Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In truth, I've been under mounds of guilt because of seemingly ignoring this writing and whatnot. It was unavoidable for a spell and I can't compensate for that, but oh well. I love Beirut, let me tell you about it.
I have now, in grace, upgraded from donkey taxis to red blooded, real life automobiles, steered not by a whip and with an engine stronger than 1 Horse Power. Every morning brings the same twenty minute ride across town and out a ways to the refugee camp, where I teach two english classes a day. However, what goes around comes around. On my way to teach in the mornings, I have class of my own, brought to me by the middle aged taxi drivers that get me there. Taxi drivers here are like the deacons of the city, and they carry themselves (and drive) in a happily aggresive manner. Similar to the Russian babushkas, the old grandmothers who bowled over you like down jacketed cannonballs for a seat in the subway. If it was the slightest bit on the cold side outside, these old women would have a fit and make a spectacle, publically scolding you for not wearing a hat. Tough love. The taxi drivers here teach you Arabic in the same way, leaning all the way over on your side of the car so that their in mouth cigarette is scorching your ear with every jaw drop as they yell all kinds of introductions, greetings, Hello! I love you! I am tall! I am lost! trying their best to hammer home as many phrases as they can into you for twenty minutes. That's the mornings. The lunchtime talks on the ride back home aren't really mellow, they just aren't directed at you directly. Like, they aren't arresting your ears. Its more mutual. They carry on about politics and ask more questions about family, age, where should they be taking me. All in the same way as before. Tough love in a Middle Eastern manner.
Anchorman? 40 Year Old Virgin? Knocked Up? Forgetting Sarah Marshall? The Ten? Walk Hard and now Year One with Jack Black? I think Paul Rudd is one of the funniest men on the planet.
I am now Joakiming like never before. (Ewwwwwww)
Coming home soon.
at 10:13 AM
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Ethiopia is now long gone, old news passed away and so be it. I'm not too happy with them for blocking blogspot dot com and charging $40 for a SIM card, both matters left me high and dry away from the rest of the world's happenings. But that was then and now is Beirut.
Beirut is tough as nails and beautiful because of it. The country of Lebanon has managed to survive cuts from a thirty year civil war and a conflict with Israel, both at the very same time. The city of Beirut is still a post war zoned city of broken buildings, tanks, guns guns guns, live wires, and roadblocks oddly scattered in the wholesomly gorgeous Mediterranean climate of palm trees and cafes. The Paris of the Middle East, Party Capital of the Islamic World, let the truth be known that Beirut is beautiful. I'm lucky to be here, forced to cope with the everyday struggle of the Beirutian five girls to one guy ratio. The New York Times knows, since they just voted Beirut into the Top Place To Visit in 2009.
The rumours are true, things don't really calm down here. You've got maniacal drivers and the air pollution from their old, smoking Mercedes taxis, star universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and that darn five to one ratio all at once. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions and protest . Beirut is alive and here I am.
and here I am here. The biggest culture shock in the world doens't come from the initial introduction, the moment you realize trying times are indeed ahead and you've got to brace yourself, mind, body, and spirit in order to keep your head above water. Hunker down and take it. But thats not the biggest culture shock. The biggest culture shock is going from last to first, zero to hero, nothing to austerity. Five days ago, I was walking through the mud at midnight, unable to flag down a donkey taxi, and trying to find my way home in the dark. All the shops were closed and the dogs were out, picking themselves through all of the day's trash. I had just rented two Jackie Chan movies because all my books were long finished, but ten minutes into my sludge home, the distrct power cut off and I was now in darkness, just like the rest of Semsi, south Addis Ababa. No power, no nothin' and I was pissed, so much so that I quit watching my step long enough to slub my toe long and hard on a rock. When getting the mud off the next morning, I found that I had lost Toenail Number Four. The very next day, I was picked up from the airport in Beirut in a BMW 745i, and ate KFC to go.
I'm put up on the tenth top floor of a building that looks out over the Mediterranean Sea and up at the mountains of snow further in the distance. The husband is a philanthropist and the wife is a painter. They have a 19 year old daughter who loves Notorious B.I.G. and Che. Last night, there were ten deaths in a gang shooting just outside. I was out eating on sushi, but I heard the shots walking to the car. Driving home, Natalie and I saw folks walking, arm in arm around the crew taking notes and cleaning up everything, all at the end of another day in the life.
I've been like this
Jesus & Mary Chain-----Head On
at 7:31 AM