Iraq day 9 – the day after

Paul has asked for a copy of the concert audio on CD so I set about pulling together a quick and dirty CD master using some software Cam has brought on his laptop. I will be doing a more thorough job on the master when I return to Australia and can do the mastering in a known environment, but for now the rough mix I cobbled together on headphones on the day will have to suffice.

While I am doing this, Cam catches up with Dana who is slaving away doing Kurdish to English translation for one of the other producers that are trying to make a film about the orchestra.

Cam and I hire a taxi and venture into Erbil to pick up some establishing shots and scenic cutaways on our last full day before we head out to Frankfurt. We are lucky to find a very accommodating driver who takes us on the scenic route towards the citadel where we climb out and take some establishing shots. Cam lines up the camera on a wonderful shot of the Kurdish flag framed by some fountains with the Citadel as a backdrop. Just as Cam is about to throw the camera into record, the fountains stopped. Cam can’t believe this as literally seconds after the fountains died away, the wind dropped and the flag fell to the mast. Shot gone. It wasn’t long however before some inquisitive locals started wondering what it was we were filming. In the end, we spent about half an hour with them chatting and taking pictures while we waited for the wind to pick up a little. Fortunately it did and just as Cam was lining up the shot, the fountains came back on again.

We were pleased to meet up with a Syrian guy who was in Iraq on vacation. He had been living in London for the past 15 years and although he spoke fluent Arabic, spoke with a distinctly educated London accent. Fortunately, he was able to translate some of the questions that were being asked of us by the locals – one of which was very inquisitive as to how he might fare immigration-wise if he was to go to Australia. I was not able to answer many of the questions he posed in a very positive light as Australia’s record on immigration seems to be patchy at best and I did not feel that painting a rosy picture of his chances would be the right thing to do.

Cam and I spent our last evening in Iraq in quite distinctly different ways. Cam went off to eat Pacha with some of the orchestra players and I braved crossing the highway with the tutors and went to eat dinner at family mall. While I freely admit that I passed up the opportunity to sample a famous Iraqi delicacy (listed as number 6 on cracked.com’s list of “worlds scariest meals”) I am proud to say that I managed to cross an Iraqi road and survive to tell the tale. On reflection I think that eating sheeps head is probably just slightly less scary than crossing the road.

We stayed up fairly late on our last night chilling with the tutors and the orchestra members that had stayed up in Erbil before their trip to Germany.

I very much hope that the staff of the Geneva hotel appreciate the artistic gesture left to them by the tutors and that this piece of modern and unique artwork, made all the more poignant by both the place (Iraq) and time (Ramadan) of it’s creation, will find a home amongst the many historic artworks to be found in Erbil. Alternatively, they will simply take the 344 beer cans and numerous glass bottles down to the bin and be shot of them. It has been an unforgettable week and I am sure the hotel employees – (one of which bore an uncannily disturbing resemblance to an old Pacific Access colleague of mine – NOT you Laith!!) – will be able to say the same for a long time to come.

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