Refurbished Kurdish café in Baghdad run by a woman
In the heart of Baghdad, a Kurdish woman runs a traditional Kurdish café, welcoming hundreds of people a day.
Zuhra Zangana, a Kurdish Iraqi national, has renovated an old café in Baghdad called Tutinchi. The café is a century old and has survived through all the wars Baghdad has endured so far.
"I have renovated the café to make it running and be alive again," Zangana told Kurdistan 24. "This café has gone through a lot. The wars in Baghdad wore out everything. It is hard to run a café here and the people are tired too, but we have to not give up. Life deserves to strive for it."
The café provides different leisurely activities for both old and new generations. For the young generation, the café has dominos, cards, backgammon, and hookah. For the old generation, it provides Kurdish tea in a quiet space, so that they can get together and talk.
"I've lived all my life here and never left Baghdad," Mohammed Bustan, a 65-year-old teacher living in Baghdad, said. "I love Tutinchi café because it reminds me of the old days when we were gathering here to have tea, at the time when there was no war and conflict and everyone was living peacefully."
Bustan could not finish his thoughts as tears rolled down his cheeks. The tears were for the good memories of the time when Baghdad was the major capital in the Middle East. He rubbed his eyes with a handkerchief and added, "I cry for a time that we all miss. This café was a place that all Kurdish people came to after work, and everyone was happy."
The younger generation doesn't care about Bustan's memories. All they care about is getting government payments, and going to cafés like Tutinchi to play dominos and smoke hookah.
"Tutinchi is nice, and my friends and I sit and play dominos and drink tea after our work," Basim Kassad, a 22-year-old government employee, told Kurdistan 24. "We enjoy it more because now it is safe and like before -- the Kurds and Arabs are playing together and have no problems."
From May 1st onwards, the café has been hosting small parties on Thursdays. Local singers and musicians come and play original Kurdish and Arabic music for the customers.
"To make our customers and ourselves happy, I thought of having local music on Thursdays," Zanga said. "People enjoy the original local music, and it is great when it's played live. People listen to it, while they have our best Kurdish tea."
There is a mosque next to the café. At sunset, when the mullah called for prayer, Zangana stopped the party and told the audience to go to the mosque.
"I respect religion, and we should give a chance for religious people to pray," Zangana said. "They can come back for the music after they do their prayers."