My days in Iraq
Iraq had large oil deposits. Saddam Hussein was involved in the trading of oil. He never allowed any single person to go hungry in his country. He had literally abolished hunger from Iraq. My job took me from Baghdad (Southern Iraq) to Northern Iraq. Muslim extremists had a strong presence in this place. Also this was the place where small Christian community lived. The Christians welcomed me with open hands but I also had to be aware of the Islamic sensibility of the place and make sure that I did not do anything which displeased them. The Islamic people did not believe in giving warnings but enjoyed killing their enemies.
I had the opportunity to visit Halabjah where Saddam had executed many. One of the interesting things I found in Iraq was that the Muslims did not have any colour prejudice. A large number of Africans we posted in Iraq because of very high remuneration. But there was absolutely no prejudice among the Muslims because of their colour. As Sree Narayana Guru said, “colour was only skin deep, under the skin everyone’s blood is red and because of this humanity is a single brotherhood and sisterhood.” Because of huge allowance, which I think was USD 500 per day, I wanted to continue in Iraq for longer than 6 months but, I was repatriated to Rome, because many people wanted to come in my place.
Iraq had a special concern for Indians because they were considered as educated. Shashi Tharoor and I together went to old book stalls where we could find books in all languages including English, French, Portuguese, and Arabic and which we could get by paying for just their weight. The seller of the books was not literate and did not know their value.
I ALSO MET WITH BISHOP BHARANI KULANGARA (WHO IS PRESENTLY IN DELHI) WHO WAS AT THAT TIME POSTED IN IRAQ REPRESENTING VATICAN. ALSO I MET WITH ISOLATED CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES RESIDING IN IRAQ FOR 2000 YEARS.
Kurd community consists of both Muslims and Christians. They wanted a separate state for themselves called Kurdistan. The Kurds were not normally violent and were very polite.
I stuck by and large to vegetarianism except for fish curries, the Iraqi variety. I wanted to stay on but because of high remuneration (USD 500 and more per day) I was repatriated to Rome to give opportunity for others.