People smoke like chimneys, politicians seem to want to take away everything good about the country, and Lebanese timing will be the death of me. However, Beirut has an irresistible charm that keeps bringing me, and my fellow expats back every single year! We really should be used to Beirut by now, however here are a few things that still shock me year after year.

1. The “Roads”

I think you know exactly why it’s in quotation marks. Is it a road? Is it a roller coaster? Is it a trap? Sooner or later, you’ll get used to the random swerving to avoid the potholes, and as a pedestrian, you’ll realize that you should probably just get a cab.

2. N2ata3et el kahraba? Ra7et el may?

I'm convinced that the Lebanese were born with a distinct part of their brain allocated for memorizing what time the electricity is going to cut. After all, électricité du Liban is the world’s most ironic building (and is always suspiciously well lit up). The first time I experienced the water cutting, I was six years old and proceeded to run around the house shouting “magic!”

3. Taxi drivers are awesome

You’ll hear stories you could probably never invent, you’ll experience the occasional scare of being kidnapped, and land yourself in a conversation you’d rather avoid, but hold on! It’ll make a brilliant story later on…assuming you’re still alive and well (kidding, kind of).

4. Old Beirut vs New Beirut

The contrast is truly striking. Within every modern neighborhood and bunch of new developments is a hidden old gem of a building that just makes me want to waltz back to the 60s.

5. There's nothing like mother nature

I’m still stunned by the mountain view from my house and the beach view that peeks from a distance. From the Cedars to Jeita Grotto, one thing you can never get bored of is how breathtaking Lebanon’s natural beauty is.

6. Too.Much.Information

People love to talk, particularly about things that they really shouldn’t be talking about. Like, for example, their bowel movements and grim personal (emphasis on personal) information that I’d rather not hear at 10 AM. Gross.

7. How can food taste so amazing?

I mean, tomatoes aren’t really tomatoes unless they’re baladé. I thought going to the local Lebanese restaurant in London for shawarma was good, but when you try the real stuff here, there is no going back.

8. What is a queue?

Unless you’re a ruthless prick, you’re never (and I mean never) get to the front of that queue. It’s okay if you feel like crying the first few times or if your anxiety begins to play up, that’s all part of the experience! Oh how I miss queuing like a civilized person abroad.

9. Everything seems to be associated with religion.

This is not a political point at all (okay, maybe it 1% is), but seriously: most roads are named after holy people and there’s a church or mosque in every corner. I feel like a saint after playing PokemonGo since every Pokestop is a statute of the Virgin Mary or a shrine to Mar Charbel.

10. The questionable logic

I’ve hear some very odd things like apparently, they’re removing speed bumps in some areas because they damage cars, as opposed to improving them. I’ve heard that being unmarried at twenty seven is a tragedy, and I’ve heard the money laundering and banking secrecy laws are awesome! Okay, I went way too deep there, but you get my point.

11. Everybody seems to know who you are

Or you’re 99.9% related. Oh, my dad’s uncle’s wife’s cousin is your brother’s fiancée’s, brother’s wife’s aunt? Cool…

12. Everything is oh so very over the top

Lebanese people are the most over the top people you will ever meet, but oddly enough also the most relaxed. News presenters look like they’re about to go off and get married, weddings cost a whole lot of money, and half the population seems to think they’re actors in a Turkish series. However, nobody seems to be phased by the war raging on next door, or by the fact that terrorists seem to love us. Our carelessness is probably why our nightlife is so awesome. I mean, I know this is the most cliché thing to say, but we do have a bomb shelter as a night club after all!

13. Happy people everywhere!

London stood still after Brexit. This country is a mess, yet all I see is smiles and shitloads of energy. A whole bunch of problems and no President later, the Lebanese are still living life to the fullest and enjoying every damn second of it.

The view from Harissa will always amaze me, as well as the lack of organization when it comes to just about everything. However, there’s nothing quite like the Lebanese spirit and culture, which is probably why as much as we complain - we always come running back!


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sharp and straight to the point

Haitham M A Bechara on Oct 26, 2016 via web