Michael Totten

Welcome to America

“This is excellent”:http://baghdadbureau.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/arriving-in-america-the-other-side-of-this-war/ — an article in the New York Times by an Iraqi who worked for the U.S. military as an interpreter and then moved to America.

It is soooo quiet outside. When I ask about the reason, they say “It’s a residential area.” I quietly respond, “What’s your point?” A flashback from our residential area in Baghdad where 6 a.m. is not too early for the chaotic, loud, orchestra of people selling cooking gas tubes, petroleum, street vendors and not to mention Iraqi police convoys and their loudspeakers. But here it is so quiet you can almost hear yourself think. And, more surprisingly, you can finish that thought.
Also, everyone has a car in here. I have yet to see a single taxi. Oh, and the roads, not so good. I did not expect to find streets in bad shape here. But the traffic is amazing, and weird at the same time. They call it a traffic jam if there’s like 15 vehicles in the street. “Huh?” They obviously could use a trip to the entrance of Sadr City, where cars and vehicles stretch as far as the eye can see at all hours of the day.
It’s so weird, and weirder is that people wait for the light to go green even if there’s no one else in the street and no police officer in sight. I turn around to check if my aunt is all right. “Why is she not moving?” Ah, I’m not in Iraq any more.
Yesterday we took a long drive to get somewhere. My aunt is very cautious and alert while driving through a particular neighborhood. She turns to me and says: “Look!” I turn around and spot two empty cans of soda and, like, three empty bags of potato chips all in a polite pile. “This is a bad neighborhood,” she says. I laugh uncontrollably. I can’t help but recall the piles and piles of garbage that I used to see near schools, hospitals, churches, mosques and museums back in Baghdad.

(Thanks to “Andrew Exum”:http://abumuqawama.blogspot.com/ for the link.)