Stories from Afar & Up Close

Stormy days

Yesterday we said goodbye to the Iraqi women who came to our NGO to learn about post-war reconstruction. I looked out the window and saw a dark sky, grey clouds gathering just before a massive downpour of rain would hit the land. I sighed and remarked: ‘such sad weather on a last day.’ ‘It’s not sad weather’ said my boss, raising his voice for the first time since I know him, ‘it’s a sad human condition we are in in this country!’ From the corniche

The sad human condition we are in is our own fault, says my boss. It is also unsurprising. If everybody (and I mean literally everybody) has a gun or two in the house, ‘just in case’, flying bullets might be a problem much less significant than the distrust that permeates every pore of this society. When I was doing my research, a year and a half ago, people showed me their guns that were hidden under their pillows or in bedside tables. These days, they have moved into pockets and onto the streets. Ready to be used.

In the South

No wonder everybody sleeps with one eye open. The events of Sunday-night (demonstrations against the horrible electricity situation turned into riots in which protesters clashed with the army, tires were burned and 8 people died from flying bullets and a grenade thrown into the crowd) show how volatile the ‘situation’ is. The symbolism of Sunday’s events – they took place in the same place as the attack on a bus full of Palestinians which sparked the civil war in 1975 – hasn’t escaped anyone. I don’t even hear any predictions anymore, nor the usual ‘let’s hope tomorrow will be calm’. As Robert Fisk asks: Could it be civil war already?

The Corniche

I prefer natural storms. Strong wind is good for the mind.