by chance today, maybe a bad internet connection, my four reliable arabic tv channels -- the russian propaganda, the coptic christian theology, and the jordanian tall, majestic women talk show hosts -- were not available. i went back to a website i had tried before, and only come up with a scratchy, boring algerian channel. but lo and behold, when i clicked on al-furat out of baghdad, it played.
i saw a slightly uneasy anchor in bright pastel shirt and tie give the football league rankings. i saw a piece on a judo tournament, with massive-headed, thick-necked coaches and earnest athletes spout out cliches. i saw a wheelchair basketball game. i saw a volleyball match.
how good it was to see people absorbed in sports, even in the mundanest of gyms and most local of rivalries. i was hardly paying attention to the language, so transfixed was i by their faces, showing nervousness before a camera, or pride, or resolve. i wondered if any of the basketball players had lost their legs in bomb blasts or aerial bombings. how i wish for them more of this ordinary drama of two teams or two competitors fighting it out in an echoing gym, more of news anchors standing in front of garish backgrounds, more of determined men (and maybe women someday) telling their will to victory.
i looked up al-furat, and it means "euphrates," which itself means sweet (water).