I have been in Iraq for the past couple of days. It has been quite the experience.
Driving in Iraq is pretty chaotic. People here don’t know what indicators, brake lights or the over the shoulder technique are. All they know is the accelerator and the horn.
There is a general state of chaos here. Everyone just does their own thing. There is no real form of government, control or anything. Technically there is, but there are still no rules to regulate everything. Road rules are to shit. I was in a Coaster (bigger than a van, smaller than a normal WestBus bus) that was supposed to seat 20, it had 30 in it. We where rocketing past everyone (our driver was a little nuts) at about 150km/h weaving through traffic on the WORST roads I’ve ever seen past other traffic. At one point this crazy bus was chasing a cop car (Iraqi Special Forces no less).
The people here are the most resilient I’ve seen. Most here joke about death as if it were commonplace, which it is. When I was last here the population was under 20 million. In 16 years it has jumped to 37 million. Thats after 2 or 3 wars, and the one that is on now. The Iraqi people just kept doing their thing (working, marrying early and having a whole bunch of kids).
From what I have heard, the things here have been improving steadyly for the past couple of years. I am surprised to see lots of nice, new cars (even cars we don’t have or won’t get for a while). I even saw a fully modified turbo Mitsubishi Eclipse. Technology is quite good here. They have something similar to the NextG network, but only up to 1Mbps, but no ADSL or any real infastructure for wired, normal home internet. I am posting this from an Internet Cafe style thing.
The other thing I’ve noticed here is the amount of Chinese technology. All those things off one can buy off eBay or random markets (like knockoff MP3 players and whatnot) these guys have, in varying degrees of quality. Some of the stuff is so well made, but still a knockoff. Iraqi’s generally only buy Japanese, German and American products, whether it be a car, clothes, medicine or technology. These are considered to be good products, where as Chinese stuff is considered pretty crap, even though this new influx of Chinese stuff is pretty darn good, better than the Chinese knockoffs that we get.