I looked at an Iraqi blog that I like, and found pictures that surprised me, of newly paved pedestrian streets, like Al Mutanabbi Street pictured above, and peace and quiet, and statues in sunshine, and orderly signs.
And I found an article about the bookshops in Al Mutanabbi Street and was fascinated by the literary scene the writer described in 2005.
And another article that described the lifting of the curfew in Al Mutanabbi Street which had been imposed after a car bomb exploded there in 2007 “killing 30 book merchants, buyers, and publishers, and wounding dozens others. The blast also destroyed many buildings and bookstores, including al-Maktabah al-Asriyya [The modern bookstore], the oldest of its kind in al-Mutannabi, in addition to al-Shabandar Café, considered by many as one of Baghdad’s most famous landmarks.”
Today I read a piece written by Salam Pax, whom we all know better as the Baghdad Blogger. I had no idea that he had been in London for the last two years, sponsored by the British Council to study journalism. He has recently returned to Baghdad and writes of his first impression on returning. Right at the end of the article he says he is still not sure if the city he left is the city he has arrived back in, and how he wants to feel like a Baghdadi again, and wants to visit the book market. I know all about the book market now, and I hope he finds it as it was before, not necessarily how it was when he left.