Friday, May 22, 2009


"I see no light at the end of the tunnel" I heard that for the first time in the 80s when I was watching in the T.V. a Palestinian leader talking about his negotiation with the Israeli leaders. I asked my father back then what that means. He said it means no hope.
I heard that same thing "I see no light at the end of the tunnel" when I was watching T.V. in Baghdad in 2006 when an Iraqi politician was talking about his negotiation with other Iraqis. I felt really hopeless and frightened.
I went today to central Baghdad just for a walk not knowing what was waiting for me.
The first thing I saw was that the old library of Al Fulfuli (I think it was founded in 1908 or something like that) is selling old pictures of Baghdad and Iraq in black and white. A man holding his daughter in his arms was buying.

Al Mada institution was running a symposium on that well known Iraqi archeologist Taha Bakir who was a teacher in Al Hilla, his city of origin.

In al Mada beautiful library I saw people gathering to hear the lecture of one of Taha Bakir's colleagues.

He was talking about the first revelations of Sumerian heritage with Taha Bakir who was a pioneer in translating the Sumerian language and writings. He has many books but the book that you can find easily every here and there is his famous translation for the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The hall was so crowded and it was little hot and I started sweating profusely. I heard part of the lecture and went out to see the river.

I saw a crowd of old and young men gathering around a Santoor (=old Iraqi musical instrument dating back to the Sumerian era) and they were playing and singing old songs.

Tarik Harb approached. He started to talk about Cleopatra because the song was about Cleopatra. It was an Egyptian song performed for the first time by Mohamed Abdul Wahhab.

By the side of the river there was a young man reading poetry to a bunch of people. His sound was calm and sweat but I could not get what he was saying because I was little far.

When I started to leave, I saw big light at the end of the tunnel inviting me to embrace Baghdad and play an original piece of music for her.


Khalid from said...


Thank for sending such a hopeful report from Baghdad. Thank you for taking time and putting effort to take all these nice pictures.

I enjoyed all the reported activities and I wished to be over there.Thank you so much.

Take care,

Victoria said...

I always enjoy your photos and your positive updates. And that light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter by the day. The Santoor you show looks almost identical to what is known in the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee as a Hammered Dulcimer. I've played the Dulcimer and am familiar with it's sound. That must have been an enchanting experience for you.

Thank you so very much for sharing with us.

Anonymous said...


what a beautiful post.
You are giving us the chance to touch Baghdad again. Your posts keep telling me: "come back!"


sami said...

Dear Khaled, Victoria and Mohammed, thank you for your nice words. You have no idea how they are precious for me. Your words will keep me more commited to this blog and to work more on it.

Thank you all.

Margaret said...

But, Sami, where are the women? Do they not get to participate in all these interesting activities?

Margaret said...

I meant to say that the photograph at the head of your post is quite stunning. Is it one of your own?

Sami said...

What an important and clever remark of you dear Margaret. Yes there were women but they were few in number.There is also the difficulty in taking a picture to a stranger woman and to publish it online in our culture. But after all they are much less in number than men.

Wasini Al Araj, the Algerian writer said once that he used to measure the safety of Algerian streets during the conflicts in the 90s by the number of women in the streets.

Thank you Margaret for your celver remark.

All pictures were taken by me with my Nokia N78 camera. The fisrt picture is a picture of the entrance door to Sook El Saray (market of Saray). Saray means something that i forgot. i think it refers to the "government" in the Othman era. Because the government main centres were here.

Thank you again Margaret.

Laura said...

What a beautiful post, Sami. I also was going to say that the santoor looks just like a hammered dulcimer, but Victoria beat me too it (I, too, used to play one). Would love to hear some of the songs you heard that day.

Sometimes everything seems so hopeless. But then something--your beautiful post, for example--reminds me that it isn't lights in tunnels, but the light we shine on one another that is the true sign of hope.

Thank you for lightening my heart.

Here's some hammered dulcimer music, by the way:

Don Cox said...

Thanks for a heartening post. It is so good to read that things are getting better.

Sami said...

Thank you Laura for your nice words. I have recorded a video for them but it is so large and my internet connetion does not allow me to upload it.

I wanted you Laura to hear them cause they were wonderful.

Thank you Don Cox for your encouragement and good feelings toward Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Very best wishes to you from Australia. Your optimism blows me away. Stay strong and hopeful, always.

Sami said...

Thank you Mary for your nice words.

Khalid from said...



You just won an award for this post.

Take care,

Your loving father said...

Thank you, Sami, for the lights which you have been directing towards all the beautiful corners of Baghdad, my birthplace,you are really a good Baghdadi and a sincere Iraqi. I am proud of you.
Your lights spread out of the tunnel and reached me while I living , now, thousands of miles away, in the farthest corner of another continent. Thanks indeed.

Sami said...

Hi dad, it made me feel so happy to see you commenting in this blog. Remember when you used to take me to Al Saray market to buy me "Kurtasyia" each beginning of a school year.

You used to have many friends walking there and you start to talk with them and I listen to your talking about litterature and art.

You learned me all that. Thanks alot.

Wafaa Al-Natheema said...

Dear Sami;

Thank you so much for posting this coloreful and positive reports. Of how much relaxing and romantic was what you've reported, it felt like a fake story, not reality. Are you visiting Baghdad or you live in it?
I ask because I hope to contact you for an idea. Can I call you while in Baghdad or can we chat over SKYPE?


Sami said...

Dear Wafaa' thank you for your nice words and support. I live in Baghdad. Unfortunately Wafaa' I am not familiar with SKYPE. Offcourse you are so wellcomed to email me on

zina said...

thank you for your hopeful
article. you give us the feeling that the iraq is still alright because there are people like you who care about it. we are so broud of you

Sami said...

Hi Zina, thank you for your nice words. You cannot imagine how much they are precious for me. Without your encouragement I would not be able to post Baghdad. I post your beauty, your Iraqi beauty reflected in words and pictures.

Thank you Zina

Bassam Sebti said...

I don't know what to say except that this post left me with big hope that my beautiful Baghdad is not dying anymore. It's back to life. Thank you. I'm going to mention this post on my blog, if you don't mind.


Sami said...

Bassam it is my honor that you do so and that you comment on this post. Baghdad is our mother, and she was depressed for a while, a severe depression it was, she needs our attention more, cause she still got her charm hidden, and her creation unrevealed.

Noah said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I like reading about the culture of Baghdad.