After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Flying Over the Iraqi Blogodrome...

...almost literally. I am completing this post in an airplane somewhere over Turkey and Iran. If I look out of my window I can point to an area of the darkness outside that might be Iraq. Worth the delay just so that I can say this!

This week I have new blogs some breaking news and I will try to concentrate on the routine stories of the day to day life of Iraqi bloggers. But the special thing about blogs is that even the mundane become fascinating.

Welcoming two new blogs:

A new weblog has been created on a much-needed subject. It is for Expatriate Iraqi Scientists and their role is to "Stay united and rejuvenate Iraq's scientific heritage". One important task they have started is to gather information about the spate of assassinations of Iraqi academics and professionals. One thing I want to link to here is a PDF showing the demographics of assassinations in Iraq. What is most horrifying about this is not so much the division of killings, but the fact that enough people were killed that meaningful statistics can be gathered.

Also, this blog came to my attention from a a little Smiley :-) placed in my comments section... A very warm welcome to new blogger, Fatima. Being born and raised in the US and now living in Baghdad shed is a Bridge Blog in her own right. She is, Thoughts From Baghdad. And she blogs about... her thoughts on living in post-Saddam Baghdad. I have to highlight here her post of some amazing pictures of sandstorms in Baghdad. But I did not have the time to ask for her permission to show them so you will just have to click on the links for yourself of... sandstorms and more sandstorms.

If you read nothing else today read this

Baghdad Treasure writes about the color black:
“BLACK”! Is it a mere color? In the world, people ride black cars, use black laptops, write in black ink, put on black shoes, etc… But in Baghdad, this word means something else. “Black” hovers over the city. Whatever we see becomes black even if it is red.

Starting from the black funeral banners that decorate almost every street, to the black smoke of explosions that rock the city’s morning like fireworks everyday, and the black shrapnel that pave the roads, “black” became an everyday scene.

What you won't see in the news

I really don't want to sound like a catalog of how the mainstream media is missing the events in Iraq but here are some things you will not see on the television news...

The activity of Shia militia still continues unchecked. The health ministry announced that 122 young men under the name of “Omar” (a known Sunni name) were killed, most of them is believed were killed intentionally by Shiite militias.

While bloggers have given eyewitness accounts of the ethnic cleansing of the western Baghdad district of Amiriya by Sunni gangs. Fatima writes:
My cousin in law, 'I', had her first baby on Friday.... Just as her new daughter was entering the world, her parents' neighbor was leaving it. He was killed on Saturday, as is happening to a good number of Shiites living in the Baghdad district of Amiriya.

Salam Pax describes Amiriya as some sort of a parallel universe ruled by "an alien race called Sunni Fundamentalists". Apart from killings of barbers who shave beards and shop owners for being Shia, families that are forced to leave are not allowed to take their belongings as it is "legitimate loot for the Sunni Jihadists who are working hard to insure the purity of the district."

Salam also tells of the breakdown of the education and justice system:
The ministry of Higher Education has announced today that it is giving Universities the right to choose the date for their final exams which is sort of telling them you can have them as early as you want. Elementary and High Schools have all but closed down. Principals have telling parents that kids don’t have to come to school until the final exams on the 20th.
Meanwhile the minister of justice admitted that death-row inmates are bribing the prison wardens to let them go.

And the battle for the Baghdad district of Adhamiya goes on. Omar reads two completely opposite reports in the Iraqi papers of the same incident and in the end gives up and wonders what bloggers are saying. Zeyad steps in:
It hasn't been very pretty in Adhamiya since my last post. The district looks deserted most of the time, with random gunfire here and there. American Apache helicopters circle the area almost non-stop, and residents are whispering to each other about an imminent assault, as part of the American plan to 'liberate' Baghdad again. But to liberate it from whom? Its residents?

A Life in the Day of an Iraqi Blogger

If you ever wondered what a typical blogger's computer looks like go no further than Neurotic Wife...

photo by Neurotic Wife

Scary isn't it. She lives and works in the Green Zone. But as she tells her imaginary friend LTC Harvest it is more of a guilded cage than freedom. But with a difference: "The visitors on the otherhand wanna come inside this prison, just to get away from the reality of it all...This prison for them is a gateway to their own freedom. They can talk, critisize, they can walk without having to look over their shoulder a million times."

Morbid Smile is having a hard time sleeping:
"Hot weather, sandstorm, humidity, lots of bugs in the air with only four hours aday of electricity and no water! How cool and comfortable is it to sleep in such conditions! Well, it didn't end this way. At night my family decided that we should sleep on the roof."
Then five minutes later it starts raining. But she was kept up by the sound of the rain. "And then a sandstorm started right afte the rain. I don't know how can there be rain and sandstorm in one place at the same time!" she writes. inevitably she woke up "feeling that as if i had fallen from a very high building. All my bones are aching, even my nose's bones!!" Same again next night - no electricity - too hot to sleep in the house. But sleeping on the roof has its own problems: "i woke up before 8 o'clock in the morning. Bugs were eating me all night long, and now flies are everyehere. The bombings continued till the morning." Sleep well Morbido!

Zappy gets to visit the Green Zone for the first time. But he is not impressed. "the Date Palms, I noticed how neglected they were... my escort corrected me that its not called the Green Zone but the International Zone. It Figures, by the way they Neglect the Gardens and Date Palms."

Even the most hardened blogger needs to go for a haircut. And Mohammed dreads it but he could not remember why until he gets to the barber's. He has to listen to conversations full of conspiracy and contradiction. He concludes: "I chose not to waste my breath on more of this conversation as long as the guys were convinced that everybody wants to kill them ... An Iraqi finds it so hard to admit his mistakes, not only that, he doesn't even want to review his history to avoid facing the reality that it was our mistakes over time that made us what we are now, so let's just blame the others for our failures."

Chikitita goes shopping in the famous Al-Kadhimiyya Market. And though the spectre of random violence haunted her:
the trip was as fun as usual, the driver played a very hilarious song, which made all the commuters chuckle; the very same hideous voice all drivers play, I guess he's a hit these days....

The market was even more fun. My friend and her sister were the perfect guides; they knew all reference points in this maze, which I'm sure had I been alone I'd need a GPS, or call emergency numbers to show me out. Women are obsessed with this market, though the prices are not less those in other places. I guess the only reason why it has become the place to squander their savings is the fact that they could find everything they needed, from clothes to herbs to kitchen utensils to jewelry to rosaries to prayer mats, to name but a few.

And finally...

Shaggy lives a privileged life and he knows it. The most he worries about is exams that get postponed or empty cola cans damaging the motorized seats of his car and ... erm ... playing guitar in the toilet making him sleepy. But he does not realize it shows until this happens in a restaurant:
The waiter threw a remark with a sprinkle of scorn that translated word for word would be: "You're in a different world". At first I thought he was referring to how drowsy I was and so I replied that I hadn't slept last night he quickly retorted that neither had he. Obviously I got the message wrong the first time.

I imagine something unusual does emanate from me, maybe it's my emancipation of current events or maybe I don't have those eyes that tell the same story of a lifetime of suffering that nearly all Iraqis share.

Need more tea.


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