Two Easters in Lebanon

One week back in Beirut and I’m struggling to get back into a routine now that I’m not in the office everyday. I’ve spent a lot of my time baby-sitting little Sam, celebrating his first ever easter by decorating the little tree on the balcony with easter decorations (Sam was far more interested in the packaging that the decorations) and dying eggs to make a colourful easter basket. Sam loved the dye, as he is going through a phase where he is obsessed with water, and very much enjoyed splashing the colours all over me, himself, the table, the floor, his high-chair and everything else in a three-metre radius.

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Beirut Snapshots: Valentine’s in a gay bar and the invisible man

I’ve had a rather exhausting but very fun week reviewing three plays in Arabic, followed by a lazy weekend which was spent not partying but doing rather mundane but necessary things. I spent yesterday cleaning the house, which in my absence has become a cess-pit, then baby-sitting last night and today cleaning all my clothes, which over the past couple of weeks have over-flowed the basket and made their way in a steady mass across the floor forming an impregnable fortress between bed and door.

Everitte went to the post office again on Friday and was once again served by Shireen. Having not seen Noor in a long time he inquired as to her whereabouts and was told that she had left. “She told me you upset her very much,” Shireen said to him. “But she wouldn’t tell me why.”

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So many words, so little time…

This week for the first time I’ve got four articles in the paper, which is great, but has left me no time to write my blog, something I’d been trying very hard to do regularly.

The work for the paper has been amazing, I really love writing every day on topics I’ve chosen, after the years at university writing about topics chosen for me.

In the past few weeks I’ve covered five art exhibitions, with another one scheduled for tomorrow, as well as three concerts, a graphic novel and a web-documentary. I’ve met some very interesting people and so far have enjoyed every stage of the process, from the preparation to the interviews to the writing.

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Fall Seven Times and Stand Up Eight

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. Continue reading

Beirut Snapshots: baby versus dog, a burning car and the post office saga continues

Over the last week my life has suddenly got about three times as busy. I’ve gone from working for Everitte, helping to answer his emails and deal with commissions for his calligraphy, a job which clearly left me with far too much time on my hands – as evidenced by my taking an entire day to shoddily sew one giant pair of trousers out of two perfectly good, reasonably sized pairs:

And by my spending another whole day last month making my own Christmas decorations for our tiny Christmas tree: Continue reading

Living life à la Shakespeare and an offer of marriage

I start an internship with Lebanon’s biggest English language paper, The Daily Star, on Monday. My nervousness is battling my excitement at the moment and I’m not sure which is winning. I have been doing some freelance writing and translation since I’ve moved to Lebanon, but this will be my first time in a news office – first time in an office at all for that matter! Any tips on how to make a good impression would be very welcome – while I’m not expecting a short internship to lead to a job offer it can’t hurt to give it my best shot…

Yesterday I spent the morning interviewing a graffiti artist for my graffiti article (more on that soon) and then went to Karantina, a big industrial area of Beirut near the docks, to photography some of the graffiti in a less residential area – lots of wall space and factories plus less people milling around at night equals bigger, bolder and more imaginative graffiti. On the way back I took a servees and met a fascinating man, in some ways the epitome of Lebanon’s two sides: modern, liberal and forward-thinking, while at the same time still very traditional and conservative about certain issues. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes of Lebanon’s Nightlife

Beirut’s Nightlife

Five weeks into life in Beirut I got a part-time job doing what I’ve always done to support myself while studying in the UK: bar and waitressing work. After a brief chat with one of the three young owners of Secteur 75, a new late night bar and restaurant in Beirut’s up-and-coming Mar Michael area, I agreed to start training on the bar three nights a week.

Going out in Lebanon is not casual affair. Continue reading