Stuck In Beirut

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The emotional return

Maybe I should change the name of this blog to Stuck ON Beirut. I have no other way to explain how happy I am to be back home. The touchdown at the airport a couple of days ago was a mini triumph on several fronts. Personally, it meant that I was able to see family again and to take care of unfinished business from last year. Regionally, it meant that Lebanon found a way yet again to overcome adversity and regain a sense of normalcy. Internationally, it meant that a new chapter was underway, with several authors vying to write the ending that suits them more than their enemies.
As always, I had to remind myself to start adapting to "Beirut Rules" as soon as we landed. The first thing was watching almost all the people around me switch the SIM cards in their cell phone. This allowed them to start making calls to let everyone know they were back. The second thing was getting used to the positive energy in the street and on TV, anticipating the upcoming elections and the definite, assured, positive knowledge that their side will win. Those elections are going on right now, and things are quiet and running smoothly as far as I can tell.
The third Beirut rule is getting readjusted to traffic laws (which don't exist by Western standards) and getting from one place to another in the narrow streets and alleys which don't provide much room for maneuvering.
Many Lebanese who initially cancelled their trips to Lebanon have decided to come after all. I still can't explain it. The economy is down, the politics suck, the security situation is tense and the whole thing could fall apart any minute, yet Lebanon still has so much potential and so much promise, that The Lebanese are not willing to give up on it. That's why they stay, that's why they always talk of coming back and that's why they choose to spend their vacations here.
I wish our politicians would realize this and leverage it to improve things for everyone one rather than take advantage of it to advance their own meager political and power-grabbing agendas.


  • Hi
    how does the city look physically to you and the parts that were damaged most (south)? I read an article last year during the attacks that the mayor used to go out every day to visit families who had been caught up in the crossfire it seemed like so many lost their homes and ended up taking shelter in public buildings or just fled across the border. I wonder what exactly these people have to go back to.
    Lorraine, London

    By Blogger Lorraine1, at 12:55 PM  

  • Tough to say. I have not travelled South at all, and the Beirut areas that were damaged the most are off-limit to anyone not from that neighborhood. However, I can still remember pictures published in the papers last year that show the complete destruction of entire blocks and villages. Reconstruction has started, but will take a while to complete. The government issued checks just last week for all the families whose houses were destroyed by the war. The amounts vary and will not always cover the cost of full repairs. In the meantime, many continue to rely on the support of various help organizations in an attempt to live a normal life.

    By Blogger Crazy Lebanese American, at 1:05 AM  

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