Monday, October 19, 2009
Iraq/Afghanistan- Some Inside Stories
One of the great things about dating a talented musician is that he occasionally gets noticed and gets commissioned to do some interesting gig. Wilson Gil’s most interesting gigs by far were the two week music tours he did with his band, the Willful Sinners, in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2007.
Now, I’ve heard my fill of crazy war stories from Wilson, but after a visit last weekend from a friend of his whom he met in Iraq, I’ve got some more bizarre things to add to the list. I’m going to refer to this friend as Miss X, just so that I don’t step on anyone’s toes.
First off, Miss X was so nice and down to earth. She looks more like a cute housewife than a woman who spends much of her time working in war zones (I think Demi Moore ruined it for all the normal girls working in the military. Seriously, women in the military related fields are just normal people). And Miss X is bad-ass. She’s a communications consultant and specializes in solving problems related to suicide bombings. How’s that for intense?
Miss X, Wilson, and I wondered through Alexander Platz and looked at the historical buildings- all lit up because of the Festival of Lights- and chatted about cheerful topics such as searching for body parts, army bases being rocketed, people blowing themselves up, and so forth. We really are happy people, I swear. It’s not all doom and gloom.
So, want the inside scoop on some things the media doesn’t really cover? Just a couple tidbits for you: Fingerprinting is new in Iraq, and a friend of Miss X has the job of updating files with fingerprints- which means that she is often sent the fingers of dead people. Yup, just the finger. Imagine getting that package in the mail. Everyday.
Did you know that Saddam Hussein had a thing for the Flintstones? He had the whole town of Bed Rock constructed for his enjoyment. He also bred these giant fish with scales that looked like diamonds. Wilson was trying to feed the fish pieces of bread and it wasn’t really working. Then a soldier threw the fish a chicken bone- that did the trick.
Apparently, the United States has claimed all of the sites of archeological importance for themselves- Wilson got taken on one field trip after another to see pyramids, the foundation of the house of the prophet Abraham, palaces, you name it. The oldest pyramid structure known to man is just languishing in the desert. It's too bad archeology isn't the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about Iraq these days!
Wilson Gil, Miss X, and I also touched on how there are certain ways being in a war affects you, things you wouldn’t have thought of before you signed up for the job. Dealing with suicide bombing has given Miss X a large crowd complex. She said that one day her friend called her and asked what she was up to and Miss X replied that she was hiding in a supermarket aisle. She couldn’t quite recall why she was hiding, just that the crowds of shoppers had started to freak her out.
What I appreciated most about our visit with Miss X was how we could sip hot chocolate in a café in Berlin while discussing topics that are changing the world. It made me appreciate Berlin for what it is- an international city. Berlin feels safe, it feels comfortable, it feels peaceful, and yet Berlin itself carries the scars of war. Maybe one day it will be the same for Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe one day Wilson and I will visit Miss X in Baghdad and we’ll sip some hot chocolate in a café and talk about lighter things. One can only hope.
For more pics, check out Wilson Gil on Facebook.