Right now I’m just happy I’ve got someone who can help my daughter with her Arabic homework.
September 29, 2009
Right now I’m just happy I’ve got someone who can help my daughter with her Arabic homework.
September 28, 2009
It’s quite cute & has a very Lebanese feel to it. Enjoy!
September 27, 2009
September 26, 2009
Today I did not make it past #2.
# 1 was ‘fill up gas’. I got that one done. # 2 involved, whom else, the Ministry of Education. This time it was for an Arabic Exemption paper. And that’s where it ended.
The reason why I need an Arabic Exemption paper is because my son has reached grade 9 this year; the year when Lebanese students must sit for their ‘Brevet’; a very demanding Arabic state exam. My son speaks Arabic well, but that is the ‘lougha ammi ( العامية), or what we call the ‘street Arabic’. As far as I know, it does not really have an (official) written version, it is spoken, or colloquial Arabic only. It is the Arabic we use in our daily lives. The exam however, is in (and about) classical Arabic, or (الفصحى) fushah; The Arabic that is used for official documents, newspapers, books etc. Now although both languages overlap each other in some areas, they are totally different in many others. The Arabic program in school, or its teachers, or its methodology/pedagogy, or all of the above are however, horrendously outdated, and as such, not a very appealing/child-friendly subject matter. It entails for instance that parents sit with their children every evening and wrestle their way through vast amounts of homework. My Arabic is pitiful, and hubbie’s classical Arabic is, well, let’s say it’s been a while since he was in school.
But as I am about to shoot everyone in that particular building over other paperwork that still hasn’t been processed yet for reasons that will elude anyone with an IQ over 12 (the IQ needed to work at that Ministry), I decided to work my way around it, and go postal. In order to avoid going postal. Through Libanpost. It is the well organized Lebanese postal system that will provide all kinds of services as an in-between between citizen and government. This way you don’t have to set one foot in a ministry, but the local post office will organize everything for you at a very decent fee.
And so I went to the post office with the paperwork. The lady behind the counter got to work. And soon stopped. There was a catch: if you are a foreigner, you get automatic exemption. You only need to show you residency permit, and you’re done. If you are Lebanese, you get exemptions if show records of school attendance outside Lebanon for a minimum of 3 years. My son has neither a residency permit, as he is Lebanese, nor outside school attendance, as he has always lived in Beirut. She called and called and called, but the answer was the same everywhere.
“Sorry Mam, but I cannot take you request, because I need either one of these documents. This is what the Ministry of Education stipulates.”
And thus I will need to move my sorry ass personally to that Ministry of Education.
Yet again. I’ll try and avoid ‘going postal’.
September 24, 2009
The traffic is a bit off though. I’ve been standing in traffic jams for the past 3 days. A trip from Hamra to Sassine (East Beirut) takes a good hour if you are lucky. I think if I’d walk, I’d probably get their faster.
I thought it was because many schools had started again. My friend blames the traffic lights. He believes the Lebanese are becoming ‘passive’ drivers, now that they have lights doing the job for them. Hubbie says it’s because all the ‘khaliji’ (Gulf Arabs) are in town for the Eid (feast).
I don’t know what it is, but I’m looking at buying a scooter.
In the meantime, a picture of one of the last beach days of the season. It is not that we have a large Dutch community in town. Quite the opposite. One of the former Dutch ambassadors described the Dutch community jokingly as “70 unhappily married women and 1 man.” I don’t think that’s quite accurate, but if you’d have gone to the beach last Tuesday, you’d have thought you were in Holland. There must have been over 12 Dutchies, with kids. And we recently lost another blogger. Gone back to the motherland. We don’t know for how long.
September 21, 2009
By that time our Dutch Sharif had gotten lost somewhere on the parking lot (but we know better; the local ladies just could not resist this Dutch & Egyptian mixture), Theo tried to leave with someone else’s dinner jacket, Andre was raiding the bathrooms for the lovely towels, Morticia had appropriated a case of Chablis that no one was allowed to touch, Deb lost her shoes and received worried phone calls from her son ("Mom, where ARE you? Do you know what time it is?"), Tamara finally got her picture with Nancy Ajram, Rick was steaming on the dance floor (so was his Dad, by the way), and Fester confessed that he’d love to eat a biscuit with me (Dutch expression).
The lovely couple, Sarah & Hisham, and the 3 Dutch bridesmaids.
Yes, the Dutch were out in force, thanks to the lovely mother of the bride, a fellow Dutchie. Of course no one can party like the Lebanese, but we showed them last night that you can’t ignore the Dutch either.
The mother of the bride; A Dutchie (of course)
A busload of Dutch came over all the way from Holland, as this was the wedding of the daughter of one of our Dutch in Lebanon. And I think that after tonight they are all going to stay. They’re all figuring out ways to rent an apartment here, so they can live the way the Lebanese live. Or the way they think the Lebanese live. Because all of this glitter and glam is of course just a layer of gild on top of a not so beautiful society.
Some of theDutch mail contingent, Rick, Sharif & TheoA not-so-beautiful society because the absolutely lovely couple, who have been together now for a long time, was not allowed to marry inside Lebanon, because of their different religion. They had to fly abroad (Cyprus it is these days, for most Lebanese civil marriages. You get a complete package deal these days for under $900), to tie the knot, because our own government does not recognize them as a couple within their own religions.
The bride & groom with a certain Nancy something
Both of them – luckily – couldn’t care less, but it is sad to see that so many of our most beautiful and brightest, who couldn’t care less about the confessional divide(s) that slowly but surely wrecks this society, have to go abroad in order to get married.
But who cared last night? The ladies came out in force with their fantastic hairdos and dresses and jewelry and dainty little handbags, and the men in dark suits made it look like a regular Mafioso convention. A totally star-studded event. .
September 19, 2009
It’s a good way to start the beginning of the end of the summer. The weather forecast predicts rain till Tuesday. The beaches are empty now, only the Dutch, and other half-wit foreigners still go. It was a good summer.
It may, or may not, be the end of Ramadan. It seems that these days the shia and the sunni can’t even agree on that anymore.
I’ve got a wedding tomorrow. It’s a mixed marriage; the best, in my humble opinion. Or at least the best for this country. I must say that the Dutch have done a great job in mixing up the confessional divide here in Lebanon. This particular marriage is actually of a half-Dutch-half Lebanese girl, but the Mom is Dutch, and so the Dutch come out in force to celebrate this. We’ll try and behave.
"Miss, Amsterdam is mispelled; it should be an m, not an n," says a gentleman.
"No," says Anne, "I'm Anne, from Ansterdam."
September 17, 2009
September 13, 2009
September 12, 2009
But yesterday, when I was ‘looking’ at my virtual money, I noticed a new item in the sidebar Money Transfer. NEW!
At the bank, the lady asks me;
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Well, we need the account number of who you are going to send it to.”
“Well, I might send money to lots of different people,” I say.
"Oh, well, we’d need the accounts of the beneficiaries, which we send to the main office, and then when we get it back, you can pick up the papers, and transfer the money to those beneficiaries.”
The lady was either void of any sense of humor, or totally oblivious to the absolute ridiculousness of her request, as she said this with an absolutely straight face.
So there really is no online money transfer, if first you’d have to go in person to the bank to give the account number of the person you're going to send it to. I might as well get the money from my account (in person), and walk to the school in person, and I would get the money there faster than I would with my bank’s ‘Online Banking’ system. This is positively archaic.
We are not going anywhere this way.
September 09, 2009
”Miss, are you fasting?” a child asks her teacher.
“No dear, I am not,” replies the teacher.
“Why not?” enquires the child.
“I am not a muslim,” replies the teacher.
“You’re not a muslim? Then what are you, Miss?” asks the child.
“I am a christian,” replies the teacher.
A puzzled look appears on the child’s face.
“But Miss, you are not a Pilipino!”
Are we going somewhere?
September 05, 2009
Sister in law at the beach; 8.5 months pregnant.
September 02, 2009
“Is there a special way that you wash them or rinse them?” I ask .
“Don’t complain,” says my son when he sees my face, “Be glad she didn’t put them in the dryer.”
Indeed. But they are beautifully white