Car Broke-down on the Road

As per the Iraqi visa rules, we have to undergo a blood test for AIDS and report to Iqama office about our return to Iraq. When they issue the exit & re-entry visa, they take the Residency ID and return it back to us upon our reporting them with blood test certificate. This procedure is required in Iraq even though we have valid one-year Iqama (Residence Permit). Although it’s seemingly a redundant process but this gives us an opportunity to move around the city. When I went to the Blood Testing Center at Al-Salhiya, I found many young Indian women sitting there. I talked to them. They all were from the south Indian state of Kerala. They are nurses and were working in various hospitals in India in Delhi, Mumbai etc. They have been recruited by Ministry of Health, Government of Iraq. They are 86 in number. They have arrived about a week ago. They are being placed in various government hospitals in and around Baghdad in batches consisting of 4/5 women. They were there for mandatory blood test. I didn’t have to undergo blood test this time as I was tested within a period of three months. So, they issued a certificate for this. Then we went to Iqama office to get notify my arrival, deposit blood test certificate and take back the Residency ID. While returning from the Iqama office, our car suddenly started knocking and came to […]

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Diwali in Allahabad

Jit left for Baghdad to resume his duties. Babai left a week before Jit. Naturally, I would be feeling very sad, so Jit planned for my visit to Allahabad to my parent’s house for 10 days, so that I can attend Diwali, Kali Puja and Bhai phota there. Boudi and I spent the Kali puja night at the Kalibari as this puja begins around midnight and it continues until it’s almost dawn. We also visited the house of my aunt – Kakima and cousin brother. We also went to see a horror movie in one of the nights – 1920 Evil Returns. I also met my college friend Lakshmi, who also stays in Allahabad. Boudi and I went to her house to meet her and then to the house of Babua, brother of Boudi. Lost my Debit Card! We went to Civil Lines area for some shopping and dining. As I was to pay at the shop, I found my HDFC Bank Debit card missing. OMG! I last used it at an ATM of HDFC Bank two days ago. May be I misplaced it there. I paid at the shop in cash. I felt damn disastrous. We rushed to that ATM but the guard said that no card was found there. He also checked the register. Next day was Diwali and so it’s a bank holiday too. We went to the HDFC Bank. The officer was a nice gentleman. He […]

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Earthquake Hits Sikkim Again on Anniversary

A 4.1 magnitude earthquake hit Sikkim today exactly a year after an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale causing widespread devastation, killing around 80 people and leaving about 350 injured. Coincidentally, today’s tremors were felt within 15 minutes of the time of last year’s earthquake. It seems that the Mother Nature was observing the earthquake anniversary! I was sleeping on my bed in my hostel room on the 9th floor at SMIMS. Suddenly, I felt that my bed was tossed up. I jumped out of my bed and started running down the stairs to the ground. I found my friends there and we all are safe! I was panting then. I called my mom to inform her about the earthquake. My mom and dad called me to know the details. They were naturally worried for me. There are no reports yet of any loss of life or damage to property as a result of the earthquake. Thank God, it was moderate this time! Candlelight vigils were planned in Sikkim in memory of the last year earthquake victims at several places. We also had a candlelight vigil at our SMIMS in the evening.

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No Power in the Evening!!

Today at around 4.45 pm, the power went off. We have 24 hour generator backup at our residence, it being inside the office compound. Normally the generator starts almost immediately. Today also it was to start almost immediately, but it didn’t. I waited for it for sometime but it didn’t. It is a bit unusual. I went out of the bed room to our living room and peeped out of the window and saw our technicians are working on it. So, I thought it may start early as people are working on it. Little did I know then that it may take 5 long hours in the hot summer evening! We had some coffee and still power was not restored. So, we went up to the roof. I missed watching the Iraq-Oman World Cup 2014 qualifier match. Luckily, the security people were listening to the commentary on radio, but it was in Arabic. However, from the flow of the commentary and the reactions of the listeners I could manage to gauge the pace of the match. Slowly, the day turned into night and still there was no sign of power. We went down near the gate. All other residents – Faris Kamal, Abdulkhaliq Muhtasib, Faisal Shinde and Ahmed Zaki were also there. We were gossiping there standing near the gate of the compound while waiting for the technicians to fix the problems. They, in fact serviced almost the entire things […]

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Earthquake Jolts Sikkim

A severe earthquake rocked Sikkim on Sunday evening resulting in at least 20 deaths and injuries to several others. The earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale which hit the east and Northeast region, was the biggest in 20 years. The epicentre of the quake was 64 km from Gangtok in Sikkim, causing major damages in the area. Aftershocks measuring 6.1 and 5.3 on the Richter Scale were also felt around Sikkim 20 minutes after the earthquake. This is the fourth earthquake in India in this current month of September 2011. Three earlier earthquakes hit Manipur, Haryana and Gujarat in September 2011. There were also reports of landslides following the earthquake in areas around Sikkim and also Darjeeling. It was raining heavily since yesterday and this has made the situation worse. Two major landslides have been reported from Sikkim’s capital, Gangtok cutting off the National Highway. Several buildings have also been damaged in Gangtok. Mobile connectivity and power supply have also been affected in the quake-hit areas. I was very much tense and worried for Jaya and Babai. They were traveling to Gangtok. As I sat with lunch after returning from office at around 4.00 pm Baghdad time, I opened the TV and saw the breaking news. I forgot my lunch and started calling both Jaya and Babai. The line was busy and no call could be established. I sent sms and it was delivered! But, still there was no response. In the […]

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Mumbai Attacked Again, What for?

The serial bomb blast attacks again on Mumbai, yesterday, were not only cowardly but also very dastardly acts. It is only a human being amongst all the animals can do like this on its own species. This is hardly known what objectives do such acts accomplish! It is said that the date 13 is probably some code for a terrorist group called Indian Mujahideen. Their attacks have been on 13th days of the months! No religion of the world propagates killing of innocent people. These are possible only at the height of insanity. Such acts are a shame on the people or the group of people who planned it and executed it. My heart bleeds for the poor family members of the victims and also for those who were hurt in these blasts. May the Almighty give them the strength to overcome the grief, the shock and the pain. May the God also give some sanity to those who masterminded these attacks and executed them. Also, Indian government needs to be extra vigilant to avoid such mishaps. Security lapses must be investigated and the necessary steps should be taken immediately to prevent such incidents.

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My Bed Crashed Last Night

Last night while I was asleep, suddenly my bed crashed down in the middle of night. :-( Thank God, I was not injured. Then I managed the night sleeping on the bed balancing on two small tables. I had one such table in my room and brought another from our living room downstairs. In the morning, I called Mahmood Tabaan. He fixes the things in our house. The bed is balanced on some boards with no proper beads. He nailed the boards and then put some empty Quaker cans to support and avoid the bed crashing down again. Hope this ‘jugaad‘ will last longer and I can have some comfortable sleeps. Jugaad literally means an improvised arrangement or work-around, which has to be used because of lack of resources, sometimes pejoratively used for solutions that bend rules, or a person who can solve a complicated issue. This term is widely used in India and by people of Indian origin around the world.

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Twin Car Bomb Attack on Our Office

Bomb attacks on TBI, HO

There were twin suicidal car bomb attacks on the Head Office of Trade Bank of Iraq, Baghdad at around 11.00 am today. I was at the basement of the building. As usual, it was a normal business day, being the first day of the week. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion and false ceilings and facades started falling down, glasses […]

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Ranchi to Hazaribagh

On the day of Diwali eve, we set for Hazaribagh from Ranchi. My uncle & Aunt-in law stay there. We started in my Maruti car. We had traveled to far off places like Kolkata, Puri, Allahabad, Lucknow in that same car. It never gave me any trouble. But on that fateful evening, we were faced with lots of obstacles. The distance of Hazaribagh from Ranchi is barely 100 km. As we reached Ramgarh about 45 km from Ranchi, we found that the right rear tyre was flat. Somehow, managed to find a puncture shop and got the puncture fixed. We started after waiting there for about 1/2 hour. Then at Ranchi Road, the tyre burst. I got the stepney changed and moved forward. After another 25 km, near Mandu the stepney burst. We heard crackers bursting sounds but unfortunately, it was my same tyre. It was pretty dark by that. Most of the shops were closed or are open with very dim lights. Still, with the grace of the Almighty, we could locate a puncture shop. We were utterly helpless as there was no more spare tyre with us. But that man was like an Angel to us. He managed two old tyres and new tubes as replacements. We got the tyre and the stepney changed and moved from there after almost one hour uttering “Jai Guru”. With His grace, we could reach Hazaribagh at 9:30 pm, covering a distance […]

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Close Encounter with Dacoits

It was a new year – 2002 – the first week of the year. Recently our results for promotions were out. I stood second!! My colleague, Sanjay Prasad and I were to visit some branches in Jharkhand; we both being posted in the Zonal Office so it is a part of our duties. One of the visits was to be in Deoghar, which is also famous for Lord Shiva temple – Baidyanath Dham. This is a ‘jyotirlinga’ – a shrine where Lord Shiva is worshiped in the form of a Jyotirlingam or “Lingam (pillar) of light.” There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India. Deoghar happens to be one of them. As we were promoted as Senior Manager just a week before, we planned to take our family also with us to pay our reverence to Lord Shiva. We traveled in an Ambassador car. We were returning via Giridh. We had our lunch there at the famous “Bewaqoof” (Idiot) Hotel. It was getting a bit late. We thought that we may stay in Giridih and start next day but then changed our views and proceeded for Ranchi. The security situation in that area is very bad. Nobody moves there in night out of any city. The area there and neighborhood districts are practically under the control of Maoists, called Red/Liberated Area. We safely reached GT Road (NH-2). Nothing happened! It boosted our confidence on our luck as we crossed the […]

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