Thursday, January 20, 2005
Going to Iraq
I started packing with essentials first:
Thuraya hand-held sat-phone
R-BGAN Satellite for sending data/images
Level 3A with level 4 ceramic plates (front and back) bulletproof vest.
Kevlar Army issued helmet
Army issued goggles
Sleeping bag capable of sleeping outdoors
2 Nikon D1x bodies
One 17-35 mm and one 80-200 mm lenses
5 flash cards capable of capturing over 1000 images in total
5 D1 batteries
One Holga with Polaroid back
7 packs of 3000 b&w Polaroid film
Sony Vaio laptop
SMC wireless cards
Universal electricity converter
Power strip cord
USB, Firewire, you name it wire
CD-R and CD-RWs to burn images to back up
iPod for the fun of it
About $1,000 in cash plus American Express and Master Card
After packing the above then I got to start packing my clothing! I packed only 2 pairs of pants, one pair of trek shoes and the above jungle-boots and whole bunch of t-s.
After two comfortable flights on KLM from JFK to Amsterdam to Kuwait, I am now sitting in one of the two 24 Starbucks in Kuwait City Airport. Local time is close to 6 am (10 pm in NYC) . Around 11:00 am I will meet with a military public information officer to make my way to APOD. APOD is the section of Kuwait City Airport used by the United States for its operations in the Iraqi theater. I think flight time is 1:15 pm which was kept secret from me till I called in around midnight.
Azoon, the call to prayer, is being chanted in the lobby while a tall Arab man in a nice gray and white local garb is purchasing a grande latte. When I first got here, around midnight mind you, there was a constant five or six lined people purchasing coffee. I heard the word grande a lot! Not sure if anywhere else in the world people would be drinking this much coffee so late into the night. One thing that I am forgetting is that, this is a Muslim nation and people do not drink alcohol in public. So there are no bars in the airport. Nevertheless the western influence is in full force. From where I am sitting I can see a Burger King, a KFC and a 31 Flavors ice-cream shop. All the usual names such as Hertz and Four Season signage is also visible from my seat. The Starbucks here, just like the ones in New York City have fast wireless connection. So I purchased one-hour session for $5 and yes they also play Sinatra in the Starbucks in Kuwait City. I have to comeback during Christmas to see if the play any holiday tunes! I am logging off till I get inside Iraq.
Ramin Talaie – Kuwait City, Kuwait