Today is the first day of Ramadhan, the holy month of fasting.
In this heat, it's not so much the hunger - It's the thirst that really gets you.
And can you imagine: national electricity is available for 3 - 6 hours out of every 24 (It differs according to neighbourhood and some neighbourhoods have even less than that - Why?
It's quite simple, really.
What I prefer to call "Talabani land" in Karrada (Talabani is the Iraqi president. His complex is in Jadriyah, Karrada) is blessed by the powers that be and allocated almost non-stop electricity. Most of Karrada, home to most Iraqi officials, is also blessed - but not quite as much! Most high ranking government officials believe this kind of preferential treatment to be their right.
Regular Iraqis have to buy electricity from privately-owned generators, not as much as to fill in the gaps – they can't, but to provide as much electricity as their incomes allow.
Since the beginning of summer, the government has been selling generator owners only a tenth of their need of fuel, so that the black market – controlled by high ranking officials, may flourish, said Ali, who runs two generators in Baghdad. Several other owners I spoke with, agreed with him.
But for a few days now –and for some reason unknown, there hasn't been even that much fuel.
On top of that, the government, who controls all aspects of oil economics, has also stopped selling kerosene (which, when mixed with oil can provide a makeshift fuel for generators, I'm told).
As a result, prices have shot right up and only the wealthy can afford reasonable hours (maybe ten hours?) daily of, say 10 amps. That is enough to work the fridge, two water-coolers, lights and TV. This much electricity costs as much as the average income of an Iraqi citizen, according to Head of Statistics Apparatus.
Water-coolers can provide some (poor) relief from the heat – But only when there is water in the taps to do the cooling!
And where is the water??
That reminds me of an English saying that just popped into my mind, "If we had eggs, we could have bacon and eggs - if we had bacon"!!
As for air-conditioning - It's completely out of reach - unless you are a nabob!
You know - Maybe I'm in the wrong business.
Maybe I will apply for a position: as President of Iraq – Or maybe Prime Minister!
Am I too ambitious? Very well, then – a Member of Parliament will also do.
Then I can play Lady Bountiful, and provide my neighbours with electricity!
The sad truth is that people here have come to believe that the government is suffocating them – as if forcing them to find somewhere else to live, Worst of all is the situation in Baghdad that has already witnessed a big demographic change as a result of sectarian cleansing since 2003.
Are Iraqis silent?? No!
They used their new-found democracy and voted for change and a new set of guardians for their interests – But no change has come about.
They are using their new-found freedom of expression, shouting, demonstrating and demanding to be treated decently – But no one is listening.
The first day of Ramadhan thus passes as many Ramadhan days have passed before, and Iraqis are still oppressed.