A Tale of Two Springs

Facilitating peace, development and banking in Mosul, Iraq

Driving and Smoking in the Red Zone

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Iraqi Hunting Club, Baghdad

After one year living inside an Army base in northern Iraq, I have spent the past three weeks living and traveling throughout the country, in Iraqi vehicles with Iraqis. It is more dangerous than I anticipated for two reasons.

When I arrived, a client picked me up at the airport. Though I had flown in and out of Baghdad four times previously, I never had entered the civilian airport and never had been in Iraq in a civilian car, just driving around the way 30 million Iraqis do. I got in the pick-up truck and put on my seat belt. The driver immediately requested I remove the seat belt. The game of low profile travel is defined by their inability to know that I am foreign. And Iraqis do not wear seat belts.

Now, a couple of weeks later, I wear my seat belt. Based on the driving here, the risk of being out-ed as an American, often in a car careening down a road at speeds well over 80 miles per hour, pales in comparison to the risk of a car accident. So I fasten up.

But unfortunately there is no seat belt for second-hand smoke. Iraqis smoke. I believe every Iraqi man smokes. Inside. Outside. On the other side of the room. In my face. The misty haze of business meetings that disappeared from American bars and board rooms over the past few decades is very much alive here.

Many Iraqis with whom I speak yearn for a return to 1950s Iraq, politically and economically. Driving and smoking habits seem to be leading the way.


Written by treadingupthetigris

July 2, 2011 at 1:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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