Streets of Beirut XXIV

These cable reels are all across town, keeping the heaps of damp sand and soggy workmen company. I find them mesmerising.

streets Beirut


Utilitarian yet somehow elegant.

There is bread and salt between us

Récits et Recettes by Walid Mouzannar

Récits et Recettes by Walid Mouzannar

Even a cookbook can tell you a great deal about Lebanese society. This weekend I was at my father-in-law’s maternal cousin’s husband’s book signing in Sursock. (That sentence of course would just slip off the tongue in Arabic.) The book comprises two main parts, the first half being personal anecdotes, traditions and family tales and the second being recipes.

What I didn’t expect to find was an index at the end dedicated solely to names of people mentioned in the book. On a double-page spread all the surnames which appear in the book are listed alphabetically next to the relevant page (or pages for a happy few).

Now most people aspire to some kind of fame, especially in a small community where fame is easier to achieve and always seems to be almost within reach.

I remember a writer from the local gazette of the small town I grew up in pointing out that for every local person mentioned in the paper because they caught a large fish, won a dog show, or broke  Read the rest of this entry »

Streets of Beirut XXIII

This yellow painted store in Mar Mikhael sells nothing but bananas.

Mar Mikhael shops Beirut

passing time at the banana shop

Running a small shop is one of the more fortunate professions when one gets to retirement age but has no pension to speak of. You can still spend your days drinking coffee, sitting out on the pavement, chatting with the neighbours and picking your ears, like all old men should.