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Life in Iraq - It's the little things that count...

Swimming pool a rare oasis for Baghdad's diverse elite

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Against the dust-colored, dreary Baghdad skyline, the bright colors of this social club glitter almost unnaturally. The turquoise water of the swimming pool jumps out at you along with the bright, rainbow-like colors of swimming trunks, towels and inner tubes.

It's an illusion of normalcy, carefully guarded from the horrors of the streets of Baghdad.

It's a mix of Baghdad's remaining elite -- be it Sunnis, Shiites or Kurds. Here, ethnicity doesn't matter. The club costs $400 a year for a family membership.

They seemingly don't have a care in the world. That is, until you listen to what they have to say.

Fatma -- an Iraqi woman wearing designer sunglasses, an elegant brown jacket and fancy gold jewelry on this day -- talked with her friend, Amal, about a recent car bombing that killed 15 people.

"I was arguing with myself yesterday and I was saying, 'I am going to the pool to have a good time, and they are dead. But if I stay at home, what can I do for them? Will it change anything for them?' "

She pauses. "I couldn't help it. I cried for them."

But moments later, the two women laugh, not at a joke, but at their lives -- or what has become of them. See how children and their parents enjoy the pool
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I saw the video of the story........

In reply to: Life in Iraq - It's the little things that count...

....... of the children having such a wonderful time in the pool.

Earlier in the war there were some stories of the neighborhoods in which the wealthy families lived. I recall at least one member of the newly elected Parliament being murdered as he left his "elite" home.

Reading the piece, I was reminded of a Cuban exile family we knew . They lived an "upscale" life before Castro, and fled to the US with nothing. Though the father and children adjusted well to their lifestyle here, the mother remained convinced they would return to Cuba and regain the home and status they once had. To that end, she refused to learn English.

We know that the Iraq power and water systems had badly deteriorated under Sadam. Now "insurgents" continuously sabotage efforts to rebuild them.

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I had mixed feelings about this story.

In reply to: I saw the video of the story........

I was first struck by the remoteness of these ladies as they talked about the violence surrounding them. Later, I realized that it wasn't remoteness, but the same stoical pragmatism you might have seen displayed by Londoners during the Blitz, the citizens of Dresden after the fire bombing, Beirut, Sarajevo... or any other group of people, desperately trying to hold onto some life line attached to the life they once led.

People react in predictable ways when faced with adversity. Some live in denial, some live in hope. These folk look to the little things like a pool membership to save their sanity.

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