Thursday, July 13

Interrupted... back to Beirut

I had a post almost ready about Jerusalem. I wanted to change the scenery after the previous post. I wanted to move away from Beirut and save it for later, so as not to sound redundant and keep the blog well rounded.

I found it hard to sit down and actually imagine a future for Beirut, a city that is almost always mentioned with picturesque descriptions of its past, comparisons with Paris in a country compared to Switzerland.

I found it hard, but the photo above inspired me, if banks can do it, so can I.

I landed in Rafic Hariri international in the late morning, with all my talk about trains and cars to Beirut lately it's a pity I had to take a flight, but this was an emergency.

I was picked up at the airport by good friends who were in great haste to cross the city on time. Urban Transport in Beirut is constantly improving and every time I hear about the capital someone mentions the progress.

"With this traffic, who knows when we will get there? It's not the right day to be late, today is deffintly not the right day to be late" Refugee's grandson son hardly had the relaxed demeanor of as his elders regarding traffic, or maybe it was just the stress of this most complex day.

As if reading my mind, Cedar's daughter completed my thought "It's the younger generation, everything has to be so quick for them, they aren't used to relaxing like we are"

I was about to state that we aren't really that old…

The phone rang and after informing her that she was on speaker, our young driver and his wife went into an argument turn agreement about my sleeping arrangements, conducted in what seemed to be about 4 different languages of which I could pick out Arabic, Hebrew and what sounded like some English and French sprinkled in, I vaguely understood my fate was sealed and I had absolutely no say in it… It seems like Middle Eastern hospitality was the same, all over the Middle East.

We continued our briefly interrupted conversation about the younger generation and discussed other issues like Solidere's latest project downtown, one of her cousins enrolling in AUB's School of Business and other catching up.

Despite the development of the actual transport routes, parking in Beirut seems to be the same as it ever was, I guess it's a cultural thing and that phenomenon we call a "Tel Aviv Parking Spot" in Israel, isn't so extraordinary after all. On the other hand, we still were in quite a hurry.

Entering the apartment where many old friends and their families were, many looking nervous or excited. I picked out Lisa in the crowd, I told her that except for my being a day late everything was fine and not to worry, things weren't as complex as they were 40 years ago.

A loud knock at the door, suddenly everyone was silent, some of the children hid behind furniture, but the adults among us knew it wasn't necessary, it was enough to just switch off the lights.

Then we heard the keys in the lock, the tension in the room was extreme, every tiny noise sounded as if it would give us away to the expected intruder.

The door slowly opened, as the old man stepped in the lights were flicked on and four generations of his friends and family cried "surprise" in four different languages (yet again)

The aged retired taxi driver pretended to be shocked, looked around and smiled "You must all be crazy, trying to give me a heart attack on my Birthday like that."