May 10, 2008

We're Going to Have to Do Lots of Smiling

I am usually quite an optimistic person. But two things just happened this morning that make me wonder if I am being a little naïve. And so some pessimism from me today.

Incident #1
I’m hanging over my balcony, watching two armed men walking down the opposite street. They pass a parked car with a poster of Hariri behind the window.
They look at it.
And then they break the window with their rifle butts.
They walk on. They don't even look around to see whether someone has seen them.
Why should they?
They rule the streets.
Here’s your democracy, Hezbollah style; Thug rule.

Incident #2
I had to pick up something in Ouzai, a neighborhood next to the southern suburbs. I get stopped at a checkpoint under the Ouzai overpass by four kids. Kids, yes. You read that right. Between 8 and 14 years old. Kids.

You cannot go on, this road is blocked,” the 14 year old tells me.
A measly little plastic garden chair stands between me and Ouzai.
Remove the chair, will you please, I need to pick up something in Ouzai,” I ask him
I tell you, the road is blocked.”
No, the road is not blocked. There is garden chair on the road. Be so kind as to move the chair.”
The road is blocked.”

I cannot believe I am arguing with a kid.
"Get your boss, please.”
I am the boss.”
No, you are a kid. Get your boss please.”
I am a kid?!” he replies with his voice rising with indignation. “You wanna see?” as he inflates his little chest.
You know, let’s not.
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile, Sting once wrote. And so I smile.
The rule of fear and intimidation has arrived.

In case you are making yourself any illusions, you can stop wondering now. We’re going to have to do lots of smiling the coming days.

Brace yourself.


Anonymous said...

Well, this blog is the closest thing to war I'll get..I have work all day, don't watch TV, and live in the mountains around Beirut where everything is pretty normal...well almost everything except for the empty supermarket shelves...Lucky me, hein?

omlette said...

I like your style of writing & content too :)I came across your blog by accident...stay safe in Lebanon...

zerolando said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I agree with Omlette... You do keep a chap on the lookout for more.

Ms. Tee said...

There is a song by Ziad Rahbani where he goes "b-hall iyyam, harah bi sakkirha walad" (These days, a neighborhood gets closed by a kid). These days as well.

Keep your posts coming. And stay safe.

Vox P. said...

These are not kid, these are legitimate military targets.

Amir said...

Thank you. I was in Beirut in the summer of 06 until 2 weeks before the war... everyone thought things would get better. But until Hezbollah has been completely disarmed, there is no chance for Lebanon.

rawiya said...

You are still here, one of a few. Many have given up on Beirut, and can you blame them? This last round has left me furious, how dare they? a bunch of teen-age thugs, holding a city captive. Boasting about living on a Beirut hilltop oblivious to what is happening a few kms away -even if meant in the most innocuous way- is even more infuriating than the thugs roaming the street. You are not lucky anon, you are a fool believing that this doesn't concern you. It happeness I too live in the mountain around beirut , more specifically a neighbor of the General.