As I was walking down the street the other day, I saw an old lady having a difficult time walking. She was trying to find a car or a wall that she can hold on to as she walked extremely slowly. I asked if I could help her. She grabbed on to my arm and we walked together.
She was headed to a nearby mini market to do some grocery shopping. The mini market was around 30 meters away but it took us a good 10 minutes to walk that distance. Naturally, during that walk, I was asked my name, where I was from, how old I was, if I was married, why was I not married and she shared information from her life.
I say naturally because this is Lebanon.
If you’re a reserved person like I used to be when I moved here, you’re going to get really uncomfortable before you become comfortable. Forget what your parents taught you about not talking to strangers and embrace this culture.
There’s not such thing as stepping into the mini market and quickly purchasing a pack of cigarettes. You will chat with the lady behind the cashier, and eventually you will start asking her stuff such as if their grandchild got the visa they applied for, or if their dog’s leg has healed.
One night when you’re getting out of your regular cab, you will hear the driver tell your date to keep an eye on you or else the driver would ‘break him’, since you’re like a daughter to him.
When you walk down a street often, you will find yourself greeting the store owners who have chairs on the sidewalk. Eventually they will invite you to join them for coffee and chat.
When you tell the guy who fills up your gas to fill it up for $20 instead of filling up like you usually do, don’t be surprised when he asks you if you are broke.
When you’re in a supermarket, a lady will compliment your dress and not only ask you where you purchased it from, but will call her daughter from another aisle to come see.
Bartender and waiters at coffee shops, pubs, and restaurant you are a regular at, will become your friends and keep an eye out on you. Also, while you’re there you will find yourself chatting with other customers.
Interactions here are always on a social level and the boundaries lessen with time, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent that.
I used to be a reserved person and I’ve embraced the ‘social’ culture here. My advice to you is to do the same. You’ll learn to love it and you’ll make a few friends on the way.