Still in a Beirut Daze

     There’s a very pretty 20 year old Japanese girl on her own in the hostel and it seems like every guy here is trying to make a move. In a place like Beirut where everyone has been traveling for a while in the region, let’s just say the males around here are, um, “restive”.
     I asked her what kind of no-good mother would let her lithe, nubile, raven-haired daughter run around the Middle East by herself—I didn’t phrase it like that—and she said her mother only asked her to bring back souvenirs.
     I had made small talk with her in Japanese in the lobby and then later when some guys came to chat her up, an American who was frustrated with her English shouted, “We have to speak English! Americans only speak English!”
     We furtively glanced at each other with barely perceptible smiles.
     You’re all invited to the wedding.
     My two dorm-mates are from Paris and Sacramento and how about the coincidence that those two cities have the most trees per capita in the world? Did you know that? is a nonstop learning experience—and I don’t charge a penny! It’s just not right.

     Beirut still surprises me. I went for a long east-west walk across town and saw the bombed-out old Holiday Inn from the civil war, then a section of town that looked tres francais, then the American University of Beirut campus that made me feel like I was back at my old school, UC-Santa Barbara.

     Yup, it's an American university all right. I miss college.

     I see all kinds of crazy things, like tanks downtown. (My first night I saw a tank roll down a busy boulevard. Can’t remember ever seeing that before.) There is lots of barbed wire, lots of guys in camouflage with big guns and yet, joggers run along the corniche (boardwalk) and people go about their normal lives as if they aren’t there, which is what you have to do, I suppose.
     I did a double-take when I heard a passing car blast “Jump" by Van Halen and then again when I heard another car proud of “Don’t Stop Believing" by Journey. I heard an old man’s ringtone of “I Will Survive". Another elderly guy drove me in a service taxi (an old Mercedes acting as cross between a bus and a taxi) like a hellfire 18 year old kid with the keys to his dad’s car for the first time. There’s a main street called Rue Bliss. It’s all very strange.

     Beirut: it's a little bit of everything

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Still in a Beirut Daze — 2 Comments

  1. Rue Bliss got its name from Daniel Bliss, the founder of the American University of Beirut.

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