Monday, June 21, 2004

Things I saw today... that you didn't. (Resurrected!)

A couple weeks ago I posted this, and then accidentally posted over it. I found an archive of it, so I thought I'd repost it, posterity's sake...

In my continuing observation of how surreal life is over here, it occurs to me just how many things I see here (and have accepted as "normal") that the majority of you reading this likely did NOT have to deal with today.

- There's a couple of spots right outside the base that there are constantly local police parked, with their lights flashing. I'm not sure what their function is, because it certainly isn't law enforcement. It's not uncommon to find them having a "picnic", complete with a blanket, pillows, tea, and snacks. More common to find them with newspaper in the windows to block out the sun (or the light at night so they can get some sleep). Today, and I swear this is true, one of them was backing up along the side of the road, with his hood open.

- At most of the major intersections there are crudely constructed banners and signs, all in arabic. These are usually made of two 2x4's and canvas or sheets of plywood. These typically get blown over every couple of days, but there's always someone there to replace or rebuild within a couple of days. By contrast, vehicles that have broken down or are involved in accidents sit for weeks.

- Outside of most entrances to the US military installations there are "HAPPINESS IN ISLAM" signs, with a number to call for more information. I have this image in my mind of "Islamic Recruits" anxiously awaiting the multitudes of soldiers calling to convert...

- Arabic women, fully veiled, driving at breakneck speeds, with nearly no peripheral vision. Avoid at ALL costs... trust me on this.

- Herds of TCNs (Third Country Nationals) ... and a term that just makes me smile for some reason... chasing vehicles as they pull into parking lots, waving their dirty rags towards their dirty water buckets. "Wash, boss?" is their most commoon request when you exit your vehicle, and usually takes several "no thank you's" before they lose interest. One enterprising TCN even washed my truck despite the fact that there were NO car-washers within 100 yards of my vehicle when I parked. When I returned to find my "clean" truck, he demanded 4KD (the usual rate is ~1.5KD). When I told him "no way", and got into the truck, he jumped into the back of my truck, and despite threats to drive him to the closest US base to have him shot, he refused to get out. Only after I threw a couple of 500 fil notes on the ground did he jump out and scramble after them...

more as I think of 'em!

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