June 27, 2009

A Touch of Dutch

Dutch ladies in Gemmayze
It's funny how come we're not all on the picture here; we have (albeit only just, I might add) entered the age where we have to start picking up our kids from late night parties, and so 3 of us are missing.

Last night we bade farewell to a fellow Dutchie; she’ll be making the streets of Nairobi unsafe pretty soon, and Beirut will be a quieter place for it (If Bill Gates says ‘ quieter’ is correct, than so it is!). We had dinner in Gemmayze.
Stairs of Gemmayze (looking down)
The stairs of Gemmayze, 125 steps and 500 meters (which I negotiated twice on my high heels as I couldn’t find the restaurant), had their bi-annual art exhibition going on. They’re actually called the St. Nicholas stairs, but everyone knows them as the stairs of Gemmayze (Art Exhibition is on till 28th of June.) Most of the art on display is the type of stuff you will see in Montmartre, Paris, but there were some nice things.
Stairs of Gemmayze (looking up)

The stairs are lined with houses, all very idyllic looking, but the thought of having to go up and down those stairs on a daily basis, with your bags of groceries, somehow is not very appealing. Add to this that the place is the number one night district of Beirut these days, with loud music, people and cars deep until the night, I’m glad I don’t live there.
Liesbeth is leaving

Tonight of course, was Michael Jackson night; they played MJ in the restaurant, they played MJ in the bar. Very appropriate, as the ladies in question were all in their teens when the guy was a hit. Yes, we’re in our twenties.
DJette Anne playing MJ all night

When I went home, I was very glad I found my car where I had left it. When I parked it earlier, there was yellow police tape on both sides of the street with ‘no parking’ written on it; both in Arabic and English. I chose to ignore it, even though a policeman down the road was yelling at everyone to park somewhere else. I figured there would be no American dignitary or Lebanese politician passing by that night (pretty much the only ones they tape off the streets for), and so they wouldn’t be towing cars away. They do that to eliminate the threat of car bombs. Mind you, they do that frequently though, and twice I’ve come out of my work in the afternoon with my car gone. The first time I thought it was stolen, and when I went to the police station to report theft, they said, after I explained where it had gone missing; ‘Oh, just look around the neighborhood, we probably towed it away and parked it in some street nearby.” It was indeed parked 3 blocks up. Thank you so much for not telling me, I thought.

The second time I was smarter, and went looking around straight away. And found it down the road. So when you lose a car in Beirut, first check if some hotshot passed by that day, and if that’s the case, check for your car in the side streets.

Anyway, my car was still there. And Liesbeth will be leaving Beirut next week. But she has vouched that if she doesn’t like Nairobi, she’s coming back to Beirut.
Notice how – when time comes to pay the bill (remember that one, when you dine out with foreigners?) – we mix Lebanese with American dollars? This is a multi-cultural society.


Anonymous said...

Give your friend a couple of months (if that long) and she'll be back to Beirut.

You can't even compare the two.

angienader said...

i went to your going dutch post from here..and i have to say it is hillarious. my family and my husbands family always made a point to not let me get ahold of the bill whenever we were out...because i would try to calculate who owed what. i always thought it was fair....my family thought it was because i was raised in USA and we had no manners..loool and my husbands family thought thats how americans keep there money, by only letting go of what they owe :)

Anonymous said...

Ah - I remember that night; the Michael Jackson memorial. It was my first night out and I met Djette Anne and some of the Dutchies, saying that it is kind of weird: one leaving one arriving. Apparently we had just missed each other. And indeed: wondering about the mixed payments, being confused to have to calculate with even three different valutas (as after one week still in Euro state of mind)!

Ginni (who is happy about the refreshing air in NL again)