Unplugged...


I remember an old joke, I heard sometime ago...It goes like this.
"How many Californians does it take to change a light bulb ?"
"10. One to change it and 9 to share the experience."

I guess this joke was invented, because Californians are known to be into sharing and caring experiences. You know, burn some incense, light a candle, and talk about your chakras...Candle meditation kind of gatherings. Deep, very deep.

In Iraq, we have candle meditation gatherings too. It's called NO electricity.

A popular joke going around in Baghdad.

"Child: Mother, mother! Daddy was electrocuted!
"Mother: "We have power?"



Radhee yells daily his favorite mantra, "For God sake unplug it."

Radhee in Adhamiya gets a total of 3 hours of electricity per day.
1 in the morning, 2 in the early evening. These are considered lucky days.

In the morning, his wife unplugs the fridge so they can plug in the air cooler. And in the evening, she plugs in the fridge, before all the food thaws, and unplugs the air cooler...

Radhee was also a "member" of a "neighborhood" generator.
He paid around 175 dollars a month to get a few extra hours of electricity. But the guy who runs this very lucrative business swindled them. He would cash in the money and not provide the electricity.
So Radhee collected some money from relatives and bought his own generator.
But then there is the problem of diesel for the generator to function.
So Radhee ventures every other day to buy a few gallons of diesel. That costs him an extra 200+ dollars a month if he wants at least 7 hours of electricity.

I did say venture, tentatively venture outside his home.
Adhamiya is known for its snipers, sectarian militia infiltrators, 1000 checkpoints, and frankly Radhee is getting quite traumatized from constantly stumbling on cadavers lying around the neighborhood. Wouldn't you ?
So venturing out to buy diesel is a whole undertaking that needs careful and meticulous planning.

Besides, Radhee is unemployed and can't continue borrowing money left, right and center.

Last time we spoke, he told me they simply can't afford this personal generator anymore. So him and his wife have become professionals in electrical matters. They know everything about watts, bulbs, circuits, wires, and how much each appliance consumes when plugged. They have become experts in saving electricity.

Someone should give them the nobel prize in Ecology. You know Greenpeace, Save the Planet, WWF...

As for auntie Sameera, who lives in Karrada, the situation is slightly more complex.
Karrada is now divided into two parts. The upper and the lower.
The upper is controlled by the Badr Brigades of Al-Hakeem SCII party. A nasty vile bunch. They have their own checkpoints and search methods.

The lower part, on the other hand, is controlled, by the psychopathic bunch, the Mahdi Army. They too have their own checkpoints and search methods. The drill is the preferred one.

Now catch this. If for instance, auntie Sameera wants to go to upper Karrada, she must take a WRITTEN authorization from the Mahdi and present it to the Badr militias. And vice versa.
Auntie Sameera's misfortune is that she lives right in the middle of Karrada. So she is never sure to whom she must report - The Badr or the Mahdi.

Now the plot thickens...if any member of her family needs to go and buy diesel, they need two written authorizations. One from each militia.
If any member of her family needs some official paper work done in any ministry, then they need 4 written authorizations...

Or take the example of Nadia in Ameriya. Nadia has to go, and am not exaggerating, through 7 checkpoints inside her own neighborhood. And every time she undergoes a body search. She queues for hours in the sun, and she is fasting since it's Ramadan, waiting for her turn for the body search.

A few days ago, she needed some kerosene and diesel, and of course no taxi would take her inside the neighborhood...
You know what she did? She took a wooden cart on wheels, and pushed it for 2 hours before reaching her home. You know those old wooden carts with two wheels, from the Middle Ages ? Yes these ones...

She also told me that her cart came in quite handy. The neighbors borrowed it the other day to tranport an emergency patient to the hospital.

I think they should start developing hospitals on wheels as well. And houses on wheels. And electrical generators on wheels...It will just make it faster at checkpoints.

Before the invasion and during the draconian sanction years, the above neighborhoods and the whole of Baghdad were getting from 6 to 24 hours of electricity per day.
And that, despite lack of spare parts for grinds which were again forbidden by the sanctions committee. You can trust the ingenious Iraqi mind when it comes to matters in repairing things.

When the "liberators" landed, the electricity has gone down to 2 hours, if you are lucky. No wonder it takes 10 Americans to change a lightbulb !

But the official figure for electricity is 6 hours a day according to some study conducted in America. Now, how the hell would the Brooking institute know ?

And as one resident exclaimed: "Six hours, even that, would be mercy from God."

But hey, we have good news : "The Iraqi ministry of electricity has a plan...to give the whole country full power by 2010."

Promises, promises...

"That is a distant dream, I think," Hussein said. "That is so far in the future, at that time we will be old; I will retire - Hussein is 18."

A distant dream indeed...


Everything has become all very complicated for the ordinary Baghdadi citizen in the Red Zone ghettoes. Dangerously complicated.

Going to work is complicated, going to school is complicated, visiting a doctor is complicated, shopping is complicated, social gatherings are complicated, everything is complicated, everything is dangerous...so complicated and so dangerous, that nearly everyone has given up from venturing outside their homes unless absolutely necessary.

So to kill time and fight the darkness, Iraqis are perfecting their skills in Electrical Engineering - by candlelight, waiting for the year 2010.



P.S : Do read the full article. Radhee, Auntie Sameera and Nadia corroborate its accuracy.

Painting : Iraqi female artist, Yaqeen Al-Dulaimi.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Layla,
A suggestion, your software permitting. Please consider numbering the comments that come in in response to your essays. That way each annoymous comment will have a number associated with it making it easier to specifically refer to and respond. Please exscuse if already suggested and not feasible.
Best
Anonymous said…
gd informative post
Layla Anwar said…
A NOTE.

Blogger.com gives only two options for the comments sections.
1)publish comments 2) reject comments.
I CANNOT edit received comments.
I suggest for people wishing to comment and yet want to maintain their anonymity to do the following:

When you click on post a comment, you will find:
blogger - other - anonymous.

Click on other and put ANY pseudo you like, - forget the bit where it says web page, leave that blank.

This will make it easier for me to respond to your comment-
Too many anonymous spoil the broth.

If you insist on clicking on anonymous, then leave a trail, a sign, an initial, anything so people can follow the thread...


Thanks.
Anonymous said…
art is very creepy.
Layla Anwar said…
as electrifyingly creepy as the occupation...
Alan the Red said…
Still bitching at everybody eh, Bitch? :-)

Some Kalifornians are concerned about you, Layla Hunney.

http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/fairenough/latimesC40.html

I'm having an argument with one of the Chomsky lovers who seems to think Sharia Law is no threat to anybody. Your comments would be appreciated.

Don't eat American Cheddar Cheese either; it sucks. I think I'll pop down to Cheddar and get the real stuff. Why would we want to export our Cheese? It's for us to enjoy while others eat the Yank crap. They don't know how to make cream either; Yank cream is garbage.

I can tell I've got to you, with all the little digs at England. Now don't keep mixing up Britain with England, like the Yanks always do, cos it makes me think you're a CIA plant. Never forget, God is an Englishman.

Lots of Love, oh, and kisses too.
Alan the Red said…
By the way, you have lots of sand; start making peizo-quartz generators, or alternatively, cut an oil drum in half and make a barbie.

Dammit, you do know how to whine.

Hey, this is my favourite song of the minute ;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqeDCpyJvxY
Alan the Red said…
By the way, as I know that God's children are not creative at all, I'll give you a few hints.

You incorporate the peizo-quartz crystals into drums, you know, musical instruments, and children just love drums, so you let them play drums all day and night.

Hey presto, fun for the children, and electricity thrown in. Jeez, do I have to do all the thinking for you?
Layla Anwar said…
Lord Cerne Dipshit,

Once someone called you a dipshit and they were absolutely correct.
English - British same crap to me.
I did not need you to poke at the Brits, I know them inside out, like the end of my pocket...
So save your "clever" comments to others whom you think you can impress...You people are the head of the viper...
Besides Dipshit, I really can't help you with your mental problems, go seek help now...
In other words, bugger off.
Anonymous said…
Yesterday Lord Balfour, today Lord Cerne Dipshit.

It's depressing to see how time seems to pass for nothing.
Anonymous said…
y r all the british people on your blog such wierdos???
Anonymous said…
jr,

You're the only dipshit that is a brit here, you just go by many aka's you kinky asshole.


Howling Wolf
Anonymous said…
Howling Wolf, aka WW, aka Savage,

Trust the Great Spirit has been guiding you and you have been able to wean yourself off the booze...
Don't give up! Keeping trying and eventually you will succeed....
Anonymous said…
You said: "I think they should start developing hospitals on wheels as well. And houses on wheels. And electrical generators on wheels...It will just make it faster at checkpoints."

And let's not forget the wheelchairs..

Remember that infamous presentation at the UN by the shameless liar Colin Powell..We already had chemical labs on wheels!!!! Do you think that was a hint...?
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said...

jr,

You're the only dipshit that is a brit here, you just go by many aka's you kinky asshole.


Howling Wolf

--

savage the stupid wanker plz go fuck off n play with yourself.....u r too thick 2 b on this blog
Anonymous said…
s said...

You said: "I think they should start developing hospitals on wheels as well. And houses on wheels. And electrical generators on wheels...It will just make it faster at checkpoints."

And let's not forget the wheelchairs..

Remember that infamous presentation at the UN by the shameless liar Colin Powell..We already had chemical labs on wheels!!!! Do you think that was a hint...?

--

plz start all new discussions on latest post
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said...

Howling Wolf, aka WW, aka Savage,

Trust the Great Spirit has been guiding you and you have been able to wean yourself off the booze...
Don't give up! Keeping trying and eventually you will succeed...


--

i wish the great spirit wud knock some sense into this dimwitted twat.....i dont understand y this blog attracts so many retards
Anonymous said…
Anonymous Re: Savage,

I am delighted to see that time has not been able to rust that beautiful scathing sarcasm I used to so intensely enjoy.

Had it only been as clement to your memory, you would not be reduced to the point where you are now ..

God help you (if so He wishes).

Lots of love,

Your only true friend.
Anonymous said…
shadow said...
Anonymous Re: Savage,

I am delighted to see that time has not been able to rust that beautiful scathing sarcasm I used to so intensely enjoy.

Had it only been as clement to your memory, you would not be reduced to the point where you are now ..

God help you (if so He wishes).

Lots of love,

Your only true friend.


--

savage u stupid prick can u stop wrting to yourself.....this is truly embarassing
Anonymous said…
JR,

I am not Savage nor was my comment meant for Savage.

In fact, I was addressing Anonymous who had replied to Savage in an earlier comment.

Take care and keep Layla amused.

Regards.

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