Monday, January 22, 2007

Beirut's Little Guardians... &Desert Ships

Last Saturday, it was dreadfully stormy in Beirut. I got out of the Gym, and felt like a Corn Arnous (roasted Corn Kernel) & perhaps Nescafe on Ein Mreiseh.

Those who know the Corniche Ein Mreiseh facing AUB would know how the waves crash on the railings and over the pavement. I thought perhaps I'd test the madness of whoever would push a cart to sell Corn and Coffee in such weather.

Well, there you go – on the way – following observations:
1- Pouring Rain, guys having their cars washed at Car-Wash Station. Makes sense! Rain on a clean car is cleaner, and, the inside has to be Vacuum cleaned &polished.
2- From afar, I saw a line of cars near the pavement of the seaside awaiting their turn to be window served under the pouring rain.
3- Not only did I get my roast corn reward, I had Foul with extra-salt and lemon and cumin, at regular prices, followed by another stop at the Coffee Cart for 500 LL.

My Conclusion:
1- Lebanese are mad people, myself-included; there's no reason to stop such lively madness though.
2- Whatever drives the Cart-Owners to leave home in such a storm and stay in the rain is a combination of service excellence and inability to survive without one day's pay. Strikes do not serve either purpose.
3- Whatever drives people to leave home, get their cars washed, and wander around the Corniche in such a storm is love of life, perhaps terrible frustration of what one hears on TV, and determination to move on. Strikes and Politicians are counter productive in that sense: Burnt tires get cars dirty, there's no where to get the car washed, or even to go out with the car. Politicians on the other hand are filth-engendered.
4- I haven't heard of an MP or a Speaker, a PM (elected, removed twice by popular revolt "Omar Karami" or militarily assigned), a minister (incumbent, resigned, or Mr. Weam Wahab), or anyone else with a Divine or Earthly conquest or vocation whatsoever, who has to work under the rain, or who has an installment to pay, or a child to put in school. I'm eager to know if the resigned ministers have returned their "pay-Cheques" since November?

Politicians are our "public servants," not our masters. I for one have no master whether hereditary, political, self-proclaimed, or divinely assigned. While I encourage and welcome the disabled brothers and sisters to run for office, Mental Disability does not qualify for a Handicap Parking – especially where politicians are concerned.

For some of us, leaving this country is easy – worse, living in a bubble in this country is even easier. It is those people who make the bread and coffee of this country that guard it. They are the people, they ARE the country – they are the Guardians.

Our tragedy is that politics is the game of the big guys, and the telltale of the middle class. It is something to practice when other basic needs are fulfilled. Them politicians and self-assigned saviors have pushed political thought and "causes" down to the lowest stratum of the society – Paris III is what a taxi driver would be defending, Divine Victory is what the Falafel-Shop owner is arguing for,… Colonialism, or the right of Iran to build nuclear arsenal, or the Hegemony of the US is what the lowest most deprived, most ill-treated, most-ignorant, most-tired stratum of society is discussing instead of their livelihood, or their future. The oppressor is always "the other side". Those people fail to see that their biggest oppressors are their own. Their Fuedal Rulers, their Beiks, their Political Party Leaders, and their clerics.:

They have busied the people with filth. They have fooled the people. In the name of God, in the name of Bread, in the name of Right, in the name of revolution, in the name of salvation, they have lied.

For the sake of clarity. I am biased! I do take sides! I am pro-government because I dislike the figures of the opposition. That's not a smart or intelligent choice, some of you would say - But then again, neither one of us on this blog have to walk or work in the rain or starve – so we can afford to argue this over coffee, someone else has to Prepare the Coffee.. and he has barely any energy left to go on.

So… I have what it seems as a fair proposition. Let us all go down to the streets, let us carry the opposition politicians and the government politicians, and hurl them all in a sinking ship. Wait!!! Add the religious clerics from the 18 recognized confessions. Except for Haifa Wehbi, you are welcome to add a selection from the entertainment industry – Mr. Wahab is my choice to go into the engine room.

I would have said the one who survives let us make him president, and then I remembered that we have at least one very good swimmer.

Make it the middle of the Desert then; perhaps the winged horses could fly some of them back. Better go without 10 innocent politicians (yeah right…) than keep the whole herd alive.

The wonderful Eve was encouraging us to write something for the blog. Now you have my answer to abstention, I was keeping quiet because what I have to say cannot be said in public.

They should all go.


  1. WELL SAID...

    I can't wait to go home..Corn,foul with cumin, wash it all with a nice cup of coffee..That beat starbucks anytime in my book.
    I thought those street vendors are not allowed there anymore ??

    Can we take all the politicians but leave senioura?? I don't know why I like the guy!!
    There is nothing wrong with what you posted,so keep writing for those of us who have no voice.


  2. Street vendors in nicely decorated carts.
    I love Seniora too, but I chose to sacrifice him among the good politicians for the sake of the country. He too would gladly join them for that sake.

    Beirut is a city I will adore, war, strife, conflict, or glorious.. it's those people that are the beat of the Jewel of the Orient.

  3. Fadi,

    I apologize for my brief absence.

    I have always thought you intelligent, and this post only solidifies that belief.

    How can a country with such flux produce men like yourself? I am sure your ear is bent daily, by those who wish for you to see their way of thinking. Yet, no. You have an individualism, and the foresight to remain passionalty dis-passionate to the politico du-Jour.

    You are accurate in you observations. People wish to live, to carry on, to enjoy no matter their "station" people are mostly the same. It is those, that in their name, would hinder them.

    Anyhoo..... enjoy the coffee! I picked up a lb of Mayorga Winter blend, and it is awesome. I'll pour you a cup in the morning, and drink it in your absence.

    Take care my friend --- Go wash your car!

  4. I will go back to your December 21st post - I don't know how I missed it until to-day. I have only seen pictures of CEM and it reminds me of Havana, Cuba, along the Malecon. I will see it from the water someday (Beirut that is, although Havana is not out of the question) and if you are there I will scoop you. Can you do that easily? I went to Google to have a verifying look for my comparison and you were my first hit! Cool! How do you pronounce foul? What is it? "your" conclusions: #1-has always been my experience; #2-not inability only unable to see the long sight; #3 & #4- WOW! And yet you said it in public! Emory: just out of curiousity (sorry spellcheck-we use our "u"'s in Canada still! you morons!) why did you genderize? I'm usually not a stickler but it was noticeable this time.

  5. Lydia &Emory,,
    It's been some time,, sorry for the late response.

    Beirut is a bit of everything.. Of Havana, of London, of Paris, of New York, of Cairo, of Baghdad, and.. of Beirut. Emory was right to use the "flux".. city of vibration, city of odds.. I had to travel around on business during January and February.. The minute I landed in Beirut,, I felt alive again… Even a sad Beirut is Beautiful.

    Foul is Fava Beans.. They are covered in water for a few hours, then simmered on low heat until the bean is delicate, and then are served with salt, cumin, and chopped Lemon, eaten with wooden picks (a larger variation of the small tooth pick). Full of protein.. You pick your Foul and saunter on the Corniche.. Turn your back to the sea to see people of all ages and classes pass by, jogging, walking, or chasing their dogs! Otherwise, you can turn to the sea, and the Beirut St. George Bay stretches, and the Mt. Sannine - snow capped - overlooks majestically the whole scene.

    I haven't the least doubt about the people's ability to overcome this, to create, to turn even the sadness into joy.. Madness is the catalyst of creation.. Sometimes I ask myself, do I want a quiet little place, or a mad-house.. Most of the time,, it's the Mad-house that wins..

    I've been all over the world... Nevertheless, I'll just specify my observation to North Africa, and the Middle East. The only place in the Arab world where you can dance in the street, kiss in the street, get drunk in the street, take your cloth off and lay on the Corniche to get some sun (or attention), is Beirut. Freedom to the Edge of Madness, and madness to the edge of anarchy.

    In the last oasis in the whole middle east, Beirut remain the last place in the orient where one can wear light.. says Nadia Tueni.