November 01, 2011


A man selling cooked corn on the street. Two ladies are buying, while another lady, just exiting the make-up/perfume store, is looking. 

I love living in Beirut, but you know the saying; ‘the grass is always greener on the other side.’ I wouldn’t mind living in Paris for a couple of years. Or Australia. Or the south of France. I wouldn’t mind trying some time eeking out a living in the tundra up in Alaska. I’d like to do the Iditarod one time. New Zealand has my interest too.

But as it is, my job & family dictate that I live here, in Beirut.
And although Beirut is mighty fascinating, there’s the regret of all these places I will never live in, all these things I will never experience. I can go there on holidays, but holiday is not the same as living.

A wooden fence usually indicates a new building will go up/is going up (in Hamra Street). They soon get plastered with posters of events and movies. My daughter is holding a pair of knitting needles we just bought; she wants to learn how to knit.

Blogging, however, has opened up these places. I can now read other people’s experiences that live there. And when these bloggers post pictures of their daily routines (be it of snow shoveling the drive way in upper state New York, picking berries on the Yukon River, getting rid of hairy huntsman in Adelaide, Australia or the morning after the earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand), it is almost as if I am there myself. It satisfies – up to a certain point – the longing of being there myself.

And so I follow quite a few bloggers, most of them Dutch, who have left Holland and are living in places that I’d like to live sometime. Some of them are expats, but the most interesting ones are the migrants; those that have chosen to stay permanently in their adopted homeland.

Is there government power, or does the light indicate that they’re on generator? I never know the difference. Everyone’s power breaker is right in the open, wires go in all directions. Political posters, and a death announcement (left side) are stuck on the wall.

I find it odd that it is specifically the pictures of simple things that interest me most. Landscapes are always good ones, but the BBQ’s with family in the garden, the standing in line at the A & P and the decorated Christmas tree in the living room somehow display a much more ‘real’ version of life abroad.

You are basically looking into someone else’s living room. I don’t think it has anything to do with voyeurism, although there is a term for people that read other people’s blogs but ever leave comments, and it has a rather negative connotation; ‘lurkers.’  I am in good company; it seems that 99% of the people that visit other sites are lurkers. You do read some very personal things now and then. I have been through two online divorces, and two deaths from cancer.
I am lucky to live in a day and age where blogging is a common thing. It seems that some 20 years ago, in 1999, there were only 23 web logs.

Somebody was moving house in the mountains over the weekend.
Why call in themoving van if you have a tow truck of your own?

So what is my point? Since I enjoy seeing pictures of the simple, day-to-day things in other places, I thought I’d leave you today with some of those pictures, for those who who’d like a glimpse of the ‘normal’ Beirut, because they used to live here once, and are melancholic, or would like to live her one day. Who knows?

Hamra is all hip these days. When I just moved into Hamra, some 20 years ago, the place was a dump.
This could be Paris, no?


nicolien said...

Leuk he, andermans levens.. :)

I think you'll appreciate this: It's called 'Life in a Day', and it's a documentary of an hour and a half about life all over the planet on 24 July 2010. (The above link is the trailer, this is the whole thing). Enjoy...

Gray Fox said...

Even though my granddaughter has completed her studies at AUB and is now writing for the Huffington Post in Washington, D.C., I continue to read your blog with regularity, and from the contents of this post, it's know why....

Nour K said...

a beautiful post! which inspired me to write this: :-)

PepsiCanPat said...

I've always been such a lurker... Luckily (or unluckily) lately I have been trying to change that!

You post reminded me of the now defunct blogs I used to follow in the 90s (none of which are on the list of 23 btw).

I just had to track down the author of the oldest blog I know and email to say thank you, 15 years later :-)

Anonymous said...

i'm one of those lurkers :p

Nick said...

While I now lurk on the patio at Bricks, I try not to do the same on the virtual doorsteps of bloggers lives... and thus will say that a) you really have a point about the better-than-vicarious life in the blogosphere, and b)the unbelievable shortness of our go around here on the planet, which becomes shorter each time we wish we could do one more thing and c) that Hamra really is hip- very like the coolest parts of Montreal, my formerly favourite city.

[ j i m m y ] said...

sietske, the years go on and your blog is still one of my favorites spots. awesome!