June 05, 2010

When Hashem met Salwa Part II (Or the general’s son and the farmer’s daughter)

Remember Salwa and Hashem? Well, that did not quite work out. Did they not like each other? No, that was not the problem. Was he turned off by her veil? No, that wasn’t the issue. Was it his bald spot that got her thinking twice? No, it wasn’t that either.

The fact is that they never got to meet each other.

Even though I thought it was a match made in heaven (they both wanted to get married, they’re both professionals in the medical industry, he wanted an educated working woman, she wanted an educated working man, she was beautiful, he was successful, and they were – the cherry on the cake – of the same religion), that was apparently from my Dutch point of view.

The background did it. She was from Tripoli. Tripoli? Yes, Tripoli. (Now if you are from Tripoli, please do not get offended. The views in this blog are not necessarily the view of the writer, or of the people speaking in this post. I’m just reporting, so don’t shoot the messenger.)

People from Tripoli are just … well, different,” explained the mom. She laughed a little uncomfortably while saying it, as she was obviously a little embarrassed with that statement. But there it was. “Like villagers.”

I shared the reply with hubbie when I got home that night.
"Ah, she's been talking to her husband," he concluded.
What’s wrong with people from Tripoli?” I asked. He should know. His family is originally from Tripoli.
Well, they’re a little simple. Sometimes. Not everyone, of course. But some are.” The look on my face made him restate that. “They are perceived as being a little ignorant here in Lebanon. You know, peasants. I am not saying they are. It is just that’s how they are looked upon. By Beirutis, that is.”

My father-in law, also orginally from Tripoli, added to the spice. “These people do not get out much. Mountain people. Can you imagine how his family will react when her family comes over to stay in Beirut for a visit?

But there was another background issue, besides the Tripoli thing. A bigger issue, that was conveniently covered up by the Tripoli thing. The fact that Salwa’s father was a farmer, was another obstacle, according to the aunt that lives in our house. An obstacle that could not be overtaken. After all, Hashem dad was a big shot in the army. How could a general’s son marry a farmer’s daughter?

How couldn’t he? I asked. What’s that got to do with it?

Aaahhh,” was the reply, “maybe in Holland it doesn’t, but here it does. What is the dad going to tell his friends when they ask what the bride’s father does? Grow tomatoes? When you marry in Lebanon, you marry the family.”

And thus it was deemed – yet it remained unspoken – better that these two would not meet each other in order to avoid the embarrassment that it would cause the others.

And that, dear readers, was the end of my match-making efforts. I’m too Dutch to understand the finer points of this society, but somehow I think that matches are made in heaven, and not in Lebanon.


joseph said...

if that is really the case, people like that don't deserve to be married, have children and spread such wonderful genes

better they all stay single

Anonymous said...

OMG!!!! My hubby . . . the city boy . . . born & raised in Beirut . . . what in God's name was he thinking when he married me?!?!?!?! I may have been born in Brooklyn NY, but I am the daughter of a farmer . . . the daughter & granddaughter of mountain dwellers. Ok, so dad left home 40-some-odd years ago and has since worked in the building service industry (who am I kidding, he was a handyman and mom was cleaning lady) and you can pull the farmers off their farms but you can't pull the seeds out of their pockets. Yes, mom & pop have their little veggie garden behind the house but they worked hard to put all 4 of their kids through college and even medical school for 1. I'm gonna have to grill the hubby later tonight about this . . . I'm seriously wondering if my in-laws are aware of my background - would they have been so welcoming of me if they had known that I'm the first member of my entire family's history to be born off the farm?

In all seriousness . . . it's sad to say but this mentality can also be found outside of Lebanon. My family is originally from the Balkans and I often hear members of my community commenting on how they would never want to marry their daughters off to families from higher elevations. Seriously? We've been living in the States for over 40 years and that boy who you just slammed the door in his face may be an attorney at a high-powered NY law firm, but because his parents came from a town 1200 meters above sea level, he's not good enough for your princess???????????

angie nader said...

ohhh. thats so sad!

Anonymous said...

And maybe this half-Dutch guy has same opinion as your, that matches are made in heaven:)
Or for his relatives to say “that bride’s father is general” is more important than happiness of own kid?:)
“When you marry in Lebanon, you marry the family” – ridiculously sad!!!
Olga (Russia)

Anonymous said...

It will be a good idea if you anyway try to organise their meeting...:)

Simon said...

Well Salwa is better off anyways.

This Hashem dude seems to me like too much of beiruti. yes, beiruti. a term pple like me from north lebanon use to describe guys, who pansy around talking broken arabic and french coz they think it's cool...

wat a mama's boy! he didn't even meet Salwa coz his mom didn't approve! what character!

Anonymous said...

*sound of me throwing up*


So let's talk about this.
I do understand that in this country, when you marry someone you marry the family. Although I think it's retarded but let's consider it.

But, do you also have to marry the ENTIRE FREAKING COMMUNITY?
If indeed Tripolitans are ignorants, how's that relevant to Salwa who's educated and a working woman?

This country is PATHETIC.

And +1 to the commentator who mentioned the snobby Beirutis who only speak French because they think that makes them bourgeois... Who's better looking, a snobby and pathetic and insecure Beiruti French-wannabe or a simple hard working peasant from Tripoli?

Vain country.

Francine said...

Since when is reaping death more posh than reaping tomatoes?

Makes me wonder what the father of the general did, or his grandfather or greatgrandfather... you never know, they were perhaps neighbors :)