Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ba Ba’s Café

16 December 2006

On any given Wednesday or Sunday night, you will find the “in” crowd in only one place here on base. And it isn’t the Green Bean Coffee shop…that is sooooo last year! Ba Ba’s Café used to be a rather limited group of ITT people along with the Turkish friends of Ba Ba. Eventually that family extended out to military friends and any other associated contractor friends that were acquainted with said individuals of Ba Ba’s “family.”

For those of us that don’t speak Turkish, Ba Ba is “Godfather” in Turkish. Jim was blessed with the name a way-long time ago in his Air Force days in Turkey and the name just kind of made its way here. Jim is an old Jersey boy who has made appearances in movies through neighborhood associations he had. Jim whom from here on out I will call Ba Ba is also very resourceful and inclusive and is the mastermind and master craftsman behind the café that bears his name. Ba Ba created this little oasis out of scavenged materials here and there and built the tables, benches and all and even upholstered the seats!

As you enter into the area of Ba Ba’s Café, I guess the first thing you notice is the strings of various colored lights strung around the booths and along the concrete barrier wall across from the booths that create the atmosphere of the café. Next you notice the booths covered in 1960’s turquoise nauga hide. The three tables have umbrellas through the tables and provide nothing more than an even warmer atmosphere to the café. Used to be they provided cover from the sun, but with the light weight blue tarps mounted above the four door area from the trailer roof to the tops of the 12 foot concrete barriers, they are more decorative now than anything else.

Bad day at work? Ba Ba’s is the place to go…definitely a no-hassle zone! As I was getting ready to say, the next thing you notice is the smoke from the grill. Raymond has always got something cooking on the grill. Depends if the PX had burgers AND dogs this week, but you might chip in and bring over steaks if you run across some at the PX. Want a soft drink? Down the way some on the left is a couple of coolers with pop and ice. And if you’re too prissy to drink from the can, don’t worry, they’ve got some cups too on the narrow shelf across from the coolers. Donations of food, snacks or drink are always welcome.

If you’re lucky, Casey or Jack might be entertaining at the end by the coolers with Casey’s little electric guitar. Or you might get dragged into a card game going on at one of the booths. Either way, Raymond will catch up with you at that end once your steak is done, no worries. I told you, this is a no worry zone.

Pictures of old gatherings and past acquaintances have been printed off and adorn the walls around the booths and around the doors of the trailers as if to welcome all who come for refuge from the crazy world since the café opened. In this type of job and location, people come and go so fast it is a nice reminder to see all the old faces still posted on the walls by the booths. Pictures of happy times with good friends and good food. The place was vandalized some time back by some Air Force kids, but that was straightened away eventually. When I sent my friend Rachel a pic this week, she specifically mentioned the duct tape on the back of the bench. That was one of the repaired benches that had been slashed.

We’ve been having a big change of people here, so we are saying good-bye to old friends and hello to new ones joining us at the café. Even though the weather has gotten colder as of late, the warmth of friends seems to override the cold Baghdad winter breezes and rain. I’m not saying this is enough to make one want to stay in Iraq, but it definitely is something that lets you share your misery and enjoy the company and camaraderie of people you can call friends. What also doesn’t suck is that it can make your time here a pleasant memory long after you have gone back to the world.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?