[Editor’s Note: Due to the increased instability of electricity during Eid, this post was written yesterday on the actual first day of Eid, but is only being posted now. In fact we are in the dark as I post this right now.]
There is something so different about Baghdad today. I first noticed it when I opened the door to the terrace. There were birds nearby, singing. Birds, singing songs in Baghdad! This was the first time I heard such a nostalgic sound.
This quickly disappeared from my mind as I engrossed myself in work. There was still gunfire every so often, but the noise from the street was different. There were no shouts accompanying the gunfire, and no screeching tires or horns. These are the sounds I’ve become accustomed to in my time here.
After Omar awoke, and we had both showered, we left the flat. Upon stepping outside our gate it was immediately clear that something was different. It wasn’t just the brilliant blue skies or the incredibly pleasant nature of the weather. In fact, it was palpable in the air we breathed.
There was a distinct absence of traffic, and everyone on the street had a carefree air. There was a brilliant azure sheen to the sky and the fluffy clouds always found on the most pleasant days of spring back home. I mentioned the atmosphere to Omar and asked him whether he expected the serenity to last. “Well you know man, even the Resistance wants people to be happy today, because its Eid.”
But it didn’t last. Once we had crossed the river the traffic jams began again. As we got nearer to the GZ the presence of Iraqi Police and INGs reasserted itself. Crowds of people, somewhat nervous, and though happy, still rushing about from place to place.
The presence of security forces along the road leading to the Green Zone was heavy, perhaps no more than usual, but after the blissful nonchalance of Karrada even this everyday nuisance felt more troublesome than usual.
By the time we reached Omar’s home, where we had been invited for the first meal of Eid, our relatively cheerful demeanor had all but vanished. We had a nice meal with the Mughasib family and after a short visit we headed back to the flat.
We were expecting to meet Amer, our contact at the Baladiyat refugee camp, only to have him cancel on us once more. We will continue to attempt an interview with Amer, but it seems unlikely after so many cancellations.
Omar and I spent the night in Baladiyat a few days ago, we took some photos and will post a short report about the situation in Baladiyat soon.