Nov. 12. Indeed I was quite relieved - pursuing the above thought - to
find that breakfast consisted of nothing but some bread and a glass
or two of tea. I had a few walnuts with me which I added to the feast
but walnuts aren't very sustaining - so much of them is nut. We had
close on 5 hours' ride, into Halabja, along the plain which is a
wonderful fertile bit of country seamed with affluents of the Diyalah
[Diyala (Sirwan)] and ringed round with barren hills on three sides.
Many of the villages lie under large artificial mounds - I wonder what
they were, Median or what?
About half an hour out of Halabja
which lies at the foot of the hills at the end of the plain, we met the
Qaimmaqam, Ahmad Beg Beg Zadah out hunting with some 20
gorgeously dressed followers and the A.P.O. Captain Douglas. So
we all gallopped [sic] in together, a splendid company they looked.
Captain Douglas lives in a big tumble down Persian house, ever so
nice, with gaily coloured glass in the windows and beautiful wood and
looking glass ceilings, none the worse for being rather decayed. I'm
staying with him.
The feature of Halabja is 'Adlah Khanum the
great Jaf Beg Zadah lady, mother of Ahmad Beg. She is the widow of
Osman Pasha, sometime dead, and continues to rule the Jaf as much
as she can and intrigue more than you would think anyone could, and
generally behave as great Kurdish ladies do behave. She has often
written to me, feeling, I've no doubt, that we must be birds of a feather,
and I hastened to call on her after lunch. She is a striking figure in her
gorgeous Kurdish clothes with jet black curls (dyed, I take it) falling
down her painted cheeks from under her huge headdress. We
carried on in Persian, a very complimentary talk in the course of which
I managed to tell them how well 'Iraq was doing under Faisal and to
assure them that all we wished was that our two children, 'Iraq and
Kurdistan, should live in peace and friendship with one another.