Despite Violence, Life in Baghdad Returns to Normality
    2009-05-04 00:09:25     Xinhua      Web Editor: Liu Wei
 
The latest wave of violence in Baghdad apparently failed to stop people of the historical city of Baghdad from telling the tales of Arabian Nights.

The city's restaurants and coffee shops insist to bring back the old days as the city has historically ever known.

As many areas in Baghdad have dusted themselves off, many new others are being built as hopes for prosperous new life in the country is strongly rising, said Abdullah al-Amiedi, as he was standing among some exhausted workers who were building his new restaurant in the Jamia district in western Baghdad.

Amiedi, 55, has returned to Baghdad a few months ago after he fled the country during sectarian bloodshed that engulfed the Iraqi cities in 2006.

"I believe this time that peace is true and the good days are coming, so I am planning to make this place a romantic that families in the neighborhood can resort to spend nice and calm evenings, like the ones they used to get in the past," Amiedi said.

"I can feel that Baghdad is wearing a new dress after each wave of violence, like the city is clinging to keep breathing and would not easily give up life to let the sheer savagery of war to prevail," he said.

Amiedi believes that people should do something if they want a better life. "I want to be one of those who make things happen, not one of those who watch things happen," he said.

It is for sure that a tour in al-Rasheed Street, a central Baghdad oldest main street, would make people attracted to the smell of fresh Shisha tobacco, or Narjeelah, which gains immense popularity among dozens of old and young men who sit chitchatting and socializing in Baghdad's old and traditional coffee shops, for example, the famous al-Zahawi coffee shop.

A few hundred meters from Zahawi coffee shop, there is another famous al-Mutanabi book market, which is the traditional meeting place for educated Baghdadis, such as writers, intellectuals and politicians.

"There are ample signs that the al-Mutanabi book market, like other traditional appearances in Baghdad, is settling back into some regular rhythms," Mohammad Salih, 32, a bookseller at a shop in Mutanabi street, told Xinhua.

The well-known Mutanabi book market was struck by a suicide bomber on March 5, 2007, where at least 26 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded.

The book market area has been renovated and the street resurfaced with its storied buildings, dozens of book shops and stalls of cardboard boxes where sellers can display their books on.

As Iraqi officials and U.S. military recently announced that attacks nationwide have been dramatically downed since 2007, thousands of Iraqis crowd at public amusement parks, particularly on weekends.

Stores in Baghdad also remain open well into the night and attendance at schools and colleges is at its highest levels since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2003.

In the upscale Mansour neighborhood in western Baghdad, many families looking for calmness and soft chat come to the Ruken al- Aza'im restaurant in the famous 14 Ramadan Street.

"We need to compensate the bad days, by coming here we relax and cut the news of divisions among politicians and bombings," said Hussein Khalil, 46, as he was ushering his family members to sit at a calm and peaceful corner in the restaurant.

Khalil's wife, named herself Um Nouri, said that her husband and two children have spent a couple hours in the Zawraa Park before they decided to have their dinner in the restaurant.

"We are bored with staying at home. We and the children need to relax and enjoy living normal life," Um Nouri said without hiding her awareness from a sudden bombing or blocking traffic as it happens frequently in Baghdad.

"We are not going to hide any more for fear of terrorists, we will go to markets and restaurants and will enjoy our lives," she said.

Also in Mansour district, Abu Nadeem, owner of a five star restaurant, said that he has continued receiving customers around the clock during his daily work time since nearly a year ago, as he thinks that Iraqis cling to restore their normal life.

"Many families are attending the gardens of the restaurant and I am intending to expand my restaurant to receive the customers," Abu Nadeem said.

"We are receiving the customers until late at night as things are getting better and safer," he said.
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