March 10, 2012

On Days Off, Road Rage and Zen

My children had the day off on Friday. Teacher’s Day. It’s because we do not have enough holidays in this place. I mean, we only have 18 official days off, and that’s cutting it a bit tight. So we need another one.

Plenty of snow to keep us going til the end of March

I am not complaining, because I got to ski on a Friday, which is a rare luxury for me. Friday is better, because they charge you weekday prices, and it isn’t as busy, since there are still some poor folks in this country that do work (for a living). A friend of mine links the number of public holidays to the state of the economy, since in Holland we only have 11 days off, and we do significantly better. I disagree. The Greek have 14 days off, and they don’t do much better than we do these days.

Friday also means the traffic isn’t as heavy. Or so I thought. Turns out that doesn’t make any difference at all. People that ski obvisouly don't work. I sort of had that impression already.

Which gets me to the next topic; road rage.
Last week my daughter and I observed a fantastic scene while picking her up from school. We crossed Hamra street at a green light, but since nobody really pays any attention to the color of the traffic light, we had to do quite a bit of ‘car dodging’. One young man even had to knock on someone’s car hood to draw his attention to the fact that it was green for the pedestrians and to make sure he wouldn’t get run over. Well, the owner of the car did not like that one bit. He turned the palms of both of his hands up (a gesture meaning ‘what do you want?’) and mouthed “Shou Bik!?” (What’s wrong with you?).

What’s wrong with me?” replied the young man, pointing to his own chest. “What’s wrong with me?

That sounded like a regular Al Pacino . And indeed. The verbal abuse lasted only a few seconds, and then the rage took over. The young man walked over to the driver’s door, opened it and entered the vehicle.

Walls of snow

And there we watched from the sidelines the little yellow car bobbing up and down as the young man obviously exerted some type of strenuous activity on the driver. By now the light had turned green for the traffic, and while some cars tried to circumvent this shaking car, others just honked their horn in anger, not aware that someone inside the car was about to be killed. Finally some taxi drivers noticed, and they blocked the remaining traffic flow as they stopped their cabs and tried to separate the two men inside the car. Priceless!

By now of course, the jam was complete, a cacophony of horns were all over the street, and two severely bruised gentlemen, were sent their separate ways. I regret not taking any pictures.

Running into friends at the slopes is probably the best thing about skiing, according to my daughter

So Friday to Feraya still had the usual traffic jams. Which somehow got my daughter to the topic of “How did that Zen workshop work out for you, Mom?”

Yes. That Zen Workshop. Some time ago, a buddhist monk in the making (with the brain of an advertising guy in the body of a nightclub doorman, according to his Twitter account) went on a yearlong spiritual quest’  to find inspiring people. His adventure, called The Quest for the 21st Centrury Warrior, brought him to Beirut where he offered a 5 hour (!) workshop.

The blurb read ‘The goal is to give you a better understanding of yourself and the other. My workshops are 'experiential' which means that you will actually feel better, more open, wiser and more understanding afterwards. Also, you will experience meditative states and inner peace.’

Well, god knows I could use some inner peace. Besides, I have a sister-in-law who is a buddhist, and I tell you, she never loses her cool, yet lives with my brother, so I am in awe of the power of buddha. Out came to yoga pants (I thought I was going to sit there and meditate) and off I went to this ‘guy in the body of a nightclub doorman’. Make no mistake, he sure was a Zen guy in the body of a bouncer.
I had assumed however that I’d be sitting there with 20 other ‘strangers’ who’d give this Zen business a try.

And playing in the snow is even better than skiing

Turns out he had called all my friends. And apparently they were all looking for some ‘inner peace’. It probably has to do with living in Beirut.
It is ‘life in the fast lane’ here on a constant basis, and being ‘a woman of a certain age’, you want to be heading the platoon out of fear of being left behind. We are, of course, mounting the rear guard, as my son will point out on a daily basis.

So how did the Zen workshop go? I learned that my voice of skepticism is probably a whole heck of a lot more present than I assumed it was. I think I am too pragmatic. And participating in a Zen workshop with your friends present, while having to open up all your ‘inner voices’, well . . . I am not yet in that mindset. My ‘yoga outfit’ was not needed either.

I need more practice. Until then, I find great ‘soulagement’ honking my horn, use a body part that has a name but which my daughter refers to as ‘the F-word finger’ and resorting to all kinds of language while I hear my child in the back of the car say “there’s another one for my swear jar!

Well, I am all Zen here

So no Zen for me just yet. But a day on the slopes, in the sun, does it for me too. I’m all chilled.

1 comment:

Hanan said...

Dear Sietske, your blog is lovely! The pic you took in the snow is amazing! It circulated on facebook but not until now did i notice that it was you who took it. Great job :-)

Do you have a facebook fan page for your blog? (it's easier to follow the blog that way)

If you're interested in cafés and restaurants in Beirut, check out my blog for posts about the amazing places I discover ;-)