Friday, September 16, 2005

Don't have the same internet access as I usually have for the next couple of days. Updates come when it is possible to get to an internet cafe. here are two.

It seems like the streets are better. That draconian decision to only allow odd or even cars to move around seems to have had some good effect on the streets. But I guess what we do learn from it is that there are more cars on the streets than the streets can handle considering that number of main streets blocked off by the Green Zone, various ministries and other “Really Important People” Iraq can’t survive without.
You don’t see the long long lines in front of gas stations but the gasoline black market is still on because we still need to buy gasoline for the electricity generators. There was one funny article in al-Zaman taking the piss out of the government
“There are no national duties and responsibilities left for our esteemed government to do. Since all our dreams have been realized and there is a surplus in electricity production and clean Ozone treated water is over flowing from our water storage tanks and the only thing left for it to worry about is the regulation of traffic”

We got kind of used to that, no one suggests any real solutions to problems just little ideas that don’t really tackle the big problems. Eh. What to do?

The latest joke is that our esteemed PM is now looking into ways to keep all those pesky people off the streets so that he doesn’t have to provide for so many police and security forces. Next on the PM’s plan is a to allow only Sunnis on the street on odd days and Shia only on even days. Oh and incidentally, security forces will only be needed on Sunni days since we all know Sunnis are just inherently evil and they all need some spanking while Shia is good and docile. I love the polarized world I live in these days, everything is so easy and we all fit in our assigned compartments soooo well.
Too snarky? Never mind.

Today I sort of drove around the city to figure out what to film and what not. In Baghdad if you are ever lost as to what the current important political event coming you just need to look at the latest posters and billboards being put up in the city. And if you ever want to know what you’ve missed just peel away the latest layer. No one removes anything from the walls they just plaster on top of what’s there.
So according to the [Baghdad Walls Political Barometer] it is Constitution Time, of course all you lovelies already know that because you read this wonderful blog.

The mysterious [Future Iraq Assembly] is spending money on billboards, posters, newspaper and TV ads. As usual extremely well photographed and produced, and always supporting the current cause célèbre with very poignant images and slogans. I know it is not Iraqi because we never had such good production values, the TV ads always draw tears form this cynics eyes, they are that good. I tried once to email the mysterious Assembly but no answer came back. Any web detectives out there?

The juiciest rumour I heard today had to be that Saddam’s granddaughter is going to getting married in Amman. Her name is Nab’a (Nab3a for those who speak arablish). Now isn’t that something. So we sit here in this hell on earth dying a slow painful death while Saddam’s family lives happily in Jordan and other Arab countries the same frolicsome lives they used to lead in Baghdad. There is so much wrong in this picture.

Spent the whole day at the Political Prisoners Association listening to this one guy who sounds like a human memory bank. What was most confusing was his obsession with names. He remembers the names of everyone who has even just walked by him when he was in prison. Names of fellow prisoners, names of investigators and interrogators, names of torturers. And he just has to tell you the names, a rat-at-at machine gun attack of names and for some reason he looks at me when he gives this lists of names with a look that assumes I know them all. After 3 hours of this I got really tired, I couldn’t really keep up and was very glad I had my camera with me. It is all just so overwhelming.

I told them I won’t be coming tomorrow, I needed a bit of time to process what he told me and looked thru my footage. The “human memory bank” isn’t very sequential in his story telling and he rambles on a bit. I will need to make sense of the stories and then ask specific questions and just stops him every time he goes off topic.

Random violence story of the day:
A 20 year old girl was going out with her sister to do some shopping, they live in al-E’lam district in Baghdad. Here sister notices that she has forgotten a purse or something so she goes back and leaves the older sister on the main street on her own, when she gets back older sister is nowhere to be found.
Two days later the family gets a phone call from the local police station telling them that there is a girl here they should come pick up. The kidnappers, it seems, after they had what they wanted just threw her off at the police station. She has bruises all over her body, she was returned without her veil and her mother talks with hushed tones of r.a.p.e.
She had just been married one month ago and now the husband won’t even come see her. He is throwing her away. The girl screams whenever someone touches her, when the lights go off or on, when someone talks loudly.
Not only has the girl been brutally violated now her family shunts her and keep her locked in the house. She brings shame open them through her rape, no one thinks of what she has gone through.