Letter from Baghdad: Tales from a Broken Lab

Christopher Allbritton in Seed Magazine:

Dr. ’Asaam al-Raawi, a sedimentary geologist at Baghdad University, sweeps his hand across a set of dog-eared journals, the arc of his gesture revealing a bare laboratory with a few slices of rock samples strewn around, a sagging chair, a dripping sink. The room is long and narrow. There’s barely enough space for a colleague, carrying a tray of glasses filled to their chipped rims, to squeeze past al-Raawi. Returning to his meager collection of journals and books, al-Raawi gestures in frustration.

“I am a university professor,” he says. “I need books!”

We sit and sweat as he tells me what has come of his work in the closed-off laboratories and classrooms of Baghdad University. Perspiration rolls from his bald pate into his close-cropped white beard as he flicks a set of prayer beads back and forth and tells me how his life’s work has come to this.

More here.