Sitting to a dinner of kabab, hot khubz (Iraqi flat bread) and other niceties, the conversation was flowing. Our rotating reporter, Chris (a very nice chap of only 23) was showing us the lovely old Iraqi silver pendent and bracelet he had bought his mum from a shop in the al-Rasheed Hotel, which is inside the green zone. We congratulated him on his excellent taste. He had bought other things as well. A lovely painting of a local scene, some coins and notes used during Saddam's era, some Iraqi medals and an Iraqi flag. We were commending him on his good sense of value too - I was afraid that it would be a rip-off, but happily it wasn't.
My son is a coin collector and was quite impressed and said out loud, "Mum , let's go down to the al-Rasheed tomorrow (my day off) and look up this place, the items are good and the prices are right. Let's Mum!"
"I'm sorry baby, we can't. I will take you to another shop near al-Mutanebbi, you might find similar things."
"Why, Mum? Why can't I go to this shop?"
"Because it's in the green zone baby, and you're Iraqi."
I could see the words forming on his lips; I could hear them ring in my head.
His rebellious look locked with my own sadly understanding eyes - but he just looked away, defeated.