Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reunions Part II

These are picture of me with my beloved interpreter Khalid. The first was taken in March 2005. The second was taken last week. I have not seen him for three years.

We stayed in touch via email - although very loosely - since my coming home in 2005. He would send a Christmas email every year and I would let him know that the family was doing well and growing.

As I got closer to returning to Iraq, I knew I had to see Khalid again. Once I got here and got settled I emailed for him to come from Baghdad and he agreed.

It's not easy to move freely around the country. There are Coalition Forces, Iraqi Police, and Security Forces who all have check points here and there. Some of the less professional Iraqis might even shake drivers down for money as a "toll". It was even harder for Khalid because he has no car and had to get a ride. It was not an easy trip for him.

As you can see, Khalid is short on stature. Kahlid, however is big on ideas. He was educated in Britian as an engineer and has used those skills to his benefit over the last five years. If you ask him he could solve all of Iraqs problems. He was an asset to me as a cultural advisor and project manager and interpreter. Unfortunately, Khalid is also a little schemer and got caught "double dipping" in 2005 when he was working for two different companies and translating for two different units...at the same time. I look back now and wonder what other shenanigans he was up to when he worked for me.

I love him, but don't trust him very much either.

Khalid and I met and took up where we left off; how's the family, the wife, how's his son-in-law who cheated him out of property, how are some of the people we knew. He adores Lisa. I showed him pictures of the wedding and he loved them. Then I showed him pictures from our missions together.

Over hot cha'i we laughed about some of the adventures we got into and argued about Iraq, its future, and the new American president-elect. Khalid uses his age to give the wise-old-sage insight to the world - especially the Arab world. I call "bullshit" and we argue it out. It was great.

In the end Khalid shared his technical drawings with pleas to turn them into projects. Projects equal money. I was a little put off by it but I also warned myself to expect it. Still it felt good to know that at least one thing that I left behind was still going strong. It felt good to wrap my arms around this tiny man who in spite of five years of war, occupation, civil war, and terror was still alive and hadn't changed one bit.

I am sure we will get together again.

1 comment:

Darci said...

Great post, Rich!