Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Boring stories.

Yesterday, one of Ali’s friends came by and suggested that we go out to have dinner somewhere just to break the circle of boring routine daily life. “Do you know a good place?” I asked, “there’s a nice restaurant that’s getting very popular these days” Ali’s friend replied.

It was already 9 pm and I thought that we will find them preparing to close. I know that many places stay open until 11 or 12 but the majority close at around 10 pm but this place was amazing; the parking place was full that we had to park the car on the opposite side of the street.

The place was so neat and natural-looking and the tables were placed outdoors in a big garden with lots of tall palm trees. The restaurant lies in Jadiriyah which is so close to the Tigris river and it’s also rich in date palms and other trees which makes the weather a little bit colder in the night when compared with other areas in Baghdad.

It was 9:30 and new visitors and families were still arriving at the restaurant. At the beginning we ordered fruit flavored narghiles and soft drinks. The narghile there is quite long-lasting and one can keep smoking a single one for more than an hour.

Later the waiter flooded our table with various dishes of appetizers even before we made our orders; frankly speaking, if you eat all the appetizers you won’t have a space left in your stomach for the main dish.

Maskoof is one of the main dishes served in this rest. It’s basically river fish barbequed in a special way that gives fish a superb taste that cannot be matched and the smell of the barbeque was enough to make my saliva run.

One of things I noticed was that most of the visitors there were apparently middle class families and this is different from what it used to be years ago as only rich families could afford to have dinner in restaurants like this one. Dinner for a 6 person family costs approximately 60 000 ID (40$) while two years ago a similar meal would cost a little bit less (35 - 45 thousands) but the huge raise in incomes made it affordable once a month or once every fortnight when there are more than one working member in the family.

We had dinner but we couldn’t finish the dishes because the dish they serve is extraordinarily big and can be enough for two hungry people.
We left at about 11:30 but a lot of people were still there.

You sit in a restaurant like this one and see families relaxing with their children playing and having fun late at night and you feel that there’s ‘something’ wrong in the way MSM is dealing with the Iraqi issue. I watch TV and I see hell breaking around me then I go outside and see enough normalcy AND progress to make me believe that the people in the media are not here to report how’s life going but rather they are here reporting pre-prepared stories and to be faced with something that contradicts the picture they have in their minds would be really annoying and will mean more hard work to try to find the truth or something close to it.

So let me see, I’m a reporter in Iraq and I’m here to tell stories that sell from a land that has been invaded, as everyone is saying it was invaded and not liberated. God, that must be awful! Ok so I need destruction, death, fear, clashes in the streets, angry mob...etc. Where do families having dinner in a place they couldn’t afford before the war, or a father buying a new car for his son which he also couldn’t afford before, or a man renewing his house which was falling apart, or free speech and flourishing business, where does all this fit in such a frame?! It doesn’t! Besides, where's the action in such boring stories!? Moreover, there are pictures of death and destruction and they only need some ‘further clarification’, and that’s easier than making a whole new story. So why bother! I already have frames for good stories and I’ve worked hard in that and it would be a shame to waste all that effort and start all over again. So let’s get the story we worked on and get the hell out of here.

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