Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day Baghdad Style

When it comes to holidays or special occasions, we have a saying - this is Baghdad, we make do with what we've got. Today, July 4, is a good example of this.

I woke up this morning to yet another duststorm. Let me try to describe what this is like. The dirt is so fine, it hangs in the air effortlessly. It sneaks into the buildings and fills the hallways with a haze. It creeps past doors and blast-proof windows and settles on everything. Walking outside results in a grimey coat of dirt on skin and in hair. People cover their noses & mouths with surgical masks or handkerchiefs to avoid breathing in the dust.

But today is the Fourth of July. Grilling outdoors is not ideal, so we make do with eating our hotdogs and burgers inside the DFAC. The staff did a wonderful job decorating and it even cheered me up a bit. I enjoyed a traditional American meal of BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad, and root beer, followed by apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Not bad.

Embassy volunteers set up carnival-style games and contests. Throwing footballs through hoops and bouncing ping pong balls into bowls, all in the hope of winning a t-shirt. The highlight, of course, was dunking my roommate. I can't imagine how we got a dunk tank in Baghdad.

I missed the parades, the music, the outdoor BBQ, the flags, and the fireworks. But in Baghdad, no fireworks is probably a good thing.