6. I Will Not Watch Kalam al-Nass
The news is bad. Political talk shows are just plain stupid. I’m just tired of watching thugs, crooks, politicians masquerading as clerics, illiterate academics, clannish elites, and the seemingly endless stream of “former ambassadors.”
Never again! Well, maybe the occasional show, but I’ll be sure to check the listings first.
7. I Will Resist Xenophobia and Reject the Hierarchy of Races
Saudis in Audis. Syrian laborers. Sri Lankan, Philippian, and Ethiopian maids. Egyptian, Nigerian, and Senegalese men. Russian, Ukranian, Romanian, and Bulgarian women, not all of whom are “artist-entertainers.”
English and Irish bar patrons. American and Canadian journalists. French folks, doing whatever it is they do. Greek, Turkish, and Cypriot “businessmen.”
What do these groups of people have in common? First, to many Lebanese, “they” are simply foreigners (with the first group being held in less esteem). Second, like it or not, “they” contribute to Lebanon’s fragile economy. Foreigners supply vital labor, source and facilitate cash influxes, and allow for many indulgences that would be unaffordable otherwise. Third, “they” are often targets of resentment, ridicule, and even overt racism.
The generally haughty attitude towards Asians and black folks is especially perplexing because many Lebanese are, were, or know people who are or were, trying to make a buck in some distant land.
On the converse note, why the deference towards Western Europeans and Americans (by Americans, I also mean Canadians!)? And don’t get me started on the French. Seriously.
Sure, the sight of Mr. Petrodollar strolling down a village street high up in Mount Lebanon, or down the corniche in Beirut, can be a little off-putting and even threatening. But it’s time we all move past jingoism, especially considering how the engines of Lebanese economy – banking, tourism, and diaspora remittances – are so dependent on contact with the Other.
8. I Will Not Drive Like a Maniac or Asshole (Unless You Drive Like a Maniac or Asshole First)
“I hate how people living abroad just drive around like maniacs,” a dear friend once told me. “It’s that whole playground mentality… it disrespects this place.” Fair enough. I guess his serial traffic law violations were not as bad, but I digress.
How fun it is to zig and zag through traffic, splitting cars like your name is Moses? Or to make it from Aoukar to Gemmayze in 16 minutes at night, when the trip takes more than two hours in bad traffic?
Seatbelt itchy? Lose it. Call to make? Sure. Left lane moving slow? Pass on the right, cut back, and make that left turn without braking. Missed your turn? Back it up, son. Pure and unfettered liberty!
However, there’s a cost. Car-related incidents are the number one killer of Lebanese under 35 (especially males). That’s quite telling. With no effective gun laws, four small armed conflicts since 1990, years of concurrent occupation, unrest, and assassinations, the Lebanese can’t even go to the store without worrying about Caramel-Schumacher trying to run them over.
Then again, driving like a saint is pointless when everybody else is so intent on eating up every last inch of your maneuverable space. Overtake at your own risk.
9. I Will Not Be Trapped
Four-hour lunches. Wistful mountain drives. Electric nights. Lazy days at the beach.
Lebanon has a way of trapping people. It’s far too easy to lose sight of other goals, from simply reading a book, planning your next career move, or travelling somewhere new. This time will be different. Inshallah.
10. I Will Not Complain (Neither “Here” nor “There”)
This one’s really for my friends (you know who you are).
You may soon find yourself cursing things in Lebanon. Bad roads that never open up. Power outages, traffic, the constant posturing, the gold diggers and faux-pimps. Francophones (Excuse moi, couldn’t help it!). Daddy’s little boy in a Maserati. Some-other-Daddy’s little girl riding in the Maserati. Zou-zou wants to fight because you bumped him at the bar. Political analysts driving cabs. Never-ending trancelike debates on leisurely issues: beach or mountains; Monot or Gemmayze; Skybar or White; masheweh or just mezze; March 14 or March 8 (oops). And those nosy fucking people!
Just remember the other side of the pond. Miles of road with nobody on them. Flatness. Monotonous automatons riding the Metro or Underground with their Starbucks Mocha-Mix-Cinnaswirlachinos. Smartphones for friends. Smartphones instead of friends. Smartphones in the presence of friends. Tyrone wants to fight because you stepped on his Pumas. Blinking Blackberries. Fratboys in flip-flops. Laptop leftists, suited and booted masters-of-the-world, and the pseudo-spiritualist yoga bunch rocking their $500 mats. Psychotic debates dressed up as discussions of “the issues:” woman’s liberty or child’s life; flat tax or graduated tax; affirmative action or a blind system; war abroad or war at home. And those indifferent fucking people!
I’m starting to sound like George Carlin. Bottom line: it’s all relative, mish heik? Enjoy your vacations, people. That’s why we have them.