Tuesday, November 26, 2013

To market, to market.....

Now is the time of year to make many visits to the malls and large box stores that encircle the edges of our city. Once inside there is Christmas music playing to get you into the mood for buying. Glittery decorations are hung with care from the ceiling and the earnest cashiers smile and ask you if you have found everything that you wanted to find. I used to think that I liked walking around these malls, if I had nothing to buy. I liked to watch the shoppers and perhaps look for opportunities to make some grumpy shopper happier. This year however, I am quite content to stay away from the large stores unless I have some very deliberate thing to buy that can not be found anywhere else.

One of the largest malls in Winnipeg
 Just before I left Iraqi Kurdistan in June I passed by  the celebrations for the opening of a brand new mall along the main street of Sulimani.

I felt sad, although, I guess I have no right to feel that way. Why should not the Kurds of Sulimani be able to have malls just like I have in Canada? But, I feel sad because I know what the advent of such large, glitzy places of enterprise can do to the little shops. They are forced to close down and thus all we have left is to go to the big franchise shops on the outskirts. [An example of this is the closure of 3 family hardware stores on Henderson Highway near to our house. Now we have to travel several miles away to the large box Rona or Home Depot to buy tools or nails. And they only come in plastic wrapped containers. And I must buy the amount that is packaged rather than the three nails I really need,]
I don't want that to happen in Iraqi Kurdistan. The tiny shops in the bazaar/souk/market contain the real life, contact and bustle of people. I try to find excuses to walk down to the bazaar especially around 3:30 pm on a week day. That is the time when people start getting off work and the bazaar suddenly bursts to life. The vendors with carts come out of their hiding places and set up shop. And the population of Sulimani flock to the streets and bazaar lanes to find new goods and used goods and fresh meat and produce for the evening meal.
So I have some photos of this time at the Sulimani bazaar. People who were pleased to have me take their photo and others unaware. The exchange of paper Iraqi dinars for Turkish seasonal produce,  goods made in China, and even occasionally something grown locally.
 For meat or pets? But I have never seen one escape.
You won't find these in the winter time.

 500 ID per kilogram (let's say around $0.40)
 This man gave me a free pomegranate to take home for my mother in law. Ymm! pomegranates.

The tea man sets up his wares on the sidewalk.
Fish for supper?
These village women bring items grown or collected in the rural areas.
 These are a berry that grows in the spring: eaten green and when it is ripe and also made into prayer beads. It is good for a queasy stomach too.
 Another spring vegetable- ginger-(hard g's). It is the root of a very prickly plant.
This salesman was very proud of his immature chickpeas.
The vendor sits in front of the "Large Mosque" creating and selling strings of prayer beads.
And if you are feeling a bit hungry there are street food sellers willing to sell you something good to eat. These are large pods of beans boiled and then sprinkled with sour sumac.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The house came down....

A couple of weeks ago the yards of two houses along my regular walking route had many big trees cut down. Vic and I hypothesized that this was a sign that those old buildings were going to disappear soon, probably to allow new construction to go up. Sure enough today as I walked to the bank there were large tractors with huge “mouths” crunching down both of the houses.

 I stood by the fence for a few minutes and watched the men work. Nobody else paid much attention.  I noticed the juxtaposition of  the closet with many coat hangers beside the monster shovel and took a photo. When I returned 15 minutes later the coat hangers were buried and the houses were only piles of broken boards riddled with exposed nails.
 I thought a lot of things as I watched the destruction:

 -I wished that I could go beyond the orange plastic barricade to pick up free wood to use in future projects like building raised beds for my garden.

 -how fast the coming down is as compared to the going up.

 -the memories that the pieces of wood held- the sad times and happy times of probably around 60 years of families living in the homes.

 -I transported the scene to Palestine where people watch their houses being destroyed in such a way, without their permission. They do not receive payment of money, in return for their signatures on the dotted line, to allow them to live somewhere else. The best they can hope for is a tent or another attempt at building a house some other year. Although, usually with the hopelessness of gaining a building permit, the likely hood is that the destruction will happen again.

 The dust rose as the shovel fell again and again. The boards and plaster crunched. The house came down.