- Salam, who is chubby and cherubic and hip and speaks beautiful English, and often says "thingy," had everything you would want in an interpreter, save one trait. When I asked about his road skills, he blushed slightly and said, "To be honest, I am not much of a driver." A few days later, as we headed out from the Hamra, I suggested that he drive, so that in an emergency he would be somewhat familiar with the workings of my vehicle, a Hyundai SUV. He got behind the wheel. There was just a foot or so between the Hyundai and the cars in front and back. Salam grimaced. "I don't think I can do this without causing damage," he said. We switched seats. Salam was my interpreter, but I was his driver.
Maass hired Salam as an interpreter, knowing nothing about the blog. (He recognized incidents from his own reporting trip on the blog after he got back to the States).
Maass also praises Salam's fine taste in Persian rugs, music (the Pulp Fiction soundtrack was "the best music imaginable for driving around anarchic Baghdad") and science fiction -- he found Salam reading The Man in the High Castle.