Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Communication Breakdown

One of the most daunting problems I have to deal with since my return to Lebanon is to no surprise, People. It's not about the way they dress, nor their system of beliefs, nor their hopes , dreams or the lack thereof.
I am highly shocked , to say the least, at the failure of a lot of lebanese I met so far to communicate with each other in a proper civilized manner. The context of this problem goes beyond political or religious discussions and actually extends to everyday conversations, whether at work , home or any other gathering place.
I am starting to see the same pattern repeating itself over and over. Its a general tendency to crush, intimidate, or insult the person at the other end of the communication line.
After a long and painful observation period , I have come to the conclusion that this collective behaviour is nothing but a manifestation of the low-self esteem and inferiority complex that haunts most lebanese.
Proving someone else to be wrong, or putting them into a corner seems to be the most favourite method of "feeling better about one's self". So they thrive to outsmart each other in every single sentence, even claim to understand something they actually know nothing about, and eventually offer to give you lessons about the subject.
This obsession with the "I" thats obviously predominant in this society, is actually an indicator of a highly dysfunctional society, to the point of Paranoia....
Hopefully , my stay in this psych ward will not start to affect my own mental sanity.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

You'll adapt or maybe not

Six Months after I've been to Beirut, I seem to have failed to accomplish the prophecy made upon me by almost every individual I've met so far, The famous "You'll adapt" Prophecy. Every time that I've tried pointing out something that I thought was really wrong, I get looked at weirdly like If I fell from another solar system.
So I sadly would like to inform you that I wont be able to make it, I refuse to adapt to wrong doing and just cause "thats the way things happen round here" is not reason enough.
I want to still get angry at every idiot that blinds me with the "cool projectors" he installed on his Jeep, car or pickup truck while driving at night. I've been around and I've had deers, cats and the like jump in front of my car while driving at night, but only in lebanon do you have PEOPLE crossing the road in the middle of the night like if they're on a slow motion picnic! God damn it!
And no I do not want to adapt to people whois first uttered words when they first meet you are "where are you from" before they even have introduced themselves.
AND I certainly don't want to get convinced that syrian construction workers are animals and they should be treated as such. And I will keep treating them well and paying them them well and try to memorize their names.
I don't want to get used to people mixing three languages thinking its cool saying stuff like " lek , lets go la3end le Boulanger"...
I don't want to talk about politics at work, and I certainly don't want to bribe the consultant engineer.
On another note, pretty sunny weather in Beirut today so why don't we go skying in the morning and then swimming in the afternoon. yes RIGHT!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Admittance is the first step to recovery

zerolando said...

"Its funny how each and every lebanese thinks he's got the magic recipe to the lebanese dilemna. So as usual , they all, just like you in this post, indulge in giving lessons in Democracy, a freedom they've never even tasted before. Talk about oxymorons. Your words my friend, are like thin air, they failed cause they've got no weight. In real life time politics ,it simply means your words have got no credibility. And its not because you're an avid supporter of the loyals or the opposition. Its simply because you're a "lebanese political party" supporter. That by itself carries a lot of meanings, the most relevant of which is that you are not Playmakers within the same political parties to which you claim you adher. Not once, in the history of this country, have I seen one lebanese "leader" come up and publicly say something that is against his own personal opinion/interest, but says it anyway because the majority of his party constituents decided so.(Tony Blair and the complete adherence of the UK to the European Monetary union is one such simple example. Tony Blair really wanted it, but people voted against it in the referendum, thus it did not happen). Not once has a lebanese leader made a referendum. Not once those who are actually mobilized to march on the street for this side or that side,in Downtown or Roueiss, been allowed to vote in their respective political party. So do not claim you talk in the name of which you don't understand. Because in this country, you're all sheep. If Lebanon was the NBA, you're certainly not the players, not even those who sit on the bench. You're rather the cheerleading team. You go down the "game court" when you're asked to, you make noise when you're asked to, you entertain when you're asked to, and you leave the court no questions asked.
So if you really care about your country as you would like us to believe, maybe you should admit that none of you actually practice the democracy they preach each other about, not even in your own homes. Admittance is the first step to recovery.
Good Day"

Thursday, February 7, 2008


The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity is that I think it has something very important to offer us for the new century. I’m afraid we’re losing the real virtues of living life passionately, sense of taking responsibility for who you are, the ability to make something of yourself and feeling good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it’s a philosophy of despair. But I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre once interviewed said he never really felt a day of despair in his life. But one thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as a real kind of exuberance of feeling on top of it. It’s like your life is yours to create. I’ve read the postmodernists with some interest, even admiration. But when I read them, I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more that you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as fragmented or marginalized, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he’s not talking about something abstract. He’s not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It’s something very concrete. It’s you and me talking. Making decisions. Doing things and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in the world and counting. Nevertheless, what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms. Makes a difference to other people and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never simply write ourselves off and see ourselves as the victim of various forces. It’s always our decision who we are.

Philosophy professor Robert Solomon, at the University of Texas at Austin

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

We are the Authors

In this place, life is not a dream. Beware, Beware and Beware.

And so many people think because "Then" happened, "Now" isn´t. We are all co-Authors of this exhuberance where even our inabilities are having a roast. We are the authors of ourselves, co-Authors of a big Dostoevsky Novel , starring Clowns.This thing we´re involved with called the World, is an opportunity to exhibit how exciting alienation can be. Life is a matter of a miracle that is collected over time by moments flabbergasted to be in each other´s presence.

The world is an exam to see if we can rise into direct experience. Our eyesight is here as a test to see if we can see beyond it.Matter is here as a test for our curiousity. Doubt is here as a test for our vitality. Thomas Mann once wrote, that he would rather participate in life then write 100 stories. Giacometti was once run by a car, and he recalled falling into a lucid faint, a sudden exhilaration, as he realised that finally something was happening to him.

An assumption develops that you cannot understand life and live life simultaneously. I do not agree entirely. Which is to say I do not exactly disagree. I would say that life understood is life lived. But the paradoxes bug me, and I can learn to love and make love to the paradoxes that bug me. And on really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion. Lorca said that the Iguana will bite those who do not dream. And as one realises that one is a dream figure in somebody else´s dream, that is self awareness.

A Waking Life.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A New Resolution

So I've finally decided its time to move out. Hold on , Let me explain. I just came back to Lebanon some 6 months ago(feels like 6 years), and I was pretty hesitant at the beginning to just come back home and say "hey folks, I am here, I am getting my own place". I hesitated simply because I haven't seen my family for 5 years, and I didn't want to be seen as an insensitive bastard(which I usually am). So I stayed around, but I feel that I've been paying the price for that decision lately. 10 years of Living alone, becoming totally an independent person makes it pretty hard to get used to the fact that a lot of parents never get that your children are not kids anymore. So this lack of privacy and personal space started chocking me. I became moody, depressed. Then after a pretty aggressive argument I've had with a parent lately, I've decided I've had enough. See the problem isn't really just about "personal space", but also a lot of core issues, character, culture, beliefs. And I realised, my parents are not the best "flatmates" for me to be around. So even though it took that much for me to get convinced, I think Its time for me to move out(again) on my own. I'd like somewhere vibrant, dynamic, where I can get stuck in traffic jams easily, but also walk down and get a coffee cup(black coffee Please ;)) in the morning, and somewhere close to my work place. So I started looking around today for appartments around Achrafieh: its the only place I know how to drive to and from to my work place in Downtown.(silly me). I miss ma "living alone" life. Do what I want, when I want, the way I like. invite friends over, cook for them, have a drink or too and then go out. Jam with a couple of buddies or simply watch a game. To simply be in control of my own environment. and hopefully soon, it will.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A clever and creative design
Folding pedestrian bridge. London, UK.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Contrary to most of you who like to blame the politicians for what is happening whether 8,14,or even 25.87. I Officially hold the "Lebanese People" highly responsible for what Lebanon has lately become. I congratulate you for turning Lebanon from what used to be called "Pearl of the East" to "the New Arab Yugoslavia". Your blind political affiliations and your double loaded talk are nauseating. All of you, with no exceptions,have continuously put your political preference over true nationalism ("the sacrifice of the self for the greater national interest"). Even when your own leaders daily betray their own words, you still stand by them, defend them, even if it leads to your own demise and ridicule. Thats not commitment, thats blindness. Words like Democracy , Accountability and governance are just words you like throw trying to trick others and yourself into thinking that you really know the what/who/where/and when , at a time when most of you , have no idea of what is really going on in your own backyard. You've never practiced what you preach. The blood of today's martyrs is on the hands of all of you. And the most important martyr of Today's Bombing used to be known under the nickname "Lebanon". Lebanon is soon on the verge of collapse and most of you are still in an transcendental comma. NEITHER hariri, nor Aoun or Nasrallah or Sanioura or Geagea are the solution to this country's dilemna. You , singly as individuals and collectivey as "the people" hold the key. So if you really care as much as you like to claim, take control of what is your right, and exercise your democratic rights as citizens(including accountability) over all politicians including your own. Until then, you can go back to your pathetic finger pointing and blame game while the country burns to ashes.
You've given a whole new mearning to the Lebanese proverb: " Whoever digs a pit for his brother will fall into it himself."
Until then.
over and out

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pearl of the East or the new Arab Yugoslavia?

Beirut, once described as Pearl of the East is starting to look more and more like another Yugoslavia in the making.
Was Thomas Friedman right?
Although the article this op-ed contributor to the NY times wrote in September 2002 was really about Iraq but the main idea seems to greatly apply to modern day lebanon. And I Quote:
" As I think about President Bush's plans to take out Saddam Hussein and rebuild Iraq into a democracy, one question gnaws at me: Is Iraq the way it is today because Saddam Hussein is the way he is? Or is Saddam Hussein the way he is because Iraq is the way it is?

I mean, is Iraq a totalitarian dictatorship under a cruel, iron-fisted man because the country is actually an Arab Yugoslavia -- a highly tribalized, artificial state, drawn up by the British, consisting of Shiites in the south, Kurds in the north and Sunnis in the center -- whose historical ethnic rivalries can be managed only by a Saddam-like figure?

Or, has Iraq, by now, congealed into a real nation? And once the cruel fist of Saddam is replaced by a more enlightened leadership, Iraq's talented, educated people will slowly produce a federal democracy."

Today I ask the same question about the Lebanon I got to rediscover because I think I am one of the few who really think that Politicians in Lebanon are the way they are because the Lebanese Population is the way it is.
Most people round here like to blame politicians for everything. I personally disagree, and lean toward blaming the population itself.
How do you expect politicians not to rob you , when you rob one another,in a society full of trickery, hate and where most people you meet try to rob you one way or the other:The bakery, the gas station,the cab driver,your diesel supplier, your car dealer and finally even your own neighbour. If you're looking for a sample of lebanese manners , simply look at the way people drive and you'll get a sufficient dose of reality.
Democracy is not for the weak minded.
Feel free to leave your comments and goodnight.

Things I miss the most

Writing the "Things I miss the most" list was never easy. For one, I don't know where to start then there is my mind which automatically starts prioritizing, classifying and doing braintype housework.Just a glimpse of things and people I used to look forward to everyday. in no particular order:

- Life in NYC. The people, the dynamism, the bad trash smell in Manhattan in the mornings, the late nights/afterwork cigar smoking with the next door business owners, the greek neighbourhood in Queens, the financial district, the weird people in front of the NY public library and certainly Broadway and 42nd Street.
- Paulo my bro, Ulla, Tobias, James, Gilbert, Rita, Haz, Maria and Silvia.
- Darmstadt, Kaufhof and Luisenplatz,Karlshof and its parties,Oettinger and Darmstadtaer beer. The French, the spanish & the italians, the germans, the brasilians and certainly the scandinavian ability to drink so much alcohol.Playing poker with Alex, Robert, the buggies & Daniel. 10B 24 and the endless police tickets we got. Lunch at mensa and the daily coffee at 603qm. Tuesday's Kneipenabend and Thursdays' Schlosskeller nights. The Jam Sessions on Wednesdays in the An Sibin. The song writing sessions with Thomas and Tiago. Alcindo, Mary, Alice, Eduardo, Esther, Eva, Johanna,Julia , Obi......
Cigarette time

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Afterhours music making

A grey morning

Waking up late this morning as I usually do, a luxury I can afford being my own boss added to the fact that I like working at night, I was confronted with the daily political agony that my parents insist on watching day after day.
It's been 6 months now since I first came back to Beirut, after 10 years abroad, and my self-defense mechanism still kicks in everytime the TV set is tuned to the News or any one of the 100 Political Talk Shows, offered by local TV stations. Sometimes I just drift away, other times I just exile myself to my own room preferring to envision, plan and work toward my dreams. This type of behaviour which some like to refer to as childish, is my way of refusing to fall into the trap of this negative collective, depressive behaviour which most people in Lebanon seem to suffer of. This self preservation state in which I usually slip , allows me to keep my hard learnt self-confidence, and keep going forward. Do not be fooled into thinking that I'm indifferent, I wasn't, I've always dwelt over political and social issues, but at this moment, I prefer not to fight a losing battle. After all, the only reason I came back and why I haven't already fled this madness is my family. I've come to find a middle point between my future plans and my desire to take care of those who have supported me all those years. The paradox of not failing, in a failing state.