Went to Sadr City again today, I felt I needed more material and was hoping to see some sort of welcoming festivities.
I don’t really like going there very much, it depresses me. It looks bad, it smells bad and there are no happy faces just worried old faces and frowning young ones. and I seem to have slept on the wrong side of the bed; I woke up in a lousy mood.
Les Rythmes Digitales (real audio link) on full blast and a cup of ice cold coffee on the way to Funky Town managed to get me all hyped up again and was itching to jump out of the car with my camera. I don’t know why but the caffeine buzz I get out of iced coffee is intense, I feel sparks behind my eyeballs
What I saw there can only be described as a provocation. Sadr City is not just surrounded by American tanks but they seem to have cut it off the rest of the city. I was trying to get to the big square with the huge Sadr portraits but there was no way to get around the Americans. I had to stay in the outer quadrants moving along the inner streets and asking people which way in. We got to a street where it looked OK to film, No American troops in sight and no groups of frowning young Sadr dudes.
These days I move around Baghdad with a guy called Hayder, he is just very good at creating a sort of safe bubble when I am looking thru that camera viewfinder. He has been telling people who ask who I am filming for that I am a cameraman for an Iraqi TV channel called Salam TV and since it doesn’t exist nobody knows about it and they can’t start throwing stones at me because they have no idea which side I am on. Hayder tells them that the channel is still in test phase.
I told that I will be working my way towards Pax TV.
Anyway…very few shops were open on the street I was filming on, a guy who was just closing told me why. Mahdi Army was on the attack just further down the street. They have had a difficult night here and he showed me where a mortar fell and damaged his shop and by the sound of it they were still at it.
The only two employees of Salam TV said thank you and got our asses quickly out of there. No sexy flak jacket = get out of the way of flying bullets.
Why do I think the American presence today is like poking a stick into a hornets nest? because many of the Mahdi guys will be coming back whipped and feeling they have wasted three weeks and what do they find when they get home? More Americans at their doorsteps. Not just a couple of tanks, but totally surrounding the center of the district. Am I surprised that there was a fire exchange? Not really.
I have decided to stop filming. I need to finish the logs and work on a script.