Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Eid Al-Ghadeer

Salam beat me to it, so go read his post for a full explanation of Eid Al-Ghadeer. Yesterday at work everyone was greeting each other and doing the kiss-hug thing. Of course I played my role as the good pious Shi'ite I'm pretending to be in these parts. I knew it was the Ghadeer day but I didn't figure the celebrations would be so wide spread and I also wasn't familiar with the exact traditions you have to follow, I just kept my eyes on the locals and did what they did. I should have taken pictures as there were lots of interesting stuff to shoot, but I thought it would be unwise. I'm still trying to keep a low profile over here, and flashing a camera in these parts would immediately attract a crowd of children many of whom had probably never seen a camera in their life time. They would run after you, tugging your shirt, chanting "Mister, Mister", mistaking me for a reporter or a journalist.

Anyway, the taxi driver noticed me staring at a crowd celebrating and beating their chests in unison while a smallish fellow was singing praises on a loud speaker.
"Don't be surprised by all that", he said. "They do that all the time. I don't think it's very civilized. They should celebrate at the Mosque".
"Uh huh", I mumbled. It was pretty obvious that I was from Baghdad so I didn't want to offer my opinion.

One of the doctors at our residence turned out to be quite a fanatic. Two days ago we were watching a movie on MBC-2 and there was a brief kissing scene. He was seated in front of me and I could see his face redden. "Turn the channel!" he bellowed. Someone turned it quickly. He then proceeded to give them a sermon. I just gave him a scornful look. He was the one who put up the Khomeini poster in our living room, someone had brought it to him from Iran, on it's back was written "Dear Dr., I'm sorry but this was the best one I could find".

It's improving though. A few days ago a resident pharmacist joined us in the residence. He's a Baghdadi and from my neighbourhood! I felt more comfortable since we were three Baghdadis now. The moment he walked in, he looked at the Khomeini poster intently, and, to our amazement, he knocked it down and it fell behind the tv. My friend and I gave him a loud cheer. He's a really outgoing fellow, and he made us feel more at home than ever.

Have to go now. And I should be back in Baghdad tomorrow or the day after.