8/09/2004

Life without Energy, Life in Baghdad

This Iraqi blog Baghdad Burning is relevant for 2 reasons: We see a first account of the so called liberation US is bringing to Iraquis AND we see what life is like in a place without the modern conforts we gre accostumed too.

"one of man's greatest creations is definitely the refrigerator"

The heat is unbearable. It begins very early in the day and continues late into the night. You’d think that once the sun has set, the weather would cool appreciably- no such thing in Baghdad. Once the sun sets, the buildings and streets cease to absorb heat and instead begin to emanate it. If you stand a few centimeters away from any stucco or brick wall, you can feel the waves of heat coming at you from every crack and crevice.

The electricity has been quite bad. On some days, we’re lucky to get 12 hours- 3 hours of electricity for three hours of no electricity- but more often than not, it’s four hours of no electricity and two hours of electricity. A couple of weeks ago, there was a day when our area had only one hour of electricity out of 23 hours with no power. The hellish weather had everyone out in their gardens by sunset, trying to find a way to stay cool.

Incidentally, one of man's greatest creations is definitely the refrigerator. I’ve made it a habit to rush into the kitchen every time anyone shows any inclination for a cool beverage. It gives me a great excuse to stand in front of the refrigerator for a couple of moments and let the cool- albeit slightly odorous- refrigerated air surround me. When we have some generator electricity, we keep the refrigerator working. At night, the refrigerator not only provides chilled air, and cold water, but it also offers that pale yellow light which falls like a beacon of hope across the darkened kitchen…

No room to bury their dead
Upon visiting the graveyard, my uncles discovered that the family plot which had been purchased years ago had very recently been occupied by some strangers who could find very little room elsewhere in the overcrowded cemetery. The grounds keeper apologized profusely but said that they were bringing in an average of almost 100 bodies a month this year to his graveyard alone- where was he supposed to bury the bodies?

Thanking God for death ?
Lately, the condolences from neighbors and friends come in the form of, “She was much too young for such a death, but you should thank God- it’s a better death than most these days…” And while death in general is still regarded as unfortunate, it is preferable to die of a stroke or natural causes than to die, say, of a car bomb, gun shot, beheading or under torture…

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