April 02, 2010


My parents are flying into Beirut for the easter break. They have the combined age of 182 years but still like to travel. At Amsterdam airport they were sent to Pier C22, and when they got there, they were redirected to Pier D41. “I think we must have walked a kilometer and a half just to get to the plane,” tells my father.

When they get to Beirut, there’s another long walk to passport control. He has to fill out a white immigration paper, but the lighting in the plane isn’t good enough, so he figures he’ll fill in the paperwork once he gets out. But there really isn’t any place to fill them out, so here’s he’s fumbling with his papers, until an immigration officer sees him.
Beirut wildlife

He pulls my parents out of the line, fills out the paperwork for them, directs them to the ‘diplomats only’ desk, and they’re out in less than five minutes.

I, in the meantime, am driving around outside. The traffic is five rows thick in front of the airport, and there is no way I can find a parking spot. I could, of course, park in the parking lot, but hey, I’m half Lebanese by now, and if there’s anything you want to avoid it is paid parking. Besides, then I’ll have to shlepp the suitcases for half a mile to the car.

The officers motion me to move on. “But I’ve got to pick up my father, and he’s 95 years old,” I try. He stops traffic, gets me a parking spot and says, ‘but don’t take too long,” at which point, of course, my parents are escorted out of the door.

How’s that for service?


Anonymous said...

you get this kind of service because
you are a ravishing blond
love your blog long time reader

Raffi said...

You've become so Lebanese :)

Anonymous said...

That is exactly the difference in mentality between oriental countries and western countries.

Here in Holland the rule of law is everything, and this kills flexibility in human contact. So people or authorities don't bother to hear your story or to understand your personal situation at that moment.
In Arab countries everything is possible in public or everything can be arranged, so there is more ardour/warmth between people. That makes life more bearable there.

Longe live the Arab world but also Europe for its neatness!

Anonymous said...

Just Reminber you could be at that age someday.