Sadoun Street is one of the most important commercial streets in central Baghdad where most of the Travel and Tourism companies, cinemas and hotels are located.
There were many ‘Chambers’ popping up on both sides of the street and the ‘Chamber’ is a well known Arabic word in Iraq, it means ‘stand’ in English, and ‘Abu al-Chamber’ means the owner of the stand or the street vendor and this is why it is a well known word in Iraq because this is what some Iraqis do when they do not have a job; a lot of those street vendors are retired men or jobless university graduates; they mainly sell soft drinks and cigarettes.
Yesterday, I drove by Sadoun Street, and I noticed that the number of ‘Chambers’, which were on both side of the Street were reduced because of all the violence that took place in that street; some people who work there are calling Sadoun Street now ‘The Death Road’, because of all the car bombs that took place there, which targeted the main three hotels in that street, the Palestine, Ishtar and Baghdad hotels, and many contractors and foreign security convoys which they were either leaving or coming back to those hotels; the last attack at Sadoun Street killed at least 20 people and wounded 40 on Monday, October 24, 2005, when three car bombs exploded near the fortified Palestine, Ishtar hotel complex used by foreigners; Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said, at that time, the attack - which appeared well planned - was a "very clear" effort to take over the hotel and take foreign and Arab journalists as hostages.
When I noticed yesterday that the number of ‘Chambers’ were reduced, I decided to stop there and ask why.
Abbas, was one of the street vendors but now he works as a messenger at one of the companies at the same street, said, “The 'Chamber' business is not as good as it was before because not that many people are walking on this street now, this is why I quiet and worked at this company”.
Abbas said that all the cinemas are closed now and some companies reduced the number of employees because they lost business due to many reasons, like the high concrete blocks that runs along half of the street which obstruct the vision so no one can see those companies, and because of that they lost many costumers, or because of the security guards of Baghdad Hotel, which they block the road many times during the day; all those reasons were behind reducing the number of people which they use to buy a lot of cigarettes or soft drinks from us.
I gave my 'Chamber' to my nephew, he is a little kid who has no job and what is he making out of the 'Chamber' is enough for him because he is not married and supporting him self only, but it will not be enough for a person like me who has a family.
Jasim was another one who has a stand that sells tea, said that he took this stand from his uncle, Abu Ali, who bought a small cheap car that he takes it to a gas station and wait in the long line to fill it up with fuel then he sells it in the black market, it is easy, less danger job and he makes better money than the tea stand; me my self I do not open very often because if the police cars will get use to drink tea from me they will start coming regularly while they are patrolling and I do not want that to happen then some one will send a car bomb to target them here and then I will get killed, “I know that I am losing money but it is better than losing my life”, Jasim said.
When I was driving out of the street I remembered that there was one female street vendor at Sadoun Street, she was very famous in that street, her name was Uroba; she wasn’t really a street vendor, in fact she was a female pimp and she use to sell soft drinks sitting by her cool box with her black 'Abayah' (Cloak) and when some one came to her and asked her for a soft drink she used to reply, “Do you want some thing cold or ‘Hot’” so if he will understand what did she mean or if he came for that he will say, “Yes, I want some thing ‘Hot’”, if he will say yes, she will show him some women pictures so he can chose one of them and then she will send him to a near by hotel that she knew; I remembered her and laughed, that was more than three years ago, she used to sit their in the street for a week and disappeared for months and when we use to ask about her, when we do not see her, the people will say that the police arrested her; I looked at the place where she use to sit and told my self, “She is also gone, I do not think that she will be able to go back again because of those Islamic Militias who they are attacking all Alcohol, CD’s and even barber shops; They will definitely kill her", but while I was thinking of her I saw her on the other side of the street so I stoped the car and crossed the street to ask her what is she doing now, she told me that her husband divorced her and took her daughter with him, she does not have a place to stay now so she is sleeping in the streets, "I am going to die soon if not by the militias it will be by starvation", Uroba said with a voice fill with sadness...
I know about that because,
I was there..