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Sunday, June 16, 2024
HomeAboutIraqi Homecoming: My 40th Birthday in Baghdad

Iraqi Homecoming: My 40th Birthday in Baghdad

40th Birthday is part of the Iraq Homecoming Trip Report.

I have symbolically landed somewhere interesting on my birthday so I could write a story that begins with, “On my X birthday I landed in…, an experience that would forever change my life.” I used this strategy when I landed in Shanghai in 2010 to launch my international career. Specifically, I wrote, “I booked a one-way flight to China that would arrive on my birthday, May 19. This was done strategically to provide content for my future memoirs. By doing so, I would be able to recount, ‘I arrived in Shanghai on my twenty-eighth birthday…five years later I became the export king of widgets throughout the world.'”( a full account of what happened can be found in my book Everyone’s Advice Is Wrong . . . Including Mine). I arrived again in Shanghai on my birthday in May 2018 as part of the Tahiti Trip Report. I had a visa issue then (Visa Blunder Part 3: China Visa-Free Transit Disaster (again) ) and ended up having to go to Hong Kong for a same-day visa run (see Visa Blunder Part 5: An Unexpected Birthday in Hong Kong).

For my 40th birthday, I elevated the theme to a different level. I decided to go to my parents’ home country, Iraq, for the first time (see Iraqi Homecoming Trip Report: An Introduction). I wanted to see what life would have been like had my parents not moved to the US.

a large building with many windows and a parking lot
Fortunately, I did not have a problem with my visa on arrival (see Iraq Visa on Arrival: Take a Seat, Hand Over Some Cash, Then Exit).

The official celebration happened in a mall restaurant, just like I would have done at home.

a man holding a glass of beer
For dinner, I even found a restaurant that served beer.
a man standing in front of two large buildings
The birthday arrival trip theme will be impossible to top in terms of culture, family, and meaning.


  1. The acerbity of these concise TPOL posts always makes me want to read more, but wonder if I maybe couldn’t handle more at one time. The droll visa on arrival in Iraq post is a great example of brevity and snark.

  2. They’re all written and I should post more in a day but the photos and videos take so much time to do. That’s why it’s a year later and we are where we are.

    • Good things come to those who wait (for blog posts?) A TPOL blog entry is a serving of wit that is free from the puff and commercial exaltation in most other travel blogs these days.

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