Friday, January 12, 2007

10 Ways You Know You're Back in the Middle East/Beirut

(In sequential order)

1) When the Che-Guevara-biography-toting Lebanese guy sitting next to you on the airplane tells the flight attendant he's "a fucking idiot" for offering wine to a veiled woman.

2) When you expect your bags to get lost en route to Beirut and when you find out they are, you know there is still order in the universe.

3) When the taxi that was supposed to be waiting for you upon your 4am arrival is nowhere to be found.

4) When the Prime Minister's office building looks more Alcatraz than the White House, with miles and miles of barbed wire and dozens of tanks and hundreds of soldiers protecting it.

5) When you begin your apartment search by asking in a restaurant for the location of a real estate agency and a waiter comes over to you and swears he's a professional real estate agent.

6) When, after seeing rain clouds on the horizon and asking somebody whether they think it will rain tonight, you get an annoyed glare and they say to you, "How should I know? Only God knows this!"

7) When you chuckle at the irony when a man in a café tells you, "You don't want to live in Hamra. That's a Muslim neighborhood. You want to live here in Gemayze because only Christians live here," which he follows up with "Alhamdulilah!" ("Thanks to Allah!").

8) When you're already able to string three languages together in the same sentence.

9) When, typical of the 'life goes on' Lebanese mentality, you get more than a half dozen "Who knows" and "I'm not even sure" comments when you ask about the Hezbollah protests that are taking place in the middle of town.

10) When you swell with pride after getting asked if you're Egyptian when you say a few quick words in Arabic.

So, yes, I am now here in Lebanon. I arrived at 4am on Thursday morning and still feel crazy with jet-lag and too tired to write a more detailed post. Tomorrow I'll put up a more thorough explanation of what I'm actually doing here as well as some initial observations from the city. After that, I'll try to do Lebanese history/current Lebanese political situation 101 so that further posts make more sense. So, bottom lines: I'm safe and sound, I'm wearing the same clothes three days running since the airport lost my bags (I'm supposed to get them back today), I'm unable to think straight due to jet lag, and I promise there'll be more soon!


Tiffany said...

Hey, Theo! Wonderful to hear from you. Loved reading the snapshots of your trip thus far. Was especially moved by the last one. Congratulations!! Thanks for keeping in touch. Here's to a fabulous next chapter!! Thanks for extending our eyes and ears out there. Thanks, especially, for taking the time to come all the way north when time was of the essence so we could see you in person. All the best!! Tiffany

Peggy said...

That was my laugh for the morning! Glad you're getting your bags back soon, sounds like you're in for another amazing experience. Looking forward to keeping up with your adventures!