May 31, 2009

On Nothing Much in Particular

There’s election ralleys all over town, in preparation of the June 7 parliamentary elections. This week alone I got caught up in the traffic of two major christian parties on opposite sides of the spectrum, and one muslim; I got stuck in between flags of green cedar trees, and orange flags, and green flags, and yellow flags and blue flags and you-name-it-flags.
Did I miss any colors? All the colors of the rainbow have been claimed by some political party or other, so in the morning you really have to watch what you wear, in order not to be associated with some part of this society.

It is funny how Lebanese society is almost identical to Holland in the forties. We call it pillarisation’ (verzuiling in Dutch); a society where all institutions (sports, media, education, union, businesses etc) are organized around political organizations that in turn are organized according to their religion.

Normally I would have had to cover all these events for my newspaper, but I’ve passed that job on to another Dutchie some time ago. I was fed up with the politic antics in this place.

You may be pleased to know that we (Holland) eventually got out of that system, and now are considered to be one of the world's most tolerant nations.
There's light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. Maybe. Eventually.

I do miss it a bit; running all over town finding out who are the first 3 swine flu victims reported in Lebanon, checking out who’s been spying for Israel, whether the first Syrian ambassador to Lebanon is any fun, if US vice-president Biden and Hillary made any faux-pas (because who really cares what they have to say), what people on the street think of the Spiegel article, and hanging around in the women’s section at Hezbollah gatherings, watching the ladies swoon over Nasrallah’s words.

I feel a little out of it, having to read what is happening in this society in the newspaper instead of experiencing it first-hand. On the other hand, I do have more time on my hands to hang out with friends.
Some Dutchies in Lebanon. The fifth one came late and missed the picture (somehow that sentence sounds familiar).
They’re not easy to find, and you’ve got to go off the main road quite a bit, but there are quite a lot of beautiful (and still pristine) spots not that far from Beirut,
where you can lounge on the rocky banks of a river in which you can actually swim, or float around in a rubber boat,
with dogs (who I swear, were white, when we arrived),
catch river crabs,
scale the rapids, cath tadpoles
and water snakes.
We had one Lebanese boy with us, the neighbor of one of the half-Dutch children, who had never ever seen anything like this. He had the best time of his life, he said, crawling around in the mud, with crabs nipping at your toes, and river weed on your head.
And then when you drive home, they fall asleep in the back of the car (well, mine did).
(33°49'38.72"N & 35°40'11.08"E for the interested. But please pick up your garbage after you leave!)

8 comments:

Myrthe said...

A friend from Antelias is complaining that he has to think about the color of the clothes he wants to wear these days, because all the colors are politicized. He can't even wear his very favorite bright orange jacket any more, because people will think he supports Michel Aoun (which he does not).

whiskyblnd said...

i wish you could give us a little more directions on how to get there.
i'm an expat here for the summer and absolutely love your outdoor posts.
tried typing it in google earth and found out that it was north of baabda. am i on the right track or completely off?

Anonymous said...

Well I am glad that I have to wear violet for the circles. What is yours? Yellow? Do you think A. would have to wear orange? I know B. has to wear Blue.
H.

Sietske said...

Whiskey blind, send me an e-mail at galama at cyberia dot net dot lb, and I'll giver you the directions.
H. I was'n given the color of my circle yet. How'd you know you're violet? I like violet. yes, I bet A. will be orange.

victor said...

These pictures delight me so much! Definetely my blonde dog will follow yours - outside the rubberboat though! Can´t wait!!

Love, Ginni

Anonymous said...

Is the water snake poisonous? An article on the snakes of Lebanon would be useful!

Rami said...

Loved the place, looks peaceful.

Liliane said...

Nice location! Where is that? I know I've never been there and I've been living in Lebanon since 28 years!