Monday, December 26, 2011

The Exact Distance of a Tank, Shooting at You

Street shepherds and butchers are gathering in the sideway since months. I don't know if there are still slaughterhouses in modern Iraq. Slaying sheep occur as a daily routine in the sideway in our neighborhood.


 
There is a campaign of making Baghdad beautiful by building fountains and making gardens in some sideways. Yesterday, a new work of Ghani Hiqmat, the deceased, has been accomplished in the center of Baghdad entitled: the magical lantern, which relates to a story from "A Thousand Nights and a Night".
 
 As far as I know, no driving license has been issued since 2003 in Iraq. Today I was in a bus reading about "Nairn Transport Co." when a passenger in our bus asked the bus driver to stop just at the start of a bridge in a highway. The bus driver hit the break with his feet as if pressing on a cockroach and we stop just few centimeters from a taxi driver who was out of his car for unclear reason at the mouth of the bridge. "You was about to hit me idiot" the taxi driver yelled. "Learn to choose your words," murmured our bus driver with anger. The taxi driver went inside his taxi and yelled: "ZMAL (=jackass)" and hit the benzene pedal with his feet as if killing a roach.
 I read from my newspaper that Nairn Transport Co worked in Iraq from 1920 till 1960. They were taking passengers between Baghdad, Damascus, Beyrouth and Haifa. Because of the Bedouins that were attacking the buses frequently every traveler need to know that his "LIFE ASSURANCE IS CANCELLED" during his trip with the Co.
Agatha Christie had travelled in that same Co. when was in our area for some period.
 I then read about Badr Shakir Al-Sayyab, the Iraqi poet. Every Iraqi knew that Al-Sayyab spent the last days of his life diseased in a hospital in Kuwait. Today I read why he ended in Kuwait. A poet from Kuwait had come to Iraq to visit his friend, Al-Sayyab. That poet who came from Kuwait was surprised by the ignorance and the dirtiness of the Iraqi hospital. He managed to transfer Al-Sayyab to a Kuwaiti hospital with the agreement of the Kuwaiti government to help him. That was in 1964.
In 1991, Iraq invaded Kuwait. I still remember the nearby carpenter who brought a box full of video cassettes from Kuwait. I know a person who filled his garden with air-conditioners brought from Kuwait. My father managed to buy us a video recorder. We burrowed some of the video tapes from the carpenter. All were Indian movies. There was no subtitle. We understand nothing from the films yet, we bought a half-dozen of video tapes. My father was very anxious that a movie might contain a romantic scene that reveals some part of a female body. I managed to find some minutes of romance in one of the movies which were a big addition to my romantic experience and an enrichment to my fantasies.
I reached my destination, went out of the bus, and knew that I had to wait for a while. I managed to find a place where I can wait. A man joined me. We talked for few minutes then there was a silence. Suddenly he smiled and asked: "How can you calculate the distance between yourself and a tank in front of you in a battle field?"
You might think that there was a context that brought that question. Well, if there is a context then I don't know it. We didn't talk about tank, bombs, nor anything related to war before that man asked me the question. I drew a smile of surprise on my face, a smile that I wanted it to say: "how much you are informed man. I wanna know. I wanna know how to calculate the exact distance between me and the tank that is shooting me please!!!". I asked the man: "How can I know the distance?". With a glorious smile the man drew his left sleeve up and held his watch in his right hand and said: "you keep looking that the tank. The minute you see it firing you start counting seconds till you hear the sound of the firing. Then you multiply the number of seconds by ### (I forgot the number). It will be exactly the distance in meters between you and the tank in front of you."
  

2 comments:

1900CL. said...

You mean you keep looking AT the tank?I think I'd already taken off like Tom Hanks in the movie where he runs like a speeding bullet.

Yes,I can see your point in regard to there not being any context leading up to the conversation about the tank math measurements.

And yes your dad did have wisdom about addiction to female measurments,and not wanting to expose you to such a problem.

globeonmytable said...

Here in the UK we count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the rumble of thunder to know how many miles away the centre of the storm is. Five seconds means it is five miles away.