The Farewell Chronicles

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‘It’s their fault’

I rarely drive in Beirut, but when I do, I have to deal with parking, and when I do, parking meters come in, as well as parking tickets and the subsequent hell that is paying the penalty fee at postal offices with insanely bored employees who have developed endearing relationships with their smart phones that customers don’t necessarily need to come first anymore. It is distressing so I try my best not to say insane things like, “It’s only going to be a minute,” or “it’s almost four in the afternoon, and no one’s going to check the parking meters now,” because it’s not worth the subsequent drama.

Built to break: the forced collages of everyday life

“We only sell items that last for a couple of years,” said the salesman, “so we don’t bother getting spare parts for them.” That’s not exactly what you would expect to hear when you go back to an established furniture store hoping to redeem the functionality of your much-loved, yet very broken new purchase. My sister had bought herself a beautiful floor lamp that she accidentally knocked over on one dark night’s electricity cut. She stood next to me at the store as baffled as I was, when she realized her salesman couldn’t care less about what had happened. He just shamelessly hinted that it was time for her to buy something new, “this looks just like it!” he added pointing to another floor lamp.

What if ‘Loulou’ could kill ‘Daesh?’

While having lunch with the family a couple of days ago, ‘Daesh’ came up. It always comes up. There seems to be nothing more pressing or shocking these days. There definitely is, but within our finite vision of what is catastrophic, a terrorist group claiming to be an Islamic renaissance, while killing everyone in sight, rightfully earns its place as a Lebanese table conversation.

Conditioning ourselves for our forthcoming civil war

With an interesting track record of Lebanese people and entities occupying public venues and establishments for their various agendas, it’s not entirely true that anyone in Lebanon is surprised with recent events such as the occupation of our national electricity company, EDL, or the Tripoli-Beirut highway at Qalamoun. We’re not amused, but we’re also definitely not surprised.

The floating grass of Palestine

After having spent almost a week in Amman to cast people and places for my upcoming novel, what was more interesting than the city itself were the city’s totems of elsewhere, especially Palestine. Juice stands, groceries, restaurants and other establishments had “Palestine” in their name. As a Lebanese national agonizingly forbidden from going to Palestine, I spent 15 minutes every day drinking fresh pineapple juice at Amman’s “Palestine Juice” pretending I was somehow there, until I decided to get as close as possible to this forbidden land instead of just daydreaming.

On destroying the Lebanese public library of architecture

Can something be said too many times? Tripoli is dying. Here you go. Contrary to popular belief, it is not already dead, but dying. Its people are still somehow circulating its decaying streets. Its downtown and old quarters are still trying to pump life into the rest of the city. The Abu Ali river refuses to completely dry up, which uses sewage as disguise before it picks up speed again in winter. The city is not dead, but it definitely is dying. Technically it is not too late, but it’s sad that its end seems inevitable. Its souks, khans, piazzas, mosques, churches and fortress constitute one of the few remaining historical downtowns in the Arab world after wars have been erasing its rivals in sister Arab states. Will we just simply let go of it?

Owning a weapon is like owning a Quran

“Owning a weapon is like owning a Quran,” is a glorious quote on a huge fan-made billboard on the sidewalk of one of Beirut’s Muslim neighborhoods. Behind it was a picture of a religious leader, fundamentally the owner of the quoted wisdom. Children played in front of it with a colorful, muddy ball throwing it left and right unknowingly emulating the game their quoted leader and his colleagues play with their futures.

The farewell mood of things: Beirut’s persuasive airport

Last week, I was the designated driver to the airport; three trips in one week. I despise our airport. If Lebanon were a bathtub, Beirut airport is its hair-clogged drain, a bottleneck of a despicable orchestration of everything that’s either disgusting or tiring in this god-forsaken place. On one hand, it’s quite an honest welcome message to anyone who’s arriving: this country you are entering will rip you off without sweating over providing any quality to what it serves. On another hand, it’s as honest to its sons and daughters bidding their farewells to their crying, but glad, parents: don’t come back.

Fearscapes: Walking in Lebanon

I stood within an enchanting rocky terrain, hesitant to walk left or right afraid of possible landmines following a pleasant weekend wedding in the mountains of the south of Lebanon. After the festivities were over, a couple of friends and I decided to follow some road signs, letting them lead us wherever they may, before we head back to Beirut. Beirut is too tiring these days, and any excuse to stall our journey back was welcome.

It’s too dark to see

I am writing this from the third café I migrated to today following exile from my comfortable home in Beirut. The electricity has been cut off from my entire neighborhood, and after more than 24 hours of blackout, we were told that nothing can be done over the weekend and that we would need to wait for the upcoming working day for the issue to be fixed. As the scene seemed quite prehistoric, I checked the calendar on my smart phone showing a “battery low” alert and it was indeed a hot August day, 2,014 years after the birth of Christ.

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