Monday, April 16, 2007

Back From the Convention Center

The gardener at the villa. He comes everyday to water the roses in the small courtyard. I often wonder what he thinks about what is going on around him. I’ve nicknamed him Mr. Miyagi.

I went to the Convention Center today where three days ago a suicide vest was detonated in the cafeteria. Getting to the building was the first great challenge. I was reminded of the saying that mentions closing the barn doors after the horses have fled. There are security check points every 50 meters, most of the time within clear sight of each other. It was akin to going through airport security in the US fifteen times in a row.

At each check point your ID was checked, as if it had somehow changed during the 50 meter walk from the last time it was inspected; then you were patted down very thoroughly, and any suspicious item was confiscated. I had something taken off of me at every point. First it was two magazines of 9mm ammunition, and then my Leatherman. OK, that’s reasonable. Towards the end they were eyeing my mala beads on my wrist, wondering I guess if they could possibly explode. I had to make an effort to remember where each piece of equipment was on the way out so that I could collect it all back up.

Once inside the first sound that you heard was the sweeping of broken glass. It echoed throughout the dark, cavernous building. You could almost feel the thunderclap of the explosion. Looking up from the atrium I could see the entire bank of cafeteria windows blown out as well as similar windows on the other side of the huge, open space. The glass was no where to be seen but the metal framing was hanging down, twisted and black. The destruction was far greater than I had thought that I would be, leaving me amazed that only two people were killed. I thought about snapping some pictures but The Iraqi Police didn’t seem too happy with the whole situation, and looked as if they were just waiting for an excuse to give someone a hard time.

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