February 13, 2009

Friday Afternoon on the Shores of the Mediterranean

Colleagues, glad the week is over, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

It’s Friday afternoon, end of the workweek in Beirut (for most). We start again on Monday. I think we’re one of the few Arab countries that follows the ‘Western’ weekend. Most countries in the region start on a Sunday.

And so, while you amble down the Corniche on your way home, you’ll see all kinds of city scenes. The weather is unbelievably mellow for this time of year. When walking the Corniche, I am often reminded of the fact that there are people in this world who work all year long to be able to afford a 3-week holiday on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

Okay, so we’re not exactly on the right side of the Mediterranean. But still, it is the Mediterranean, and I live on its shores. I can see it from all the windows of my house. And my job is right on the edge too. I get to see pretty fabulous sunsets on an almost daily basis! So while walking from work to home, or from work to TGIF (as today), I walk along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, a sea with an incredible history. And most of the time I don’t even notice .

More than 10,000 km of coastline, around a relatively calm sea, with plentiful harbors and numerous islands as staging posts, provide an ideal setting for intricate patterns of trade, migration and warfare - all of which stimulate a mood of creative energy in human communities. (Source)
A mood of 'creative energy'. That's a bit of an understatement for Lebanon, don't you think?

Three ladies, with the housekeeper in waiting on the right, enjoying the scenery on a Friday afternoon.

Two gentlemen, dressed to a T. My guess is they aren’t Lebanese, but what they call here ‘Khalije’, Gulf Arabs. They are known (well, the men at least) for a ‘flashier’ style. It’s the suite of the guy on the left that does it. And the sun glasses. Not quite right, somehow.

The local fast food here is ‘corn on the cob’ but without the butter, and boiled broad beans with chunks of lemon and coriander powder. Sounds odd, but is absolutely delicious. Quite healthy too. The guy on the right (with his back, walking away) is selling lottery tickets. The three gas tanks in the left hand corner (red, blue and brown) are the gas lamps they use to light their push carts as they push them around the Corniche well into the night.

Striking a pose.

This gentleman sells Arabic style coffee, although I’m a bit confused about the Coffee Mate. Seems he can do Nescafe as well. The pink sweater of the boy seems a little odd. Little small too.

A family having lunch. For some background information; the building in scaffolds behind them is under construction, and stands where the old American Embassy compound was, which was
blown to smithereens by a suicide truck in 1983. This place is teemed in history.
Of course we have our shoe shiners, operating from a milk tin. Business must be slow these days since everyone is wearing sneakers .
Another family enjoying the afternoon. Beirut is all apartment buildings with very little green space for kids to play. Many parents take the kids here with their bicycles.
Or place to exercise, for that matter. Must be a good place to train for an obstacle course. This one is for H. Do you see the legs on that guy, H?
Another typical scene. Mom and dad enjoy a romantic walk together while the maid pushes the baby carriage. To weird for words, sometimes. But look at it from the bright side; at least she gets to come out of the house.
And more families with bicycles. Pink bicycles seem to be the trend in Beirut these days.

7 comments:

Kheireddine said...

Seitske, you became Lebanese! You enjoy staring at/watching people ;)
Yes, it is marvelous to live by the sea, we did not know how lucky we were before the war...

m. said...

Those two chicks in the "striking a pose" pic look hot. Were they? The pic isn't too clear. lol.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Siets, didn't notice the legs! But the eyes we saw today were captivating!
H.

Afif said...

Thanks for the pictures Sietske! This is a therapeutic post. And you really sound like a Lebanese describing the corniche :)

Laura said...

Thank you for this stroll on the corniche. It was like actually having it with you, for real.
The thing I miss most is the corn on the cob..

Greetings from an italian married to a Lebanese (currently living in Rome)

Anonymous said...

"beans with chunks of lemon and coriander powder"

cumin not coriander...

Serpico said...

How I miss the old Lebanon!
Thank you for this post.