b. 1961, Iraq
When I arrived here in London, I would go sightseeing and unintentionally started calling the places I see after places in Iraq. I would say “let’s go to Al-Mansour”, meaning Edgware Road, and my kids would laugh at me. I would call Queensway, “Karrada”. Some places are like that, they feel familiar, and similar to places I’ve been to in my hometown (Baghdad), especially those streets with Arabic signage. I would also say “Let’s have a walk by Abu Nuwas Street”, and I meant the Chelsea Embankment. We hold on to certain things, certain expressions and attitudes, without us noticing.
Maha took us on a walk through some of the neighborhoods in London mentioned above which remind her of Baghdad. We then conducted a mapping exercise in which we retraced our path through the city, redrawing its geography and highlighting a network of sites which trigger recollections of her home city.