Archive | March, 2009

The Ongoing Occupation of Iraqi Artists

Oldest tea house in Baghdad, where generations of artists, writers, and intellectuals meet to share stories and ideas. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Oldest tea house in Baghdad, where generations of artists, writers, and intellectuals meet to share stories and ideas. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

For centuries, artists, writers, and intellectuals have been meeting in Baghdad’s teahouses over tulip-shaped glasses of sweet lemon tea, cigarettes, and shisha pipes.

A car bomb detonated near one of the oldest teahouses a year-and-a-half ago, causing massive destruction around the area. When it reopened recently, Mohammed Al-Mumain, a 59-year-old biology teacher resumed his visits there. The portly, jovial teacher brought tea for my colleague and I before settling to talk, “The mind needs art and education. I come here because the lamp needs electricity. The lamp of my mind, like that in all of us, needs to discuss and review life continually. That feeds me. When I come here I feel like a teenager again. All that I need, the old culture along with the new, I find here.”

His eloquence was a pleasure as he proceeded, “Life is interaction. Anywhere, anytime, any moment, we are changing. Our biology and blood pressure changes, and interactions, whether positive or negative, bring us change. Some people resist change, others accept it. It depends upon the culture of the man or woman. This is why we need our art, because it connects us with what has brought us here, and reminds us of where we are headed.”

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Medical Care At Last, At a Price

BAGHDAD – Prompt medical care is at last on offer in Iraq, for those who can find the dollars for it.

“Why would I want to go to government-run hospitals where there is no care, no functioning instruments, long lines, and in the end the same doctor who treats you there can treat you at a private hospital,” says Mohammed Abbas, 35, an employee at Iraq’s Ministry of Oil.

Abbas, speaking at the private Saint Raphael Hospital in the Karrada area of Baghdad, wanted treatment on time, and was prepared to pay for it. Like him, many are coughing up money for private treatment. When they have money, that is, in an economy with more than 50 percent unemployment.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading