Friday, September 17, 2010

August/September 2010

Your blog editor has been delinquent… Too busy enjoying showing new ACS people, notably my dear friend Kristina and her daughter, around. And getting started as an ESL tutor (still in the 3 hours to plan a 1 hour lesson stage). And trip planning! UK in November and Sri Lanka in December with the boys. And worrying about how to pay for it all.

Here is Kristina’s arrival, and photos from a walking tour of downtown for new ACS staff, the ladies preparing to enter an ancient mosque, and prayer times for the day.

A lovely trip to the Shouf (mountain area about 40 minutes from Beirut, home to many of the country’s Druze) with my friends Elisabeth and Sarah, and Kristina’s daughter Rebecca. We had a mezze lunch in the shadow of a waterfall.A

And the Hamra street fair—held for the first time in 12 years—in celebration of the end of the month long Ramadan fasting. Great fun! Very kitschy and very fun. The scheduled start time was 5 but it began at 6 (the joke was that the foreigners were there at 4:30), Lebanon time. It happened in fits and starts, a huge bouquet of balloons released, then a group of mounted police (or maybe army?), all carrying huge Lebanese flags, very dashing. They walked a bit, then broke into a mad canter, down the people- lined street. Wow! Crowd control here very, very different than the US. But people are alert, and no one was trampled.

In fact throughout the parade people wandered back and forth across the street among the paraders.

There was a long pause of maybe 15 minutes before the next group: the Harley Club of Lebanon. Yup, they’re everywhere. Must have been 100 of them, drivers all decked out in leather. Even a couple of women (I cheered). They were followed by the Bug Club—VW beetles (I learned they are called ladybugs in French), 40 or 50 of various ages and levels of add-on accessories.

A couple of mimes, some guys on stilts, a few clowns. A modern fire truck (ah, there are at least TWO fire trucks in Beirut then!) and a policeman handing out plastic hats and horns.

The AUB Music Club, about 6 of them, playing some music inaudible due to the group immediately behind, another small group with music.

A large troop of goose-stepping scouts.

A small group from a bank, with some unintelligible message.

Long pause. Miss Beirut in an open vehicle.

An MEA (Middle Eastern Airlines) “plane”, atop a truck frame—had engine trouble in the intersection near us that was fairly quickly remedied.

A smiling old man driving a decorated water cart, pulled by a donkey with a lame leg.

A bunch of kids dressed up like clowns, sitting in the bed of a pickup truck. Another pause.

A group of traditional dancers, men, with accompanying music—very nice.

A semi with a see-through payload of an apparatus designed to demonstrate the effect of a motorcycle crash on a helmetless driver, with a “driver” wearing a huge donkey head, donkey being a term used to describe fools. A rare public education campaign.

Long pause, diesel fumes from the semi.

A last entry of a float, on which sat people in kimonos, two of whom were playing a large go game. Signs were all in Japanese and we had no idea who they were.

The end.

Later, great fireworks that we watched from the roof of our building. We wondered if they had been set off from the middle of Hamra St. Could well be.

The next day we set off for Sur/Tyr in the south. A nice, relaxing overnight trip with friends.


Travel agency offering “Civil Wedding Summer Offers” in one or two day packages ($1500/$1600, with visas). In other words, a quick trip to Cyprus to get married by a justice of the peace. Only religious ceremonies are performed in Lebanon.



Redskins College

Springfield 24
New York college
Born in Europe

A store sign:
Compu Bash

And a billboard for a local university, recruiting teachers:

We need your free word
(something lost in translation perhaps)

And lastly, in the OMG department, heard while shopping in the upmarket grocery store downtown: the theme from Exodus.