Monday, August 11, 2003

If you think it's hot in Britain, try Iraq.

The thermometer in The Independent's car hit 54C (129 Farenheit) in central Baghdad yesterday. That was when the air conditioning gave up and blew hot air in our faces.

In these temperaturesthe sun hits the back of your head like a sledgehammer. You can drink a litre and a half of water in five minutes and still feel thirsty.

Cars overheat from the sun here. When Iraqis park, they leave the bonnet (hood) open to cool the engine. It's perfectly natural to pull up at someone's door and ask them to spray the hosepipe over your engine.

American soldiers sometimes ask locals to spray them down as well. They are in full battledress - bullet-proof vests and helmets. "All I'm fighting here is this heat," one American told me.

Some locals are convinced the vests are air conditioned -the only reason anyone would wear them in such heat.

But for Iraqis, life goes on. Everybody goes to work and the streets are busy. Air conditioning is not a luxury - even dirt-poor farmers have rusty units.

No comments: