Fall seven times and stand up eight – Japanese proverb
So yesterday was a very mixed bundle. Since, as will soon become apparent, the number seven was key, I’ll start by giving seven examples of the emotional roller coaster ride I went on in the space of a day.
1) The day began terribly. Everitte and I finally made it to the Indian Embassy, after two mornings spent trying to find it last week and failing miserably, only to be told that they would not issue us with a tourist visa for our trip, which is in less than a month, because we don’t have residency permits.
2) We came home and spent several hours looking on the internet for possible solutions, stressed because we had already spent over $300 each on non-refundable flights and apparently shipping passports across international borders to get visas elsewhere is very difficult and possibly illegal. I was running late for my internship at the newspaper by this point, and had an article due in a few hours, and ended up screaming at poor Everitte like a demented harpy-woman, which unsurprisingly lead to a fight. It was raining and life seemed like too much hard work.
3) I suddenly had a wonderful idea: why not fly to Kathmandu and spend some time in Nepal and get our Indian visas there? Both of us have always wanted to go and the flights are insanely cheap – $140 each way from Beirut. On inquiring at the Saudi Arabian Airlines about flight changes we were told that it was fine to cancel one or both legs of our flight and we could get a full refund! What service! Suddenly the day was bright and all was well with the world.
4) I got to work, which since Sunday is a new building about 15 minutes walk from where it was last week. Due move, which was conducted in a single day, the office is still in chaos, and I spent a couple of awkward hours moving between five different computers to find one which worked and wasn’t needed by someone who actually had a real job to do, before eventually deciding to give up and go home and work from there.
5) As I was leaving I chatted to Annie, the lovely woman who is in charge of the culture section while the usual editor is away covering the Rotterdam Film Festival. She asked what I was doing in Lebanon and I told her I wanted to improve my Arabic and that eventually I’d like to work for the paper properly but I guessed I’d need some more experience first. She said “Why? Your writing is very good, I can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t want more from you!” I almost danced out of the office.
6) I went for dinner at Maarten and Renko’s house. The food was amazing, the wine was flowing, the company was excellent… and suddenly it hit me: we were talking about taxes. How it happened I will never know, but rather than celebrating our youth, discussing cool clubs, non-commercial music and impractical sexual positions, we were actually discussing the difference in taxation systems between Holland and the UK. And even worse – we were all interested! Maarten had just told us that in Holland people have to pay a tax on dogs and it was like he’d just invented tequila. Our minds were blown.
7) Finally, and happily, something rather lovely happened in the morning which kept me smiling through the low points of the day: the absolutely hilarious Cristy Carrington Lewes, author of the endlessly entertaining Paltry Meanderings of a Taller than Average Woman, awarded me the 7×7 Link Blog Award.
Aah… now the number seven theme begins to come clear, you see.
As Paltry Meanderings is one of my favourite blogs I was extremely flattered anyway – added to which it was recently very deservedly featured on Freshly Pressed, and has since starting to gain the kind of large following it should have… which makes me even more happy that I was one of the seven blogs chosen by Cristy from among her hordes of fans.
Rules and Regulations:
The award comes with some three rules, each involving seven things. There it is again, that magic number.
Firstly, I am supposed to reveal seven things about myself that you don’t already know. In the interests of preventing this post from continuing forever into the dim mists of time I have decided that the seven facts about my day above will do on this front, as unless you are some kind of creepy stalker and have been following me very quickly you probably were not previously aware of them.
Next I am supposed to link seven of my previous posts to the following categories: Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, Most Popular, Most Beautiful, Most Helpful, Most Controversial and Most Pride-Worthy.
Most Surprisingly Successful: Breathtaking Baalbek: Wandering the Ruins of the Ancient World. I enjoyed writing this post, but it was very heavy on the facts and figures, so I didn’t expect others to enjoy it as much as they did, based on the number of likes and comments.
Most Underrated: The Hidden Treasures of Tyre and a meeting with Mr. Hezbollah. I think this post got swallowed up by one which came soon after, which was a shame. It was based on one of my most interesting experiences in Lebanon, a day in the war-torn South and a conversation with a salesman slash member of Hezbollah.
Most popular: Healing Images – Beirut’s Graffiti. My most recent post has definitely proved the most popular so far – light on words and heavy on images, perhaps that is the key to success in the blog world. In which case this post will be an amazing failure.
Most beautiful: Adventures in the Valley of the Saints. This post is about one of my most exciting (and terrifying) adventures in Lebanon to date, and full of pictures of the Qadisha Valley, one of the most beautiful places for hiking I’ve ever been.
Most Helpful: I don’t know that any of my posts are particularly helpful. I guess maybe A New Life in Lebanon, as it might help someone in the very specific case that they happened to be flat-hunting in Beirut… clearly helpfulness is something I need to work on!
Most controversial: Beirut Snapshots: My grown up “son” and the epic battle with Libanpost. This post has not lead to any great scandal, as far as I am aware, but it certainly lead to a spirited discussion of the culpability or otherwise of the eccentric Libanpost employees and their soap opera intrigues.
Most prideworthy: Behind the Scenes of Lebanon’s Nightlife. Again this post has been rather lost in the ether, but it remains one of my favourites. I did after all spend a number of weekends working for $2 an hour in a smoky bar full of dubious young men all for the sake of blog research (and food money!)
And the award goes to… lots of people!
Well, seven actually. Imagination is not the strong point of this post.
Finally I get to choose seven other blogs I enjoy reading and pass the award on to them, so that the whole cycle can begin again. I’m going to try not to repeat any of the ones I chose last time, for the sake of variety.
Jmmcdowell – this blog from archeologist cum novelist jm is one of my favourites, and I’m happy to be able to pass an award back to her after she very kindly awarded me the Lovely blog award a few weeks ago, thereby making me think this all had some purpose to it.Her blog is both entertaining and, unlike mine, it is also helpful as she shares her experiences as an author from how to name characters to how to avoid having your book pigeon-holed.
Edudad – a funny and insightful series of posts from a father and primary school teacher
Loving the ride – an original and engaging travel blog from a bicycle loving wanderer
Everywhere once – the adventures of Brian and Shannon who have been travelling non-stop now for over a year
Putnik – this guy makes me laugh a LOT. Plus he likes travelling which is always a bonus.
Vagabonde: Sara Van Note – this elementary school teacher from New Mexico left it all behind to move to Nicaragua. Her blog is fascinating, and makes me quite jealous. Her account of life in a new country is more or less what I am trying to achieve here – but she does it better!
Paris at my Doorstep – Coincidentally the author of this blog has many a thing in common with me: we both have post office soap opera stories, we both lived in Edinburgh and France and we both spend our free time making origami Christmas decorations. More importantly her blog about her life in Paris is pretty cool. Check it out.
Well, that completes the honours for today. If you got this far… well done. Have a biscuit. You earned it.