Today as I stepped outside I had some sort of odd post-traumatic deja-vu feeling that I was back in Mosul.
This was not because anything traumatic happened in Mosul; I was only there for a few weeks before I escaped southwards. However, it was January at the time.
For those who are unaware, the sandbox is not all made of sand. Mosul, in fact, is fairly dirty but not terribly sandy at all. Not only that, but winter sees some combination of rain and snow. When I was there, it was rain. Oodles of rain. I spent my several weeks in the north slogging through streets which lack drainage, presumably because who needs street drainage in what is supposed to be desert. It is also cold, though it wasn’t so cold you were really shivering, just cold and wet enough to be really irritating. The best part about it was that from my temporary lodging to the place where I was temporarily working there was a single street to cross. That street became a muddy, foot-deep river rather rapidly on day two in Mosul. I did not see the sun in the north again, come to think of it, and recall being very annoyed at that river twice each day when it required crossing.
Today felt exactly like those days in Mosul. We haven’t seen the sun in several days already, and it has been irritating, on-and-off rain consistently. About the only difference is that here there is drainage, so instead of a river of mud and sludge it is a river of springtime German snails. Less damp, but more crunchy. The snails come out and stay out until the fall at the slightest inclination of damp weather, lining themselves up like slimy kamikaze pilots on their suicide mission of trying to trip me as I stumble down the path half-asleep to my car at 0530 in the morning. They fail, and all they get is squashed.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling all day today of being back in Iraq. It being German protest season and most of my time in Mosul also saw frequent stormings at the gate only made it more difficult to convince myself I wasn’t sitting in Iraq.
Oddly, though, it somehow made me feel more at home.