August 29, 2013

On Edge

Everyone’s a bit on an edge these days.
The recent car bombs, heightened tensions between the sunni and shia sects, and the prospect of Syria being bombed within a week have not exactly calmed the mood on the street. Syrians are escaping their country in droves; some 7,000 have crossed the borders into Lebanon in the past 24 hours, while I hear through some friends of my daughter – UN children – that they are being evacuated out of Lebanon within 24 hours. That’s all very uplifting: Syrians are moving out because the UN has basically given the green light that they could be bombed, and the UN is moving out because that decision is going to cost them.

A 'Zaffeh' company in a village in the mountains, waiting for the bride and groom to arrive at the wedding, so they can introduce them with a traditional Zaffeh dance. I passed by 4 weddings this Sunday while driving through the mountains.
We, the Lebanese, in the meantime, are not going anywhere. And I really mean ‘not anywhere’: Traffic is a DELIGHT! I have never gotten around town so fast as this, except maybe during Israeli bombings, then cars tend to dissipate into the unknown as well. I can now find a parking spot in front of my office, which is bordering on the miraculous.
The villages in the mountains, on the other hand, are very busy. Those that can escape Beirut, do so. Not due to the situation though, I think. Schools haven't started, and for many families there's no reason yet to be in Beirut.
Shopping malls and city centers are empty. Beaches, on the other hand, are still reasonably packed, but that’s probably because people are afraid to go to other public places. Terrorists don’t swim, maybe.
Time is of no consequence at all. If you meet a friend on the road, you talk to him. No matter that you're blocking the road, and traffic backing up is not an indication that you should cut your conversation short.
This silence before the storm is always a special time in the sense that it brings people closer together. I like the emptiness on the streets. The engaged conversations we have over what will happen or might happen or could happen or should. Everyone’s got an opinion. Blogger Qifa Nabki calles them very appropriately "old parlor game that we call: “Motives & Mysteries”.
I am afraid the entire affair will fizzle out however, when Obama is going to say that the evidence handed to him (regarding the chemical attack in Damascus) is not quite convincing enough to bomb someone else’s country. But that’s just my opinion.
On another note, I just learned that the light house (the new one) has not been operational since the Israelis bombed it in 2006. The old one, seen here, was working for a short while yesterday (August 28), but I think it was just for a TV documentary.


Anonymous said...

The UN is not abandoning Lebanon. A few families are leaving but most UN families are still here. If the situation further deteriorates, the many remaining spouses and children may be evacuated at some point, but UN officers would remain. In fact, the UN still has its offices open within Syria itself, it would not be so quick to abandon Lebanon!

Sietske said...

Thanks for pointing that out. :)