January 12, 2008

The Power of Snow

Justin Katz

So here's a question: Does the effect of snow transcend culture, or has Iraq absorbed enough of the culture that flowed from Northwestern Europe to have a similar cultural reaction?

After weathering nearly five years of war, Baghdad residents thought they'd pretty much seen it all. But Friday morning, as muezzins were calling the faithful to prayer, the people here awoke to something certifiably new. For the first time in memory, snow fell across Baghdad.

Although the white flakes quickly dissolved into gray puddles, they brought an emotion rarely expressed in this desert capital snarled by army checkpoints, divided by concrete walls and ravaged by sectarian killings—delight.

"For the first time in my life I saw a snow-rain like this falling in Baghdad," said Mohammed Abdul-Hussein, a 63-year-old retiree from the New Baghdad area.

"When I was young, I heard from my father that such rain had fallen in the early '40s on the outskirts of northern Baghdad," Abdul-Hussein said, referring to snow as a type of rain. "But snow falling in Baghdad in such a magnificent scene was beyond my imagination."

(No word, yet, on the effects of a couple of hours of snow on traffic in the desert country.)

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You are, indeed, an idiot. Absorbed culture? I think that human beings, no matter where they live or whether their migratory paths cause a designation of illegal alien or whatever, are basically the same. Snow is a pagan event that provokes delight and maybe if you are lucky- a spiritual connection with much larger forces we can only glimpse.

Posted by: David at January 12, 2008 7:56 PM

Wow. Less than a half-hour to the first assertion of my idiocy based on a light-hearted question. Says loads about your own character, David.

As it happens, I could picture snow in the desert being quite frightening, given the right cultural triggers.

I'm pretty sure, by the way, that snow is a natural event, not a pagan one, unless you want to explain how the cloud gods (or whatever) affect the temperature of the air.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 12, 2008 8:13 PM

First Jim, now David. You must have a target on your back, Justin.

It goes without saying that this unusual snow is proof of global warming.

Posted by: Monique at January 12, 2008 10:06 PM

Well, if Baghdad was not crippled by the "blizzard," could we give Gov. Carcieri partial credit?

I mean, he was there a couple of weeks ago, and maybe he briefed the local authorities on the best way to handle a snow storm. No Iraqi kids stuck on school buses . . . no sir.

That's all I'm sayin'.

Posted by: brassband at January 12, 2008 10:17 PM

Pagan event? Did someone offend Freyr?

Snow! Run for your lives! Providence is doomed!

PS In honor of the coming onslaught of snow, I made The Ocean State Republican snow ... with a little help from a nifty DHMTL script.

Posted by: Will at January 13, 2008 2:04 AM

Bet Iraqis don't whine about snow being a life and death situation. That's purely a Rhode Island 'cultural reaction' and an embarrassing one at that.
With the storm coming tomorrow have all schools been cancelled yet? Hope the governor is in town. The citizenry can't function without his guidance.

Posted by: Tim at January 13, 2008 9:46 AM
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