Last Friday, before heading to my husband's aunt's house, we drove out to a small restaurant in the Karrada district to pick up a flame-broiled fish, masgoof. On our way their, around 4:50 pm, we passed by the Qadisiya bridge. Under that bridge is a large empty lot, I think used as a parking space in the past.
Anyway, on that day, at that time, we saw the most unusual sight that I have seen in Baghdad in a long time. We saw a huge gathering of young men, on motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles and even rollerblades. We saw two young men (one of them actually looked like a 12 year old at the most) racing each other on a motorcycle in the empty lot. Apparently, this was some sort of a race that had been organized and these men were participating in. I wish I had my camera at the time.
What was so unusual about it is that this is the first time since I've been here in three years that I have seen a large celebratory type gathering in Baghdad. Not including people gathering for Eid prayer in the mosque and other prayers, not including the Shiite Husseini mournings on Ashura, this was the first time I saw anything of the kind. I was surprised that these men had been able to gather for a fun time in these circumstances, not fearing a random roadside bombing, or a not so random attack.
Could it be a sign that things are turning for the better? Unfortunately, I think it was just an anomaly in our everyday Baghdad life.