Thursday, August 28, 2003


What you see in Baghdad when you don't focus on the terror.
Lost amid news of the horrific attacks and Iraqis' complaints about the disorder that war has brought to their nation are signs that this capital city of more than 5 million people is slowly returning to normal and that most people are getting on with their lives.

Baghdadis are getting married, and children are having graduation parties. Restaurants are crowded. Market stalls are brimming with fruit and vegetables. The city's notorious traffic is back. Refrigerators, boxes of flat-screen TVs and washing machines are piled up as stores hold sidewalk sales throughout the city.

Couples sit crammed into booths in the Moonlight cafe and talk over soft drinks and sandwiches. Hundreds of traffic police officers in white shirts are back at their posts, gesturing wildly but in vain at the chaotic traffic. Electricity has come back slowly, though in most of the city it's on for three hours, then off for three hours.

"This is the fourth month without government, and look outside," says Firas Hazim, 30, who runs a light-fixture store in the upscale al-Mansour neighborhood, as he gestures to the bustling street outside his shop. "We are living very normally."

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