...That's so Lebanese

January 17, 2011
Sinan Abi Farraj

December 1, 2010

…That’s so Lebanese

I live in a small country that is too tiny to be placed on a map, but if by any luck it was, you better bring the microscope. This country is Lebanon. Here everyone knows everything about everyone, and they might even be related to them! If you were in another country you could easily spot a Lebanese person miles away. It’s not because of their smell or because of their looks it’s because of their actions.

The last two weeks of summer and nothing exciting had happened. I was sitting in front of the T.V. waiting for what the critics said to be a great movie to start. It said on the catalog that it starts at 2:30, but only God knew what time it is now. Any equipment that told time was not in my reach; I had to stand up and walk to get it. I was too tired and comfortable with my position to stand up and bring it. Suddenly the electricity went off. Oh yeah its 2 pm now …that’s so Lebanese.

Every morning on my way to school with my dad we stop to buy manakish (a Lebanese breakfast which is either cheese or thyme in bread then put in the oven). My dad, as usual, steps out of our Mercedes and makes his way to the shop. He tells the waiter our order, and while he is waiting for our food to be ready he starts to talk with any random person over there or the waiter. After about five minutes, when our order is ready my dad would have already talked about everything with him; from politics to the weather. Also he would know all about that person’s life, and the person would know, as well, everything about my father’s life. My dad doesn’t care what kind of a car he has or his salary, he just cares about one thing; he is Lebanese. Now every time they would meet at that shop they would talk as if they have been friends for years …that’s so Lebanese.

As I walk down the Corniche, a long street across the shore in Beirut, I could gaze at young men jogging back and forth for more hours than you can count. Then, in the middle, as always, you see the elderly people that say that they are out for a jog to get energized and healthy, but that would be just the cover for them to get out of the house. The whole three hours they spend on the Corniche they don’t do anything but stretch …that’s so Lebanese.

At the corner, you can spot a couple of old women in their fifties stretching with earphones plugged in their ears, listening to their Black Berries. Every single one of them has a Black Berry cover to match their jogging suits. And every single one of them looks exactly like the others from the plastic surgery that was done so they could look like a famous singer. And of course they all put on too much make up so they could hide their freckles from aging which is apparently not working; instead they are being made as a monster to scare your child …that’s so Lebanese.

If you come to Lebanon, you can’t not visit the “nite” clubs (as they say it in Lebanon) and enjoy the “nite” life here. As surprising as it gets, the city of Beirut, never, ever, sleeps. It is like working on a 24/7 motor (unlike the generators here). At night, all the clubs are open at least one bar per street, waiting for the daily costumers to come inside and pour their hearts out to one random person sitting next to them …that’s so Lebanese.

But if you come to any bar you can’t miss this view: The view of the Lebanese guys standing outside the bars with “beeras” (beers) in their hands waiting for any simple conflict just so they can throw some punches here and there to start a real fight. All the woman inside the bar are fully dressed up with their expensive dresses that looks like it should be worn for their weddings, and all the men there are wearing tank tops. Our slogan here for the bash people in Lebanon is “War, We Party” ….that’s so Lebanese.

Walking through the streets of Beirut you will notice army men sitting in their tanks at the end of each intersection. This procedure was required after the incident in May 2007. Instead of those men protecting the people they just sit there all day checking out woman from their V.I.P. seat on top of the tanks, calling out on them. And their tanks and equipment and even their clothes are all camouflage, because no one is able notice them in the middle of a crowded area …that’s so Lebanese.

This is just Lebanon and how Lebanese people see their country. It’s not about the wars that has and will (God forbid) happen. Lebanon is all about its people and how we adapt to our life here. This might not be the best country in the world, but it’s just all we need for now and we love it just the way it is …that’s so Lebanese.

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