A glimpse of the Iraq I knew

Hussein Anwar – August 22, 2010

This is a small glimpse of the Baghdad and Iraq I knew throughout my youth…

The 70s and 80s are considered by many the golden age of Iraq, peace
existed among people even though there was political instability and
later the Iraq-Iran war. When I was 17 turning to 18 before moving to
Baghdad…life in DiIyala was simple with the villagers and farmers,
people were more generious even if they dont know you, you can stop by
a stranger and ask him for directions and he will insist on receiving
you as a guest even if he had only bread and cheese at his home, even
if they were poor. people were more of the type that puts good
intentions first, not suspicious, social, there was green land, there
were farmers who took joy in planting there land, sleeping early and
waking up early for salat and then to work. life outside Baghdad among
simple people was very enjoyable and entertaining even if it was just
in a tent with fire and arabic coffee and a long night of conversation.

Baghdad was different, MY Baghdad was a beauty, the nightlife of
Baghdad was very beautiful and active, just like Cairo and Alexandria I
hear. people were classy, restaurants, clubs, social clubs, light
everywhere, and even the cosmopolitan areas were beautiful, coffee
shops everywhere the traditional ones, you can find a man with a single
table on the side walk grilling lamb or pigeons…that is what he does
for a living, and yet it is delicious food. nice words were on the
tongues of many people, my dear, my brother, my sister, my father, my
uncle, thank you, ure welcome, god bless you, may you see peace in your
life, allah ywafqak…etc to strangers.

You can have a million dollars in a bag and sleep in the street and no
one will ask you what are you doing or what do you have in your bag.
life was easy, with 600 dollars a month even during the 80s you would
live as a sultan or a queen, 600 equivalent to 200 dinars at the time.
people were really happy, people were relaxed, health insurance good,
food is cheap, education for free, soldiers fought well because they
know if they died…there is a government that will not forget his
family and still secure a decent respectable life for them.

Relationship with neighbors was just so amazing, so pure, so built on
love and mutual respect whether you are muslim, christian, saibian,
kurdish and even jewish etc religion was not an issue, money was not an
issue, hatred among people did not exist, we all loved one another like
our own families. even alcoholic people had ethics, they would not
harass you in the street or something of that sort, people generally
had a sens of embarrassment and shyness.

The smell of Baghdad in the morning was just so pure, a smell that I
cant describe for you, a smell of pure air before the first car in
baghdad was driving in the streets, at dawn I mean, you find people
happily going to work, even cleaners in the street. birds in the sky,
oh my God Baghdad’s sky was never ever empty from pigeon floks, in
Baghdad at night…there was always something to do whether you are
young or old. There was peace, there was love, there was honesty…

Prostitution was a taboo, even though it existed but it was a taboo,
brothels were very very limited that they were known to people, there
was not many corruption in Iraq, people got shocked easily by a drunk
man or a man with a prostitute in a car, parties where hookers came
were done with silence and privacy, on the suburbs of Baghdad, people
were very respectable, you find conservative women and liberal women,
but a hooker in the streets of Baghdad was something unusual, people
will find it a blasphemy, theft was not an issue, if a thief broke into
a house in Baghdad…you will hear all Baghdad talking about it next

Let alone the river banks, oh they were so beautiful, coffees and
restaurants scattered on the river banks, lights everywhere, everyone
minding his own business, no one bothers another, people will stay
coming and going till the early morning, you always find fisher men in
the rivers and behind them the beautiful view of hundreds of palm
trees, a typical view of Iraq. there was a life in Iraq…people had a
life…now it is no longer there thanks to the Americans, Israelis,
Iranians and unwise political decisions from my Baathist government.

This was my Iraq, this was the Iraq my president built. I went once
with President Saddam Hussein to a friends house (his friend) this was
two months before the Iraq-Iran war broke, as he left the house,
holding his friend from his hands, he looked at the sky and told him:

"Ahmed…do you see this Baghdad of ours? I swear I will make a
beautiful piece of Baghdad that the entire world will talk about, this
is my Baghdad, I will build it and make it the most beautiful city on
the face of the earth."

As for me how I became so aware of the internet, blogging and twitter.
two years ago I only learned how to log in and read my email, I looked
down at myself when I called my son asking him how to do this and how
to do that, one day I was reading the news paper early in the morning
and saw an advertisement for a 6 months teaching course, teaching about
windows, the internet, websites etc, so I registered, and bit by bit I
learned, it wasent easy for me in the beginning because there were lots
of buttons on the screen, many places to go to etc, I was confused for
a man my age, plus I was very slow trying to find my way on the

My son suggested that if I like writing, why dont I register for a
blog? I did not know what a blog is, I though if I wanted my own
space…I though I had to purchase it just like any website, he showed
me where and he showed me how, and the good thing about me is I like to
explore, I click on a button even if I dont know what it is, then there
was this fashion of facebook and twitter and I also explored them.

All through my life I hanged around with people of different ages, I
even went out with people younger than me15 years or so even 20. I have
this belief that if you socialize with young people constantly you will
remain young at heart and flamboyant, and if you are young and hang
around with old people…eventually you will feel an old cripple.

I may be an old man, even though my health is good alhamdulilah, but I
remain young at heart, that is why I dont get along with some of the
men my age, not all but some. Plus…I have a western side of me and
some typical arabs my age dont like that.

Tres Romantique…

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