June 09, 2007

Organizing your Life around Bombs

How miserable the Iraqis must feel; after all, their bombs are more frequent, more violent, and more destructive than ours. We shouldn’t really complain; our bombs explode at night time, when there aren’t many people on the road, and in places that are often not frequented by many people. True, we got a bomb near the ABC mall and the Verdun shopping district, but nobody shops at 10 o’clock in the evening.

We get them in empty buses, and industrial districts, so the human cost is minimal.
The Iraqis have them at noon time, in crowded market areas, near schools, and in mosques during Friday prayer times, where they inflict as much damage as possible. So all things considered, we are the lucky ones. Still, it is disconcerting to have to organize your way around bombs.

Some schools have taken the drastic step of starting the summer break earlier. Great if you are a kid, but a royal pain if you are a working mom. Restaurants and bars in Monot and Gemayze, two popular districts, have seen their attendance drop to a virtual zero. After all, can you predict where the next one is going off? Wouldn’t it be a waste to survive 15 years of civil war, massive Israeli bombardments and a Syrian occupation, and than die because of a stupid car bomb planted by god knows who? Some say it’s the Syrians. Others say it’s Fatah Islam, or related organizations. Whoever orders them, someone must be planting them. My guess it’s someone with (some) Lebanese blood in his veins, due to the minimal damage policy of the current bombing campaign.

But they cannot be ignored, so we organize our way around them. Graduation parties are cancelled, or moved indoors. I heard from someone else the unlikely fact that house parties should end now by 11 o’clock (couldn’t verify this odd ‘party curfew’). Dinners are held earlier anyway, because we’d like to be indoors by ten if possible.
Play dates are now assessed based on the neighborhood where the play date lives, and what road needs to be taken to get there.
People monitor everything and everybody, trying to predict what might happen. A friend of ours, close to people in the government, mentioned that he had been looking for an apartment in Feraya. (Feraya is a resort town in the mountains, some 50 km above Beirut). And suddenly everyone was wondering; ‘if so and so is looking for a place over there, right now, that means he knows something that we do not,’ and they all started calling him for advice on what to do for the summer.
People go to the beaches in the city (concrete slabs around rectangular pools), rather than the sandy beaches down south and up north. What is a bomb explodes while you are at the beach? Better to be close to home.

The fact is, we are still able to continue to do what we usually do, albeit with some minor organizational changes.

Question on everybody’s mind is: will it stay that way?

1 comment:

Riemer Brouwer said...

And be very careful when parking your car these days, especially when visiting friends at night!

Tip: make sure the nearby concierge knows that your car is to be trusted, otherwise the police might easily tow it away because a concerned citizen has made a phone call about a strange car.