Sneak peek into an estranged world. Cheers!

Archive for the ‘lebanon’ Category

Congratulations Germany?!

I’m primarily an Italian football fan, but tend to also appreciate and like Germany’s team play and defense.

So of course I was cheering on for the German team throughout the night.

But at the same time I was half wishing they’d loose, not for the sake of Argentina, but more that of Lebanon.
You see looking back at the history of Germany winning world cups I noticed asomething common in the dates and the lebanese history.

In 1974, Germany won the world cup, a couple of days later trouble started sparkling up all around Lebanon, and before you know it, we had a 15 year civil war raging on and destroying the country:

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Germany wins the world cup in 1974

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The lebanese civil war from 1975 to 1990

The second time Germany won the world cup, was in 2006, the year israeli bombs were destroying all bridges around the country after first targeting the airport; and instilling fear in the crowds:

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Germany wins the world cup in 2006

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Israel and Hezbollah war rages for 34 days

Now how do these link all my fears together? Simple:

A couple of minutes after the end of the 2014 World Cup games ending with Germany taking the world cup once again, a news update arrived:

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LBC Lebanon News, Urgent Update

“Israel responds to the two missiles sent from Lebanon’ s Raas El Ain with many rockets launched onto Khirach Al Hanya and Al Aazariyah…”

That was fast…. so here we go again or will we defeat our sour fate?

T.

Romeo and Juliet style

Living in Lebanon you continuously hear of different troubling news going on all over the city: A bomb over here, a gun fight over there, or simply the murders of different names.

When talking about bombs, we get different namings for different kinds (yes you have to learn them if you want to know exactly how much you need to freak out).

So we got the normal (read sarcastically) “humane” hidden explosives like that which killed Rafic Hariri and many others (naming Hariri for it is the most famous one in that type of bombings), where the terrorists hide the C4 under the ground or hide it in a random car on that street. With this type of bombs, you’re going to be fine, whoever was the target it’s done now and you can move on, just try and avoid the area from traffic and curious people.

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The “evil” hidden explosive takes the Lebanese and Syrians back centuries of civilization where we have the suicidal bombers that drive a car around full of C4 before killing themselves and the target (or sometimes just to scare the crowds). When these go off you should panic a bit, especially when there is no specific target, in these cases who knows where they will hit next and you should be careful. But if there was a target then be a bit worried from the crowds that might decide that they’ve had enough and decide to carry their guns once again.

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Or I this case have a wedding to show that love still exists.

Now that’s where the fun begins!

The shooting type and when to be afraid, when to be fine, and when to be very afraid:

The first type I would like to talk about is the “back-clash” gun fire, that usually takes place after a “evil” bomb, it’s when the crowds decide to try and take matters into their own hands by scaring off other crowds, shooting at random people or in the air (of course forgetting that what goes up must come down), and ensuring an interesting number of casualties and injured on the night news.

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These you need to be very afraid of; my father’s cousin was playing golf a couple of months ago when some guys decided to shoot in the air a bit, one of the stray bullets decided to lodge itself in her shoulder before deciding to head out the other side. In cases like these I like to keep a roof over my head and stay away of windows, however far I am from the shooting.

Now the other type of shooting would be the “Romeo and Juliet” style, where you have two random kids from over-excited families that fight over a woman, a seat, a parking space, or even an idea; and end up getting both their families in uproar, shooting at each other from different ends of the street, making the street dividing line a war zone.

Now these clashes are interesting in a way, if you’re close to the streets where either family reside, get away asap, you don’t want to get stuck in the middle (trust me, it could go on for days!), if you reside in the area avoid all windows for the duration of the clashes so not to receive a stray bullet, as well as move the TV and other breakable objects away from the windows and balconies (I miss our old TV!).

Another type of gun-fight, the “cowboy” shooting would be two random guys that just shoot at each other until one gets the other, or in the case where one simply attacks and kills the other straight up for some obscure and unknown past “règlement de compte”. These aren’t scary much at first, you have to wait until you get the names of the person that was killed, and base your decision on whether to be afraid or fine; if one of the people is from an important family, or known as a hot-blooded family, stay at home and avoid contact with the outside, a “Romeo and Juliet” might take place and you’re going to want to stay away from there. If it were some obscure person with an obscure family you’re pretty OK to head out, just keep your guards up just in case.

And last but not least you got the “happy” gunfire, where a proud father who’s soon just graduated wants to show his pride, or a bunch of friends celebrate the wedding of a friend by shooring a row of bullets as fire work. These are usually safe, just as long as you keep a roof over your head you’ll be fine (but you should know that some people were mistakenly injured or worse at some of these “happy” shootings).

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I know, the way I write it makes it feel so much less scary, and the simplicity in which I describe each scene can sound pretty inhumane as well, but after 26 years of being born and growing in this country, I can’t find any other way to be able to put it in without freaking out every second of my life and living in a bubble in the basement (of the building of course! No houses in Beirut!).

Now that we’ve cleared that out, next time you get a bit of news from LBCI, MTV, OTV, AlAkhbar, AlJazeera or any other channel on your phone, you’ll know exactly what to do. Meanwhile I’m going to hide behind my computer.

T.

A good day

It has been raining for 3 days now and the snow started stacking up on the mountains in Lebanon. Finally!

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March 15 and they were finally able to open the slopes and provide us poor souls with a bit of wintery feel.
Saturday morning, 8am, the slopes are clear and glowing white, though we can still see high rocks peeking through the snow, where the wind blew off the silver and stacked it at the bottom of the hills. It’s a beautiful sunny day, and I’m in skis.

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48 rounds and 5 hours later I was sweating, my knees were on fire, and my hands were numb. So I go to sit at the terrasse and have a cold beer while soaking in the sun, everyone’s here; I haven’t seen them since last winter, and the lack of snow made many of them avoid the area to avoid the heartache of finding the slopes brown; everyone is smiling, we are happy.
Later on I head back to the chalet for a well deserved lunch, then get my snowshoes on, meet up with some friends, and go hiking up into the Cedar forest.

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The snow lays heavy at our feet and on the branches of the Cedar trees, the silence engulfs us and takes us to different heights.

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The sun is strong and the snow is melting now, it’s 5pm and the branches are weeping a steady song, we keep going and observing, taking in all the beauty surrounding us; we don’t speak, and rarely make a sound, we keep our ears and eyes open to watch the trees push off the snow from their branches into a misty fog, making our hearts leap whenever it’s too close, fearing but wanting it to drop over our heads.

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The snow gets heavier and the sun starts setting in the distance.
The pink light takes over the silver white and darkness starts creeping around us. Our feet are frozen, our muscles are burning, our head feels light; yet we keep smiling and going on.

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We reach the road and civilization, walk back to the chalet and sit down for some warm soup.
Today was a great day, a perfect dream, yet our feet remember it was true.

T.

KAFA! Enough!

As some of you know, yesterday march 8 was women’s day. And if you’re Lebanese, you would have heard about all the Lebanese wives who have been murdered by their husbands in the last couple of years.

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Gathering for one cause

Yesterday the organization KAFA prepared a rally against these men who were released a week after they had beat their wives to death by our corrupt governments.

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In memory of a woman who was advised to death with a cooking pot

Nearly 500 people showed up, men and women, gay and straight, wives with husbands, and families with children of many generations.

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Look in the mirror, I could be anyone

Lebanese of all religions and social status united to walk against the atrocities.

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Whoever we are, we are women at the end of the day

It’s good to see so many people that have their eyes open to the injustice of abuse and are willing to do something about it.
I just hope they don’t forget about the crisis too soon and give up just now.

T.

Tears of hate

How do you know when you’ve had enough, when the annoying things have overflowed in the cup of your brain and patience?

I’m not sure if I have reached that level but it sure feels like it if not worse sometimes. Getting to my house or leaving my house have become a suffering process I have to go through daily, and most times two to three times a day.

It is not my home in itself that I find insufferable, but the process of getting there; it is not the traffic and the road that annoy me so much, but the process of security check point I have to pass through to get home; and of course it is not the safety check points that are being put all over the country to protect us from car bombers and drug dealers, but the checkpoints that a politician that decided to stick around in the center of Beirut keeps adding and enlarging, while making the roads smaller and tougher to go through.

It currently takes me 15 to 30 minutes to get in or out of my house through a distance of 7 meters (yes yes, you read that right). Imagine me forgetting something at home while heading out, I will need to have my car searched again from top till bottom, inside and outside, with no privacy or intimacy left for my dignity to hang on to.

Now it does make sense in some ways, I agree that having the outside of my car searched with mirrors to check for any harm that someone might have stuck to the bottom of my car. I have no idea who sees me driving in and out of this extremely secured area, so I agree, search the outside of my car with all the mirrors you can, and do a good job when searching please.

But when they search the inside of my trunk, ask me to open my windows in the middle of the pouring rain to see what’s on the seat next to me and in the back seat is annoying; and of course they never miss staring at my legs and breasts in the process, taking their time to take it all in before going to search the trunk, going through all my groceries, destroying packaging and such to make sure ‘you aren’t hiding a bomb or guns in there’; so I got a question for them, do you seriously think I might want to bomb my own home, destroy all my belongings and kill my family? (I hope I don’t look like someone who might, but who in his right mind ever might do so?). And of course searching your car’s engine (why? Most of the time you guys don’t even know how to open it, much less know what should and what shouldn’t be there).

Don’t get me wrong, I love and respect the Lebanese army a lot, but it’s the cops I don’t respect; these sleazy men that whistle at you and stare at point blank without feeling shameful or respecting you, it’s those souls that never had an education, those kids that used to carry guns during the war, those people who learnt that the only way to get something is to take it. I have no respect for such scum in my life (fortunately there are some very few whose parents gave a correct education to).

So here are my questions to this politician who’s been abusing power (like all the others in Lebanon) and is now afraid of repercussions. Why don’t you move up to the mountains and hills like all the others did before you? You have closed in 6 roads, already put two businesses on the street and now, with your growing fear, and multiple road closings, you’re putting another business on the pavement.

Second, they search my car, bags and all my belongings from top to bottom on the first check point, so why add a second one? I doubt my car or any of my belongings will change or anything will be added within 2 meters (makes sense? It does to me).

Third, you’re currently adding extra protection to the entrances; first there were a small gate and a small wall, then it became a larger gate with 3 meter high walls, where I can’t even see my house anymore; a couple of months ago you started digging a huge hole in the ground to add a metal springing road blocker with sharp points that ‘can stop a 3 ton truck driving 70km/h’. I’m not sure what you will need that for, the road up towards it is already paved and full of cement blocks making it close to impossible to drive through (worse than trying for your driving license!).

And now, yesterday to be precise, you started digging holes in front of the first road-block, making it close to impossible for my mum’s car (which is a big land cruiser tank- 1999) from passing through without one of the wheels slipping through the cracks. Turns out you want to now add towers and more gates, closing in 17 homes, 4 office businesses, a mall entrance, and a school entrance.

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In yellow is the ‘secure area’, in pink are all the road blocks, the yellow dot is the politician’s home, in red are the offices, purple is the mall, and green is the school.
And of course all the security cameras pointed at our bedroom windows, bathrooms and salon that makes your life feel like ‘The Truman Show’.

Trying to invite friends or family over for dinner is a huge hassle, either for having to call their “security office” so they would let them in after a 30 minute search, or most of the time not let them in at all saying it’s for our own security; honey if you weren’t here we wouldn’t need to fear anything; I wouldn’t have to fear someone that might stick a bomb to the bottom of my car, I wouldn’t have to fear the people that are fed up with you during black days when they attack and shoot their guns towards you, I wouldn’t have to hold in my pee for half an hour while waiting for you to drool all over my tights and try to understand how the car’s engine works, I wouldn’t have to hate going home or leaving it in the first place, because then I wouldn’t need to go through this terrible process and have to add it to the usual traffic of Beirut.

 

As some of you might have read in my previous posts about my love to this country, and lately have noticed how many things make me hate it as much as I love it; unfortunately it is not just hate that’s been boiling in my heart, but loathing, a feeling stronger than love. You are the ones making me want to actually leave this country at times, and it makes me so sad to actually say it out loud, and even worse write it down.

Sometimes I just want to leave this country and its stupidness, its immature people, its abusive politicians, its drivers, and its brainwashed crowds. I’m getting tired, and yet I keep fighting, still wishfully hoping that one day we Lebanese will take things into our own hands.

Tomorrow there is a rally that will take place for KAFA, I will be there, and hopefully many Lebanese, men and women will join us, let’s just hope that after the rally the government will take into consideration our pleas, and that the people won’t just give up saying: “yeah we went to the rally, we did our job, now we can go home and forget about it”. Let’s hope they will fight for once, and keep nagging our politicians who are supposed to protect us, as a community, as a country, and as individuals.

I put my voice out there. Maybe sometime soon others will stop accepting the oppression.

T.

It all ended in a bang

Today I remembered an old friend.
I consider him as a friend though not long ago I found out I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did.

He was there when it all started for me. I have to say I was never a model teenager (but really who is?), I discovered back then that being mad at your parents came with the age. You had to burst out all your energy on something, you had to find ways to control your hormones, and as a woman learn to understand your bursts of emotion. And as most teenagers in my day, we discovered alcohol.

It made us do stupid stuff back in the days, joining up with your gang of friends in the village and trying to act cool and drunk.
And that’s where he always was, caring for us, taking care of us and hiding our dumb outbursts from our parents. When we stole the car for a ride in the hills he would make sure we were always safe; and of course, being as Lebanese of the after war kids, we wanted to learn all about guns: so he taught us how to shoot then and clean them.

That’s where we should have seen it. But we were kids, we just wanted to have fun (and I have to add I still do, you always need the spice in your life to keep you going when times are tough, so you go back to being 16). But then it happened:

My friend killed himself with a gun nearly a year ago. After killing a man in broad daylight in the streets of the village.

We all knew him growing up there, we felt safe around him. We knew we could always count on him.
We were wrong. I don’t blame him as a killer or as a suicidal person. I blame his actions on the weakness of the human heart and the evilness of those that take pride in their being able to control emotions.

The heart is afer all the strongest and the weakest of all organs.

It was all impulse, and ended in him realizing what happened and knowing that this was the end for him. From self pity some may say. I call it reason. Reason beat the heart, and made it realize that he was supposed to be in control.

H.G. I still think of you. But I wanted to remember you. You’ve always been, and will always be, a friend I will feel safe around. My reason tells me the truth. Cheers.

T.

Sans regret ni remords

I’ve seen so many people on Facebook delete all the pictures they have with their exes as soon as they break up. I for one don’t.
Why? It is not because I’m still hung up on them or still need to prove a point. But simply because I learned to live my life like Jessica Blandy the comic as much as I can, in reference to the title of one of her comics “sans regrets ni remords” (No regrets no remorse).

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I might strongly believe that the relationship was doomed from the start or has been since we ended up breaking up. But I don’t regret any of them. Because each one of them taught me something different in life, and made me the person I am today. Of course you might regret having taken some choices within a relationship when it first end, but when you wait longer and look back at your life, you notice that these memories make you smile more than fill you with vile remorse.

Usually when I do something spontaneous (which is kinda my way of life most of the time) I only take 5 minutes to decide if I’ll ever regret it, and if I feel like I won’t, then why should I. Whether it be a relationship, or skinny dipping in ramlet el bayda at 4 am (to those who don’t know this area, it’s the kind of beach you don’t want to be found in being a woman at 4am. Where mostly men from the suburbs with their religious views usually go to), or trying this tough motorcross track in the hills.

At the end of the day, I made the choice to go for it.  

If I were to regret every decision that I made that ended badly, I’d probably be stuck in a nut house right now,  depressed, or currently unavailable since some of my actions could have easily led me to commit suicide from the level of stupidity they reached (which has happened more than once, and I’m sure you all recognize yourselves in that as well).
Yet I am here, and have (more or less) accepted my previous choices in life and accepted that this is who I am and whom I have become because of these choices. Life is a one way highway, as much as you want to sometimes, you will never be able to go back in time and change; it’s fact.

Now the most important lesson I learnt in life is stop doubting yourself, if you double back on each decision you’d be living in a cave of anxiety and depression, and later on regret the “what if”.
As long as you have fulfilled them, what if doesn’t exist anymore, it has become “that was stupid” or “that was awesome”.

In the first case you would probably have learnt an important life lesson (and sometimes you might need to do the same mistake again just to be sure) in the other case you will know that some things, when done right, could be the best things you ever experienced, however scared or doubtful you were about the idea in the first place.

 
Teenagers and above in this new generation (after the hippy and big boom generation, aka the Generation Y) have been thought to believe that they are special and awesome, and of course that there is no way they might fuck up.

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I say this: “fuck up! Go wild every once in a while, or you might just miss the chance you got to discover what you truly love or miss the chance to truly live a full life”.

So to all those that know me; I am quite cracked, but my cracks show how full my life has been. So yes I’ll always show them off.

T.

When a tough woman goes soft

It has been hard for me to write lately, not from lack of imagination, but more from the feeling of uselessness I have been struggling with on a daily basis since the start of this new year.

This morning I saw this video that a friend had shared on her Facebook, I wasn’t able to continue it through in one seating and had to stop it multiple times to clear my eyes and the ideas running in my memory; it made me cry, and made me smile; but most importantly I was so appalled at the fact that they kept repeating the words “I’m sorry” when they never had to.

The video is an open letter from parents to their children, and I believe everyone needs to watch it.

Being born and growing up within a family, we take for granted all the time our parents have given us, the times we overwhelmed them when they were tired or angry, and still had the patience of taking good care of us, raising us to become the person we are today.

Without my parents I wouldn’t be who I am today, and neither will you, since we all influence each other in one way or another. And we all have to get ready for the day where we will have to pay for this care by caring for our parents in return; for me being Lebanese and having lived closely attached to both my parents and grandparents, I feel and know I will have to care for them when the time comes. After all life is a cycle where you go from being a child, to maturing into a full adult, until once again you turn into this little child that needs to be taken care of.

I owe my parents as much as they have given me, and even more for having taught me how to love and care, when to play and be serious, and how to respect above all, those that came before me.

So when I watched this video of parents excusing their behavior to their children, begging them to accept whom they have become with age and the needs they have, and most of all having to explain each action; I couldn’t help but first, be reminded of these families that send out their parents to elderly homes so they wouldn’t have to take care of their burden, or simply ignore them and let them fade away on their own.

I’ve seen this repeated over the years by families abroad, in books I have read and movies I have watched. When for me, without saying, I know that I will have to, and want to, be the one who cares for my elders, show them love and respect, for after all, they gave me love more than I can ever ask for, and taught me the ways of life: all a person needs is a gentle touch from someone who genuinely loves them to know that they will be OK.

This video also reminded me of my grandmother, teta as some of you have read in my previous post has been in the hospital for a month, after being struck by dementia for the past 5 years, watching her memory fade was one of the toughest things I had to endure, but not as tough as it was on my mother and her siblings.

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But there was one easy way for us to make her feel safe, we would stroke her hand and watch her features relax, stroke her hair and see her eyes flutter and close as a newborn child would under the touch of his mother.

This video has reminded me to mourn her loss, and accept the reality of things. It has also reminded me that one day I will have to be as good as my parents if not better when comes my turn to care for them. After all, and at the end of the day, they are the ones who sacrificed so much to provide to me and my siblings all they could.

It doesn’t hurt to remind yourself and those you love that you love them, and that nothing will ever change that. Say I love you, or stroke their hand, the message will always be the same: I will be there for you when you need me, just like you were here when I needed you.

In memory of my teta, a tough woman that my family had to watch fade away into nothingness, leaving behind all the best memories and lessons in life.

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I love you and miss you.

T.

V – day

Open letter to all single people on Valentine’s Day.

You’re not alone and you are loved.

You got your family that loves you and you love back despite the differences cause you got no other choice. (Hey you need someone in your life that can’t shake you off and you can’t ignore, it’s the fun of life).

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And you got your friends, whom you chose to love and who have chosen you to be part of their lives.

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And of course you got these stalkers that freak you out most of the time but make you feel a bit special knowing someone out there has got the hots for you.

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Unfortunately in Lebanon with the assassination of Rafic Hariri on February 14 2005, valentine has been mostly ignored throughout the country; yet as always, we find a way to deal with it rationally so not to miss any holiday.

So to that I say love shouldn’t be shared on February 14 only, but every day, minute, and second all year round.

So happy human bonds day everyone.

T.

Brain teaser

Living in Lebanon my whole life, I’ve more or less gotten used to the whole road blocks system. The fact that they will always surprise you in a corner or get you stuck in eternal traffic.
So wheb you’re trying to get back from work after a 12h shift, feeling tired, and easily annoyed by anything, it will make you act out in the same way we all eventually do from exhaustion. We pester, nag, get angry for no reason, and sometimes even attack verbally or physically. Of course we try to avoid that last one most of the time, so we end up pestering and nagging at everything.

So how do we react when we’re late or tired and get a surprise road block in beirut? We pester!
We pester about Road blocks, which kinda makes sense. But later on when we’re calm we remember that if it weren’t for these road blocks many other suicide bombers and bomb cars would have exploded throughout the years.
But then we think again, and in this case I remember the blog of Gino, where he shows that these police officers, instead of catching the bombers, spend most of their time stopping college kids smoking pot not those killing people.
But then again that reminds you that being under the influence of drugs you might kill someone involuntarily.
And then you’re stuck in this vicious cycle of morals.
So however you try to take it, understand it, or analyse it, you won’t be able to choose sides. After all everything has grey areas.
So how will you be able to decide and know who’s right and who’s wrong, and which one to choose?

Good luck!
T.

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