The electricity cuts out every three hours in my office, going from state power to the generator or the other way around, and my computer takes a while to reboot. When I’ve remembered to save my work and am not in a hurry, this affords me a short break from whatever I’m doing to go drink some water, make another cup of coffee or flip through one of the unread books that always seem to form an accusatory pile on my desk.
So it was that I was flipping through The Topography of Baghdad in the Early Middle Ages, which is from the introduction of Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi‘s History of Baghdad. I randomly opened it to a section on “The Length and Width of the Two Sides of Baghdad, the Total Area, and the Number of Mosques and Bathhouses” to find this observation:
Ahmad b. Abi Tahir mentioned in the Kitab Baghdad that the area of Baghdad’s two sides comprised 53,750 jarib. The area of the East Side comprsed 26,750 jarib, and that of the West Side 27,000 jarib.
The Doggfather hit the stage for 75 minutes, in a bright yellow jersey and did his part to bring peace and unity as he rapped, “East side!… West side!” running back and forth across the stage, then rapped, “Both sides!”.
So whoever thought that the East side/West side division was limited to hip hop feuds, Baltimore gangstas, cold war Berlin or the Lebanese civil war, should know that it goes back at least to 9th century Baghdad. As Tupac once said, “That’s just the way it is.”