To understand toll on people of Iraq, forget US cable news networks,go to people of Iraq. The following is an excerpt from one of Iraq's citizens taken from: http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/
The cousin, his wife S. and their two daughters have been houseguests these last three days. They drove up to house a couple of days ago with several bags of laundry. “There hasn’t been water in our area for three days…” The cousins wife huffed as she dragged along a black plastic bag of dirty clothes. “The water came late last night and disappeared three hours later… what about you?” Our water had not been cut off completely, but it came and went during day.
Water has been a big problem in many areas all over Baghdad. Houses without electric water pumps don’t always have access to water. Today it was same situation in most of areas. They say water came for a couple of hours and then disappeared again. We’re filling up plastic containers and pots just to be on safe side. It is not a good idea to be caught without water in June heat in Iraq.
“I need to bathe children and wash all these clothes,” S. called to me as older of little girls and I hauled out their overnight bag. “And sheets- you know nothing has been washed since last weeks ajaja…” We call a dust storm an “ajaja” in Iraq. I don’t think there’s a proper translation for that word. Last week, a few large ajajas kept Baghdad in a sort of pale yellow haze. What happens when an ajaja settles on city is that within a couple of hours, air becomes heavy and thick with beige powdery sand. Visibility decreases during these dust storms and it often becomes difficult to drive or see out window.
On such occasions, we rush about house shutting windows tightly in a largely futile attempt to keep dust out of house. For people with allergies or asthma- it’s a nightmare. The only thing that alleviates situation somewhat is air conditioning. The air feels a little less dusty when there’s an air conditioner pumping cool air into room.
One dust storm last week was so heavy, E. slept for a couple of hours during its peak and woke up with little beige-tipped lashes from dust that had settled on his face while he was dozing. You can even taste dust in food sometimes. These storms can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
After ajaja is over and air has cleared somewhat, we begin cleaning process. By this time, furniture is all covered with a light film of orangish dirt, windows are grimy, and garden, driveway and trees all look like they have recently emerged from a sea of dust. We spend days after such storms washing, wiping, polishing and beating dust out of house.
“I’ve been dying to wash curtains and sheets since ajaja…” S. breathed, pulling out dusty curtains from plastic bag. She paused suddenly, a horrific idea occurring to her, “You have water, right? Right?” We had water, I assured her. I didn’t mention, however, that there had been no electricity for better part of morning and generator was providing only enough for refrigerator, television and a few lights. The standard washing machine consumed too much water and electricity- we would have to use little ‘National’ washing tub, or ‘diaper machine’ as my mother called it.
The pale yellow plastic washing tub is a simple device that is designed to hold a few liters of water and to swish around said water with a few articles of clothing tossed in and some detergent. Next, clothes have to be removed from soapy water and rinsed separately in clean water, then hung to dry. While it conveniently uses less water than standard washing machine, there is also a risk factor involved- a sock or undershirt is often sacrificed to little plastic blade that swishes around water and clothes.
We spent some of yesterday and a good portion of today washing clothes, rinsing them and speculating on how our ancestors fared without washing machines and water pumps.
The electrical situation differs from area to area. On some days, electricity schedule is two hours of electricity, and then four hours of no electricity. On other days, it’s four hours of electricity to four or six hours of no electricity. The problem is that last couple of weeks, we don’t have electricity in mornings for some reason. Our local generator is off until almost 11 am, and house generator allows for ceiling fans (or “pankas”), refrigerator, television and a few other appliances. Air conditioners cannot be turned on and heat is oppressive by 8 am these days.