Sneak peek into an estranged world. Cheers!

Archive for December, 2013

“Goodmorning” lebanon!

Now I sure some of you might be surprised at that post today, but today should have been a good day, which is why I say goodmorning!

Today marks for most of us the last day of work for the year before heading out to the villages or preparing our homes or our plans for a happy happy new year.

Most Lebanese are out shopping, swearing at traffic, wiggling their way around to make sure they end this year 2013 in style and welcome a new year full of joy and happiness.

But as I notice we, as a country, as Lebanese, still dream big; we dream for peace and safety…

And this is what we get

Even Lebanese and non Lebanese living abroad get injured


I’m not taking about physical injuries of course, I’m also taking about mental and emotional; we as a country have learnt to be thankful for surviving explosions instead of being thankful to the Trust, love and prosperity that we’re supposed to wish for.

And still, someone keeps dividing us, destroying our Trust in each other.

Media and crowds run to assumptions, blame parties, and forget to mourn for those whose life was destroyed in a blink of an eye; 5 dead and 70 injured in the polls today.

Will our history ever stop repeating itself? No one knows. But I still have hope.


So goodmorning to all, and hope that 2014 brings with it some safer days with less tears and more laughter.


Great news

Unfortunately, as you might have noticed I’ve been MIA for a couple of days, no worries, I was simply in Madrid watching my brother’s graduation from IE university for his MBA.

Posts about a couple of things I noticed there will come in soon, meanwhile sleeping on a couch, partying all night and walking around all day only managed to leave me with a strong cold.

Hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas and preparing for an amazing new year.


A prayer on the side

Today I want to share with you the story of Charbel.

Charbel lives in a small house is bcharre, North of Mount Lebanon, a small village where summers are harsh and winters are worse.

He’s a man with 7 kids, 3 girls and 4 boys, each of these kids working hard day and night to suffice to their family’s needs. My family and I have helped them through school, when they got scholarships to prefect their knowledge.

Charbel is a man who paints houses in summer and works on the ski slopes in winter.

Charbel here lost his summer job to Syrian refugees. They offerthe samepaint job done in less time and more employees, for a cheaper wage.

He says it’s OK, they have a family to care for as well; because of his kind heart he doesn’t blame them, he says they need to feed their families too.

Tonight is Christmas night. So I Want to send out my love and best wishes to Charbel and his family.

May they prosper in peace and love and the best of luck that most of us comfortable in our warm homes might not be worthy of.

Merry Christmas to the Succar family. You’ll always be in my heart, knowing all the life lessons you taught me and the many times you opened my eyes to reality.

Have a drink and a prayer directed to them on this holy night.


Hbeish Police Too Busy Spying on Potheads to Protect Students Lives

I’m ashamed of my country sometimes. This is one of the worst reasons.

Lebanon vs Syria reloaded

A continuation to lebanon vs syria is needed today. Of course, going online and checking news and blogs from around the world, we see the desolation that has taken place in Syria and the idea of a life in which refugees are thriving daily, especially come winter times.

Hundreds of articles have been written for this cause, these articles being written by arab countries, like AlArabiya where an awful picture of a poor child freezing in one of the camps was taken, and where many others lost their lives, where we also read of U.N Chief Ban Ki-moon making an appeal to help these refugees hiding out on Lebanese soil.

In another article, written by the Washington post, we read of the conditions of life most refugees have on Lebanese soil, we also read of interviews and hear the worry between the lines where some of these refugees might be giving up trying to survive.

Even a video was made by celebrities to help donate money to those refugees in need, and I think (wishfully) that it has helped indeed.

But some things are being forgotten, most people commenting on these articles are not Lebanese, Syrian or Palestinian; and their comments are sometimes wrong and judgmental. I read of those that blame the Lebanese society for not providing for these less fortunate refugees, blaming them for ignoring them, and for closing their eyes to their misery.

But one thing that most Americans, Europeans, or whatever country they are from, forget, or shut their own eyes to, is that the misery extends to Lebanese people living in Lebanon as well. Whoever you are and whatever you think, you have no right to judge citizens that are going through hell in the first place; especially when you don’t have facts about what is happening, or haven’t lived it.

So here are a couple of eye openers for judgers: I’m afraid to walk near my house at night, I live in a relatively secure neighborhood, where as of late refugees have been camping out, I’ve seen random Lebanese men and women being beaten by refugees for 1 000LL (0.75 $); and worst part being when calling the cops to help him/her out, all they would say is, we can’t come, we’re trying to save these other guys in these areas. I’ve had friends’ cars stolen by refugees to later be sent to Syria, as an exchange for their homes not being destroyed or their families being able to cross the border illegally.

Now I understand the car stealing, but only when it happens on the street, with its owner being away; even my mum’s car was stolen a couple of months back, making it hard for us to get by, yet being lucky enough to suffice ourselves. But what about those poor souls driving late at night after a long day at work, trying to get home, getting pulled out of their car and beaten, having a gun shoved at their heads and having their hard work earnings being stolen from them.

Of course not all refugees are that way, and not all would go the extra mile of robbing hard workers of their due just because they need it. Unfortunately how do you know which is what. How can you be sure that this old man you’re sending your clothes to, spending money on when you can barely keep your household going and your children warm, isn’t the one that robbed you from your monthly pay a couple of days ago? We still, as Lebanese, try to do the right thing, we rally up to send extra clothes, food, and blankets to those in need; because after all, we had a civil war for many years, we know what it’s like and we feel a need to help those in need because we didn’t get that help sometimes, and wished we did. But we stay cautious, we keep our distance, and sometimes we close our eyes to what is happening because who knows when and if we will be the ones that need this help at some point in time.

Checking the news we hear of bombs being shot towards Lebanese soil, we hear of Israel building up defenses, we read of politicians enticing their “crowds” to go up against each other, and of course us being so “open-minded” ending up following them like sheep. We have the instability of a schizophrenic country.

So I ask those judging the Lebanese for their somewhat lack of helping refugees, how exactly would you act if you were us?


Lebanon vs Syria

So I was reading this article about IKEA houses to be sent out to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and I have to say I’m not sure how to feel about it.

Being Lebanese and having lived here my entire life, mixed feelings continuously pop-up when it comes to refugee camps, people without homes, and children with no roofs over their heads or food on their plates.

Having had, what I consider to be, a full and rich education, both from my parents, and school; I am not immune to those less fortunate, always trying to help them, and sometimes even putting them before my own needs. I have been taught to treat people the way I would like to be treated.

So I considered this: if my country were at war, my home destroyed, and my family being killed randomly, sometimes in front of my eyes; I would hope that being a refugee in another country would provide me with a seemingly safe environment in which to await and survive, before being able to move back and reconstruct a life that was taken from me.

But how many more refugees can Lebanon take? Writer Aryn Baker points out the main problem by stating that the Lebanese are “worried that the upgraded housing may just incite refugees to stay”. It’s tough to say I agree with her, but I do in some way.

Of course I disagree on the poor housing these refugees currently have to try and survive winter, it’s inhumane, and my whole system is raging at the idea that these people are going through hell without getting any help from people; but at the same time, my mind is asking me to be aware of all that is taking place due to these refugees.

Lebanon’s economy is already staggering as is, and has been for many years, starting with the Palestinian refugees, followed by wars between it and Israel, as well as a long, never-ending, civil war. When trying to count out the friends I grew up with in high school and college, I notice that the ones that have stayed in Lebanon can be counted on my hands, easily.

Why? Economy! There is no money left in Lebanon, there is no insurance, no safety net for any of us, no jobs left to fill, and when you do find a job, the pay is too low and the work load is too high, and of course, you never know what to expect the next week, day, hour, or minute.

I like to define it as a schizophrenic country. The mood can be shifted easily in a second, just by a few words being uttered by some politician on TV, or some misinterpreted action. Trying to start a business might save your life or might put you on the streets begging for a lira to feed yourself or have a glass of clean water. And as I already mentioned in my previous post …. , we Lebanese got used to living this way (to our own demise).

So after we’ve seen Palestinian refugees camp out on our lands, we rushed to their help like any human would do, and so we have done the same with Syrian refugees, but with limits, being careful to what we do or say, watching our backs and making sure that no one gets too comfortable.

The Lebanese economy is becoming even tougher than it was due to the refugees, taking up jobs that were supposed to be handed to Lebanese. Company owners nowadays prefer having Syrian cheap labor replace their college graduates to be able to save a couple of Lebanese pounds; instead of hiring one painter to paint a wall for 200 000 LL ( average to 133 $), the owner hires 3 painters to finish the job faster for 150 000 LL (100 $), each receiving 50 000LL. Now of course the job might not be done as well as the one painter that studied it, but it still might help for later when the client will need maintenance and re-painting.

Greedy, greedy, Lebanese; yet we never learn, that it’s not about saving a lira or two, but about providing each Lebanese with a job that will suffice him and his family to survive instead of keeping their own brothers out on the streets. Now of course jobs need to be handed to refugees as well, to help them provide for their own families, though not over the bodies of your own people.

I’m not sure how to explain it exactly, but I hope the idea is clear enough to see the other side of that story. But with this logic I think it becomes more understandable as to why the Lebanese community refuses to provide the refugees with more stable housing such as the IKEA tent.

They fear for their own children, it’s a parent’s thing, but it makes sense after all.


Hadath el Jebbe decorations

As promised in my previous post On the road to arez where Hadath eh Jebbe was mentioned .Here are pictures of the Christmas decorations all over the area,  making the pass through the village much better than that of the highway passing under it.



Stairways to nowhere

When driving around the North mountains of Lebanon, I came through a long street on the side of the qannoubine valley, right after the army checkpoint of Tourza heading towars Seraal.


The road looks normal to the uninterested eye, but if you look closely at the sides of the cliff, you notice old staircases, where nature has once again claimed the space.


But the big question is: where do these staircases lead to?
If you ever decide to get out of your car and climb up these stairs, you’ll notice that they always end abruptly, with no sign of roads or way to follow being present anywhere. No indications whatsoever of there ever being a continuing route for those who used to use these stairs.


So why were they built? For what purpose? I’m not sure, but hey, all we can do is speculate; so here is my reasoning.

1- First choice being the abnormal holocaust type of thing; where spirits climb the stairs to reach the land of the dead (Doesn’t make much sense though does it?).

2- Second choice being a bunch of bored people that decided to build these stairs and left them in nature and time’s mercy, so that one day, people like you and me wonder where they came from and try to understand their purpose (but even that sounds pretty unlikely).

3- The third choice is the most logical one I found, it made sense in many ways, though at the same time this explanation didn’t fit all the staircases found.


When roads were first cut through mountains, donkey and pedestrian roads that used to go through the mountain were cut off. A way that most villagers used was to add stairs and trails so the commoners could still use them, even though a full functioning road was now present.


When following this logic in my mind I went out, and climbed the stairs, trying to find an escape trail that would lead from the end of the stairs into the cliff, in most of them the trail was eaten over by new trees, bushes, and moss. But some didn’t.

And I have to say the first option came drifting back into my mind as soon as I noticed some stairs ending with walls of mountain, untouched, with no sign of previous trail being even hinted by the environment; complete dead end roads; stairways to nowhere.


Having studied the environment over the years, I noticed that no significant land movement was recorded on these cliffs since the roads have been cut-out through them; so where did they used to lead to if there was, since back in the days, no roads or trails leading off the end of the last slab? The walls of the cliff have always been there, untouched, impossible to climb for the most, barely see through to the other side of the hill.

I will leave that to your imagination; after all, mine has been going through different scenarios over many years trying to decipher this mystery. But that’s the best part about it; it will probably always be a mystery.


A nice day for doodles

During a slow week at work. Here are my brain wanderings.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7



Help needed

Here is a very different post from those that passed. It is more of a question.

Taking care of the trees in my mother’s Land in the Cedars, we came across this extremely weird shelter/nest, which we have been trying to figure out what kind of animal/insect made it.

If you have any ideas please enlighten me.

As you can see in the picture the nest/shelter was built for something small, the size of a pigeon’s egg. It was built by collecting small gravel, and gluing them to each other using a form of grey silt-clay soil (that acts like a form of cement for a short period of time as long as the weather is dry), that has been breaking down with rain.



So if you have any ideas what kind of animal might have built these, I hope it will help us know how to deal with it.

Thank you!


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