Thursday, September 13, 2007

An Evening in Baghdad

A dog across the road barks and gets our attention. We wander across the roof top and gaze down into the dark to see what has distracted it. Nothing appears straight away but then a modified Ford pickup truck drives though. Modified with a gun turret mounted on its chassis. A soldier sits in the turret swinging his machine gun from side to side. Three others laugh and chat in the open back as they push on through the street. Like guards in any environment they are booted and spurred but clearly bored and settled into a routine. Even the dog barking had not got the attention of our own guards - they are in their own routine too. Last night we had to draw the guard’s attention to a car load of young men that had just done the third lap past our front door. Once out on the roof the night captivates us and we enjoyed the fresh warmth of the breeze. Overhead there is the constant grumble from high altitude aircraft. I have no idea if the USAF maintains some sort of CAP here but usually there are no lights to give away the location of aircraft. The constant sound of jets suggest someone up there is going the same boring routine as the guards at the gate are doing down here. After all there is no Iraq Air Force to combat – at best they will get is ground support mission. For the first time tonight I catch a military jet (no strobes) with lights on (unusual) streaking north at high speed, a few minutes later followed by a similar profile boring east. Picking up the direction of helicopters is not easy as their vibrations echo off each wall and make echo location damn hard. And of course they fly without lights so you have to be constantly guessing where they are. Soon a shadow creeps in over the Tigris and drops into the suburbs somewhere, vanishing among the buildings. It’s nowhere near the hospital so perhaps the SF lads are out and about tonight doing goodness knows what. The shadow stays hidden and silent for five minutes before the sound of its blades beats the air again and you can hear it coming towards you. You can’t see it until it has gone past and the city lights, such as they are, pick up its fast moving, light coloured belly. It is visible for seconds then gone. Its rotors die out seconds later and you peer into the haze wondering if you imagined it all. The dog across the road gives a nervous yap in your direction and you realise all your peering into the sky, and rotating on the spot to follow this or that aircraft or helicopter track is making it nervous – a guard from another premises has wandered over and is peering up at the roof to try and see what is going on. Time for bed.


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artur said...

it's quite a gloomy picture, but no wonder- war zone anyway...

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