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.

1 comment:

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