I had to take care of some paperwork on Saturday at the Amn el-Aam, the Office of Internal Security.
They have done some re-organization, and these days it works like a long assembly-line. You go in and a man writes you a paper on what business you are allowed to enter the building. You drop this paper off at another desk, who keeps track of who comes in, and he will call out your name when it is your turn to go to man #3, who will fill in the paperwork, and who directs you to man #4, who writes you a receipt for paperwork done, which needs to be signed by man #5, and then you go on to man #6, who takes your paperwork and out the door you are. Takes about 30 minutes, which is not half bad.
These pictures were not recently taken, but have appeared on my blog before. This is my mom's bodyguard squad (mom on right)
A journalist friend of mine, a man, once remarked on this habit of mine of ogling soldiers in public. “You (I think he meant it as in ‘all foreign women’, or at least I hope so) are just so shallow. Stick a guy in a uniform and you’re gone.”
These pictures were not recently taken, but have appeared on my blog before. Soldiers near Nahr el-Bared
They can pick out background, financial status, level of education and religion in a matter of seconds; all the soldier needs to do is open his mouth. “Oh god no, this guy’s from the sticks, how can you even consider him handsome, he’s a peasant,” my friend will tell me as I pass by a check point and remark what a particularly handsome soldier was standing guard.
I don’t see what they see, and they clearly do not see what I see.
These pictures were not recently taken, but have appeared on my blog before. More Nahr el-Bared (sorry, there just wasn't much else to photgraph)
Except on Saturday at the Amn el-Aam.
On Saturday, it apparently is ‘Come Casual’ Day for the employees at the Amn el-Aam. And all this military personal can come ‘as they are’. And boy, I’ve never seen so many oddly-dressed Lebanese men together in one place. It’s Fashion Alert all over the place. Bizarre silk pants, oddly colored shirts in a tissue that looks plastic, strange cuts, crumpled and ill-fitting suits, jackets with strass stone spiders stitched on the back, belts with studs, pink T-shirts 3 sizes too tight, sweaters obviously geared for women (?), it’s a strange lot.
Men in Lebanon in general dress well. Whether it’s business attire or casual, they do a heck of a better job than Dutch men (in general). Given that they do not have access to the same funds, that’s pretty awesome. I’d say they look good.
These pictures were not recently taken, but have appeared on my blog before. Some sodiers at the Beirut Marathon
So for any foreigner who has difficulty looking through the uniform, go to the Amn el-Aam on a Saturday. That should cure it.