Every time I start to read something Salam Pax writes, I can't stop thinking how talented he is. His version of American idiom is sometimes not quite there, which adds to the charm. Things like "I was biting down on my nails."
Besides doing most of Where is Raed?, he also contributes as a columnist to the Guardian under the byline the Baghdad Blogger. In today's issue, he discusses what it's like to get a cellphone in Iraq (cellphones were illegal under Saddam):
I went to the Jelawy supermarket for some shopping only to find a long queue at the entrance. We have learned from the 80s always to stand in these queues, because the state central markets would be selling something cheaper than the price on the street. It might just be batteries or it could be an air-conditioner; it doesn't matter. You join that queue.
So I waited my turn. But the people coming out were carrying nothing in their hands. Well, it might be something small but valuable, I thought, so I waited until I was actually in the shop and could see what we were queueing for. There was a sign: a white piece of cardboard with information on how to apply for a mobile phone - yes, haibis, we are finally getting mobile phones. After all the rumours and scandals, the network is up.