Irks and quirks

Beirut highway

imagine crossing this on foot

It has been a full year since I arrived in this exuberant scrap of a country. With time you get used to the irks and attached to the quirks. Here are a handful of typically Lebanese idiosyncrasies that still have me baffled.

Look out for upcoming bridges over the motorway. In the heat of summer these are a favourite point for crossing the six-lane highway as they cast a strip of cool shadow across the tarmac. Covering the crossings would at least provide the shade that people otherwise seek underneath at the risk of ending up under a pile-up.

It’s a cash culture. Forget your plastic friends and flash your cash instead. Daily life requires a range of bills in both dollars and lira. From the green beans off the back of a truck to a car, everything is paid in cash.

Queuing is a free for all. It’s your turn as soon as you manage to get the attention of the man behind the desk. This involves sidestepping that ornamental rope barrier and leaning between him and the person he is already dealing with.

The dress code still puzzles me. It’s ok to pop out and buy a paper from the corner kiosk in your pyjamas and dressing gown, but it’s not ok to go to a wedding in anything but a spanking new one-of-a-kind ball gown.

And finally, Lebanese dads call their kids “daddy” and mums call their kids “mummy”. A cute but strange habit I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of.

This post will be featured in a Blogsherpa blog carnival on unique customs and habits around the world by Lonely Planets favourite bloggers over at La Tortuga Viajera.

One Response to “Irks and quirks”

  1. Danielle says:

    It’s really col how ur blog is featured on Lonely Planet. Are you planning on staying in this “exuberant scrap of a country” much longer? :D

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