Category Archives: Opinion Ed

The protests, our civic duty, and I.

 

As some of you are aware, I used to blog about Lebanese politics many years ago. It was around 2007 when I not only stopped blogging on Lebanese politics but turned a blind eye to it in general.  It was feelings of despair, anguish and pain that lead me to stop. As I witnessed the country not moving in a positive direction and history repeating itself, I lost all hope of a better future.  For years, I constantly wondered what kind of tipping point does the population need before they come out and say enough is enough.

When I moved here over a year ago, I wasn’t oblivious about the situation and I was fully aware of how I had to adapt in order to survive in the country.  The electricity cuts? No biggie, subscribe to the neighborhood generator. No water? No biggie, call for water delivery.  No drinking water? Buy bottled water. The list goes on and on.   I am aware how fortunate I am to be able to pay for these extra services compared to a large part of the population who don’t have the similar advantage.

Another advantage I have, is that I live here by choice. My own family don’t even live here. I also have another passport so I always have the option to pack up and move to a country that provides me with such basic necessities.  I choose to be here because I romanticize about this country.

However, during the past year, I witnessed the situation immensely deteriorate. The electricity cuts increased to the extent that at one point last month, I only got 10 minutes of electricity during 3 days.  The neighborhood generator couldn’t handle the increased pressure and was no longer providing me with the ampere I had subscribed for. In order to switch on my washing machine, I had to switch off my fridge and air conditioning during a heat wave. To add to that, garbage was being burnt in my neighborhood.  This is when my frustration hit.  This is not a life I want to adapt to and no one should adapt to such an intolerable situation.

Who knew the tipping point would be garbage? It makes a lot of sense though.  The stinking garbage is in your face and we don’t have adaptive solutions for it like we do with electricity and water.
This is why when the YouStink people took to the streets I joined them. During the past couple of weeks I have been criticized and gotten into debates on whether it is right for me to take to the streets with this movement.  In all honesty, the tens of thousands of people who have been taking to the streets have been doing so because they too are fed up of the situation, because they too want things to change. They want their basic rights. Yes, basic rights. It is your basic rights to have electricity, water, and a non-corrupt government. Most importantly, everyone at the protest was alive again and feeling hopeful, a sense we had long forgotten.

I do want to build on this topic a lot further, but I have a feeling that in the coming weeks I’ll have several opportunities to do so, in addition to my opinion on the protests, and how the media have been handling the situation.

What I do want to discuss now is our individual responsibilities. I don’t want to generalize but please do allow me to say, that us Lebanese have no understanding of individual responsibility or our individual civic duty.  When the smoking ban was implemented, officials enforced it for a while, once they stopped or once they got bribed, most of us went back to smoking indoors.  Everyone else is, so why should we not? We take pride in drinking and driving or multitasking while driving, so since no one seems to be enforcing the new driving laws, let’s just go ahead and do as we wish, because hey! we can!! Unfortunately, this is our behavior towards everything.

For people who were not aware of the amount of recycling plants Lebanon has, I believe the past few weeks allowed the whole country to know that that option does exist. We can all start by recycling in our homes and offices. We can make a difference collectively.

For all of you who have been going to the protests, for crying out loud, stop throwing trash, especially plastic bottles all over the ground. You can’t protest the garbage crisis and then leave the protest grounds in such a mess.  Several volunteers have taken it upon themselves to clean up after you but it’s time you lead by example.

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Farewell Baklava?

As I take a bite of a piece of baklava, I try to remember the last time I had one. This isn’t a story about Baklava or about the origins of Baklava. No, it’s not remotely close to that.

Have you ever bought or made baklava for your own pleasure, to enjoy on your own? I know I haven’t. Baklava is made to be shared with family, with friends, with our neighbors. Baklava is made to be enjoyed in the company of other people.

If you compare that to chocolate, which are individually wrapped with a colorful appeal, they were meant to be eaten alone. As you take a bite of chocolate, you’re in pursuit to find that perfect oomf which you usually don’t get.

The different chocolate wrappers have different tastes to achieve the different emotions you want to get as you savor that bite. Baklavas are consistent in taste that fail to surprise you. Baklava being the predictable option.

As our society  is gradually evolving towards an individualistic culture, the less we start seeing Baklavas on tables being shared. People tend to live in their box, pursuing happiness on an individual level, with a twist, rather than share comfort and joy with others.

Will baklava completely disappear from our tables one day? Will it make a comeback? Or will we continue saving baklava for special occassions?

Everything you need to know about the Armenian Genocide

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With ISIS close by and wars occurring in neighboring countries, I continuously am told that Armenians should get over something that took place 100 years ago, and instead focus on current events that need our attention.  It has also come to my attention that many people are not well informed about the genocide. Hence why I felt the need to write up an informative post  regarding the genocide and the importance to recognize it.

Continue reading Everything you need to know about the Armenian Genocide

Coexisting with a New State of Mind

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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.

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The Che Obsession

How on earth did Che Guevara become an icon? A brand?  A tool for capitalists?

We see Che Guevara products everywhere.  Anything from tshirts, posters, cigarette holders, caps, keychains and more.  I always wonder what would Che Guevara think?  How can people who support his ideals buy these items since it contradicts with all his ideals and beliefs?

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A communist/socialist/marxist image has become a major player in the capitalist’s world.

Personally, I admire Che Guevara but yesterday I asked myself a question:

Why?

Continue reading The Che Obsession

My take on BDL Accelerate 2014

Whenever I get approached for projects I always try to make sure they are projects I would enjoy, so when Eastline Marketing approached me for BDL Accelerate it really was a no brainer for me… and I’m so glad I said yes!

For those of you who aren’t aware BDL Accelerate is Lebanon’s First International Startup Conference.  I’ve always been passionate about startups, constantly following international startups and their success stories and dedicated to working with regional startups.

BDL Accelerate 2014 took place Thursday and Friday and it was remarkable being there.  I spent the whole of two days in the main hall that witnessed 9 panels, 7 keynotes, 2 firesides, 5 interventions and of course, Seedstars World Startup Competition. 

Continue reading My take on BDL Accelerate 2014

Hiking in Lebanon

This post was published in Bazaar Magazine in Kuwait earlier this year but I felt the need to share it on the blog as well since many friends constantly ask me about hiking.

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When people think of Lebanon, they usually think of wars and battles or plastic surgeries and an extravagant nightlife.
When I think of Lebanon, I think of the great outdoors and beautiful scenery it provides that is unique to the Middle East.

I used to get into the car and just drive up into the mountains exploring the areas and discovering every region’s unique nature. Every curve offered a different scenic view, every town and village I’d pass by would have it’s own identity. I always ended up feeling serene during these drives.

How I got into hiking:
Several years ago, a group of friends were going hiking and I tagged along. At first I was worried I would get shattered and not be able to complete the 6-hour hike. I rarely visit the gym or exercise. The thought of using a treadmill makes me feel like a gerbil running in a wheel in a cage! To my surprise, not only did I complete the hike, I was so entranced by the views, the trails, the continuous change of the surrounding nature that even when exhausted I continued on, wanting to see more.

Continue reading Hiking in Lebanon