing the scientific basis for climate change, is token symbolic support the way to move forward? Or should we instead be thinking of ways to actually cut carbon emissions?
There are a few of the things we may do like Carbon tax, Carbon costing, going for alternative green sources but the operative word here is action. Now, it’s a time to move ahead from one-hour high-profile symbolism to real, concrete actions, if we are to move forward towards climate change mitigation.
Also, we should not forget to reach electricity to the rest of the world, for whom observing “Earth Hour” is a luxury.