Holy Karbala

May 17, 2014

Karbala is one of those few cities on the planet steeped in religious and spiritual significance. Around 20 million descended on this small city during the annual commemoration days of Ashura and Al-Arba’een. For a cross-cultural comparison I would liken Karbala to India’s Varanasi – the City of Shiva – or to the Old City of Jerusalem. At the center of Karbala are the two magnificent shrines to Imam Hussain and his brother Al-Abbas. This is where people come to be inspired, to rejuvenate their faith, and to have their prayers answered. Continue reading

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Baghdad First Impressions

Almutanabbi Statue

May 15, 2014

The Emirates Airbus A330 airplane flight EK941 began its descent into Baghdad International Airport around 9:15 am local time on Wednesday. Looking outside my window I saw the familiar city pattern of an agricultural belt around the outskirts of Baghdad. From my birds-eye view I noticed that the earth beneath me looked fairly beige. There was not a lot of green. Google earth images checked out. Continue reading