“The Situation Remains Fluid”: that’s what the US State Department (or maybe the Canadian equivalent, I’m not entirely sure which) told me about Iraq when I started thinking about coming here. It’s become a personal mantra since then, one that helps me navigate the arbitrary hours of business, unexpected presence of construction work, and too-frequent power outages that help shape life in the KRG.
This may be the most fluid of months in an already free-flowing society. I’m not sure anything actually gets done during March. At Nature Iraq, we’ve had three days off for various versions of Kurdish independence days—two to commemorate an uprising, one to commemorate the actual granting of autonomy, if I’m actually understanding the folks I work with—, an effective day off for Wear-Your-Traditional-Kurdish-Clothing Day—which probably has a snappier name than that, and is somehow tied to International Womens Day—, and four days off for Nawroz, the Persian/Kurdish/Bahai New Year. Nawroz is a Christmas-level holiday, the kind of celebration that gets everyone out of work and feeling festive and has its own genre of music.
Now, I’m able to report how many days we’ve had off because we’ve actually had these days off. Holidays seem to be contingent on the decisons of mullahs, ministries, and managers. Noone actually told me about the first of the Kurdish Independence days, so I had a confused conversation with Araz the office manager when I showed up to the office at my usual time. At least once every couple months, religious holidays will get bumped forwards or backwards by a day with about a week’s notice. The day before our Nawroz break began, Araz expressed some consternation that some ministry would find out we were taking too many days off and penalize us somehow, and may have made the next day an “optional” work day. Still puzzling that one out. The situation remains fluid.
On America’s March Madness: the NCAA lost my $4 and promoted internet piracy by not letting me buy their streaming package. Silly licensing agreements.
It is also always a great day to be a Wildcat, no matter what Louisville has to say about it.