Monday, 13 February 2017

My Beirut Experience: Part I

Welcome back,

I am writing these first words while sitting in a vintage coffee place in Greece. I am surrounded by old books, rustic chairs and infonctional typewriters. Somehow this atmosphere takes me back to the beginning of January, when I was sitting with my friends in Yunes coffee in Hamra Street, Beirut.


Lebanon : Myths and Reality


Lebanon, the first middle eastern country I lived in. I was expecting that due to our common Arab heritage, I would be able to blend in easily, however it was not the case. My arabic (DARIJA) was gibberish for the lebanese taxi drivers and most of the time I didn't know what I was eating.


But, Lebanon is not only different language and food. It was a glimpse of hope, I had for the Arab World.
The country is geographically placed in the heart of many hot spots and ongoing conflicts. Within its borders, people are still healing from the wounds of a Civil War and its youth is going through a phase of blatant denial toward it. Yet, the idea of Lebanon that was formed in the back of my mind was a Lebanon of Fairuz and Sabah, a Lebanon of the Golden ages in the 60's and a Beirut that was labeled the Paris of the Middle East.

BEIRUT:


 An idea that was shattered the minute I came out of the Airport with the first realisation: Beirut was very dark.
How can a city be compared to the City of Lights when it is so obscure?
Later on, I learned to savour the obscurity caused by the power cuts and found a rather romantic side of it.




Beirut was the home of artistic inspiration.

If you come to Beirut, you would be amazed by the fashion style of the "common" people.
In Hamra Street, hipster young men with their intact gorgeous beard and their man-bun casually smoked their vapes in the terraces of caf├ęs.
In the deserted Downtown, old ladies in their seventies slowly walked with indifference by luxury shops strolling behind them their groceries. Their attire was defined by tasteful dresses and red lipstick made the focal point because of wrinkles around their lips.
Rawche held to itself the privilege of not being like any other normal corniche. It had the Pigeons Rocks. Natural wonder of "architecture" superposed to skyscrapers.

Mar Mikhael was my favourite part of the city. An Arab-like Montmartre with colourful stairs to guide you on top of the hill, european-built balconies over the main street to judge passengers with grace, and never-ending series of pubs to forget about a long day of work.

Even if darkness embraced in a suffocating cuddle the city, I believe the darkest side of it was the Syrian children begging on the streets reminding you with their piercing almond eyes that a couple of kilometres away there is a raging war.
 Beirut itself is a constant reminder of the horror birthed by political conflicts, yet its destroyed buildings embellished by bullet holes blend awkwardly with the overly priced fancy hotels.

This is the image I will keep from Beirut.

If you want to see more pictures check: www.travelswithouej.tumblr.com


With love,

Ouej









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Thanks for sharing ! Stay awesome !

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