Sunday, November 26, 2006

Baghdad Curfew News: There Is No news

Baghdad is without newspapers for the third consecutive day, because of the government's imposition of a curfew since Thursday night.

This morning the curfew was partially lifted and after I had taken my turn guarding the roadblock I went for a walk. I also bought food. (The ban on vehicles is scheduled to be lifted tomorrow.) Happily I do not have to boil water. Some kind friends arranged that I receive water sterilisation kits. They make the water taste .... odd .... tea made with water treated in this way is disgusting that one experiment is enough. But better that than diarrhoea. I preserve these kits for emergencies and take my "here is every vitamins and mineral you need" tablets supplied by the same friends every day. I also have rehydration powder in case I am unfortunate enough to contract diarrhoea when I buy food at a stall or a drink at the market. I am convinced that the combination of water sterilisation powder and rehydration powder is a so poisonous that it causes the microbes to flee in panic. But perhaps that is because I am an adult. The children of the street seems to like the taste of the disgusting muck. Or maybe it is that the water we prepare in the Mosque for them uses a different mixture of chemicals.

Enough of that. I have food I have water I can drink without fear I have power because of the generator I share with my neighbours - in Baghdadi terms this makes me both wealthy and comfortable.

A curfew is a difficult decision to take. Baghdad is a big city. There is little or no power which makes it difficult to keep food fresh. There is little or no power but water must be boiled or bought. Banning all vehicles means no foodstuffs are brought in. But Baghdad is a large city and most of her people are poor. They depend on rations or small quantities of food bought daily in the markets. I myself go to the markets several times a week. It is a question of balance. I balance the risk of being killed or mutilated against the certainty of starvation if I do not go out. Every Baghdadi makes this choice every day. For some the risk is very high for others less so but it is there for all of us.

A curfew is a difficult decision to take. Hungry people, are angry people, and we are angry enough already.

But one notices also the small deprivations and they grate. In some ways they grate more than the big things.

When Saddam fell there was a sudden boom.

BOOM!

In newspaper and magazine publishing. Many of these are gone and in truth many deserved to "go under." Bad writing made worse by appallingly bad grammar, let us not discuss their spelling or their printing! They were mostly opinion sheets not newspapers.

"My" newspaper is "The New Morning" the others I read to learn what the various political factions are thinking, or would like me to think they are are thinking.

There is no news but there are plenty of rumours. Rumours being spread from one hungry and angry person to another. This is guaranteed to create newsworthy events. But they will not be good news. I have an internet connection so I am considered to be a reliable source of news in these days.

How strange.

Ali

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