April 14, 2004


Le Monde interviewed a group of regulars at Baghdad’s Café Shahbandar as coalition troops entered Iraq. One year on, Le Monde returns to check the mood:

A year after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the American victory, they still gather there every Friday to be in good company. It's there, at the end of Mutanabi Street, "the street of the book market," that Iraqi writers, artists and journalists discuss the events of the week, drinking tea and smoking from narghilehs.

"Yes, something has changed," murmurs Najid Hamid, a photographer who has documented life in Baghdad's oldest café for over a decade.

"When I look at all these faces in my photographs after I've got home, I realize that something has changed ..." He looks around the room, all the men sitting on benches, discussing, complaining, laughing.

"The difference is joy," says Nahid.

Read the whole piece (translated by Douglas at Last of the Famous International Playboys). It isn’t entirely positive, but seems to reflect an overall sense of hope -- much as you’d expect.

And more good news abroad: Holly Valance’s Kiss Kiss is 32 on Kabul’s Top 40! (Previous Afghanistan governments listed Holly at 11 among the Top 5,000 Shameless Infidel Women To Be Killed). Got crazy radio production skillz? Holly-friendly ARMAN FM is soon going national, and requires a bunch of talented radio people. Send resumes here.

(Via reader Garth G. and contributor J.F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at April 14, 2004 01:07 AM

Hey, J.Lo isn't Spanish! Talk about ingratitude!

Or is there a Spanish J.Lo as well?

Posted by: Otter at April 14, 2004 at 07:20 AM

Errr, my bad, sort of. They gave her the Puerto Rican flag (although IIRC she's a native New Yorker) but they list it as Spain in the Alt tag, which is what I'd skimmed through.

Posted by: Otter at April 14, 2004 at 07:25 AM

Holly Valance’s Kiss Kiss is 32 on Kabul’s Top 40

No way is that good news.

Posted by: Quentin George at April 14, 2004 at 08:06 AM

Wasn't Kiss Kiss a remake of a Turkish song? Which we have now repackaged and sold back to a muslim market? Arrogant cultural imperialism aaargghhh!!!!
She does look super plus A hot in her smalls however...

Posted by: Attila at April 14, 2004 at 09:44 AM

I believe Attila is right, Kiss Kiss was a remix of a Turkish song; it was the soundtrack for a movie that appeared on SBS last year.

Posted by: TimT at April 14, 2004 at 10:06 AM

Kiss Kiss by Tarkan. Holly's version is NOT a translation; rather it's an adaptation.

Posted by: BruceT at April 14, 2004 at 12:33 PM

What about the harsh winter, and the oil, and the quagmire, and....

Posted by: Razor at April 14, 2004 at 12:44 PM

ANYTHING that even minutely adds to the radio around here is welcome....Bagram, Afghanistan qualifies as a radio wasteland. (Yes, I know AFN tries as best they can).

Posted by: Major John at April 14, 2004 at 03:14 PM