Source: Violette Samash, Memories of Eden: A Journey Through Jewish Baghdad (Virginia Water: Forum Books, 2008), p. 89
Text: In the same lane, I loved watching the tcheraakh khashab – wood-turner – who worked on a kind of lathe making poles for our bannisters. spindles, chair legs and so on. But best of all, on the right-hand side of the lane as we went to school, was the man with the sandouq el-welayaat: a magic lantern (the name literally means a ‘box of the countries’). It was truly magical. It had a narrow front with a big lens fixed on each of its other three sides. Inside was a scroll, with pictures lit by a lantern. The man turned the scroll and narrated a story about each picture, starting every time with ‘Shoof ‘indak Ya salaam!‘ (‘Look here, what a wonder!’). I can still remember some of them, all to do with the Ottoman days: ‘Shoof ‘indak Ya salaam!’ This is Istanbul with its towers and castles … Here is ‘Antar with his beloved ‘Abla! This is a German gun…’ And so on. It was cinema to us.
Comments: Violette Samash (1912-2006) was a member of the Jewish community in Baghdad before the Second World War. Her memoir, compiled posthumously from letters, notes and essays, culminates in the Farhud, the Nazi-inspired pogrom of 1941. The ‘magic lantern’ she describes sounds not unlike the street bioscopes of India, albeit with still images rather than short clips of film.