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Uday loved Indian curry, scotch
Shyam Bhatia in Baghdad exclusively for rediff.com |
April 13, 2003 05:20 IST
The alcoholic and womanising ways of Uday, the older son of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, were never a secret.
But the details of his sybaritic lifestyle only came out following the US forces' occupation of the presidential compound in Baghdad, including Uday's eight-bedroom residence.
An official of the US 3rd Infantry Division, Sergeant Major Felipe Vicente, took rediff.com on an exclusive tour of the young master's home, during which various editions of the Holy Koran were revealed.
The only other reading material was a book on cookery -- Cooking Delights of the Maharaja, authored by Digvijaya Singh and published in 1982 by Vakils, Feffer and Simons Ltd Of Bombay.
Sergeant Major Vicente said the book was found on the bedside table of a room believed to have been occupied by Uday's latest mistress.
US forces were astonished by the discovery of huge quantity of alcohol in one of the buildings that served as an annexe to Uday's residence. There were crates of Blue Label, Crystal champagne and Napoleon brandy.
Across the road from the annexe was the main residence where Uday pursued his hedonistic lifestyle, which apparently became more frenetic after an assassination attempt in 1998 impaired his mobility.
His bedroom was on the ground floor of the heavily bombed house and he slept on what appeared to be a hospital-type bed with ample supplies of saline fluid and bottles of prozac [anti- depressants] and lithium [leveller of mood swings].
An ornate bathroom led to one side of the bedroom. On the other side was a dressing room. On Uday's desk was a recent email that said: "Hi, how are you? I am sending you this mail to inform you about the girl. She would like to come to you and she does not have any problem.
"But she is still a virgin and her mother would like to come with her. She is kind of lovely and cute... girl is ready to come to you."
Another letter, this time from the Defence Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed Bin Rashed Maktoum, read: "Happily received your letter about hunting rifles. We will come to you this season or next."
Below the bedroom, Uday's staff kept a collection of Cuban cigars, including one box specially blended for right-wing Russian leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label, Camus Cognac, Delamain Cognac and Currant Vodka Danzka from Denmark.
Also visible was an extraordinary collection of paintings.
But the biggest insights into Uday's life emerged from the 2000-2003 diaries of his private secretary Jassem Sabah Aly.
The entries showed Uday's mood swings, his uncertain sleep, which could range from eight to 12 hours a night, and an obsession with video films.
Some of his favourites were Men in Black, Oceans 11, Valhalla Sky and Behind Enemy Lines.
He was also very particular about his food and he rated on a scale of one to 10 the dishes prepared by his chefs Johnny, Maran and Amar.
One entry, dated November 11, 2002, was about Uday's breakfast order of eggs to be served with tomatoes, onions and mushrooms, tomatoes with oil, cheese and local sweets. In a note to himself Aly wrote, "If the quality is not good, you will suffer."
Fish and snails were among his favourites, so was apple-flavoured tobacco for his hubble-bubble and mashed banana with milk in the mornings.
In all his entries, Aly never referred to Uday by name, but as Al Ustaz [respected teacher].
Another entry, dated November 2, 2002, said Uday wanted 'the gun' to be placed on a trolley. He also wanted a book that would tell him whether Jesus was a god, prophet or human.
An entry dated February 2, 2002, read: "Place 10 videocassettes in the therapeutic bag by order of Al Ustaz. Place Kleenex in the cars. Change the glasses in the car. Change the glasses in the room. Replace spectacles."
One entry from September 2002 had Al Ustaz insisting that 'the girls' should be examined for 'colon disease', followed by a demand that the bathroom should be sterilised. "Brother Aly", Uday concluded in his dictation, "make sure I have plenty of beer."
rediff.com Senior Editor Shyam Bhatia is the co-author of Saddam's Bomb, on Iraq's search for nuclear weapons.