Sunday, February 08, 2004
Well, Before I start adding new stuff, I will add the letters that I've previously sent to my friends. Those letters were widely spread, and thats why I decided to make this blog.
I will start with my first letter, then the others according to date.

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My first letter dated at 14 June 03

Dear friends,

Being rather sick for more than a week, and being board also, I will tell you about the dark side of things for the situation we are living now a days.



WARNING: THIS IS A LONG EMAIL, SO IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE TIME LEAVE IT...

I hope you will not block me after this long boring message, but I want to put those not living here in the picture.

Each letter I write about a certain thing that comes to my mind. We have lived very very strange days, that I cannot just let them go by without sharing them with someone.



In the days right after the fall of Saddam (because I don't like saying the fall of Baghdad), the situation here was like you see in movies like Madmax and other science fiction movies of cities after hundreds of years where there is no law and only gangs. We are more back to reality now. And if any of you worry about their parents here. I assure you that there has been not a single case were personal homes were robbed or attacked. The only robbery occurring is for public places and unfortunately for personal cars and only of certain type.



First, I will start with electricity. For the last two days, the electricity was 3x3 and for those of you not familiar with such an expression (unlike us), this means that we have electricity for 3 hours, then we spend the other three waiting for the next three hours. It is a beautiful way for letting days go by. Taking into consideration that today's Max temperature was 47 degrees, then you'll know one of the reasons behind my feeling of :( and :-/

Another annoying thing about this 3x3 schema is that you have your on and off period repeat everyday, that is we always spend the hours 3-6, 9-12 without electricity. In the old days they used a little more intelligent approach where the off periods used to shift daily. Maybe these days and due to the absence of the inspiring leader we used to have, the electricity people are unable to figure out a way to shift the on/off periods.



Second, the traffic. In the old days, one gets very unfortunate if his care stops (lets say because of a puncture) in the highway leading to the presidential palace. If so, security people will suddenly come out from everywhere asking you all kind of weird questions like why did your tire decide to puncture in this street!; then they take your papers and ask you to collect them later.

The Americans, and since they made the main presidential palace their main headquarters, took a much simpler approach to solving the security issue. They simply blocked the highway leading to the palace and of course with it, the very vital, “hanging bridge”. And as for the Adhamiay presidential palace, they narrowed the road in front of the palace (which is very important) to one lane. So, some of you remember the traffic jams we used to have back in 1991 after the war (specially on our way to college back then) and imagine a checkpoint on the Jaderiah bridge that checks every car for weapons (not of mass destruction, I think). So one can easily be caught in a 1-2 hours traffic jam. And when I remind you of the weather's temperature, you can image the amount of roses we will be willing to through at the Americans when we see them.

People found a solution to this problem. Since there is no law. Why not go wrong side. So in any raod (including highways) now you should not get surprised if you see a car coming directly towards you.



One good thing to mention, is that the fuel problem is now solved by importing fuel from nearby countries. Imagine Iraq importing fuel!!. Before that the cars queue for fuel used to reach about 4Km (yes 4Km without exaggeration), which in itself caused a lot of traffic jams.



Yesterday, I took (or tried to take) a decision to return to using my car (note that the Peugeot is the car robbers favorite). My family, being a against the idea, spread the word, and I received few phone calls with all kind of armed car robbery stories that I courage sly backed up. In fact I might consider removing the tires…..so I might take a step backward

During the war where we used to hear the sound of tens of explosions all over Baghdad, I never got afraid. I used the probability theory to figure out that the chance that a missile will give up its target in and head for me was extremely small. But the same theory did not work with me as far as my car is concerned. Maybe bacuese I (sadly) trust the Americans technology more than the randomness of our robbers.



Now, if you are wondering about where do I stand in all this situation we are living in? The answer is, I don't know.

During Saddam's days, things were getting worse every day and I could not see any hope of things getting better. He was destroying very basic things like the education system, and the police system.

But now, though I hate having my country being occupied, I have a little hope that things might get better. They will steal our money, which was already being stolen, but they will probably leave us to manage other things for better. And in modern occupation, they always give you something in return for what they take, even though you might not need it.

If one calculates the amount of money the Americans saved for Iraq by reducing the percentage we used to pay Kuwait, and if the Americans succeeded in removing some of Iraq's depts., it will make up for some of the oil money they will steal. It is an ugly equation but I believe it is true.



When we go out in the streets we do see American solders everywhere. But luckily I was not put in a situation where I had to talk to one, because till this moment I do not know how I will react. Will I be friendly, or aggressive. You may get surprised in my undetermined state (logic theory has great effect on me). I myself am surprised. But this is the way things are. We (or at least me) are so fed up with all this talk about Jihad, fighting, wars, fake patriotism, and worthless mottos that I don't want to hear anything of this anymore. I just want to live without a war for several years! Is that much to ask?



Media:

- Did you know that on FM, we now have BBC Arabic/English plus a channel called Sawa (an American channel in Arabic, they have one for the Arab region, and one specially for Iraq).

- Did you know that we have an uncountable number of newspapers now. Some say 36. Some of them daily, and the others weekly. Most of them are full of crap and you get surprised to how low people can get. People are so busy finding the pitfalls of the past regime, that they leave no time to think of the future. I don't know why don't they just leave the bad days behind, and work for better days to come.



PS: I wrote this message two days ago and was unable to send it till now. So here is an update.

They solved the problem of the electricity table being repeated every day by giving us only 6 hours of electricty a day and these hours come randomly distributed in random priods ranging from 50-120 minutes. It is said that some destructive acts were taken in the south at the power distrubition lines

The communication between the main phone exchangers which was restored a week a go is now gone

The only good new is that my health is getting a little better.



Regards,

Ahmed Kharrufa

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