March 21, 2008

Here's what a "typical" day is like ...

...let's say this Thursday, March 19:

Babil PRT Staff meeting at 8:30am.

Fire training at 9am, which is a requirement for new arrivals.

1130am: I was to host a visiting Colonel from Baghdad and the Treasury Attaché, when I found out just prior to arrival by helo that it was a large delegation. After they deboarded we found out that an Ambassador, whom I had met many years ago, was the ranking person, (not the Colonel), plus a whole group of senior guys from USAID and the Embassy. (One of them asked where he had met me earlier, and it turns out he worked in USAID in Pretoria with Barbara. First person in Iraq to peg me as Barbara Hillas' husband!). Only when the meeting started did I and my deputies learn that the purpose of the visit was to critically look at PRTs...

Anyway, when the visiting delegation left after its one and one half hour visit, we threw on our armor vests and drove off to visit the Euphrates Fish Farm.

Got back to the compound just in time to sit down for almost two hours with a French/Iraqi film director, Amer Alwan, who is known for Zaman, the Man from the Reeds, a semi-documentary about a Marsh Arab. (The Smithsonian Magazine wrote about the Marsh Arabs 2.5 years ago and National Geographic 5 years ago ). His documentary on Iraq will be called "Another World", which pretty much captures my initial reactions to Hillah. He wants to show that life is starting to return to normal and that there is a new sense of hope in Iraq.

He is actually a native of Hillah who moved to France 25 years ago. This is his first time back and he was surprised in passing through Baghdad how easy it was to move around and that there was not a blanket of dread hanging over the city. He had the same impression in coming down here to Hillah.

At 6pm I was able to sit down and start to read emails. At 10pm the DFAC (dining facility) opens again for the late night crowd. In this place, you are never more than a few hours away from an amazingly bountiful buffet. It would be easy to gain weight here.

I prepared for the following day's ceremonies out at the Babylonian ruins celebrating Babil designation as Iraq's cultural capital. Prime Minister Maliki will be there as well.

I also learned that a Sadrist member of the Provincial Council called asking to meet with me about an issue that I'll skip over here.

By 10:30pm I was able to go grab a bite and then go to bed.

1 comment:

bleavitt said...

Ken, Awesome job. This was my first blog reading and I thought it was great. It really gives me an understanding of what your job is and what it is like in Iraq. Thanks for what you are doing and be safe. We are thinking about you. Bruce