After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snow in Baghdad

Christmas in Baghdad
Sunshine photographs a Christmas tree at her neighbour's house.

Yes, seriously. For the first time in living memory it actually snowed in Baghdad. And for one Iraqi whose blog is titled: "In Iraq, sex is like snow" the irony is not lost on him. Caesar of Pentra writes:
It's cold over here in Baghdad these days. The electric power is off since the beginning of this year, the tap water is available in days unavailable in others, the mobile network coverage is very bad over my nieghborhood & the landphones are out of reach since only god knows when. But the important thing is the security stituation, which is kinda stabled. But I think as a human being, I have the right to enjoy a comortable lifestyle by providing the main civil services like (electric power, feul, water, land phones... etc.). Anyway, let's enjoy the view of snow and hope that the sex part comes later! ;)

The snow even melted the heart of one of the more hardened Iraqi political bloggers. Iraq Pundit takes time off his usual subjects to write:
Iraqis welcomed this week's rare snowfall in Baghdad with smiles and optimism. It might sound funny, but we do believe it's a good sign. To us, it's like manna from Heaven. Because while it does snow in the north of Iraq, nobody had seen it snow in Baghdad for perhaps 100 years. It's only natural for us to ask what message the skies are sending....

Before you start laughing, let me remind you that we are a superstitious people. And we look for signs in everything.

Even Fayrouz was happy:
Mother Nature looked at Baghdad early Friday morning and said, "Let it snow in Baghdad. Let the faces of the tired and the wary shine with big smiles. Let the skies bring calmness and joy where it's desperately needed."

So, it snowed in Baghdad yesterday morning.

But not all residents of Baghdad were impressed. Shaggy wrote: "I peeked outside and it was indeed snowing. Unfortunately, the snow melted once it touched the ground. Well after that I was so excited that I went back to sleep."


There were dreams for a house

scratched on paper …

at odd moments when the corner

of an available room was free

and the light sufficient.

Dreams for a home

while on the run

from dream-killers

and home-destroyers.

Thoughts of reunion

under a roof

when blood mattered

and distance had drawn too long…

Her scratches as emblematic as

sunshine on sunflowers;

groping for a reality

loudly passing away.

Silently scratched on scrap paper

supported by thick books of thought

that were very different

filled with skeleton letters that danced to

a homesick tune…

Hiding from the moonlight

under eroding bus stop signs

escaping the end

though it loomed

as close as the following second…

Then suddenly out of a sunflower second

the dream-killers

seized the scratches

and ripped the paper house to lonely pieces

shredded all dreams of homecoming

and shot the last 'different' thoughts

back into the skulls of snoozing sunflowers

before the sun could

even dream of a horizon…

Um Ali was an Iraqi communist who was hunted down, detained, tortured and eventually murdered by Saddam’s regime, in the early Eighties. In her run from one hideout to another, escaping Saddams 'gestapo', she dreamed of building a family home.

Peace in Baghdad

The good news is from Baghdad. There is a certain impression of peace and goodwill settling in city that has taken the brunt of the violence that beset Iraq in the past years. I wish I could say the same for Iraq's second city, Mosul. Sunshine writes about her journey to school last week:
I got ready to go to school in such cold weather with no electricity just like everyday, I was waiting for the driver in the hall when HEAVY shooting started, the driver came with 3 girls, grandma didn’t allow me to go out , when shooting almost calmed down, I ran to the car, and the driver drove fast , we drove among so many tanks, the national guards didn’t allow any car to pass the bridge except ours because they saw we were students and we wouldn’t attack them ... as soon as I reached school (at exactly 7:37 pm) a loud explosion happened followed by another few minutes later!! What a great way to start school .. the situation is not good, and many car bombs entered Mosul today, they didn’t explode yet and I hope they won’t, so please don’t forget to pray for us, 2 weeks ago a car exploded at 10 pm, many Iraqis died, poor people they were in their houses, asleep, or having showers, maybe studying, or having dinner, and for no reason an idiot put a car there, killed and injured tens of citizens..
But back in Baghdad, where Sunshine spent her Eid holiday, things were more peaceful:
One of the things that made me happy, is the streets in Baghdad were clean, and in the road junctions there were beautiful gardens with roses and some of them had fountains..

it’s strange, how people in Baghdad slept on one day feeling afraid from the unknown future, and had no idea what’s happening, then in the next day suddenly the killing stopped, the situation calmed down, and the sun shone after long time of darkness, no one knows how nor why .. is it a Truce? or it is a bargain?!!!.

Many shops were destroyed , we saw the shop owners cleaning their shops and fixing them. I felt happy to see how they were re-building their shops and I am looking for the day we’ll re-build Iraq.

And the new peace in Baghdad helps Sahar take stock of the situation:
all the deliberate chaos and violence was like a curtain, keeping everyone so distressed there're incapable of seeing the real issues - the ones for which the war was fought in the first place. ... They should begin to ask questions and demand answers of those whom they elected. Have many lost faith in their religious leaders? Have they had enough of being manipulated by them in the name of their brand of Islam? ... But the government still feels safe, in spite of that. For who will do the serious questioning? The greater majority of the middle class has fled, and the government still has a strong hold upon their own people because of the sectarian fears - the evil seed that was sown after the occupation.

And FInally...

The Muslim Eid al-Ahda celebration came on December 18th. You cannot find a better description of how Iraqis celebrate this holiday than Sunshine's two posts here and here. Most of this can be summed up in one picture:Food Glorious Food



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