Reporters on the Job

A Sand Day in Baghdad: As he was finishing a farewell dinner Sunday night with a friend due to fly out of Iraq the next day, Monitor writer Dan Murphy said goodbye, and casually remarked: "We haven't had a sandstorm in a long time."

When Dan awoke Monday at about 7 a.m., he was reminded of his New Jersey youth, when school was canceled after a heavy snow. "When I was a little kid, it was the most exciting thing to peak out and see a good layer of snow on the ground," he says.

As he looked out of his hotel window the building across the street was obscured by a shimmering wave of red - and sand was already dancing in the air of his bedroom.

"It was the biggest sandstorm I've ever seen here. Cars were covered with a light dusting of it. I had sand in my coffee, and the few people on the streets of Baghdad had wrapped scarfs around their heads like mujahideen."

Flights were canceled. Businesses were shuttered, and even the all- important talks about writing the Iraqi constitutional were postponed for the day (page 1). Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani had planned to attend but was stranded in northern Iraq because his aircraft was grounded by the storm.

About mid-morning, Dan got a call from his friend, still stuck in Iraq. He just said, "Nice going," and hung up.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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