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Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Missing Nephew 

Wife's nephew, C, is an engineer in the U.S. Air Force. He reported for duty in Japan earlier this year, and we email each other from time to time. My latest email, several weeks ago, remains unanswered. We were getting worried, but then he called us yesterday.

From Iraq.

He can't tell us where he is - not even if he is in northern Iraq or southern Iraq (probably due to security, although most of Wife's kinfolk are "cartographically challenged"; they can't even read maps, much less fold them!). He has been there for three weeks, building houses. C says he pretty much hangs out on the military base (which is a large one) when he is not working, but he and his buddies are permitted to go into the nearby town "at your own risk". After paying $36.00 for a pair of sunglasses, C has decided to remain on the base. I pointed out that Zeyad (who, by the way, at the time of this post, is posting a history of Iraqi tribalism; interesting, if you want to understand the Iraqi way of looking at certain things) and some of the other Iraqi bloggers have mentioned that haggling is an expected part of the purchasing process in Iraq, but C counters with the argument that he doesn't speak Iraqi, and the only English the shop owners know is "credit card or debit card?".

C says the heat is oppressive, and he is amazed by the "dust devils", small whirlwinds which he says are quite powerful; C says he saw one blow a pickup across a highway!

C is really upbeat about his visit to Iraq. He says he will be there for three months (at least that is the current plan), and he has decided to keep his head down, try to find a cool spot ("even the shade is hot!"), and make the best of things. He asked what he could get me as a souvenir; I told him to send me a few sheets of plywood, as it is really expensive in the states these days. Actually, based on some of Faiza's pictures, I would probably like a carpet, or maybe "an old musical tool".

C's phone card ran out of time and we had to hang up, but he said he'll call back when he gets a new card. Heck, maybe I can start a new blog, "Uncle-in-law of an Airman in Iraq", and get Emigre to blogroll me!