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An Average Iraqi

An Average Iraqi is just a fictional character whose....well, fictional. I will use this character to make a comparison between him and real human beings like myself or any one else.

Location:Baghdad, Iraq

My name is Hassan Kharrufa. I am a 20 year old Iraqi student. I study civil engineering at the Department of Building and Construction at Al-Jami3a Al-Taknologia (The Tecknology Univirsity), Baghdad, Iraq.

Iraqi Bloggers BiographyUpdated November 11

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

3 Most Ridiculous Ways to Die in Iraq

  After living in war for a few years, I've heard and saw quite a number of people dead, maybe some of those people deserved to die, and surely some of them didn't deserve to die. Actually I think the number of civilians killed since the beginning of the war until now is much more than the number of US soldiers and terrorists killed together, and some of those civilians died for such stupid reasons that I would have found it impossible to believe it hadn't I heard of them. The reason of this post is to show how much work is going to be needed to be done to make our Iraq return to the way it was before, I know that things would never be perfect, but I will be satisfied when some or all of those 3 reasons of death are gone. Ok I have talked too much already so lets begin:

3: At number three, I have this: It is known in Iraq that one should keep his distance when driving behind a US patrol or any military vehicles, but sometimes driving in front of them could be just as dangerous. Because sometimes the US soldiers are impatient and won't wait for the road to be cleared, so they ram their way through any car in front of them, and sometimes they would shoot any car that comes in front of their way. I remember one accident a when I was having my final exams about two months ago, we were on our way to the university early in the morning, we reached an intersection were we had to turn left but there was this pickup truck stopped right in the middle of the intersection, at first glance I though it was just another dump driver, but then I realized that his face was covered with some newspapers. The guy was dead, turned out he was coming at exactly the way we were, but a US patrol was coming the other way, so they saw him turning toward them and shot him, he died from single shot, but his companion survived to tell the story.

2: Second place is taken by this: Opening a salon in Iraq could be fatal, especially in poor neighborhoods, I have heard of many bomb cars exploding in front of such places, and not just salons are targeted. Sometimes mobile shops, or any place displaying advanced technology, would be targeted for bombing. This is because of the thinking that any thing advanced is brought by the US soldiers, and carrying something like that means that you are working for them and it is a reason to death for many people. I know one of my relatives was once asked by rebels about his portable.

1: The number one is the almost unbelievable: It is perfectly acceptable to open a barber shop in Iraq, but recently many barbers have been shot, their shops targeted and attacked, some of them were even killed by use of silenced weapons in Gazaliya, the reason of the death is that they use a technique in shaving their customers beards, the technique involves using a string to shave some hairs so that they don't grow again. That technique has been used before the war, and I don't know why it is being forbidden now by the rebels, but right now many barbers refuse to use this technique in fear of their lives, and I don't blame them, some of them have signs on their windows saying that they don't use this technique anymore.

  There are other stupid reasons to die for now, but these are the most ridiculous ways to die in Iraq. It is painful enough to lose someone, but it is a lot more painful when he dies for something that isn't even considered a reason for death.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Summer Training

  Since I don't have anything new to post, and no good comparison for the fictional Average Iraqi, this seems like a good time to talk about the place where I'm spending my engineering summer field training. The place is on the outskirts of Baghdad, right after a sign that says "Baghdad says farewell". No need to say it is very far for that reason, the daily work starts at 8:00 am and ends at 5:00 pm usually, unless we have something urgent to do so we take extra time. Because of the length of the trip, and in order to make it in time, we have to go out very early to catch the time, we usually set off at about 6:15 am, and be there in about 7:30, some of the engineers like to bring their breakfast with them and eat it when they get there in that extra half hour they get there, in order to get a little more sleep at home, I like to eat my breakfast home. At the time we hit the road, only a few cars are on the street, and sometimes we would be the only car on the road, and at that US military are at their peek, we see them around every corner, and when we are the only car on the road, all their weapons would be fixed on us, which makes us really nervous, especially when the patrol is a tank patrol, the bridge of the tank would rotate and follow us down the street, making us sit on the edge of our seats.

  The place is intended to become a rice factory, it is a very big site, with enough place of future expansion. The main part of the factory is going to be a steel structure, not a concrete one like most other building in Iraq, and most of us are seeing a steel structure of this size for the first time, one have to be really careful when he builds something as rare as that, actually none of us has experienced doing steel structures this size, well there has to be first time for everything. The site is in a small village, very small and is almost defined by the main highway. I think the village is living on the many factories spread around the area.

  Since the place is almost in the desert, we always get strong wind there, strong sun, and many dust storms. A few days ago there was a huge dust storm that made the whole place look RED, we took a picture of the whole engineering staff, and it looked like it has been taken in Venus. Neon tubes looked blue to me, and the room was all blue, almost like you were living underwater, it was a very funny day and I came home with dust all over me, and my hair looked yellow. And just yesterday we had to wait for one of the builders to complete his work until we could call it a day and go home, so we had to stay after the normal working hours waiting for him and his crew to finish work, we were 8 engineers of different ages, so we brought a ball, made two teams, and played football until he was finished, and the funny thing is that the guys who didn't play finished the water so that we the guys who played, thirsty after the game, would find no water to drink. It is amazing isn't it, with the war going around us some still can find their way to happiness.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Internet in Iraq

  It feels really weird sitting in an internet cafe in Baghdad, it seems that the Iraqis in internet cafes are very interested in privacy, the computer am sitting on right now has got to plastic plates on the sides of it's monitor to prevent any other user from seeing what I do, but it is equipped with anything an internet surfer or chatter might need, beginning from fast internet and ending in a webcam. It has got multiple other internet programs, which are shortcutted all in the desktop. Some are user installed and some are installed by the owner of the cafe.

  Now this brings me to another chapter of the Average Iraqi Life. How does the Average Iraqi handles internet. Most of the new young men of the country know how to use internet, and have at least a Yahoo email accounts. Strange as it is, most Iraqis begin their internet experiment with chatting, and the majority of them doesn't do anything but chat, entering user rooms, clubs, political debates sometimes, even fightclubs... Then some of them, those who are able to speak English might find their ways into other areas of the internet, like yahoo groups, skype, kazaa and blogger. The names I mentioned are just samples, some find their other ways, it depends on the tastes of the Iraqi. The strange thing is I find that most of most of my friends who know the address of my blog, does read it, but they don't dare blog, they don't even dare comment, even if they find something really provoking.

  The only way to get internet before the war was by Dial Up. But it was censored, every web location you go to is noted and everything you do in it in known, and the dial up was really hard to reach, because it was the only number in Iraq, and it still is. After the war things changed; First there was a few other dial up numbers which you connect to them free, since it was still chaos and the U.S. wanted to maintain a good image. Then those disappeared and the dial up system came back, but it was different, much expanded and not censored, and then the wireless entered Iraq, it is a satellite connection networked around multiple subscribed users, but it is not very stable. In my case we have been to two providers until now and thinking of trying a third, not satisfied with the service so far.

  Today I went to the university, by the way I had succeeded my exams and I came fifth on my class. In a class of almost sixty students only eighteen of them passed from first attempt, not a very good figure, it was almost twice the number last year. Well as some of you might have noted from the comments of my last post, I have became 20 on Thursday, and when I got my first congratulation I had completely forgotten that this was my birthday, I usually see it coming days ago, but this time I was the last to know. Anyway, thank you all.

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