Winter Bus Trip, Interrupted



(Andrea Bruce/The Washington Post)

It isn't always sunny and hot in Baghdad. Summer ends. Seasons change. The sky darkens earlier. December arrives, and so does an afternoon storm. Rain turns to hail and then to rain again. It collects on the streets and pushes into homes, garages and street-corner shops. Cars stop everywhere, stuck. One driver waits on the side of the road, smoking in his car, windows up.

Two shuttle buses speed halfway through a puddle under an overpass and stall out. The drainage grates are overmatched, and the puddle keeps growing. Bus engines sit silent for five minutes before the passengers realize it isn't getting better. In 30 minutes, the water rises four feet, seeping inside.

Stranded travelers stick their heads out windows; some men climb to the roofs. But most people walk down the bus steps, into the waist-high murky water, and head for dry land.

Three tearful women form a chain, holding hands high in the air, abayas floating and twisting around their waists. Thin young men laugh at each other, slipping as they race to reach the sidewalk first. Two men hold briefcases high, shielding their eyes from the rain that continues to fall. Plastic bags are suddenly in demand for shoes, purses and newly bought goods from the market.

Another passenger, one of the last to leave the bus, wades through the water holding a pistol. He hides the gun behind his velour lapels when he reaches the sidewalk, stomping the water from his shoes. He is traveling alone.

The soaked commuters continue toward higher ground, looking both thrilled and terrified. The wind is cold. Traffic isn't moving. Cellphone networks are jammed. December is here. The sky is still full of rain.

By Andrea Bruce

By Liz Heron  |  December 8, 2008; 12:05 AM ET  | Category:  Baghdad
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Comments

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"Another passenger, one of the last to leave the bus, wades through the water holding a pistol. He hides the gun behind his velour lapels when he reaches the sidewalk, stomping the water from his shoes. He is traveling alone."

See the serge is working!!!

Everyone gets to carry a gun!!!

Posted by: knjincvc | December 9, 2008 1:40 AM

Actually, it is quite common for most peole in Iraq to carry a weapon. It was not so under Saddam, and is discouraged now, but still tolerated.


What concernes me more about this photo, is the fact that the man is running with his finger fully engaged on the trigger.


One can only hope there is no round in the chamber, should he fall and accidently shoot an innocent bystander.


THAT they would in turn blame on the U.S.!!!

Posted by: pblakeii | December 9, 2008 2:01 AM

Actually, it is quite common for most people in Iraq to carry a weapon. It was not so under Saddam, and is discouraged now, but still tolerated.


What concernes me more about this photo, is the fact that the man is running with his finger fully engaged on the trigger.


One can only hope there is no round in the chamber, should he fall and accidently shoot an innocent bystander.


THAT they would in turn blame on the U.S.!!!

Posted by: pblakeii | December 9, 2008 2:03 AM

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