National Geographic : 1985 Jan
menial jobs vacated by Iraqis called to mili tary service. I would cross the Tigris on the Jumhuriyah Bridge, where the river is more than halfway along its 1,200-mile journey from Kurdistan to its meeting with the Eu phrates before both enter the Persian Gulf as the Shatt al Arab. The need to restore the important role once played by the river in the life of the city has been stressed by city officials and others responsible for the rebuilding of Baghdad. Meanwhile, the Tigris flows on, not boister ous as it once was but, rather, calm and sil very, a blessing to this desert land. AHRIR SQUARE stands at the end of the bridge on the left bank of the river. It is the heart of Baghdad, from which radiate some of the main streets of the city. There is Rashid Street, with arcaded sidewalks, and Sadun Street, wide and bak ing under the 120-degree heat of the noon day sun. Vendors of ice water do a brisk business on Sadun Street. Red double-deck buses made in Britain sway down the streets. Life in Baghdad is too rigid to call down the chaos found in oth er large cities of the Middle East; here, all the passengers ride inside the buses. Saddam Hussein's picture hangs in the window of a bookshop. This time he is shown wearing a kaffiyeh, the Arab head cloth, and he holds a cigar. There are few publications in English for sale in the shop, other than a student's crib book for Thomas Hardy's classicJude the Obscureand a man ual for increasing farm production with the use of fertilizers. There are no foreign publi cations such as news magazines. I met a man during my walks, an English speaking guide at the Baghdad Museum, who told me that once there were mellow streets in Baghdad, streets where old wom en could be found sitting by large pots of beans boiling in water, selling the right to dip bread in the tasty liquid. There were Blotting out the sun, frequent summer dust storms shroud the pool of the Al MansourMelia Hotel (top), leavinga heavy coatingbefore moving on. At the close of a clear day (left), the Tigris is revealed with two of its 12 city bridges.