June 23, 2016
May 29, 2016
As mentioned before, May and June are the months when everyone is organizing fairs, events and happenings in town. It’s not too hot yet, people are still in town (Beirut is sometimes a bit like Paris in August; all the locals are gone), chances of rain are small (although that did not quite pack out like that this weekend with a thunder storm over town), people haven’t quite taken to the beach either, so now’s your chance to gather a maximum amount of visitors. We’ve just had the outdoor fairs of the big universities (LAU and AUB), the schools celebrated their Spring fests as well, Makdissi Street and Sadat Street held their street fairs. The Hamra festival is today, and there is the Beirut Design Week (with a Dutch design studio!), the Garden Show, and the Designer’s Week, among many (check for more here).
An absolutely stunning looking bride. There was something about her, as she strutted over the boardwalk with her one bridesmaid, and I assume her mother. On her way (I asked) to her engagement party. So she was not even a bride yet; this was just the engagement dress. Can’t wait to see her wedding dress.
I don’t know where she got this dress, but I am strangely mesmerized by it. Sometimes things are so absolutely out of place and odd that the combination becomes beautiful instead of ugly. The color, almost shocking pink, helped as well. I know that this must have been my dream dress when I was about 8 or so. I bet she has been thinking of this dress since she was that little as well. And she pulled it off. Well done, I’d say. Whoever said you can't be glamorous with a veil? Quite the contrary, it seems.
We tried to locate the groom, wondering whether he had been coaxed into wearing something pink as well. But she was walking the other way, so we never got to see him. I just had to share this lady with you. This is Beirut for you.
May 27, 2016
Last Wednesday I went up to the mountains to de-stress. It worked well, I think. I did a 7 AM morning hike of 5 kilometers with the dogs through the fields and forest, and came back all invigorated. Each season has its advantages, so I can’t say that spring is my favorite season, but the abundance of plant life, and the vibrant green colors all around, do inspire.
Easy. Yeah right. In the States maybe, where everyone takes over from the left sides, and people stay in their lane, and use their signal light and what not else. Within a year they were looking for an apartment in Beirut. She couldn’t quite explain exactly what the difference was between her 60 mile commute in the Sates versus her 45 kilometer commute in Beirut. But it was enough to consider a house moving. In the end, the stress in Beirut did her in. She ran at the same pace as Beirut, and that’s something even the best amongst us can’t handle for long.
May 14, 2016
Those that have their lives ahead of them - if not all, at least long stretches of it - do not walk around with the notion that this might be the last time you see this, or visit that, or walk here.
He kept a sparse diary; I should dig through that one. I was reading this diary; gives an interesting look of Beirut as well, the way my dad probably experienced it as well.
May 06, 2016
It took place at the post office. It was a regular standoff.
While in Holland last month, I ordered an item and had it forwarded to my work place in Lebanon. This should be no problem, I assumed. With the tracking number, I traced the package, and saw that it had arrived to the post office in Beirut on May the 3rd.
An indeed. While at work yesterday, I got a message, on my desk, that there was a package, with my name on it, waiting for me at the post office. And so after work, I ran to the post office, because they close at 5.
“Do you have your ID,” the lady asked friendly. Of course I have my ID with me, I know the routine. Try to pry anything out of the hands of an official in this country is like digging for gold. Nothing happens without an ID. And so I gave my ID.
My husband’s family, while living overseas, dropped the ‘a’ in the English version of the name, as the Arabic ‘ain’ ( ﻉ) is basically impossible to pronounce for foreigners.
“Oh. But this is Sietske Noshie, and your ID reads Sietske al Naosh. That’s not the same person.”
I am not sure how many frigging Sietskes you have in Beirut, but obviously this was a matter of concern for the lady.
The lady shows my ID to her supervisor, a rather large and stern-looking woman sitting behind a slightly larger desk. Clearly the boss. Not someone who you’d want to mess with.
Whoever in the whole entire world writes his first, his middle, then his father first name and his father’s middle name on a package? Seriously now?
She came back.
She did not look up, nor replied to me. She counted her money.
“Sorry. You must come back with your passport.”
“Here, I have a picture of my Dutch passport”, as I showed her the document on my phone. “It says Sietske Noshie,” and I gave it to the kind lady, who brought it over to the desk Nazi.
“You need the original,” was the reply.
“No, you do not need the original, you have my ID, that’s original.”
She glanced over it. “It doesn’t say Evert Hugo (my father’s names, which are not placed on official documents in Holland).”
The desk Nazi did not feel like giving what I wanted!
She was going to make me come back tomorrow for this stupid package for the very simple reason that she had the power over the package, and she did not like me.
ButI am creative under duress.
“Here, I also have a picture of my Lebanese passport. It says Sietske Noshie in English, and all the other names in Arabic.” The poor desk attendant brought it over to the desk Nazi again.
“You see, it says al Naosh,” said the desk Nazi now, pointing to the Arabic name. “There is something wrong with her document. Why is this Naosh, and that Noshie? No, come back tomorrow.”
But I was NOT GOING TO GET THAT PACKAGE!
No, no mam, I was not going to get it.
What the desk Nazi demanded now was that I
1) either call Holland and ask the person who had send me the package (which was me) to send a document that this package was actually intended for Sietske Jetske Evert Hugo al Naoush, or that
2) I get my ID re-issued under the name Sietske Noshie (in Arabic, that is). Otherwise, no way on earth was I going to get my package.
I called Customer Care (1577, in case you ever need them. The word ‘Care’ is rather ambiguous in this case).
I declined to e-mail her. I said I needed her to resolve that right now. Well, she said, I would need to give her copies of the passports, so I could do that tomorrow.
“No, I can do that right now.”
“But we’re closing at 5.”
It is now 6 minutes to 5, and I intend to camp in this post office. Like hell am I going anywhere without that package.
Very reluctantly she gives me the e-mail address, and so I send her the two passport pictures. Of course, no one calls back, nor does the post office get a call. It is now 3 to 5.
“No that’s Customer Care for customers, not for us. Besides, we’re closed now. “
I don’t ff-ing think so, lady! You don’t close until I get this package.
I, on the other hand, was determined that I would leave that office with my package in my hand, even if it would mean I’d have to drag this desk Nazi out of her seat and over her desk.
May 02, 2016
Today, SIL and I thought it a good idea to take our kids to the museum. After all, they’ve been to the beach, the mountains, they’ve hung around at home, and for the last day of their Easter break, we thought to break the routine and pack them off to a museum.
Fine. Okay. Well, than back to Beirut, to the Wonders of the Sea. It’s also a private museum that’s got a fantastic collection of beautiful shells, aquariums with sea anemones and clown fish and lots of other things that move. Great for kids.
Very well then. There is still the Museum of Minerals. Shiny stones and rocks are on every child’s mind, and on mine as well. We’d gotten wiser though. How about we contact them first? Their Facebook page indicated that they reply to their messages within minutes. And indeed. No sorry, we’re closed today.
“But only one was open.”
April 23, 2016
It’s spring time, and all over the mountains, the place is breaking out in a myriad of vivid greens.
|A centipede (um arba arbaim)|
April 18, 2016
April 10, 2016
|The street running along the old market (on the left). Sea at the end of the road.|
|Garbage trucks do not fit, so there is a man with a broom stuck cleaning with a rolling bin|
|The entrance to a mosque|
|A bit of a stereo type, but I thought this man fit perfectly in this environment|
Dried ginger on the left, cinnamon bark, and larger cinnamon pieces on the right. Okra hanging over the box in the middle Old kinds of dried beans, herbs and spices. In the back is something that looks like mummified oranges which I think it is. Mloukhiyeh (which seems to be called Jew's Mallow in English.), a popular dish here. And then there is the butcher. This is either sheep or goat, can't tell the difference.
|The shoe market. Converse for $12.|
|And the shoemaker is right next door.|
|I thought shoe makers use glue, but apparently they use nails|
|The ostrich feathers on the right, argileh hoses hanging|
|Sponges (from the skeleton of some type of cucumbers), wicker baskets, herbs, canary cages, charcoal heaters etc. A bit of everything|
|These sell their wares from mobile carts|
|This man sells 'foul', broad beans, which you eat with lemon and kamouneh (cumin powder)|
|These ladies sells their goods right on the street.|
|I really liked the way they displayed these shirts. They do put a lot of care in display, and what they have, is on display.|
|An old khan that has not been restored|
|The fountain on Sidon's main roundabout. I like how this app (Snapseed) can make pictures look like postcards from the 60's.|
|And a last one, the canary, which hangs in every single shop.|