Monday, August 09, 2004

Mortars and Other Minor Inconveniences


We had a scary moment yesterday in the Green Zone. Entry is controlled by double barriers. As we were held up between them for inspection of our car, the security guards suddenly dived behind the concrete bunkers, leaving us like little rats in a have-a-heart trap. We thought for a chilling moment that they’d found an explosive in the undercarriage. It’s a deadly-force-authorized zone, so we did not want to simply leap from the vehicle. We slowly opened the windows, then the doors, to ask what was up. Finally, a shivering Gurkha motioned that we were to come inside. Apparently, mortars were falling somewhere so distant that we could not even hear them. After five minutes we had the all clear, without actual incident.

We drove back to the offices amid reports of bad fighting in the West of the city, and sporadic outbreaks elsewhere. So we closed up early. It was a rough night. I was repeatedly awakened by explosions rattling the building. One was close enough to send spent gravel pattering gently against the window. I gave up trying to sleep and, with some sense of irony, watched Top Gun. I was somewhat reassured by the lack of helicopter gunships, police sirens, and ambulances. My street is a major thoroughfare, so after the Church and Ministry bombings the red lights and sirens went on for hours. Had anything really bad happened really close, it would have lit up the street. I heard distant shouting; a rattle of gunfire. But in the morning, the shops along the way opened as usual, albeit late. I’m a bit groggy today; having trouble concentrating on the work at hand.

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