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Blacked-Out Iraqis Offer Useful Advice

Iraqis who have suffered for months with little electricity gloated Friday over a blackout in the northeastern United States and southern Canada and offered some tips to help Americans beat the heat.

From frequent showers to rooftop slumber parties, Iraqis have developed advanced techniques to adapt to life without electricity.

Daily highs have soared above 120 degrees recently as Iraq's U.S. administrators have been unable to get power back to prewar levels. Some said it was poetic justice that some Americans should suffer the same fate, if only briefly.

"Let them taste what we have tasted," said Ali Abdul Hussein, selling "Keep Cold" brand ice chests on a sidewalk. "Let them sit outside drinking tea and smoking cigarettes waiting for the power to come back, just like the Iraqis."

Here is a top 10 list compiled on the streets of Baghdad:

—10: SLEEP ON THE ROOF. Without power — and hence without air conditioning — Iraqis have taken to climbing up stairs in the hot nights. Some install metal bed frames on rooftops, while others simply stretch out on thin mattresses. "We sleep on the roof," said Hadia Zeydan Khalaf, 38, wearing a black head-to-toe abaya in the hot sun. "It's cooler there."

—9: SIT IN THE SHADE. Many Iraqis go outside when the power's off. "We sit in the shade," said George Ruweid, 27, playing cards with friends on the sidewalk. Of the U.S. blackout, he said: "I hope it lasts for 20 years. Let them feel our suffering."

—8: HEAD FOR THE WATER. "We go to the river, just like in the old days," said Saleh Moayet, 53. Several people said they had seen American beaches on television, and suggested they might be a good place to sit out the blackout. "They have so many beautiful beaches," said Hamid Khelil, 44. "They should go where it isn't so hot."

—7: SHOWER FREQUENTLY. "I take showers all day," said Raed Ali, 33. "Before I go up to the roof to sleep, I take a shower and I'm cooler."

—6: BUY BLOCKS OF ICE. When refrigerators shut down, there's no better way to keep food cool. Mohammed Abdul Zahara, 24, sells about 20 a day from a roadside table. "When it's hot people buy a lot of ice," he said.

—5: CHECK FOR BITTER-ENDERS. "They should go to the power stations and see what the problem is," suggested Ahmed Abdul Hussein, 21. "Maybe there are followers of Saddam Hussein who are sabotaging their power stations. That's what happens here."

—4: GET A GENERATOR. Abbas Abdul al-Amir, 53, has one of a long row of shops selling generators in Baghdad's Karadah shopping street. When the power goes out, sales go up. "I sell about 30 generators a day," he said. "When the shutdown lasts I can sell even more."

—3: CALL IN THE IRAQIS. Some suggested the Americans ask the Iraqis how to get the power going again. "Let them take experts from Iraq," said Alaa Hussein, 32, waiting in a long line for gas because there was no electricity for the pumps. "Our experts have a lot of experience in these matters."

—2: USE FOUL LANGUAGE. "When the power goes out, I curse everybody," said Emad Helawi, a 63-year-old accountant. "I curse God. I curse Saddam Hussein. And I curse the Americans."

—And the No. 1 suggestion among Iraqis for Americans suffering without power: TAKE TO THE STREETS. Some said demonstrations can be effective in persuading authorities to turn on the switch. "We held protests. After that we had fewer blackouts," Ahmed Abdul Hussein said without even a hint of sarcasm. "I'd suggest Americans go out and demonstrate."