Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Maaloula is on the news today and it is Eid El Berbara

Siq or Shiq Maaloula next to Mar Takla in Maaloula, Syria - image source TripAdvisor
Maaloula, a small city in Syria, is everywhere on the (sad) news today and it is Eid El Berbara (Saint Barbara's eve). What is so remarkable about this coincidence?
As a Child, I visited Mar Takla convent in Maaloula and still remember the alley through the rocks or the Siq Maaloula, where it is believed that Berbara crossed escaping the romans, disguising herself because she had embraced the Christian faith, thus Christians nowadays in Lebanon and Syria celebrate St. Barbara by Wearing costumes and trick or treating and singing popular songs in their streets.

You can find more info about the story here, so I am not going to go into the details, I remember very clearly the nuns telling me the story, yet this is the only link on the internet talking about St. Berbara passing in Maaloula that I could find.

Tonight, Children where knocking on my door trick or treating, there used to be much more kids celebrating this holiday, but it sadly seems like Halloween is taking over our 3rd of December St. Barbara's Celebrations.
Masks of Lebanese political leaders among other Characters in a shop for Eid El Berbara (Source Now Lebanon)
Today, from my blog usually dedicated to Lebanon, I send a simple shout out to Syria and I hope peace will be back in all its cities, and children and teenagers will be soon enough back on the street hiding their faces only because they are playing and not to hide their identities out of fear (Check Syria's Lost Generation by photographer Elena Dorfman)
Tarek 18years old, image source

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Saturday midnight on Mar Mikhael Vendôme stairs in Beirut

 This Saturday night in Beirut, by the end of the program of Nehna wel Amar wel Jiran, a few where still hanging on, drinking beer and wine on the Vendôme stairs.

While people are busy with the escalating "situation", event cancellations in the country due to foreign safety measures, closing businesses (here and here), Obama's latest thought of action, the honking, the pollution, the immigration, the visas, the job hunt, school starting again, the weather becoming milder, the latest bomb and speculation about the next one, ... One kid played Derbakeh.

The old man sitting next to him seemed like he was singing to him making the rhythm (teb teb teb, teb teb teb, teb tetebdeb tebdebdeb), minutes later, and the kid was really playing good and improvising, so one man stood up and started dancing and pulled the older man out of the stairs to dance with him.

There it was, the perfect moment around midnight that lasted 10 minutes or an eternity: 3 generations connecting through music and dance on the street. And, there was nothing else in the world more important then this rhythm and the movement it created.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Beit Waraq Artist Community

Waraq is a group of artists and creative people from different disciplines working together making  
interesting and beautiful things for the community around them.
While I had stumbled upon some of their work online, it is only lately, at an Iftar diner they had organized that I finally made it to their "Beit" (Home), a hidden old lebanese house with a garden, tucked in Ras El Nabaa.
They organize workshops, events, film screenings and much more always setting the bar higher and wanting to provide the best possible. 
I especially loved multi-disciplinary approach to things, though I first thought they were interested mainly in animation and illustration.
Make sure to check their Facebook page here as they are an active lovely bunch with new events and more workshops coming soon.

at Beit Waraq - The Hully Gully trope poster 
Worshop Poster

Iftar Poster
Films in the beautiful garden

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ever walked the Lebanese streets during daytime and noticed street lights were on? Waffir A new App. to save Energy

I had already mentioned the daytime lit street lights a while back in an older post, when I used to drive though Geitawi area, and see... the lights on during the day, day after day.
Now, someone is trying to do something about it and proactively, they created a new app., to exactly do this action: "Report street lights on during the day with a click". I got in contact with the Muhanna foundation behind the application and they soon explained it to me : Waffir  helps lebanon save up energy one click at a time, yet, it depends on the crowd (YOU) reporting the wrongly lit light, on the spot, where the lights are on during the day, day after day.

How WAFFIR works:
1-Downlaod the Waffir app. (available for iphone and androids)
2- You see a street light on.
3- Turn on your GPS for the app. to locate where you are, thus where the light is on. (no need to turn on your map option if you are running low on your 3G plan)
4- Open Waffir app.
5- Click the Report Button, Done! (you can turn back off your GPS)

Yet, for "Waffir" to get in contact with the municipalities and ask them to solve the problem, they mentioned that they need to receive Multiple Reports of the same light being on during the day, day after day, since occationnaly lights might be on for maintenance reasons....meaning "Waffir" is counting on Crowd Sourced Reports from all the Lebanese, all over lebanon, roaming the streets and willing to do good, not just for their communities but for all the cities and villages in their country, and for the public space and our planet in general.

Because it really feels good to do good :), Waffir Energy (meaning save energy in Arabic) and do report the lights on during the day, day after day... and, watch how much time it takes for the municipalities to respond and fix the light's timers. Is it an efficient municipality or not? ... that will be revealed with time and repeated usage of the app.

Having tangible proof for holding municipalities accountable also does feel good :)
mmm, so what other apps then an app reporting lights on during the day should we have to better keep an eye on public property and services and their usage?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Unintentional branding of the city : Beirut, is this what you want to communicate?

One Huge Name appears alone on a panoramic view of Beirut taken from a high-rise in Sin-el-fil.
With the lack of regulations on acceptable ad sizes, this "Kaliry" (gallery- writen in Arabic) eats up the panorama.
Blue skies and Blue Signs above the city
In a clutter of big billboards and huge ads something like this might be accepted, it might even become part of the identity of a place (Times square in New York city, Dbayeh highway in Lebanon,...though we always hope things get done with better taste) ...but there, standing like that alone and mighty, it is just too flagrantly ugly.

This obligation to see the message / read the name is just frustrating.
Makes you want to photoshop it out, only in reality too, not just on the photo.

Makes me think of the Old beautiful Beiruty homes that get flushed out easily daily, as easy as photoshopping a sign off from a panoramic view, yet this stands strong. How ironic, ya Beirut.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fashion victims confined in Zahle


... and needles.
 2012 was the year of the Spike in Lebanon.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Have you visited Aley Lately?

Aley used to be The Summer Destination of the lebanese, and the people coming for a breeze of fresh air, from the Gulf, before the Lebanese civil war.
After the war, the city regained some of its past glories but, sadly, the last two years have been pretty slow for its residents who depend on tourists. It is as if it is no more fashionable to go to Aley anymore, tourists prefer staying in Beirut, where the malls are plenty, or going to Broumana and Faraya, judged as trendier places nowadays. I pass by Aley often as I cross it to get to my home village, Rejmeh. It is only 35 minutes away from Beirut and other then the loud cafés and restaurants playing arabic music, the scenery and village are pretty nice.
Hotel Aley El Kabir
Hotel Aley Al Kabir - another angle.

Street views of Aley
Street views of Aley

Street views of Aley

interesting & beautiful abandoned house

An old house in the center of Aley main street
Newer (any idea of architect? time built?) interesting facades 

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