Baghdad Cafe

Before the American invasion of Iraq, writers and poets from all
over Baghdad converged each Friday on Sh?ah Bander Caf? to sip
Turkish coffees and talk literature. The scene, according to Jason
Florio in Orion, was reminiscent of Edwardian London. ?If
stripped of their nagila pipes and shai Iraqi teas,? Florio writes,
?they would more resemble characters from an Evelyn Waugh novel
than stereotypical Arabs, their pinstripes, Yorkshire caps, and
dapper ties reminiscent of 1920s England.? At the time Florio?s
article was written last January, with the war looming, writers
found solace in the semblance of normality, the culture and company
of their peers. Now, with the bombing of Baghdad ended, one would
hope that Sh?ah Bander Caf? is still standing, its patrons finding
a new level of freedom to express themselves.
Anne Geske

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