Friday, November 04, 2005

Photoblogging to Sulymania/Pt.2

Now I'm getting closer and closer to Sulymania and the change begins to become obvious in the scenery. (Clicking on the photos will give you a fuller view if you wish.)

The thing that you feel the most here is that it is a city of the people. I don't know how else to explain that, but in Suly, there are not so many "iconic" images of political and religious figures. They have their place, sure, but it's not on the side of every building. There is an amazing amount of construction, the signs of a growing economy. The landscaping is pretty coming in towards the city part of the region, with these murals on the walls, and greenery.

The marketplace is incredibly busy, traffic is jammed. In fact, it reminds me a bit of what I imagine early Amman might have looked like (those electrical wires though, they are everywhere in Iraq and you feel like the entire place may catch on fire from an electrical issue at any time!). I am in a part of Iraq where I feel safe to walk in a marketplace, where the modern blends with the traditional.

There are people in western clothes, people in traditional Kurdish dress, where a woman entwines grape leaves on the sidewalk, while hundreds walk by on their mobile phones. This is a place where you can see all kinds of people living harmoniously. And it makes you feel optimism, it makes you feel the possibilities for this country.

Look at the dress for example of the people in the photo below. There is one man in the background that is dressed in Kurdish dress. The rest are all dressed in a more westernized style.

The more I am in Iraq, the more I see this, granted it is more prevalent in the cities, Baghdad and north, but there is a mix of women in headscarves and women in tight jeans and tops, and women in classy clothing that we here call in our working environments "dress casual". It's more noticeable in the women honestly. The men, well pretty much any male under 30 is in jeans of some sort. Then there is a mix between "professional" dress and casual and traditional in some areas regarding the men over 30. It really depends mostly on where you are, and what you are doing.

As I walked through the marketplace, I enjoyed gazing at all of the shops. There was everything you can imagine there, just as in any large marketplace in the world. But more, really, I was enjoying gazing at the people. I was enjoying that I was in a marketplace, in Iraq, that the heat was stifling and I didn't care, that I was experiencing something that most people just get to dream about. One of the most enjoyable things to watch is Iraqis haggling. I've gotten so used to it now, that I am horrified if we don't walk away from a place at least once before coming back to barter more. It's really a game in which there are many factors. People are trying to sense each others' weaknesses. Also, the amount that the businessman will make deals with you depends on great degree how his business is. Can he afford to let you walk out thinking you may not come back? Have you let him know how very much you desire that item? It's a game of bluffing, played all over the world, in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, that is foreign to most Americans.

It started getting late, and it was time to head back to Kirkuk for the night. I had taken this photo of some boys playing soccer in the street when first getting into Suly, and I thought of it now as the sun started to set.

For me, the day was waning....

But for these kids, their future is at it's dawn. And in Sulymania, it's looking bright indeed.


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