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The Citadel

November 28th, 2011


One of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world has survived millenia of war and empires falling, it witnessed barbarian Assyrians and atrocities of Saddam Hussein. Until 20th century it was  located on the top of the mountain arising from desert plain, and within thick walls. Those times are gone. The citadel has been abandoned, ghost city, several years ago still alive as any timeless Middle Eastern labyrinth town, but while it survived centuries in this tumultous region, it could not survive modernity, arriving in form of concrete ugliness that now spreads until horizon, when you climb the walls of Qalat. What was Kurdish and regional is being harder and harder to see, obscured by most universal of disguises, wealth. It will soon be another Dubai, they say, and citadel’s ruins will be nicely renovated, dustless reminder of distant past.

Ostatnie lata ruin dawnego świata. Wkrótce Qalat, cytadela , serce kurdyjskiego Arbil, jedno z najstarszych stale zamieszkałych miast na ziemi stanie sie pieknym odnowionym muzeum regionalnej przeszłości, otoczonym morzem betonowego bogactwa. Dawni mieszkańcy opuścili ją, prace remontowe powoli sie rozpoczynają, życie ustapiło miejsca rodzinnemu spacerowi w weekend.



November 17th, 2011


Postcards from Iraq

Hardland. It used to be stone desert and rugged mountain country, and so are its towns. This is a sea of concrete, towns of narrow alleys and flat roofs injected with modernity and money. Jungle of steel walls , cable, tiles, plastic frame windows from China. Desert devoid of significant cultural life, women in public, dancehalls , bars, drugs, irony, counterculture. With waterpoints of fruits shakes, dominoe bars and most of all internet cafes, windows to the outside world. They are full of young men on You Tube who will later in the evening go out in Arbil’s biggest park and dance alone in front of giant wall screen to Lebanese videos showing a little bit of female flesh.

The money from oil, if peace allows, will very soon make Iraqi Kurdistan another Dubai. In the meantime it is , as cliche has it, a country in transition, from rebels to riches, from stone village to a middle class suburb and mall country. Boring as hell, to be honest.


This is Irbil, capital of Kurdish region.



And below some snapshots from rest of the concrete country – town on the Turkish border called Zakho, Duhok, and Baadre.


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