It’s not a secret that I would have loved for Lebanon to become secular but unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. Instead, we see a growing interest and involvement in religion that has been caused by several factors and day after day, we see religion playing an increasingly dominant role in the political sphere. What people believe in has become politics. How people practice their religion has become politics. In short, religion equals politics.
I have moved around quite a bit so I know it will take time for people to get used to what I’m like, but here’s a little guide for those of you who have only recently met me:
- Nicknames – I HATE them. I don’t get the obsession with calling people with any name besides their actual name. My name is Rita. It’s a short and easy name to say so please do not call me Ratrout, Ratrouta, Rattouta, Ritrat, Ratareet or anything else. Only one person is allowed to call me something besides Rita and that’s my dad who calls me Rito… and no you can’t do the same.
- Hugs –I am NOT a hugger. What does that mean? Simple – don’t open your arms as you approach me because I’m not going in for a hug. I never understood the need people have for hugging one another every time they meet. If I become your friend (not facebook friend, but your actual friend), you will find that I will be more receptive to hugs and I shall hug you on special occasions or when you’re in dire need of a hug. I have been told that when I do hug, I’m a pretty great hugger, so wait for it, it will be worth it.
- Kissing Etiquette – Ok I don’t have a rule for this. I’ve lived in multi-cultural environments so it’s always been confusing for me, do I go for 2 kisses on the cheek? 3? How many? I usually crack a joke in the process but here in Lebanon I’ve been getting confused. Wasn’t the Lebanese culture part of the 3-kiss rule? I’ve been encountering 1 or 2 kisses as well. Someone guide me… which is it?
As I was walking to my office this morning, I was enjoying the nice summer breeze and was thinking how this has been making my walks a lot more pleasant. It’s currently 22 degrees and slightly cloudy and has not gotten hot and sticky yet, instead its still rather cool and a few nights ago it was slightly cold and rainy!
As I was drinking my coffee, I was going through instagram and my timeline was filled of pictures of friends’ dashboards who live in Kuwait, Dubai, and Qatar, displaying the temperature there which ranged between 47 and 52 degrees. I thought to myself, “wow! I’m glad I get to enjoy pleasant weather instead of suffer in the heat!”
A few minutes later, I get into an elevator with 2 young women who opened small talk,
“It’s soooo hot today” one on them said, the other replied, “I know! That’s why I gave my car to valet this morning since I didn’t want to walk in this heat!!”
I couldn’t stop myself from chuckling as I was getting out of the elevator…
I DID IT!!
It’s finally sinking in… I did it. I have moved here.
It kicked in for the first time yesterday, as I was leaving the office and walking to my car and paid attention to the view of the sea, the mountains, and the port. I froze, I took a deep breath, I smiled… and it hit me, I have moved here. I am no longer a visitor but I actually live here!
I went out for a stroll during lunch break today. I had my earphones on and my playlist was on shuffle… and again, at some point, I froze, I took a deep breath, I smiled… I did it. I moved here. I felt so light. I could actually feel a bounce in my steps, and was controlling myself from dancing in the streets.
I wondered how long would I feel like this?
I decided once again that I do want to move to Lebanon and give it a try. I have been spending so much time here recently and I really feel comfortable with the idea. I think I am capable of surviving here unlike what most people tell me.
I started meeting with potential clients and getting a sense of what the work culture is like in Beirut. I started networking and meeting more and more people. I met awesome inspiring people who encouraged me to make the move. I wanted to be here, I wanted to be surrounded by people such as these.
Just like most expats, I would romanticize Lebanon. I would tell my friends about the fun times I spent there, forgetting all the negatives, and I would suddenly become a poet when describing the beauty of the mountains and the sea.
Just like most expats, I wanted to move to Lebanon, then I didn’t want to, but then I did again, and then again for a couple of years I was convinced I did not want to move to Lebanon. I was financially comfortable so hopping on a plane to Lebanon for just a weekend was convenient. I make money and live comfortably elsewhere and am able to get my Lebanon fix whenever I chose to do so. Sounds like a win-win situation…right?