Sunday, March 09, 2003

A BBC reporter walking thru the Mutanabi Friday book market (again) ends his report with :
“It looks like Iraqis are putting on an air of normality”
Look, what are you supposed to do then? Run around in the streets wailing? War is at the door eeeeeeeeeeeee! Besides, this “normality” doesn’t go very deep. Almost everything is more expensive than it was a couple of months ago, people are digging wells in their gardens, on the radio yesterday after playing a million songs from the time of the war with Iran (these are like cartoon theme songs for people my age, we know them all by heart) they read out instructions on how to make a trench and prepare for war, that is after president saddam advised Iraqis to make these trenches in their gardens.
But in order not to disappoint the BBC; me, Raed and G. put on our “normal” faces and went to buy CDs from Arassat Street in a demonstration of normality. After going first into Sandra’s fruit juice shop and getting what people from foreign would probably call a poor imitation of a banana and apple smoothie, we spent half an hour contemplating the CD racks at music shop. Raed being the master of talk-and-slurp-at-the-same-time technique was trying to steal away my “normality” by reminding me that I will be wasting my 10,000 Dinars because there will be no electricity for the CD player. I explained to him that I am planning on operating a pirate radio station and need to stock on music for the masses I plan to entertain, said in a matter of fact voice and Raed didn’t even blink which made Mr. music_shop_owner look at us very suspiciously at this point so we moved to the next rack. But since I buy the stuff that would otherwise sit and collect dust he didn’t say much and was very happy to take away 12,500 Dinars. I bought five instead of the planned 4 CDs, many thanks to Malaysian bootleggers for providing us with cheap CDs. The deftones, black rebel motorcycle club, erykah badu and the new amr diab (here for audio clips if you are interested) have joined the Pax Radio CD racks.

Other normal stuff we did this week:
- Finished taping all the windows in the house, actually a very relaxing exercise if you forget why you are doing it in the first place.
- installed a manual pump on the well we have dug because up till now we had an electrical pump on it.
- bought 60 liters of gasoline to run the small electricity generator we have, bought two nifty kerosene cookers and stocked loads of kerosene and dug holes in the garden to bury the stuff so that the house doesn’t turn into a bomb.
- prepared one room for emergency nasty attacks and bought “particle masks” - that’s what it says on the box – for use if they light those oil trenches, the masks just might stop our lungs from becoming tar pits. They are very hot items since the word on the trenches spread, you can buy one for 250 Dinars and they are selling faster than the hot cakes of bab-al-agha.
- got two rooms in our house ready to welcome our first IDPs - internally displaced persons – my youngest aunt who is a single mom with three kids because she lives farthest away from the rest of us and another aunt from Karbala in the south. Hotel Pax is officially open for the season, no need to make reservations but you might need to bring a mattress if you come too late.

Other news/rumors:
- Party members are going around the city telling people to stay in their homes if anything happens. Do not go out in the street. Everything will be brought to you, they have dug wells in many places with generators beside them to pump the water out and they will be distributing the water. If there is a need to move out of the house wait until the party car comes to take you. They have gone around and asked which households own more than one car, taken down names and numbers, rumor has it that they are going to appropriate any extra car if the need arises. Anyway you will not be able to drive your car around, people like doctors in state hospitals have been given badges to stick on their cars and so have party members, you will have to have some sort of permission to move around when the curfew takes place the moment an attack starts. Because of that we have issued our own curfew from last Friday, headcount at 10:30 pm. with so many people in the house a roll call is the only way to make sure everybody is here. And we are counting on the Americans to attack at night. If they start the attack during the day they would have mayhem on the streets.