I am interested in the daily lives of people and how they deal with situations. When I just moved here (in 1990), I found it hard to comprehend that people could have lived normal lives while there was a war going on. Just as I found it hard to understand, when I was in high school and in history class, how people could survive the 100 year war in Europe. I mean, wasn’t everyone supposed to be dead after a hundred years of war? How could anyone survive a war that lasts a hundred years?
But as I know now, war is never full-scale, nor is it 24/7. Troops have to rest as well. After many years in country, I know that living, while a conflict is raging, is quite feasible. It may be unpleasant at times, you may have to move places, and it requires adaptations, but life will go on. It even gets incorporated into your daily life. Take road directions, for instance.
We don’t normally work with street names in Beirut. Directions are given with the help of popular landmarks, such as old buildings, or shops (that sometimes are no longer there, but the name holds the place). Now explosions are added to the list of landmarks.
I need to go to an office in Ashrafiya. I am not sure where it is and call the place if they can give me directions. It is in Sassine (meaning 'in the neighborhood of Sassine Square') . I know that. But where in Sassine? The lady on the other end of the line provides me with some shop names, but I do not know any of them. Restaurants? Doesn’t ring a bell either.
“Mmmmmm,” thinks the lady out loud, ‘okay, do you know where that bomb went off? in Ashrafiya?"
"Bomb? Which one?"
"The one of Wissam Eid ?”
Yes I do, I went there.
“Well, it’s right there!” she exclaims happily, glad to have found something we both know.
I find that utterly fascinating. How conflict creeps into our daily lives.