Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Day in Baghdad..

The electricity is killing me!! I'm sorry that I'm not posting frequently.. So I started with Diary project, here's what I wrote as a first test.

Tell me your opinion :)

Tuesday, December, 6th 2005

It’s morning now, I’m heading to my university n the car. The high way is kinda empty now because it’s still very early in the morning. It’s 7:30 A.M. I always go to college early in order to avoid the heavy traffic jams down Baghdad’s streets. Besides, much of the explosions take place during the rush hours. There are two exits in my neighborhood, but the high way is considered the safest one because the other exit which is called The Army Canal is a very dangerous one because it is located among farms and can be a good hideaway for insurgents or even gangs, and also many bombings against the American envoys took place in this road.
I’m still in the car, I don’t take buses for transportation because I’m a girl and I’m afraid of taking a bus or hiring a taxi alone because of the kidnappings stories we hear in Baghdad. Also, because the bus takes a long time to get me to my destination. I can’t drive a car either because it’s not safe for a girl to drive by herself in such a terrible situation. We lack a great deal of safety in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad.
I always hire a private taxi that takes me to college every morning and brings me back home at afternoon. The driver takes me from my house’s door right to the university’s gate, and so on…
I see envoys of Iraqi National Guards everywhere this morning. It’s probably because the Parliamentary Election’s day is approaching, and maybe because of Saddam’s trial that took place yesterday.

Being graduated from university, I don’t have lectures or study anymore. But I still go to my college more than once a week. I go there for several reasons. One reason is that I got a Fulbright Scholarship to study for my Master degree in Modern America Novel in the United States of America, and I need to get my certificates and papers from my college to send them to the U.S.A. A second reason is to see some of my friends who still go there for fun and spend some time together. A third reason is that because there is almost nowhere else safe to go to for fun! There used to be a lot of amusement parks in Baghdad before the war where families can go and enjoy their times. But now those parks are either abandoned or located near or inside the Green Zone. Therefore; no one can go there anymore!!

We do have a lot of restaurants here, but we can only go there for lunch because it is dangerous to stay out of home after six or seven P.M. it’s a life risking going out at nigh I Baghdad. Besides, we have curfews here most of the nights starting from 10 or 11 P.M. until the next morning.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It’s 10:30 A.M. now. I’m sitting at the college’s cafeteria with two of my friends students are everywhere in the cafeteria, we could barely find empty seats to sit on. The cafeteria’s building is not a very large one, there are other cafeterias in the campus which are way larger than this one, but I like this place the most because I spent so much time of my university life here with my friends studying, eating, talking and laughing. Sometimes, if we didn’t like to attend a certain lecture, we used to skip it and come to sit in this place and drink hot cappuccino in winter, and cold Pepsi in summer time. I wish if I can take a photo for the place and the students here, but unfortunately cameras are not allowed in my college campus anymore! The security guards at the campus’s gate didn’t allow me to take the camera with me inside the campus, and they told me that I can take it back from them when I go out. You may wonder now why cameras are not allowed inside the university, and why do we have security guards at the gates. It’s all for security and safety reasons.

A person can do anything with a camera. Anyone might take photos to students, professors or certain buildings inside the university and use those photos to locate a certain target to be hit, or a certain person to be killed! It’s not safe here at all. Everybody is scared of everything; we always suspect the worse to happen. If I want to take a picture of something, I have to take it secretly and as fast as possible in order not to raise suspicions about me. Even when I know that I’m not doing something bad or illegal, but we have to be careful and watch our steps and anything we do that can get us into troubles.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now it’s 6 P.M. I came back home at 1 o’clock, I had my lunch and took a nap. We usually take naps after lunch. Mom and Dad came back home from their works, and they went for some shopping. They said that the roads seem calm regarding with some other days. Everything looks peaceful today. The good thing that happened is that we didn’t hear sounds of any near explosions. Everyone is waiting for the elections these days. It will take place on 15th of December, and there will be a break from schools and universities starting from next Sunday or Monday to prepare for the elections. No, the students won’t prepare anything by themselves, but some schools in each neighborhood will be taken as a voting center for people to go and vote at. I’m looking forward for that day to go and vote. Cameras are not allowed in such places either, so I won’t be able to take any photos there. Even mobiles are not allowed in the voting centers for security reasons.

I just heard my father talking about one of his friends whom was about to die in an explosion in Baghdad yesterday. My father’s friend, Abu Muhammad, was out with his wife to buy some groceries and stuff for home. His wife went into a shop to buy some things, so her husband waited for her inside their car. There was a police car in the same street near them, and there were cars and people shopping and doing other things. Suddenly, a group of insurgents or terrorists popped out from nowhere and threw a bomb on the police car! A huge state of fear and disorder happened there, people freaked out and ran away with their lives. My father’s friend ran to his wife who was inside the shop and they stayed there for sometime to protect themselves from the fire that occurred as a result of the bomb. The police car which was hit was very close to their car, so they couldn’t ride it and go back home like other people did. They had to wait inside the shop until another police car came and cleared the way. The damaged police car was pulled and the road was opened so they could go back home. But they couldn’t know if the policemen were killed or just injured as they couldn’t get any closer to ask the other policemen who came after the explosion.

The electricity went off! That’s a very common thing that happens in Iraq. We lack a great deal of electricity, clean water and other necessary supplies. Now I can not do anything when the lights are off, we do have a small electricity generator which we use in such cases... and almost every Iraqi family has a generator at home. The electricity has a schedule of being on and off, but this schedule is never stable! It’s currently two hours on and four hours off, and so on till the end of the day.

It’s 10:30 P.M. now, so I will go to sleep. I usually stay up till late hours at night when there is electricity, but my family decided not to turn on the generator in order to save some fuel because it’s expensive here. We have to tolerate living in the darkness at nights. And the good thing is that it’s winter time now, so we don’t have to worry about a hot weather and the air conditioners... I’ll sit in my bed listening to the radio till I fall asleep.

This is a typical day in Baghdad. There is no day here empty of bombings or stories of this kind! We always try not to go out as much as possible in order to avoid such accidents. We just don’t know when and where something like that can happen. Tank you for reading so far, and wait for more to come tomorrow.

Until we meet again with another day in Baghdad…


Nancy said...

hey Haneen,
I'm so glad you decided to write a diary on your life in Baghdad, it will make me feel a little bit like I'm there...I really want to know about the little things that happen in your daily lives in Baghdad and Iraq in general...keep up the good work!

jason said...

hello my Iraqi friend, love your diary. Very concise, but I can still get a good vision of your daily existence. Still can't imagine living with what you deal with everyday. You are a strong woman, Haneen. I have much respect for your stoic cheerfulness.

Sorry haven't checked in with you in a while, started a new job as a waiter at a fancy restaurant and been working my butt off. Finally off tonight. Hopefully will be able to relax and maybe watch a movie.

So you are reading "To kill a mockingbird?" Amazing story, one of my favorites. Once you've read it, and when you come to the US, you must watch the movie version. It's actually pretty good. It's an older flic, but really good.

I know you are getting sick of people asking you, but any news on your fulbright scholarship yet? I would love to come visit you once you get settled in. (especially if you are in New York or DC) :~)
My life is a breeze compared to yours, but been working so much, I truly need a vacation. Can't wait till you get here. Well, miss, I'll leave it at that. Take care of yourself. You'll be in my thoughts.

RG said...

Hi Haneen,

Sounds like Baghdad is a place where there is danger, but their are a lot of people fighting the bad guys, all the time. Some day they will finnally be defeated.

Sadly, over in Iran, a lot of students are being terrorized, interrogated for days regarding their views.

Iranian College Students

So it could be worse for you, your friends and other students I suppose.

olivebranch said...

great work my dear! thats exactly what they are after.

you should continue to write things like that even after this magazine project is over... its great!

love + thoughts

Morbid Smile said...

Hello everyone, this diary seems fun, I'm enjoying my time writing it.. but I have to save some details to the project though. I will post everything here as well, and I will continue writing about it.

Nancy, I'm glad that the diares that many of the Iraqi bloggers write make you feel a little bit like you are here.

Jason, thank you for your kind words.. you know, it needs more than courage to live in such circumstances. Sometimes I wonder how can I and other Iraqi people make it up till now! Congrades for your new job, I wish you all the best.. Well, yea I'm planing to watch the movie of "To Kill a Mockingbird" when I get to the U.S., this book is so amazing, I feel that I live in Maycomb myself !! Sadly, there are no new news about the Fulbright yet. There will be a TOEFL exam for some of the grantees who haven't taken the official test. The test will be on January, and so we will have to wait till the test's results come out, and we will know about the (when and where) we'll depart. I guess all of this will take place around February. I can hardly wait !! Hey, will see you there :)

Hey rg, nice to see you again. You are right, Baghdad is a place where there is danger, but there are many good guys who are fighting it. I believe that it needs time for all of the chaos to be over, hope it will be soon.

Hey Poet Olive, I knew you would like this post!! Don't know how I knew that but I think I felt it.. :) I'll continue with this.