Thursday, September 08, 2005

Basra's Amusement Park

Last week , Queen Amidala sent me this e-mail:

I wanted to share with you what I saw yesterday. It shocked me. I went to Al-Maaqel port yesterday for some business.

This is the second time I went there since 2003. Since I was raised in the area and attended school there, I know that part of Basra very well. But since we moved to Al-Ashar a few years ago, I don't frequent there anymore.

Yesterday I was very shocked at what I found. First, I saw the burned building that has been occupied by Badr Forces. It was burned by Al-Mahdi army [BAHOW Al-Edara Al-Mahalia]. It's totally burned. I felt sorry when I saw the burned building. It had a good architecture. It was an old building, but a pretty one.

Before the war, this building was used as a theater and a conference hall. It had a swimming pool attached to it for swimming competitions. But after the war, the Badr forces took it and made it as a center for their activities.

That wasn’t what shocked me. I'm used to these scenes, and I also expect it to see it burned. I went further -- heading to the port -- and saw Basra's Amusement City [مدينة الألعاب].

There wasn’t any sign of it Fay. None of the rides we used to play with. When my parents would offered to go there, my heart used to leap with joy. My best joyful days as a child are always connected to this place. I last visited this place in 1998. The peoples who bought the place after the Iran-Iraq war, made a lot of repairs and restored the place. As adults, we enjoyed being there that last time.

Just the name of the place make me smile. Now, there's no sign that indicate there was a playing ground at that place. Even the palms trees inside the park had their tops cut off.

The Ferris Wheel, the flying UFOs and other rides are all gone. Even the buildings containing the engines don't exist anymore.

And do you know what? Attached to this place are the same gardens where Al-Sadr forces attacked the poor university students.

Are those our people? Is this what we should expect of our people in the new Iraq as they say? They actually continue Saddam’s work by destroying our happiness -- In addition to the other things.

Queen Amidala

I went through my old pictures. I knew I had a picture of the Ferris Wheel she mentioned in her e-mail. To Queen Amidala and all Basrawis who LOVED the amusement park in Basra, here's something to remember:

© Fayrouz Hancock

This picture was taken in the early 70s. That's the Basra I grew up in. Notice the the above-the-knee skirts and dresses. I'm the youngest one in the middle.

The women in this picture are my mom, sisters and friends. The woman to the far left got married in late 70s. Her husband died during the first years of Iran-Iraq war. He left her with four children. She never got married after he died and had to take care of the kids. They moved to Australia two years ago.

The woman standing next to her, her husband became a POW in Iran for more than four years. She was lucky and he returned to Iraq with other POWs after the war. They moved to Australia during the 90s. The rest of the women in this picture live either in Canada, United Kingdom or America.

I scanned more black and white pictures from my childhood. But, this is a post about the Amusement Park. So, I'll post them next time. You'll get to see Iraqi Jews when I publish them.

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