Monday, December 27, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dear Beirut Municipality, ever heard of Global Warming? What about management of supply?

The lights are on, when the sun is on. Curious.

The streets of Beirut are lit even during the day. Not just on one day, but over and over again daily in that neighborhood, at noon, Geitawi is sparkling. Not that you see it, Sun is stronger after all.
That alone is stupefying for any conscious being listening about The subject of news this year: "Global Warming".
That somehow still does not affect most Lebanese who consider having much bigger problems to deal with.

But when the households just next to these street lights get daily 3 hours (minimum) electricity cutoffs because of lack of supply...Outrageous!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What will December bring? [Any chance for my optimism?]

1/10th full or 9/10th empty?

The other side of the impressive majestic Dam

Last week, it was so hot in the city, that two usually busy working girls, with free time on their hands on an exceptionally sunny beautiful Wednesday, decided to go to the mountains for fresh air; and it was a great day.
Now that would be a typical description of a situation happening in August or September, well maybe some days of October too, but that was by the end of November.

Somehow, during our aimless driving, going from hot Antelias to breezy Bekfaya then Klayaat, ...We ended by the new water dam of Shabrouh, Faraya.

If it is not 50/50 then should I say it is 1/10th full or 9/10th empty?
Is this weather testing my positive attitude and optimism?

Today is December 2nd 2010 and "Lebanon has had 51.2 millimetres (2.05 inches) of rain since September, drastically down from 214.8 millimetres during the same period last year."(France 24)
I am a person who prefers by far summer and sun to winter and rain, but with this climate change, I find myself wishing and praying for snow and storm.

May it pour!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beirut Street Signs

Lately, most Lebanese drivers have been getting speeding tickets or fearing getting them since new radars spread around the city (check here, here and here for bloggers reactions and opinions).
The thought of starting a series of disguised speed radars like that makes me chuckle.
Where art thou Minister Ziad Baroud?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gas Station's Flower Vase - Damascus Road

Romanticism in a plastic water bottle at a gas station in Lebanon.

*updated: added white frame for the black from the open door escapes and makes the composition heavy on one side. that's balance in context of a website with a black background.

*update 2: changed the background of the blog to Grey.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Play - since you like to play - and don't loose that play liking habit.

At around 11am, I was driving somewhere between St. Nicholas and Sofil.
I saw her, but I do not have a photo.

She was skipping rope, jumping one jump after the other, playing alone, between 2 cars parked on the side road park-meter.

She is one of those kids who annoy you when you are already annoyed by the traffic jam, one of those kids, who at 11am are not at a school. One, of those kids like all kids, who likes to play.

This capacity children have to stop everything, forget everything and play is amazing; forget the traffic, the money, the work, the sun, the shoe, the people and... jump.

Jump, play, dream. I want to too. (just playing with the "too to" sound)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shop Nothing - Ashrafieh, Beirut.

A Shop from"Back-in-the-time-when-I-was-your-age, Beirut was different" daddy says.

One of the many shops in Geitawi, Ashrafieh area, open daily and selling barely nothing.
As the area is getting more and more attention from real estate gurus, old rental contracts, are hopefully wishing they will be "thrown out" ( اخلاء ) at a higher price when keeping a business; even if the business is a few shoes dating from the 80's where you get the dust for free, if you ever consider the bargain.

Meanwhile, the shop owner, was eating "Banadoura Baladi" (local tomatoes) with labneh at the front desk!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Guest post : Hala Dabaji - TERRORISM or the Beirut Building Boom

Hala Dabaji, an artist with a keen urban eye, located this mutating graffiti. You can see some of her work on her website.

"Series of panels at the entrance of a building site, next to my studio.
The construction workers move the panels each time they open / close the entrance to the site
They are definitely not playing standard scrabble. They say these are the Beirut Building Boom vocabulary" Hala Dabaji

(The last couple of year, everyday a historical building goes down, everyday a sky scraper is born. In addition to artists' reaction, activists, creating a facebook group Save Beirut Heritage, reacted last month with a demonstration. Many are furious but not much is changing.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hrisseh - Community celebration

The church under construction

People preparing the bbq or mashawi next to the church 

In Bhamdoun and the surrounding villages, Hrisseh is the way to celebrate. On Saint Mary's day - and throughout the night - the "Bhamdounieh" or people of Bhamdoun cook Hrisseh and eat with their neighboring villages. At Rejmeh, my small village 10 minutes away from Bhamdoun, they do Hrisseh on "Eid El Salib" (meaning the Cross Day) on the 13th of September, even if the church's name is Saydet El Bechara with it's aniversary being on Saint Mary's day.

Saint Mary's Day is for Bhamdoun, Mar Elias is for Mansourieh and Eid El Salib is for Rejmeh, ... that is how it has always been, even before 1982 displacement and war.
The old church got destroyed during the war, so "Eid El Salib" is also a fundraising event (for more than 10 years now) to help rebuilding it.

My mother invited her Lebanese American friend and her family to celebrate with us, they did not visit Lebanon for over 35 years. They enjoyed the welcoming spirit so much and the daughter in her early thirties said "we do not have such community celebrations in Los Angeles" (funnily comparing LA to Rejmeh) in the US one fundraising diner [with all its advertising and communication and specially the tax return] would get the church built in one year, and then people would loose the interest in organizing diners when there is no purpose.

I ask myself would these celebrations continue with the next generation, knowing that most live in the city and come there only during weekends or festivities and will the church ever be completed and when.

10 - 11 hours later Hrisseh was Ready 

Back to our  Hrisseh,  for "Eid el Salib" of 2010, it was made with 25 kg of wheat, a lot of salt and spices and 2 lambs. Yes, 2 full lambs (minus some lahme nayyeh - raw meet  - the men ate early morning when setting up the fire and recipe). The cooking, done with great care, is head by the hrisseh connaisseur of the region, Adib from Mansourieh. The pot cooked for over 10 hours.
While waiting for the queen-of-the-night-dish, people bring their own mezze  and whisky [or arak, but whisky would be the king, if hrisseh is the queen] or buy mashawi [fundraising] and coke and almaza [fundraising] while listening to the entertainer telling jokes and selling the tombola [big fundraising activity winning over being loud and annoying]. It is funny how the smallest Lebanese dinner entrée, the mezze, supposedly small bites before the big dish end up always being something grand (specially to the visiting foreigners) "oh, we won't be able to taste everything or maybe just a little bit of that"

Around 11pm Hrisseh was ready, people rushed in the get their share and there was plenty for all and more (following the old good hospitality reputation of the region: you invite 4 people you cook for 8. you invite 200, well you do cook for 300 at least) and i got mine and it was delicious. Delicious.
I even got my share to take back home.
Cooking Hrisseh - men taking turn for stirring - village's priest checking on the cook. 
People eating Hrisseh - National security and army where also present, as for all big gatherings in the country. Of course they had a fine diner with everyone.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The "drawing" of the neighborhood girls - رسم بنات الحارة

These are more amazing photos I found in the "photo archive box" of E.S., {see previous entry here} , shot in a studio in Zahlé, thought I'd share...
The text in Arabic says: 
"Dear Joseph, 
Here I send you an 'imprint' (or a 'drawing') of the girls of the Harra (small closed neighborhood) with the dearest René" ; dated 1947 and mentioning the names of the 4 women.

it seems as if the sender is actually presenting studio shot portraits of young women eligible to marry for the bachelor to "have a look". 

Some of the women, appear in this other photo (with no text or date), wonder if the 2nd photo was sent to another bachelor after Joseph answered whom he would like to meet (and mary?), also a younger girl is introduced to the group, maybe she just turned to that age when she is "eligible to marry", she does look younger than 18, maybe a 16 year old? 
whom would you pick gentlemen to be with you for the rest of your life, ...based on a photo?

Social media, referral and communication at its beginning. Lovely! (or not).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

All-Blue tinted Laundry - Ashrafieh Streets

Traditional Beiruty home, with green plants very well taken care of and very neatly hanged laundry on the front porch...(now about why they are all blue, I've made a hundred stories in my head: a superhero lives there, this is part of his costume, it's a magical tint that her grandma told her keeps the underwear fresh and soft for her man, there are dark ones and light ones, she hangs them approximately from older to newer? or next week, if i pass the street again, will it be all green tint?...) ; while contemplating... that's gonna soon be replaced with all-polished towers with curtain glass balconies were no sun reaches the ground floor, but thankfully you can hear the drying machine. That's evolution.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"A" Sukleen Story

 That's the old Sukleen green bin with the S we all know...
(this photo is from their website, since they did rebrand the whole city but not the website yet)

For 2 weeks, we had beautiful colorful bins with the new logo - a kind of a walking 'A' for Averda, the mother company, according to their website. (I thought they were compensating for the missing flowers in Beirut)

...But now, we are back to the green garbage bins, only using the new logo.
Does this mean that the colorful bins where just a tactic communication practice to get the new logo noticed?

Conclusion ; the new logo got noticed, not sure I like it, but I appreciated the colorful bins, and would have preferred if they stayed longer on the streets... And, I am still calling them (= the bins, the guys, the company, the green!) Sukleen _ till now, it's Sukleen with the 'A' logo.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Met This Man

I met this man one week ago, in his 110 year old traditional house and terrace, where he invited me for lunch. (Well not just myself, but also my brother, newly wed to his granddaughter and the two families.) He still has that charming way of his in starring directly into your eyes and telling you stories. Not any fairy tale, but real life stories from back in the days and up till yesterday: he is a recording memory of all the story of his life and parallel events and an analyst of all of these combined; he's well experienced in other words. though this 93 year old man is now living alone in Zahlé with a house keeper and his daughters pay him a visit every day or two, he likes telling stories of his travels all around the globe from Russia to Brazil to any listening ear willing to pay attention.
His charm and acuity while telling a story is just surprising. When I told him that I just love this photo of his (it somehow reminds me of beautiful roman man and actors in fellini's Satyricon) and might want to use it somewhere, maybe on the net, he replied: take it, and take more of my photos, what does a man my age needs them for now? and I've got plenty: 93 years of photos, spread them around and talk about me, also maybe I would still interest some woman, who knows.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mariam (Virgin Mary) & Mar Geryes (Saint George) protect the Brazillian football team

Having a shrine (or a mazar) for the Saints in the Lebanese cities and villages is common, also ; most of the Lebanese cheer for the Brazillian team during the word cup, so... the bigger the flag the bigger the love?

Another observation about Lebanese love for football but in relation to politics is available on this youtube video I uploaded Football and Elections in Beirut Streets
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