Sunday, December 28, 2003

Back to normal

It's good to be back to normal again. By normal I mean total chaos, endless lines for gasoline, long electricity outages, and sounds of unknown explosions and gunfire. Yes you guessed it right, I'm back in Baghdad again. Though to be fair things have relatively improved since the last time. Electricity has been better since Christmas (only 12 hours of outage!) and queue lines at petrol stations are a mile or two shorter. And no I'm not being sarcastic at all. Thats the way it is.

I got back yesterday evening. My parents were really happy and I was surprised to hear that our neighbourhood was surrounded and raided by about a thousand American troops just two days ago. Thank Goodness our house wasn't raided.

I asked some pals in our street about it and they said that the Americans were polite and didn't really make a mess. While searching a house just three or four blocks far from ours, they inquired why the women were all dressed in black (they were mourning their son who was recently killed by a gang), and seemed to be surprised to know about the fact that Iraqi women dress in black when in mourning, and they asked the family "Aren't you supposed to dress in white or something?". I have to say I'm surprised too that they don't know anything about such a common Iraqi tradition till now.

A large number of weapons were confiscated and several suspects arrested. Attacks against Americans are frequent in or close to our area, and many people including myself have encountered Fedayeen on our streets. I just hope some of them were arrested. They're a huge source of trouble to us. And Iraqis from other areas have started to accuse us of being loyal to Saddam which is embarrassing, for example when I tell someone where I live he says something like "Oh I see, you're one of those sectarian Sunnis, so how is Saddam today?". And I don't feel very comfortable being talked to that way. But things are getting more quiet since Saddam was incarcerated.

I watched some bad news on Al-Jazeera just as I was settling down from the trip. First the deadly attacks in Karbala and then the devastating earthquake in Iran. When I was in Basrah I didn't follow any news because I thought it would be best to get away from it all for a change but it keeps stalking you wherever you go nudging you obstinately in the back crying for your attention.

Anyway, I got assigned to a village (I keep forgetting it's name) which is very close to Basrah city (about 10 minutes) and has a wonderful view of Shatt Al-Arab. The bureaucrats at the Basrah Health Directorate didn't make it easy for us to end up in one dental centre or at least different ones that are close together. Omar and AYS had better luck as they were assigned to the same clinic which is about a 100 miles north of mine but they have a problem with their salaries for December. So I'll be back to Basrah next Friday to check out the place. I'm keeping my expectations very low so I won't be shocked.

I posted some recent pictures of Basrah here. You can also check them out on the sidebar links under Photoblogs.