Peacetime bedlam

men at work in the dark

One thing that hits you in Beirut is the constant commotion. The air is always laden with shouting, drilling, generator chugging, car alarms, sirens, wedding fireworks and screeching brakes. Drivers voluntarily add to the noise by leaning on their horns at random but frequent occasions. The result is a healthy din. All this type of noise means peace and prosperity. Making noise means you are alive. When there is peace, the Lebanese build on Sundays, on bank holidays, they build in the dark, huge beams lighting up multi-storey buildings after the swift nightfall. Cranes mushroom across the city overnight adding storey after storey of luxury apartments and office blocks.

In sharp contrast, at times of fighting all is quiet save for the dry staccato of machine guns and the more substantial thud of RPGs. Unless the gun battles are on your doorstep, this is often quieter than an average day of peacetime cacophony. In May 2008, when Hizbollah fought for,  Read the rest of this entry »