Just heard from the BBC that my piece on the rapport the Lebanese have with luxury will be aired today, Thursday, at 11am (UK time) on Radio 4 as part of the programme From our Own Correspondent. It will also go out on the World Service several times. I’ll update with a direct link after the broadcast.
UPDATE: You can listen online here.
Walking through the streets of Paris today everything felt just so… Parisian. I was trying to capture just what made it that way – the wide pavements, the tree-lined avenues, the way the café tables spill out onto the street maybe. But mostly the people. It had been a long time I hadn’t heard a real Parisian accent, that I hadn’t been served by such a brusque waiter, that I hadn’t watched middle-aged women riding bicycles through town and managing to look chic and proper at the same time. No one stared at me or wanted to tease information out of me. Everyone was busy with their own business. The neighbourhood had forgotten all about me – all except the Egyptian concierge who greeted me like an old friend.
Ever since I’ve been accompanied by a baby out and about, everyone in Beirut stops to coo over her, kiss her, marvel over her sling. They always have advice to share on what the baby should be wearing, convinced she’s hot, cold or hungry. As another expat mum pointed out so well, they cluck at her not wearing a hat though no one bats an eyelid when whole families take their babies for a ride on a single moped without a helmet between them.
Waiting for the little green man at the zebra, along with those preoccupied Parisians, I was contemplating the individualism of the West when a lady interrupted my thoughts to warn us that the sun was now shining right into my pushchair. Surprised at her concern, I thanked her and as she strode off with friends, lo and behold she began speaking Lebanese.
The oldest cedars in Lebanon are Arz el Rab, in the north near Bcharre and Wadi Qadisha, but Barouk has bigger forests, at about an hour from Beirut.
It’s the perfect place to escape the summer heat of the capital and soothe the eyes after an overdose of concrete and construction.
Cedars are particular in that they grow upwards for a few decades, then begin growing outwards, hence the sweeping tent-like foliage and those fantastic swollen trunks.
This is the first time I’ve managed to get close enough to see a cicada (une cigale). Usually you just hear them chattering boisterously in the trees above you. For an insect, it makes a real racket.
If anyone out there is knowledgeable with plants, I’d love to know what all these are called.
Among the other projects that have been keeping me busy, there have been some developments in my work, which is why I’m now looking to recruit and train a press analyst. It’s a great opportunity, though I’m looking for excellent language skills, so get in touch if you think you fit the bill, send the link to your talented friends, share it on your social networks – any help spreading the news is appreciated.
You loyal readers out there will have realised that my year has been what you might call bump-shaped and, as a result, posting on Ginger Beirut has been rather bumpy too. However, I’m happy to say things are now levelling off and there’s plenty more commentary to come on that topic of which I never tire, the Lebanese in his natural habitat. I’m not promising an entirely smooth run, so subscribing is still a smart idea. Thanks to all those who sent comments and emails (it’s nice to be missed!) and thanks to all the lurkers for just hanging in there.