Quotes: US MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Northern Iraq cafe paints history in wall-to-wall photos  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 13/05/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) Even before speaking with Mam Khalil, it is clear he loves photographs -- they cover almost every inch of his cafe in northern Iraq, providing windows into the country's history.

The pictures on the walls go all the way to the ceiling, overlooking patrons as they sip tea, smoke cigarettes or fill their spoons with mastaw, a yogurt-like dish served in bowls with ice.

Though small and located on a sidestreet in the city's covered market, the cafe is well-known in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, attracting everyone from ordinary citizens to senior politicians.

"I don't love money, but I love photos," says its owner, an ageing man with a thin grey moustache who is known by the affectionate title of "Mam", meaning "uncle" in Kurdish.

Mam Khalil's love affair with pictures began when he was still a young man.

He began collecting them, turning the cafe into a gallery awash with photos that portray Iraq as it moved through monarchy, dictatorship and into its current fragile democracy.

Arbil has also changed significantly since Mam Khalil first began his career -- when he was a youth, there was only the citadel, which still towers over the market, and four neighbourhoods, he says.

But oil money has since transformed it into a sprawling city of gleaming new buildings and modern infrastructure.

Now, there are "better houses, better living conditions, better cars, better streets, better wives," he says with a grin.

Carpet-covered bench seating is built into the walls of the cafe, but it is impossible to sit back in most places without leaning on a photo frame.

And the pictures continue all the way up to the cafe's curved plaster ceiling.

One shows Faisal II, Iraq's last king, who was overthrown in a 1958 coup, inspecting the royal guards.

Another pictures Mulla Mustafa Barzani, a famed Kurdish guerrilla and the father of the current president of Iraqi Kurdistan, standing with a rifle at his side.

And another black-and-white shot shows a smiling, moustachioed Saddam Hussein raising Barzani's hand aloft, a photo likely taken sometime between the conclusion and collapse of a 1970 peace deal between the two sides.

- Providing for his family -

More recent snapshots show Kurdish and Arab politicians who now hold sway in Iraq, some of them photographed during visits to the cafe.

Some photos bear captions, but the people shown in others are known only to Mam Khalil, or lost to history.

Mam Khalil has also collected and framed currency used in Iraq over the years "as a record," the oldest of which he says dates to the Ottoman Empire.

There are also pictures of Mam Khalil himself, including a colour photo taken more than 60 years ago when he was just a boy, his hair black instead of grey, a hint of a smile on his face.

Mam Khalil, dressed in black with a black and white scarf on his head, says he started work at the cafe some seven decades ago.

"My father died in September 1948," he says.

He was a student at the time, but his mother told him that: "Your father has passed away and we have no one to provide a living."

He began working in 1948 before moving to his current cafe a few years later.

He would hang photos on its walls, much to the chagrin of his boss, who "hated it" but let him continue because he worked hard.

But after buying the cafe in 1967, he was free to hang as many photos as the walls could hold.

While he has four children, they will not follow him in running the cafe, Mam Khalil says, though someone else may seek to keep the tradition alive after his death.

When he tires of answering questions, Mam Khalil asks that he be given a print of a photo taken in his cafe that day, another addition to his collection. He then slowly shuffles off to greet newly arrived guests.


 






  MENA News Headlines
 Jul 25 2014 - Joint statement by the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the President of the European CommissionMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) BRUSSELS Kingdom of Belgium July 25 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- On behalf of the European Union we wish to convey our deepest condolences to the families of the victims ...

 Jul 25 2014 - UN says more support urgently needed to tackle growing food insecurity in the SahelFundingMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) ROME Italy July 25 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The United Nations today called on the international donor community to renew a commitment to fight hunger and food ...

 Jul 25 2014 - UN says more support urgently needed to tackle growing food insecurity in the SahelFunding gapMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) ROME Italy July 25 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The United Nations today called on the international donor community to renew a commitment to fight hunger and food ...

 Jul 25 2014 - Death of British national in Air Algerie crashMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) LONDON United-Kingdom July 25 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- It is with deep regret that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirms the death of a British man onboard Air ...

 Jul 25 2014 - The United Nations welcomes the signing in Brazzaville of a commitment to peace in the Central African RepublicMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) BRAZZAVILLE Republic of the Congo July 25 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Mr. Abdoulaye Bathily and Lt-General (rtd) Babacar Gaye Special Representatives of the ...

 Jul 25 2014 - On Meriam Ishag and FamilyMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) WASHINGTON July 25 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Press Statement John Kerry Secretary of State Washington DC July 25 2014 Around the world supporters of religious ...

 Jul 25 2014 - Liberia National DayMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) WASHINGTON July 25 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Press Statement John Kerry Secretary of State Washington DC July 25 2014 On behalf of President Obama and all ...

 Jul 25 2014 - Gilas Last Home Stand that never wasArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) E fiasco that happened on Tuesday night in what was supposed to be the first of two tune-up matches for Gilas Pilipinas against a crack NBA selection certainly left a bad taste ...

 Jul 25 2014 - Kuwait - Sovereign Ratings Affirmed at AA-MENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) 25th July 2014 Kuwait's Sovereign Ratings Affirmed at 'AA-'RATING ACTIONCapital Intelligence (CI), the international credit rating agency, today announced that it has affirmed Kuwait's ...

 Jul 25 2014 - Indian Tech Mahindra, Saudi Midad Holding sign dealMENAFN
(MENAFN) Indian IT giant Tech Mahindra Ltd has signed a joint venture with Midad Holding to expand its existence in Saudi Arabia, according to Arabian Business.The JV will be called Tech Mahindra ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

IPO News
Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

US Markets Details

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Investment Game
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

My MENAFN
Portfolio Tracker

Voting

Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2000 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help