Still feeling the war
Khorramshahr, Ababdan and Ahvaz 11 years after the Iran-Iraq
November 19, 2001
These are quick thoughts and snapshots from a recent business trip to
Khuzestan. I wish I had more time to take pictures...
I left Khuzestan with a number of images etched in my mind. The first
thing I re-learned is just how wonderful Khuzestanis are -- warm, hospitable
and kind. Second is the level of poverty, unemployment and drug abuse,
which tend to go hand in hand. I was reminded of the devastating war. All
the loss of life and ruin... impossible not to be affected by the feeling
that overcome you.
On the lighter side, i was reintroduced to delicious street food: samosas,
felafels... I did not dare try the jeegar, but it looked yummy!
Two weeks ago was the 65th anniversary of the city's suspended bridge.
Fireworks over the Karoun was quite a sight. the city had thrown a public
ceremony by the riverside park. Soon, Khuzestani blood in the youth took
over the crowd and people started dancing to music, turning the event into
a rare block party.
A conservative member of the city council forced the band to stop the
music. I talked to him afterwards. He told me that he could not allow the
youth to dance on the same piece of ground that he saw his comrades die.
"They should dance elsewhere, in their private homes, but not here..."
I tried to take some proper pictures of the Kakh-e Ostandari (provincial
governor's residence), my last residence in Khuzestan, but a soldier approached
me suspiciously. I told him this used to be my family house, when I was
a child. He gave me a sarcastic, unbelieving response ("YOU were a
Fortunately, I had taken along my childhood savings account booklet which
indicated my address. I then told him I used to be the governor's son at
a very different time, when the governor wore a tie.
The young soldier immediately called his superior officer and tried to
get me permission to tour the grounds of the governor's mansion. Access
and further photos were both denied.
"Come back saturday, I can get you in then," I was told. But
that evening, I was returning to Tehran. Ahvaz photos
Khorramshahr is terribly distressing. The scars of war are everywhere.
One is overtaken by a desire to observe many moments of silence for those
who lost their lives here.
As you will notice from the shots of the building in ruins, some have
not been able to afford to rebuild their war-torn home; there are people
living in some of these devestated buildings.
The mosque is the famous Masjed-e Jame', the first place retaken from
the Iraqis and now a pilgrimage for youg Basijis.
Most of the buildings are new, or left half errect, since the Iraqis
levelled Khorramshahr before leaving. Not too many people are willing to
invest in rebuilding a city so close to the border. You can still feel
the war here. Khorramshahr photos here
I didn't remember too much of Ahvaz and Abadan, enough to feel sad.
The scars of the war are still visible on some buildings. Mainly, one can
see the ghost of a once thriving economy.
I also didn't realize just how close Iraq was. In the pictures of the
boats, Iraq is across the water. Literally a stone's throw away. Amazing
how this city held and never fell to Iraqi hands.
The picture of the large building is the famous Cinema Taj, which I believe
is now Cinema Sherkate Naft.
I should have taken more pictures, but we were literally blowing threw
town. It would have been particularly nice to take pictures of the NIOC
houses and the refinery. Abadan photos here