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Welcome to the Royal Exodus Hunt, pictured in 1934 in the countryside near the River Tigris where horse and hound could be seen around the RAF airfield south-east of what much later came to be known as Baghdad’s Green Zone. It was the pukka thing, complete with elaborate kennels, thoroughbred horses, Indian servants and a Master of Hounds.

We came across it while researching Memories of Eden. It’s rarely remembered today, but Britain created the state of Iraq and ruled it under a mandate until 1932. It treated the country as “India Lite”, with a strong presence of troops from the sub-continent.

Fox-hunting had always been popular in Mesopotamia, so the idea of riding to hounds the English way seemed a natural progression when polo, games of mah-jongg, and shooting trips for duck, snipe, partridge and quail failed to satisfy the colonial lust for recreation and craving for blood sport.

The Exodus Hunt as it was called centred on a pack of hounds belonging to a unit of the Indian Army known as the 110th Transport Company, and gained its name from the Hindustani for the number 110 — “ex sao das”. Members rode both Arab horses and English thoroughbreds. The hounds were an exotic cross-breed collection of saluki Gazelles and fierce Kurdish sheepdogs, donated by local notables and tribal chiefs in exchange for free membership.

In its first season the pack killed a wolf, 17 jackals, three foxes, a cow and an old woman, who actually died of fright. The Master of Hounds went by the nickname “Brassneck”, a monicker earned on a very alcoholic night when he dived into what he thought was a swimming pool only to find it void of water . It was a pit of dry concrete.

Luckily, Brassneck suffered no ill effects, which is more than can be said for Iraq itself.

The hunt kept going until 1955 when it was disbanded.

TONY ROCCA

A new edition – in ARABIC

After many years of success with the book, first in English (2008, 2010), then Hebrew (2014), we’re delighted to report that Memories is now available in Arabic. This is thanks to yeoman work by author Ali Shakir, an Iraqi from Baghdad who lives in New Zealand. The book has just been published in Beirut by Arab Scientific Publishers under the title “Violette Letters: A Tour in the Life of the Jews of Baghdad” and is available online:

https://tinryurl.com/y2vodq13 or https://tinyurl.com/y27xvtzy (Neelwafuran.com)

It’s lovely to think that Violette’s words can now be read in her original language and we wish Ali every success with the project, with our thanks and gratitude for all his hard work.

With this development I have found it appropriate to update the video I made a few years ago (which has been watched more than 150,000 times according to YouTube). Ali has kindly suggested I use some Iraqi music as background this time and I enlisted his help in selecting a few pieces. I hope you like the result. Please share!

Beit El Barazali

Dear Mira (a reader writes),

I just started reading this beautiful memoire and got to Page 14 which talks about Beit el Barazali. My paternal grandfather bought Beit El Barazali from your grandparents, and he and my grandmother along with my 2 uncles and their wives and both my parents lived there.

Throughout the years we always heard talk of Beit El Barazali. My maternal aunts and uncles and my mother grew up next door to Beit El Barazali, and my then youngest little uncle as a child says he remembers a Moshe living in the house at the time. Throughout the years growing up my mother and father always talked about living in Beit El Barazali as a newly wed couple along with my dad’s brothers and their wives and parents. It was a very large house indeed with a Bustan belonging and next to it.

My grandfather sold the house years later and it became a court house and sectioned into offices. What a small world. We immigrated years ago, and live in NC.

Nedda Ibrahim

 

Correction

A reader, Gabriella Amouyal, has kindly been in touch to query something we wrote in Memories of Eden. ‘On Page 109,’ she writes, ‘ the author states …”their prayer shawls and their black morning straps…” I take it that the black straps are the tfellin. From what I know – these are forbidden on shabbat and especially yom kippur. I’ve never heard of a tradition of wearing them on yom kippur. Can I get clarification as to whether this is a mistake in the book or whether it in fact was a tradition for Baghdadian jewry. I am most interested in the answer. ‘

Gabriella, you’re quite right. I am afraid nobody spotted the error. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

Best wishes

 

It’s sad that I’ll never get to know Baghdad in its true state, when it wasn’t corrupted and when everyone – no matter religion – lived together in peace. I’ve heard great stories from my aunts, and with your great photos, I can actually imagine how it used to be. Thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                  Lalila T

‘Memories’ now in Hebrew

hebrew title copy_edited-1

We are delighted to announce a new arrival – Memories of Eden in Hebrew.

Ever since our book was first published in 2008 (republished in 2010 by Northwestern University Press in the USA) we have been aware that lack of English could prevent many for whom the story will resonate from reading it. We have been asked many times whether a version in Hebrew might be possible and now, by popular demand, it is.  Our sincere thanks to Moshe Shemesh (no relation), an Israeli friend who has translated the work and organised publication via the Gvanim publishing house in Israel.

It should be in Israeli bookstores now and is also available directly via the Israeli website.

israelibook

View original post

‘Memories’ now in Hebrew

hebrew title copy_edited-1

We are delighted to announce a new arrival – Memories of Eden in Hebrew.

Ever since our book was first published in 2008 (republished in 2010 by Northwestern University Press in the USA) we have been aware that lack of English could prevent many for whom the story will resonate from reading it. We have been asked many times whether a version in Hebrew might be possible and now, by popular demand, it is.  Our sincere thanks to Moshe Shemesh (no relation), an Israeli friend who has translated the work and organised publication via the Gvanim publishing house in Israel.

It should be in Israeli bookstores now and is also available directly via the Israeli website.

israelibook