Iraq: “it’s good it wasn’t a car bomb!”
(Cross Posted to Global Voices Online)
What better, after a short break, than to give my audience what they really want to read - words from the street in Baghdad and Mosul. And there is no better time as Chikitita is back blogging from Baghdad giving her impression of a city that she has been away from for many months and Neurotic Wife, takes a tour through the 'red zone'. While Baghdad Dentist returns to Mosul after a break in Baghdad and tells us about the difference.
They say Baghdad has become safer - almost back to normal. And in a way it is true but the issue is one of perception and it is all relative. Chikitita is back in Iraq, visiting her home. She writes:
I sensed some kind of progress in the air; a cab driving through a once Al-Qaida-infested area on its way to a still Badr-controlled one. Last time I was home, this was unheard of! I was amazed by the new changes; all checkpoints have tacky artificial plants as if to divert the beholders’ attention from the camouflage and rifles to the fact that the young servicemen mean no harm.
... As I was promised, ... a cruise across the Tigris. It was BREATH-TAKING! For the first time in my life, I was able to take pictures inside my city, on a boat though, pictures that scream I WAS IN BAGHDAD!
The last stop is my favourite place Kadhimiya marketplace, which seemed to have survived. No rip-offs, cheery faces and the good old Iraqi spirit seem to be buzzing with life.
But after a few days the reality strikes her:
I seemed to have counted my chickens way too early in my previous post. A fellow commuter, barely catching his breath and checking his trousers for traces of dust, said he survived a bombing by a miracle... the IED tore through the very same childhood neighbourhood of mine. What confused me about this young commuter was the fact that he was smiling as he was running at full speed to catch the bus and his funny comment “it’s good it wasn’t a car bomb!” Aren’t we lucky!
Neurotic Wife leaves the Green Zone to take a rare drive through the streets of Baghdad and goes out for a meal in a local restuarant. She says:
That place was crammed. People were coming in and then leaving because there arent any free tables around. I looked at the people, they were happy people. Young ladies dressed in the latest fashion with make up, large fashionable sun glasses over their heads shielding the hairs from their eyes and large hoop earrings dangling from their ears. Everything and everyone around me looked so colourful, so lively. And most importantly, so NORMAL!!!
I had the urge of taking my cam out and snap hundreds upon hundreds of pictures. I wanted everyone in the world to see that no matter what happens to Iraq, the rockets, the bombings, the assassinations, the kidnappings, there is Always Life. ALWAYS.
Maybe one of the reasons for the glowing reports of stability in Baghdad come from the wishful thinking of its residents. Chikitita, having seen the world outside of Baghdad, looks at her friend's optimism in a new light. She writes:
I have ceased to look at bright sides in Iraq and given up hope on positive changes, but [my friend] hasn’t. She was so eager to show me life through her eyes, just anything that could give me a false sense of peace and co-existence. She failed. She was right about shops opening after 5:00 p.m., but they close down at 7:00, I couldn’t see any progress there... mosques are still protected by barbed wires, a proof of ongoing mistrust. I heard commuters exchange sectarian insults with each other, not a good sign either and it was her own mother who told me about a private school for girls next door that received threats by militias to expel the qualified senior male teachers or else they blow up the whole school premises.
Baghdad Dentist returns to work in Mosul after a holiday at home in Baghdad. He gives a picture of life for the single young professional in that city:
it's too dangerous to live in my home because when the national guards or the american soldiers find a young man living alone he'll be considered as a terrorist and will be detained. ... [my] neighbours were afraid and hesitated to talk about the situation and they didnt give me a clear answer . ...
i met my friends whom i missed and new rotator dentists were there ... by night we were laughing and chatting and the sleeping song was 3 blasts and some shooting. ... Friday, the alarm was a horrible sound of explosion that woke us up and we were looking at each other to check if some one was injured.
Even the universities and the students cannot escape the violence in that city. Aunt Najma writes:
Today the situation was tense, there was an assassination attempt to kill the university's vice president, and there were many security measurements inside the university.
We discovered today that a dear classmate, M, was shot few days ago. They told me it hit him in the leg and he's okay. I was shocked to hear the news, nobody has told us, as if we do not care.
Even if you are stuck at home Marshmallow26 finds a way travel the world from her armchair in Baghdad:
Yes, I was sitting on my chair, enjoying the delicious flavor of my red apple. I visited Austria - Pfaenderhang, Japan, antique shop in Europe. super market at night, and a city square do not know even where...
Every thing is possible when it comes to Google search, I was reading in one of the technological websites, and found a trick word, a mantra that you write in Google's search bar and you get all live cameras around the world...the word is: liveapplet.
You get to see airports, metros, New York times square, factories, Zoos, and you get the picture!
Although I have not been on a plane nor to any other country except Syria, I feel as if I went to all those places which I searched through Google...I always say it, I LOVE TECHNOLOGY.