Tag Archives: lebanon

A Lebanese Soldier Goes to War

He carries his country in his heart,
Leaving loved ones behind,
Bidding them goodbye,
Will he see them again?

Off he goes to fight for country,
Into battle he goes,
He risks his life,
Wiping away terrorists.

Landmines buried on dusty roads,
Rockets blasting nearby,
His friend falls,
The excruciating sound of pain.

He’s sent off to keep the peace,
Crowded streets of protestors,
Filled with hatred and anger,
When will this end?

Fortunately, he will go home,
He’ll never be the same again,
Never forgetting the horrors he saw,
As he deeply mourns those killed.

 

 

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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?

12 things I’ve learnt in Lebanon

I moved to Lebanon a year ago and here are 12 things I’ve learnt since I’ve moved here:

Everyone’s mother is a better cook
Your colleagues show up to work with tupperwares filled with their mom’s cooking. You’re encouraged to taste their mom’s dish of the day stirring a debate on who’s mother cooks it best.

Your mind excels in currency conversions
When I first moved here, I found myself hesitating at the supermarket cashier for a moment while I mentally converted $ to LL currency, not to mention I would always convert them to Kuwaiti Dinars so I get an understanding of what I’m paying. A year later $ and LL seem to be the same currency in my mind.

Wait before crossing the road
Lebanon might be the best place to teach people not to jaywalk. You learn to stand at the sidewalk, look both ways, and then look both ways again, not because you might get a jaywalking ticket, but to triple check no crazy driver is headed your way.

Road Rage is an Art
You will find yourself adopt the Lebanese style of road rage – honking and getting creative with your screaming slurs.

Seize the Moment
You learn to become spontaneous. I can’t count the amount of times I thought I’d be spending the evening in front of the TV, only to find myself dancing until dawn several hours later and loving it.  I’ve also had quite a few days where I thought I’d be spending it at home doing the laundry, only to find myself spending the day on a road trip.

The Souk El Tayeb Experience
You go to Souk el Tayeb and feel like you’re contributing to local farmers and produce when you purchase a mere half kilo of janarek.  While doing so, you get into a debate on if its janerek or janaring  and find yourself explaining to foreigners what it is.

Seasonal Fruits
Speaking of which, you become an expert on seasonal fruits. You know the season of every fruit and when is the best time to buy them and at what rate

You become patient
You learn to be so patient that even the Dalai Lama can’t compete. Everything takes so much time to get done here whether it’s waiting for the maintenance guy, getting paperwork down, or simply waiting for a website to load.

Survive the darkness
I’ve learnt to continue to do things in the dark. when the electricity used to go out when I first moved here, I used to freeze, stop what I was doing or stop speaking until the generator switched on. A year later I find myself continuing on in the dark.

You’re more athletic than you think
You become an Olympian gold medalist when they electricity goes out – run & jump over obstacles to switch off some electrical appliances before the generator comes on

Everyone is a meteorologist 
You would be chilling enjoying the breeze and everyone at the table starts discussing the breeze you’re feeling “hayda hawa jnoubi. halla2 tet2allab el ta2es w tit7assan”

Can you cook? Really?!
You’re only an expert in the kitchen if you learn how to make ma7ashi from A to Z. It doesn’t matter if you can cook up some real great dishes from anywhere else in the world. Bonus: You will get complimented at how good you hollow a zucchini and rolling grape vines.

 

 

I’ve fallen in love with Lebanon… And myself.

When I first moved here, I’d walk in the city listening to music, feeling liberated and light. I’d force myself not to twirl so that people would not think I was crazy. The big smile plastered on my face and my bouncy walk was enough to let people think I was. I remember asking myself, how long would I feel like this? This feeling must be temporary.

11 months later, I’m walking around exploring random neighbourhoods in the city admiring the old architecture and the charm of every alleyway.

11 months later, I still hold myself from twirling.

11 months later, I still have a huge smile plastered on my face.

11 months later, I still feel liberated.

This country has inspired me to do so much.
This country has nourished my soul.
This country has been good to me.

Day after day, I love this country more and more, and with it I love myself more.

 

Coexisting with a New State of Mind

Rampurple

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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Living Without Social Boundaries

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.

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