Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Night Out in Baghdad

It goes without saying that options are limited here, but I know that many Americans working in Iraq have it much worse. Though we're not in the Green Zone, our compound is home to several other international development organizations and we have a decent bar. It's open to anyone in the compound, as well as the Iraqis that work in the compound or have permission to enter. Inside, dominoes is surprisingly popular. Darts, ping-pong, and pool are all available, played on tables that are functional but show their age. I've tried to start a Scrabble following, but have not found too much interest.

As a poker player, when I learned that there was a regular Wednesday game I was thrilled. However, its not like any poker night I've played before. Its organized by Serbian security contractors who have not been influenced by ESPN and have an aversion to hold 'em or even stud. With their pockets deep from six-figure salaries and their mind numb from the stress and monotony, they want something that doesn't require much thought. Their game of choice is "guts" which is easy to learn and requires as much skill as going to the bathroom. Despite the silliness of the game, hundreds of dollars change hands.

DVDs are cheap and readily available, so many of us stay in, spending even more time staring at a screen. I have all five seasons of the West Wing on DVD that look so professional I could mistake them for the originals. Now that I've found a coworker who goes to the market regularly, I'm watching each of the Oscar nominees for $2 each.

Our security team, who are mostly South Africans, used to provide barbeques, or Braiis. They've recently been reprimanded for their raucous behavior. Some of the staff were dismissed and the events have been curtailed. Its unfortunate, as that was some of the best seasoned meat that I've ever eaten. More reason to go to South Africa someday.


Post a Comment

<< Home