Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm Online At The Plantation

Over the past month, my friends know whether I'm at home or at the plantation according to my online status... but no more! For now I have a GPRS connection here at the plantation. It's so nice.

It was on my way here last Wednesday that I got the SMS message from Iraqna (but which is now called Zain) saying that the GPRS service is now available and to call to activate it. I called and requested they activate it the next day and they told me to wait 48 hours... well it's been five days that I've been waiting but it finally works after I figured out that I have to include the modem initialization command into my laptop because I kept getting Error 734 PPP link something.

Everything's going fairly smooth over here at the farm. Still not on top of things and I've got a few problems here and there. I've got a cousin that owes me a hundred bucks and that I feel might be avoiding me because of it. There's a lady at the land registry office that won't process my request for land certificates unless I bribe her. I'm going to call dad to see what to do about her.

After the kidnapping and murder of that distant cousin of mine, the city has a lot more cops. Apparently the family sheikh told off the security forces. Today the city was rather empty and all the shops were shut. Everyone's gone off to some pilgramige to Baghdad. Meanwhile, I'm here waiting for some of them to come back so I can pay them money I owe them for tilling the land.

Crap, I've spent maybe an hour online and I just got an SMS saying that I've got less than three bucks of credit on my mobile left. That's about eight buck for an hour. That does sting. I need to figure out how to minimize my laptop's connection activity. I'm paying a cent for every ten kilobytes here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Got a Summer Cold

This is nuts! How in the world did I manage to get a cold in July? Great timing too, I've got to go to the plantation tomorrow. And I'm finally going to have to start working in earnest on the bleeding accounts.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bleeding Finger

Ouch my finger hurts. I should perhaps pop out some more booze. Check the ice tray... it's just been loaded. Got myself a beer. Must numb the pain coming from my finger. I'm in such a bad mood these days. Reason to worry. Hope it doesn't become chronic.

It's the 21st today, I was planning to start doing the accounts yesterday. But Nahida is doing some important paperwork here in Baghdad, and hopefully it'll be done tomorrow and the day after we'd head back to the plantation.

I went to the Hyundai showroom today. I saw a nice car there yesterday. But today, I went with Nahida's brother, who my dad told me must be with me when I buy a car, it was made clear that if I were to buy a car from the Hyundai showroom the car would remain the legal property of the company. That on its own killed the deal right away.

Nahida's got her brother trying to cheer me up by driving me around Baghdad. Last night we went out late (around nine o'clock in the evening), people were boozing on the Jadriya bridge. We had ourselves some ice cream and then some burgers. And then we came back to our dreary neighbourhood. The one improvement in our neighbourhood is that we now have street lightening which I believe is of the courtesy of the US army on one side and solar powered street lights on the other side.

Dad's gone a bit nutty with some idea about milling and selling rice commercially. Last thing I heard from him is that he's going to a Chinese embassy for a refurbished mill. I don't really understand how he can even be envisaging doing something like this without properly studying the idea and planning it out.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hating Work

I'm hating the plantation with vigor now. I feel overwhelmed by all the things I've got to get done. Every time I speak to my dad he tells me how important it is that I get this or that done. And these things just accumulate, and to be fair I'm not sincerely getting any things done yet.

Upon arrival to my last trip to the plantation, the first place I went to was the agricultural office to check on those checks. Turned out I had mixed up the checks with the paperwork and that it wasn't such a big deal and the office was able to manage it on their own.

When I got to the house there, Fozzy told me the news that one of my relatives got kidnapped. Later that day I called one of my cousins and he told me that the guy that got kidnapped had been found dead. The next day, I tagged along with my cousin for the funeral ceremonies. The body was first picked up from the morgue and then drove over to the town and then on to Najaf (the big ol' necropolis). Later that afternoon the three day funeral service at a local mosque went ahead.

The funeral service was drawn out affair of hellos, byebyes and a lot of standing. It was also a good chance to meet more relatives, more than I could ever handle. But I got the chance to get well acquainted with a few and to see some that I would probably not have had much of a chance to see otherwise. What was weird about the three day funeral service was how happy everyone was when greeting those they perhaps haven't seen in a while and so on. As far as I can tell most of the grieving took place at the sheikh's house. That's were people seemed the most earnet.

The next day involved a lot of standing too. Nabs and I went to the agriculture office to pick up some fertilizer called Propanil. We spent the whole day waiting for all the other farmers to pick up their gallon share of the stuff, whilst we were waiting to get our six barrels worth. It wasn't till the end of the day that they agreed to give us the barrels as long as we brought them back after emptying them into our own. Of course it really took the piss when I passed by the next day to find very few people waiting for the stuff and a relative stocking up on some barrels who explained to me that I should have waited till the next day too.

I've nearly finished preparing my new laptop. Right now, I'm just waiting for iTunes to finish downloading. I've nearly finished setting up most of the software I wanted and am rid of most of those annoying vista pop ups. I've got my Google Sidebar all set up. I'm slowly becoming accustomed to Vista. And I can see myself getting used to it now.

Power cut... F*$@!!! I scrapped my middle finger on the broken handle of the generator starter rope. Hurts like hell, but not so much now that I've had my self a TGV.

iTunes is done, what should I install next? I've already installed Avast for anti-virus protection, but I then noticed that Google's giving away a Norton product for free. I'm not sure if I should switch or not. How about downloading StarOffice? Oh I know... I'll download Google SketchUp.

One of the things I hate the most about being at the plantation is not having an internet connection. And the two internet cafes over there aren't so comfy either. I don't think it's worth the expense to setup multiple wireless bridges to get a wifi signal all the way to my house.

Crap! My plaster peeling off already.

My cousin called me yesterday to tell me about some free tip to Turkey for those that have just graduated to learn English and stuff and to get some girls to sign up. I know I've got too much work to do and told Nahida that I can't but Nahida was rather excited by the idea so I told her to speak to my dad to see if he'd let me go. He told her that I had plenty of important things to get done and that he himself believed that he didn't have much time left because his kidney's working less and less because of his diabetese. That freaked Nahida out, and when she told me that freaked me out a little too. It got me wondering if he'll get to see me marry.

It's half past three in the morning and I think I might be getting sleepy, but I think I'm to pop out of my bed room for a cig first.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Laptop, Hard To Love

I feel terrible. I spent the first two nights of my arrival back in Baghdad drinking. I had bought a a bottle of tequila, gin and vodka just before leaving to Shamiya and I started drinking those bottles with a mighty thirst. I've also been teaching my friend who have been sleeping over how to drink tequila shots with salt and lemons. They liked it alot.

Fozzy called Nahida a little earlier, telling her that he had called one of the guys in charge of the fertilizer distribution and was told that I screwed up the sum on the certified checks. This after I had double checked everything. Everything, except for checks themselves because I was so excited about finally getting them that I rushed them to the agriculture office.

I got myself a new laptop today. It's a Toshiba Tecra A9-P12. I loved my first Toshiba, but this one I got today on the other hand is much harder to love. Well I had my mind fixed on getting a Tecra, and I was looking for a 14 inch monitor. I wish I had found the M9 instead but I ended up with the only Tecra in the market which is a 15 inch. This one is ugly and big, maybe a bit too big for my Eastpack backpack. And for some reason it doesn't include Microsoft Works, and Vista is a pain to get accustomed to. It's got plenty of extra security options like hard disk encryption or password protection and fingerprint reader, but it doesn't have a built-in webcam. I just hope the build quality will prove itself worthy of being loved.

Went to the pool again, made sure not to slam my balls against the water again whilst diving. Still ended up getting dizzy after leaving the water, yet no as much as last time. Don't know why it's happening to me. Mous says it's because of all my binge drinking. He might be right, but I still think that it's just a sign of how unhealthy I am.

I've got to start loading the animes I got from Mous onto my laptop now. Oh crap... I don't even have codecs installed on this laptop. It's going to take forever to fully load this laptop.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Birthday India

Got back from my plantation trip a couple of days ago. Spent a whole week there. I've begun taking charge of the accounts, making payments as well as processing government papers. I was working on some papers to get subsidized fertilizers from the government. When I finished it last Monday that some of the fertilizers may be made available next Monday. So I hopped back to Baghdad the next day. Getting those papers done here is a bureaucratic mess, it takes so many signatures to get something processed.

The worst part was going to the bank to make a certified check. On that day, I had to join the crowd of people pushing themselves in to the one bank in town. The crowd was made up of farmers also wanting a certified check to purchase fertilizers, other seeking were seeking credit and another group were there to get their retirement payments. Inside the bank was humid, hot and smelly with the body odour of crowd. Luckily for me, half-way through the process the manager invited me to sit down in cooled office and let one of the employees finish processing my certified check.

Aside from processing government documents and noting down the expenses of the day, there wasn't much for me to do the rest of the day. I had about fifty episodes of anime that I finished watching by the fourth or fifth day. It was after that that afternoon and evening boredom began to get on my nerves.

I've begun to get a feel for the ropes of running a plantation. I'm fortunate enough to have a couple of distant cousins, Mamo and Mado, who are my age who are also involved in running their family plots and they're there to give me advice. Mado for example, explained to me that I should always just listen when dealing with a farmer and that if I had anything to say it was best to leave it to one of the managers.

Fozzy's also there and is still in charge of most of the daily operations, as well as Nabs who's more or less Fozzy's right hand man. Nabs is the one I rely on the most to accompany me wherever I go and he's always looking out for relatives of mine so that he may introduce me to them. The boys in his family come over to my house all the time to help Nahida clean up the house. Nab's shows himself to be very loyal to my dad and points out that his grandpa died in one of my grandpa's battles.

The only person on my team that I'm not convinced of yet is the irrigation manager, Jaws. It's the probably the hardest and most crucial job on the plantation and I'm still pretty much in the dark regarding it. Personally I've never really liked the guy, last summer he really got on my nerves because he'd pull my arm to bring my face closer for a kiss every time we shake hands. A cheek-kissing greeting is very normal, but I certainly don't like my arm being pulled.

When I sat down to see him during this visit, the guy just talked a whole load of crap about the farmers being always at fault and that our irrigation pumping capacity isn't sufficient. I don't think it's very smart of him to clear himself of any blame on my first meeting with him. Aside from that, he upsets Fozzy and Nabs is always complaining about him not being about and having to do his work.

But on the other side, he may have that one job that makes everyone hate him by default. I've heard that farmers always think more water is better even though that might not always be true. And I did hear several farmers complaining during this visit. In Jaws favour, he does have one quality and that's the one of having way too many kids thus giving him strength in numbers. Having strength might be an important requisite when dealing with allocating irrigation considering how farmers aren't shy of killing one another.

The first piece of news that I heard when getting there was that of a man being killed over unpaid debts which were a result of last year's currency traders frenzy into buying and selling US dollars on credit. Lots of people in town have been murdered or have fled as a result of it. There's an Islamic principle that if you lend money to someone and that person makes a loss with that investment then you too should share the loss. But unfortunately, they didn't apply that principle.

Whilst I was at the plantation, some guy came over and took me to see some millling equipement. The bastard made me pay for the cab ride even though the cab driver was his family and the bastard's going to make a commission if I decide to buy anything. Dad's got an idea to mill rice and to market it for retail. His idea, but it'll be up to me to carry it out. I think he's getting a bit ahead of himself myself, and I should start putting to practice that stuff I learnt at college about feasibility studies.

The neighbourhood generator line is buggered and keeps cutting off so I'll try making another post tomorrow before I go back to the plantation.