The Atlantic has excerpted part of an excellent story by Joshuah Bearman about “the only authentic bar and restaurant in Baghdad’s Green Zone.” The accompanying video (after the jump) is great too.
Iraqis have a word, barra, which means “out there,” and for those lucky enough to be inside the Green Zone came to mean the rest of Baghdad, the bedlam beyond the T-walls. As the insurgency reached fever pitch in 2006, Iraqis and Americans alike were terrified that barra would not stay out there but come in here, that the war would breach the perimeter, that the place would collapse and there would be a mad scramble to evacuate, like Saigon in ’75.
The Baghdad Country Club, the only authentic bar and restaurant in Baghdad’s Green Zone, was one place where people could forget about barra for a moment. Anyone — mercenaries and diplomats, contractors and peacekeepers, aid workers and Iraqis — could walk in, get dinner, open a decent bottle of Bordeaux, and light a cigar from the humidor to go with it. Patrons would check their weapons in a safe, like coats in a coatroom, and leave the war behind as they wandered past a sign that read:
BAGHDAD COUNTRY CLUB
NO GUNS, NO AMMUNITION, NO GRENADES, NO FLASH BANGS, NO KNIVES–