I am not going to pretend the same applies in Iraq. Perhaps not yet. But there is something about this place that has the same appealing ingredients. Two things help highlight it after a week here. The first is the local help. The cooks and cleaners come in from the Red Zone and in their general joy of life (manifest in a dozen different ways, including a puppy washing session) it is hard to view them as anything except laid back and friendly neighbours. Well, they are but they are neighbours from a few kilometres away who, with their families, are living on the edge, every day. Secondly, Fuzzyjefe reminded me of a truism today – that through the sanitising of the press we forget there are real people that create those headlines (comments in a previous post). This afternoon, while on the roof watching Apache helicopters tool around the sky a loud concussive crump happened off to the west. Nothing seen but it’s a distinctive sound that makes you pause for a moment and wonder who has just had their day ruined. In the news later we see a suicide bomber has killed 8 at a police post. Somehow the sound of the bomb gives a real dimension to the headlines. Real people like our cooks and cleaners and groundsman died this afternoon, making me pause, and generating headlines we don’t really take too much heed of. But still these people hang on and make the most of what they have. They create a vibe that is infectious and is a very positive feature in a place like this. Ironically, thanks to its people, it is a place that makes you feel very much alive.
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