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Posts tagged ‘respect’

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.

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Judgmental country

I know I might be repeating myself once again, since my previous post “Lebanese Ego”, and “Bbm vs Whatsapp” treat on the same subject. Even though this one will be different, the point of judging others’ choices and ways of expression is the main subject.

As most of you know by now, actor Paul Walker has died in a car crash, killing him and his friend Roger Rodas instantly.
Now most people might ask who is this Roger guy? Well he’s the guy that was driving the car with Paul; unfortunately he is not famous, so mentioning him in most posts was forgotten.
Human beings tend to recognize famous people and names more than that of those that were injured or killed with no suffix to their name like: actor, singer, politician etc.

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We always see that happening in everyday life, take for example the Hariri assassination on February 14 2005; most people only recognize the death of Rafic Hariri himself, but rare are those that remember the names of Bassel Fleihan; and shame on me for not being able to name one of the 21 poor souls that were in his guard, or around the area at the time of explosion.

But it’s always the little people that get forgotten.

Now of course I will wish both their souls to rest in peace, and many other people will, whether they be Paul Walker’s fans, or parents, family, friends, or even someone who already lost a dear person to car accidents. We all tend to, nonetheless, wish the person’s soul to rest in peace.
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We each have different ways to mourn, and we each have the choice to mourn or not. Unfortunately we are Lebanese, we enjoy judging, and expect everyone to act and react the same way as us. Our ego overwhelms us on every turn.

So we post stuff like this:
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Of course, us being Lebanese once again, we also come up with jokes and clever ways to show our annoyance. Our jokes are general; they just depict truth and wonders of Lebanese society.

This first picture being a simple reply to some judgmental comments:
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While some hit a nerve that is present in our everyday life yet we choose to ignore.
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I’m not sure how to react to each, to tell you honestly I don’t really care about P.W, or his friend R.R; they were speeding, shit happens; people make mistakes, and some mistakes are deadly; after all we are simply humans.

But seeing signs like these:
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(Translation: Careful! Danger of snipers) being put up on streets an hour away from where I am right now, in the same country as me, and hearing echoes of shootings and bombings; seeing my country flame itself up killing hundreds of civilians a week, men, women, and children is what saddens me most.
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(Translation: Shame on us to keep our mouth shut! )

Fortunately for my health, I don’t personally know these people, but I pray for them every day and hope no family members or acquaintances, or any more people get killed in the process. But that doesn’t mean that because they are not famous they should be forgotten, or that because of I remembered one means I don’t remember the other; but if the whole world was to grieve for every lost soul, our mourning would never end, and our grief would kill us slowly.

It’s up to our personal choices to decide who we want to mention in our grieving and who we don’t want to. Trying to make people follow you, or judging their choices simply makes you sound and look stupid and ugly; I’m not sure which word fits better, but the degree of idiocy is too high to ignore.

When will we stop judging each other and just accept our differences? I’m not sure, but I hope soon.

T.

I am tansa!

I am tansa.

What is tansa? Let’s just say is a polite way of saying slave. So yes, I am a tansa.  

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My father always repeated to me when I started my job, don’t nag, don’t get angry in public, when they give you work, you work your ass off (excuse my language), keep your head down, and that’s how you’ll make it in life.

Honestly I’ve been trying, so hard, so much. I’ve been labeled tansa for quite a while now and accepted it as a fact. I’ve even been carrying it on my clothes and forehead for all to see and know.

I partially blame my parents for that, for the too good education I got, in respecting others, helping them out before helping myself, having this need to make everything perfect, for being raised in being extremely selfless and keeping my head down.

Unfortunately they forgot to teach me how to stand up for myself when people notice and start taking advantage of that fact.
I wish I could write more about what I’ve been going through, but my work ethics stop me at every word. I am still employed in the company and plan to at least finish a whole year in it. So respect first, the words and letters will come later.

Let me put it this way, here is a scene: I have a certain number of things to do with the help of a coworker, we have a deadline, coworker knows I’m a tansa, coworker takes his time, I finish my part and his, coworker takes credit, I keep my head down. Keep your head down, keep your mouth shut, don’t nag, don’t say, don’t write, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t.

I’m not sure how far I’ll go living this way, and for the first time in my life I’m not sure if my father’s advice is correct. But for now all I can and am allowed to do is be the best tansa I can.

T.

Simple act

Lebanese people, you never cease to surprise me.
Sitting at a pub a couple of days ago, I noticed an old highschool friend sitting by himself at a table outside, so I decided to invite him to join me and N while he waits for his friends to join in. H.M, I hope you will read this, that night you did something that amazed me (which might explain why I kept staring at you after returning to my seat – so sorry about that).

Me: Hey! Why you sitting here alone? Come join me and N at the bar
Him: no am good, waiting for some friends plus keeping an eye on the flower boy’s flowers.
Me: it’s cool, just get them in with you, I don’t think he’ll mind… but why did he leave them with you anyways?
Him: oh, I’m helping in teaching him how to take professional pictures, so I pass him my camera then we’ll check the angles together.
Me: *speechless*  ok cool, if you change your mind you’re still welcome to join.

All I can say is Wow, on some many levels and in so many ways.
The first Wow goes to the extent of your trust towards a young homeless guy in giving him your pro camera for a ride.
The second Wow goes to the young man’s ethical values and respect of other’s property and goods.
The third Wow goes to you helping him out and extending to him your knowledge with no strings attached.

Simply WOW all over.

Lately with all the Syrian refugees taking over Lebanese streets, I’ve received more than once news of theft through open car windows. But seeing H.M simply lend his camera (probably worth a lot) with no leverage and with full trust simply blew my mind. Living in an unstable country such as Lebanon, we got used to being edgy over whom to trust and whom not to.
But I strongly believe the best way to find out whom you can trust and whom you can’t is by simply trusting blindly (but not fully), show the other that you do have complete trust in them, and hope that they will have the decency, if not moral obligation, to return your trust by proving themselves worthy of it.

A pin-point though, I’ve heard many tourists come to Lebanon say it’s such an unsafe place where you can’t trust anyone, but I’ve been around and seen a lot, where keeping your phone in your inside pocket might still get stolen, and where keeping your belongings one second unseen might get them to disappear.
In Lebanon I keep my phone on the table, go dance or pass to the toilet and still find it there when I get back. So please, I hope you can finally break this stereotype; knowing that there will always be those exceptions to the rule. But the way I see it those guys, Lebanese and Syrians alike, have been through a lot lately, judging won’t help. So bear with us, we’re trying to pull through as much as you.

It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to take a lot of time; you might even find your trust broken a few times. But maybe one day we’ll get to the point where we’ll feel comfortable enough to trust each other and know that our faith in the other is followed by respect.

So on a brighter note; H.M, I wish you and your friend the best of luck in your endeavors, and hope that one day I’ll get a chance to check out these pictures.

T.

Cedars of God, Reloaded

So after all the problems that have taken place a couple of months ago, the amphitheatre built for G.T’s son’s wedding has finally been destroyed. it unfortunately took too long for the Lebanese people to notice and do something about the problem.

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The only reason why Bcharre, as well as NGOs and the Lebanese Cedar Committee agreed on the construction of the amphitheatre in the first place was after reassurance from G.T that no cedar trees whatsoever will be harmed in the process of construction, as well as the assurance that once the wedding be done, the runway shall be removed and the place brought back to its original face.

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Three crimes took place during the construction of this place. For starters, cement was poured all over the area to make the runway, unfortunately that means that all pores of the land will be closed, making it impossible for Cedar trees to recieve water from rain, as well as extract the nutrients it needs for its survival.

The second was the fact that even after the wedding, G.T decided not to remove the runway, saying it might have other uses later for concerts and whatsuch, which is obviously going against the terms of a contract that he had previously agreed to; to make his point valuable he even used his influence over the people of Bcharre and his previous lawmaker image to protest the removal of his “art piece” for a better future.

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But these two crimes are nothing compared to the third one, sometimes they say pictures speak louder than words, so look for yourself dear friends, this is what G.T did:

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Nearly 200 cedar seedlings were ripped out of the ground and hidden between rocks and under cement plastered areas in an attempt to hide this crime committed towards a helpless and endangered species of plant here in Lebanon. Shame on those who hurt any living creature for their own pleasure.

Finally our (people for the protection of the Cedars) prayers have been answered! On October 30th, the whole runway was destroyed, bulldozed back to its original form, unfortunately leaving blocks of broken cement where agricultural soil used to be, leaving the earth tired and unfruitful. But the Cedars were finally able to breathe easily once again, knowing that the threat was removed, unfortunately it paid heavily the price of loosing 200 of its children in the process.

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On a better note, Cedar committees all over have been joining efforts in reforesting all Lebanese mountains with its original Cedrus Libani, planning to join the forests of Tannourine, with those of Ehden and Bcharre. This 20 year project started on November 2nd in Hadchit. Villagers, Ngos, and volunteers, with the help of NGOs as well as funding and contributions from big scale companies such as Holcim will be working on making Lebanon once again the Land of the Cedars.

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Looking forward for a greener, more cedar full Lebanon that I’ve been reading about growing up. Simply press reload and I will hopefully be able to see a Cedar on the Lebanese flag once again.

For further reading about the Cedars of Lebanon you can follow the Facebook group “The Friends of the Cedar Forest Committee – Bcharre”. https://www.facebook.com/TheFriendsOfTheCedarForestCommitteBecharre

T.

I am a woman!

I am not an object, I am a woman, men around here tend to forget that.
Living in lebanon (I’m not sure about other countries), I’ve always been objectified by the mass of random men on the streets.

In an office discussion over lunch the subject was opened by a variety of sexes and age groups. The men were convinced they were giving us compliments and that we should simply be happy about it instead of looking offended; as for the women in the room, we were appalled by such ideas.
I have to confess it sometimes feels nice to get a compliment from a total stranger, but there are limits that lebanese men tend to overlook.

For example let’s say you go for a walk or a drive, will you really feel good about random guys on vespas shouting out “chou ya ashtaaa” or “kifo el 3asal” (what’s up sweets, how’s the honey) to you? same goes for the whistling, hand gestures and winking, honestly it makes me feel ill at ease.
I’m not a feminist, please don’t get me wrong, but this objectivization that women go through on a daily basis needs someone to point it out (and who better than a local?).

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I am not an object you can throw your dirty thoughts on and expect me to be grateful. Staring in a perverted way and whistling in our direction harms us instead of complimenting us.

A month ago a friend of mine was walking over to my place when an elder man followed her with his face stuck down her chest (no she wasn’t wearing any cleavage or provocative clothing), when she finally got fed up with him and politely asked him to back off, his reaction was: [translated]”but I’m an old man! I don’t see such beauty anymore, plus you must take it as a compliment since I’m taken by you and not by another woman!”. Her reaction? A clean slap across the face before storming away; and that’s when you hear the endless tantrum once again: “you b****** don’t even know how to take a compliment!” [With many other profanities I prefer not to print].

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Another one of my friends was stuck in traffic during rush hour when her car neighbour starting licking his lips provocatively with added hand gestures to explain his intentions. In that case you have two choices, unfortunately neither of them is a good one. You can either give him the finger and try to make him feel ashamed, or simply ignore him and keep busy; but both will excite him even more, and make him direct more profanities your way, whether it be “chou ya metwa7cheh bayyik 3allamik et def3e 3en nafsik” (Oh you rabid woman daddy thought you how to stand up for yourself) or “yi 3leiki akbar men heik mfakkertine ma beswa 2addik” (Oh sweety you think you’re more important/richer than me) etc. I could go on and on but then that would be too crude to even bother to translate.

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Lately I’ve been wondering about these men’s parents, how badly can you educate your son for him to turn up to be so crude towards women and to believe that these ‘pick up lines’ are ok to use on a daily basis towards strangers? How will they react if some stranger talks to their mother, wife, sister, or daughter this way?

Would they go”lebanese” on them (which is unfortunately a stereotype that the lebanese people have aquired and that I can’t even seem to shake off); aka fight, beat the guy, or pull a gun out at him to “protect their family’s virtue”.
Obviously the saying Do to your neighbour what you want to be done to you doesn’t fit this culture. Most of them expect you to treat them correctly and with respect while they mistreat their next of kin.

Objectifying women is not giving them compliments, it’s offensive and most of the time repulsive. Dear readers, males and females, what do you think?

T.

Cedars… RIP

Lebanon, land of the Cedar trees… More like WAS.

Brief history overview:

The farthest I’ve been in the mention of cedar trees over the years is 2500 BC, in the tablets of Gilgamesh [tablets 4, 5, and 6] where the cedar forest is considered as the realm of the gods of mesapotamian mythology. Namely known nowadays as the “cedars of God” aka “أرز الرب”.

There was one a time when cedar trees used to cover all the lands of lebanon (a very very long time ago), now barely any forests survived; most of which were turned into eco-areas. But even then they are not respected as they should be.
Though over the years people have tried new ways of preserving them, and sometimes replanting them. Unfortunately cedar trees [the original cedrus libani) cannot fully grow and develop majestically like it’s ancestors workout get mother and grandmother by her side, their roots stay linked hundreds of meters underground to form a single Web where all help each other in sharing nutrients and water.

Now I know I’ve gone a bit astray in history and biology; but this information is vital to explain my story.

Take the cedars forest mentioned in Gilgamesh’s tablets.  The eldest one still barely standing in lebanon. Their roots reach up to 400 meters underground in a calcarious rocky and dry area to reach the underground water bin.
In the 1800’s Queen Victoria commissioned a wall to be built around the forest to protect its seedlings from sheep grazing; and for the past 20 years more than 4000 cedars were planted in a half circular way surrounding the forest to help young seedlings reach a mother to grow tougher and reach maturity faster

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Oh but wait! Here comes the surprise!

A couple of months ago a well respected man decided to make his son’s wedding in the forest. After many complaints he agreed to simply build an amphitheatre next to it to hold the wedding party; unfortunately no one knew how close. ..

He partially destroyed a side of the ancient wall, adding to the fact that he built the whole thing in the middle of the new forest, severing the lines between mother and Child.

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So I don’t know about you, but I honestly think the lebanese people should make a choice: either protect these majestic and rare creatures; or stumpy change the emblem of the lebanese flag.

Seriously!

T.

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