The nights in the Sheraton were scores of light arms coming from near & far. It was possible to differ the Americans by the sound of the heavy machine guns opening from the decks of the giant Bradlees. Mitch said that if we hear blasts on round hours it’s the Americans blowing ammunition dumps & if not then its not the Americans.
The fires, unlike the American plans, were not on the hour. The Armed personal carriers were bigger the Abrahams Tanks, the Americans encircled the area of the Palestine and the parking lot between the Palestine & the Sheraton with barbed wire and put tanks to guard it, creating an inner and confined zone from 14 th of Ramadan palace & the surrounding streets.
Fatima arrived On my 3rd night in Baghdad . She was dressed in a long brown modest dress & was limping slightly. She didn’t have a place to stay. She spoke only Arabic. Mitch came up to the room and said that he had a row with the manager of the Palestine and won. They arranged her a room for the night.
Yellow dirty send storm descended on the city and blared everything. Dust every where and dirty rain drops and cold wind. “4 seasons in one month” said Fares.
In the morning Fatima was standing in the Sheraton’s lobby. I told her to come to breakfast. She said she was 16 although she looked older. I sent her to take a plate & fill it. The dinning room in the Sheraton was a depressive place, cryptic shadowy light & lousy food. It became a-bit better after 2 weeks. But in the first days, in the first week after the Americans took the city – Electricity failures were every few hours and I was glad that we bribed our way to a room on the first floor, no more then a Masonic and an ugly filthy flight of emergency stairs separates us from the ground floor.
The Sheraton reminded me the dark Intourist hotels of Central Asia. Something that shold have been wonderful but is dreadfouly managed. During the electricity cuts the water in the taps disappeared and the toilet stoped functioning. Bahgdad in the first weeks after Sadam was gone, was a strange place. Nothing realy changed when I left it a few weeks later. I had another idea of Bahgdad in my mind , maybe not an idea, because I never know what is going to happen, but anticipation. This city of Harun El Rashid, Ali Baba, Aladin, the
Tousand Nights, Shahriar, shahzaman, Sharazad.