Iraqis Offer Blackout Tips

Except for the lights from a hotel on generator power, total darkness envelops Iraq's capital Baghdad as electricity went out Thursday April 3, 2003.
AP
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 are some tips from the streets of Baghdad:

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. "It's cooler there," said Hadia Zeydan Khalaf, 38.

SIT IN THE SHADE. Many Iraqis head 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."

HEAD FOR THE WATER. "We go to the river, just like in the old days," said Saleh Moayet, 53.

SHOWER FREQUENTLY. "I take showers all day," said Raed Ali, 33.

BUY BLOCKS OF ICE. Mohammed Abdul Zahara, 24, sells about 20 a day from a roadside table.

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, he said.

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."