"Humor is a funny way of being serious"
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Copyright© 2001-2010, Renato Obeid
"Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.”
-Jane Perrone, The Guardian
Thursday, January 29, 2004
5PM THURSDAY 29TH JANUARY 2004
SEARCHING FOR SANDY
To:The International Court of Justice
Left home at 10.20AM this morning, took a service down to Jounieh and then another service to Sarba where I replaced the battery in my camera and got the film that had been in there for five years processed (nine pictures were salvaged from this time capsule),got some new film (I'd planned to take photos of Sandy) and took yet another service to Dog River.
En route I negotiated with the same service driver to take me off route into the hinterland along the river – we agreed upon 5000 lira.
About once a week for the past month or so I have been visiting Herod (renatoobeidsworld passim) to inquire about the exact location of Sandy.
Unfortunately the policeman who had deported her allegedly had a fever but yesterday I was finally able to get a location and rough directions to where she was.
Today an international humanitarian delegation (comprised of myself - Jimmy Carter was unavailable) set out to find, visit and check on her.
Some five kilometers (according to my approximation) inland we came to the monastery where, according to the instructions I had, Sandy's location was next to.
As if on cue the taxi promptly broke down.
The driver couldn’t restart it.
I had already decided that I was going to jettison him there – he was just deadwood dragging me down – and that I would proceed on foot on my own as I had figured that it would be easier to find her on foot rather than in a decrepit unreliable taxi with a whingeing taxi driver.
But, being the kind and decent person that I am, I wasn’t going to just leave him then and there and wanted to help him get going on his way.
He asked me if I could push the car but I politely declined telling him that I had a bad back – which isn’t a lie, although a doctor has never told me "Renato, you have a bad back" I don't think I'll win this year (or any other years) Best Back Award.
We agreed that I'd do the "driving".
I neglected to tell him that, for all intents and purposes, I can't drive – didn’t think it was important.
I obtained my drivers license in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Nine after months of practicing with a driving instructor.
It wasn’t the most legitimate drivers' license ever issued.
At the end of the actual driving part of the test I was down to the minimum seventy points required to pass - having lost thirty points throughout the drive for various mistakes, transgressions, whatever.
Thankfully, the test was more or less over and we had arrived back at the Roads Authority building and all I had to do was park the car.
I proceeded to park in a no-parking zone outside the Roads Authority building!
That cost me ten points, I was down to sixty - I had failed my test.
My Yugoslav driving instructor told the Vietnamese tester that I was a family friend (read "a retarded family friend" – the tone of his voice sounded like that)
He was obviously on good terms with her and maybe she couldn't tell if we were really family (we all look the same) so she overlooked my transgression and awarded me my license.
I did a little bit of driving in Australia, I came to Lebanon in 1991, hit a Lebanese army checkpoint on my maiden voyage (they were very good about it but took the precaution of stopping traffic for me on my way back) and that was more or less the extent of my driving career.
My drivers' license expired five years after it was issued.
I got into the drivers seat of the taxi and the driver pushed it backwards – our aim was to push it up a sloping intersecting road so it could be pushed back down, achieve momentum, and hopefully start.
I steered as we went backwards.
I also had achieved my life's ambition – driving a service!
I don’t care that pedants might say that technically I wasn’t driving as there was no combustion involved.
The fact is that it was moving (albeit backwards) and I was in the drivers' seat - in control and steering!
If that isn’t driving I don’t know what is!
In all modesty I reckon I did all right – until he told me to brake.
"Which ones the brake?" I asked as it began to roll back down the slope towards him.
He rather excitedly told me "the middle one" and I promptly braked – unable to fulfill my other life's ambition of killing a service driver.
Cest la vie, one out of two isn’t bad.
He got into the drivers seat and said that I'd be able to push him now because we'd be going down the slope – i.e. it's all down hill from her – and that he'd achieve some momentum and ignition and keep on driving.
It didn’t bloody feel like downhill to me (lying down recording this piece, my backs killing me…kinda killing me…maybe killing me)!
Pushed him, he achieved ignition* and he was back in business – telling me to hop back in and we'll continue along our merry way.
I declined, saying that he'd done enough.
I asked at a restaurant across the road from the monastery about Mahsaret el Zeitoun (the Olive Press) which was the very utilitarian proper name of the place where Sandy purportedly was.
Herod had written it down for me in Arabic (which I can't read) on a piece of paper so I could recognize when the writing on the sign corresponded with the writing on the piece of paper.
Which had sounded very feasible to me until I realized that they all look the bloody same – that all Arabic looks the same to somebody who can't read it!
At the restaurant they told me that it was "a little bit up the road" so I went a little bit up the road and asked somebody else who said it was "a little bit up the road" so I went a little bit up the road and asked somebody else and they said it was "a little bit up the road" and this time it turned out that it was a little bit up the road but all those "little bits up the road" had added up to about three kilometers.
It was just off the "main road" that winds along the Dog River – up a cobblestone lane.
Easy enough, but that lane had turned into a stream – with all the run-off water from last weeks storms still running down the mountain and into the river.
I waded through the shin deep water and came across a cowherd, a thirty something year old swarthy looking foreigner, and asked him whether I had the right place.
He confirmed that I indeed had.
I asked him if the proprietor was there – he wasn’t – so I asked him if he knew of Sandy, describing her to him.
He seemed to recognize that description and to know of her and said that she wasn’t there now – that she more or less lives in the bush and comes down at night or thereabouts.
I asked him for the name and telephone number of the proprietor.
He furnished a name but was unable to furnish a number so I asked him whether he knew anyone who did have a number.
He directed me to a bloke called Abdullah who was, surprise,surprise, "a little bit up the road"
I walked a little bit up the road but his cows were blocking the lane/stream so I asked him whether the cows were dangerous to strange passers by and he said that they weren’t.
I wasn’t too convinced – I had visions of Pamplona in my mind.
Most of the cows politely moved out of my way but then I came across some rebel subversive cows that just stood there.
I didn’t know what to do so I said to them "move cows, move cows" and THEY DID!
Who would have thought that cowboying was as easy as that!
I found Abdullah in his van – an elderly village type.
I introduced my self and explained my purpose to him.
He recognized and knew Sandy but told me that he'd only seen her once, soon after she'd, arrived (he'd wanted one of the pups she was expecting because he thought she was a nice looking dog) but had shooed her away because dogs and chickens don’t go together and hadn’t seen her since.
I asked him if the owner of the press and ostensibly Sandy's new owner was around and he told me that he wasn’t and hadn’t been there since late December and he hadn’t seen Sandy since then either.
So Sandy was effectively dumped.
I had agreed to her being relocated to what I was led to believe was a caring decent home or else I would of taken her to a caring decent home I had found for her – the estate of a Saudi sheik in the North.
A couple of months ago at the height of Sandy's persecution by her last batch of tormentors (who had since abandoned their pogrom and become friends of Sandy) I brokered a Saudi solution to the Sandy problem (a la the Taif Accord).
PUTTING SANDY WITH AN ABSENTEE OWNER IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE AMONGST A BUNCH OF LIVESTOCK AND PEASANTS IS TANTAMOUNT TO DUMPING HER!
I asked Abdullah how I could contact her "owner" and it turned out that he was from the same village so he said he'd give me his number but told me that he'd be no use because he hadn’t been there for a month.
He gave me a number but I didn’t have a pen on me (I hadn’t thought of that) and neither did he so he told me that the was going up the road to his village and that I could come with him and that we'd find a pen along the way.
I hopped into his van and was able to deduct that judging by his stated concern for chickens and the smell in the van that Abdullah was a chicken farmer.
If finding Sandy was hard finding a pen in this bucolic locale was even harder – we drove up the mountain for about two kilometers looking for a pen and finally found one at a mechanics shop.
He wrote down the name and phone number for me and proceeded up the road to his village which was God knows where.
As their was no public transport there I hitched a ride with a student down to civilization – the Beirut to Damascus Highway (but not until I'd walked down to round about where I'd started off from with Abdullah).
The whole thing had taken about an hour and a half.
That is the whole sad story about how I became Indiana Jones for an hour and a half (okay, it felt like an Indiana Jonesesque odyssey to me) and how Sandy was dumped by c—ts!
11.30PM THURSDAY 29TH JANUARY 2004
At around 7.30PM this evening I telephoned the man whom my investigations had led me to believe was Sandy's new owner.
I said something like "hello is this Mr. So and So?", he confirmed that it was, I identified myself and stated the purpose of my call (that is to check on the wellbeing of Sandy) and he promptly said that I had the wrong number.
I asked him "but isn’t this Mr. So and So?" which he had just moments before admitted to being and he said it wasn’t.
I thanked him and said goodbye.
I obviously wasn’t going to leave it at that – I referred the matter back to Herod whom I visited asking him to confirm that name and number with the policeman who transported Sandy (who is an associate of Sandy's new owner) and to convey to that moron my intentions.
I also told Herod that it appears that Sandy had been dumped.
He replied that that wasn’t the case and that the Sandy's transfer had been afforded the same respect and preparation that today's Hezbollah/Israel prisoner and body exchange had been afforded.
He said the he'll talk to the policeman and that he'll have word for me within the standard two days.
He also offered, as he has previously, to get the policeman to take me to visit her.
It obviously means what it means and nothing more than that but I don’t want to give them any opportunities just in case he is talking euphemistically (which he isn’t).
Seriously though, I wanted them to just stick to confirming the name and number (which already seems too hard for them to do) and I would do the rest.
*Readers will have to excuse my ignorance of cars or anything technical – I know "achieving ignition" is not the proper technical term.
After Two weeks of visiting Herod he was finally able to confirm that I did indeed have the right name and number but that he was unable to get a hold of the man having come up against the same denial that I got (albeit from a woman who has since taken to answering the phone).
For the record and to "name and shame", this morons name is Naaman Achi and his number is 03 928 309.
A friend of mine also called him and got the same stonewalling and denial.
I am considering my next move.
Just out of interest I asked a middle-aged Indian friend I made on the net who claims to have physic powers (channeled to her via her spiritual guide, her dead husband) about Sandy.
She was very useful – she said that Sandy was not a dog but a middle-aged woman.
When I managed to convince her and her guide that Sandy was indeed a DOG she said that the man (Achi) had sold her to a lady named Martha who lives across the road from the local church.
When I pressed her for more information she told me "I will get you (a) dog".
Not surprisingly, I'm considering other options to find Sandy.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
HUTTON DRESSED AS LAMB
With all due respect to Lord Hutton, the just released and long anticipated Hutton Report (subtitled "The BBC Are C--ts, The Government Aren't") reveals nothing new and sheds no new light onto the death of Dr Kelly and the circumstances surrounding it and is essentially a regurgitation of old government misinformation and spin - mutton dressed as lamb!
I hereby republish my own "Hutton Report" (renatoobeidsworld passim)
"BLAIR MURDERS DISSIDENT
- British Prime Minister not as gay as he looks
- Freedom of speech is like... so "old Europe"
- God save the Queen because nothing will save this "queen" - Kelly Affair will be the downfall of Tony Blair"
Monday, January 19, 2004
ANOTHER DICK IN THE WHITE HOUSE?
Congressman Dick Gephardt is my tip to win today's' Iowa caucuses*, the first round in the Democratic presidential candidate primaries.
The winner of the months long primary campaigns will win the right to challenge President George W Bush in Novembers US presidential election.
Bush is the unopposed Republican Party candidate having already won his party's' Afghanistan and Iraq primaries.
*He isn't really (I actually think he'll come fourth and withdraw from the race) but for the purposes of this joke I'll say that he is.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
2 AM WEDNESDAY 14TH JANUARY 2004
An international humanitarian delegation (composed of myself) is on standby in Harisa to visit the political prisoner Sandy (renatoobeidsworld passim).
I spoke to her persecutor today and, amongst other things, he told me that she was okay and that I could rest assured about that – the subtext of that being that there was no need for me to actually visit her.
I told him I wanted to actually visit her myself and rest assured that way.
He said that he'll find out where they took her within a day or two and mentioned something about a restaurant on Nahr el Kalb (Dog River*) – the ancient river and gully (some fifteen kilometers north of Beirut) whose storiated cliffs bear the inscriptions of all the invading armies who surmounted what in antiquity was a strategic barrier to occupying this land..
That cliff, where the river feeds into the Mediterranean, is the ancient equivalent of a bus stop shelter; full of graffiti - from the initial "Ramsess Two woz here" (1290BC) right thru to the final "Allies rule!" (World War One).
Historians believe that Dog River was thus named because legend has it that a fearsome dog whose bark could be heard as far away as Cyprus dwelt there.
I think that Dog River now has two dog myths – the myth of the fearsome dog and the myth that Sandy was taken there.
Sandy being taken to Dog River is as much a myth as the fearsome dog.
Tally sheet – no fearsome dog, no Sandy.
I have my doubts about whether Sandy was actually taken there or to any other specific place rather than actually just dumped which is what I suspect is what happened to her but lets hope that she is there and that this dog is as easy to find as that dog of legend would have been.
*Dog River my eye!
What's a bet that he just said the first and matching name that came into his mind when I put him on the spot by asking him where she was and telling him I wanted to visit her – i.e. "where's the dog?", "um…um…Dog River!".
This also contradicts an earlier location he had given – Sin el Fil.
Friday, January 09, 2004
The opposition Australian Labor Party has said that,although it's willing to make some concessions to homosexuals,a future ALP government will not legalize gay marriage.
So what about the marriage between the ALP and the Liberal Party?
P.S: I am so desperate to write another entry - otherwise that box of monkeys (where the ads are) at the top of the page will have ads and related searches for gay sites etc (it automatically matches your recent entries to what it "thinks" are relevant sites) and this site will look like a gay site itself.
Moreover, people who don't read English (Finns for example) will have one look at this entry and probably understand those two words only ("gay" and "homosexual" as that lifestyle appears to be the universal language these days) and think that this is a gay site.
You get what you don't pay for I suppose.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
TO DO LIST
-Take out garbage
Reality Blogging – another innovative world first from renatoobeidsworld
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Reality Blogging – another innovative world first from renatoobeidsworld
Thursday, January 01, 2004
"CHRISTMAS" IN "PARADISE"
This is how they "celebrate" "Christmas" at the "Paradise" Buildings.
King Herod gets his young daughter a lapdog for Christmas and then decides that the whole neighborhood should be cleared of all other dogs.
The height of bourgeois arrogance!
He is in breach of the law as the buildings regulations do not allow pets.
She – Sandy a harmless innocent friendly dog – is not in breach of the law as she is living outside on public property.
She, Sandy, is no longer required – his daughter now has a dog thus Sandy is of no further use to him.
This must be the literal word for word definition of "dog in the manger".
In a Stalinist action he deports the dog - allegedly to a farm (it must be a Stalinesque prison farm) on the outskirts of Beirut - on the day before New Years Eve.
He also didn’t want his dog to be distracted when he was taking her for a walk outside – noblesse exige.
An imperious act akin to clearing Harrods for a royal visit.
Why not have his policemen clear the area before the "royal visit"?
The only overlap and interaction between the Lady and the Tramp I ever saw was when I went outside to feed Sandy on Christmas night and saw Herod Scrooge (when he first broached the subject of deporting Sandy ON CHRISTMAS DAY FOR CHRISTS SAKE!) walking his dog.
Sandy was nowhere to be found – she was quite simply hiding from them.
Now there's a peaceful dog and a dog with taste!
I walked around the entire buildings looking for her and she only appeared (rather sheepishly and meekly) after my repeated calls.
Herods dog* – at least TEN TIMES SMALLER THAN SANDY – PROCEEDED TO ATTEMPT TO ATTACK SANDY AND HAD TO BE RESTRAINED!
THEY TOOK AWAY THE WRONG DOG!
SEND HER AWAY!
Sandy did not reciprocate.
This is Christmas at the Paradise Buildings.
Never has a name been so ironic.
Never has the seasonal spirit been so lacking.
Herod consulted me and I agreed to this because Sandy is better off away from them – we're doing her a favor not them.
Various civic sounding excuses and justifications were given to me which had they been the true motivations behind this would have been impossible for me to argue against but they are not true and are plain and simply pretexts!
The fact is that this is just the arbitrary whim of one man and his fellow-travelers (I and Sandy's charm had already pacified Sandy's original persecutors – the "stars" of the first piece I wrote about Sandy - they in fact prevented a first attempt by the police to take her away).
If dogs are such a problem to you then what about your daughters' dog and why has this suddenly become an issue to you now after so many months and after you got your daughter a dog?
The Sandy Snatchers say two hundred thousand people died in the war here and that
we're not going to waste our time making issues out of dogs.
I say that they're the ones who are making an issue out of a dog.
I merely wanted her left where God put her.
HELLO PEOPLE – LOOK UP AT AND AIM FOR THE SKY NOT THE FUCKING GROUND AND THE DOG ON THE GROUND!
They're the ones who have been carrying on and conspiring for months.
They're the ones who are making an issue out of this!
They're the ones who sent her into exile in a FUCKING POLICE CAR FOR CHRISTS SAKE!
DON’T WE HAVE ANY CRIME IN THIS COUNTRY!**
HAVE I FUCKING MISSED SOMETHING HERE?
IS SANDY REALLY SLOBADAN MILOSEVIC?
ARE THOSE BONES SHE BURIED WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION?
ARE WE THAT PEACEFUL AND CRIME FREE A SOCIETY THAT OUR POLICE HAVE GOT NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN TRANSPORT DOGS?
I say you can judge a person or a society not by how they treat those stronger than themselves but by how they treat those who are weaker than themselves.
The fact that this country had a terrible war is more the reason why we should be concerned about these matters even more so than any other country or society should!
We should start from zero, from scratch, from the grass roots – universal compassion and tolerance! (on the same principle as "look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves").
Think globally act locally!
You and I are not going to be able to solve all the worlds' problems or bring about world peace but we should start on a small scale – humanity, tolerance and compassion start at home and if enough of us think and act accordingly maybe this will be achieved on a larger scale (the world is but a sum total of its parts).
Compassion and tolerance should be just that – universal.
They can not be selective and arbitrary!
If one person or group of people decide that this should not extend to, say, dogs what's to stop another person or group of people from deciding that this doesn't extend to people of a particular religion, of a particular ethnicity, ideology,etc?
Where does it start and where does it stop and who decides?
It’s a double edged sword and a slippery slope.
One man kills a dog and another kills his fellow man.
Same principles involved!
I must stress that I don’t mean that human and animal lives are equal and worth the same but what I do mean is that both killers see nothing wrong in what there doing, in fact they think that what they're doing is right and justified, and they both think they're killing dogs!
We should all care about everyone and everything.
I, like any other human being, am not perfect but maybe if more people thought and acted like me maybe there wouldn’t have been a war with two hundred thousand people killed.
This may sound a bit simplistic, I know that wars aren’t caused by the masses but the masses are the ones who do the killing – if more people thought and acted like me there quite simply wouldn’t have been anyone to do the killing.
Two hundred thousand people died in the war here thus we must be mean to dogs is my idea of the ultimate non-sequitur.
The other night I was at a restaurant with my friend Iyad and a "white girl" (a friend of his from Sweden).
There was a teeny weenie little insect on the table.
The white girl (who else?) pointed this out.
Iyad scooped it up in a napkin and placed it outside.
My opinion of Iyad prior to that couldn’t have been any higher but it is now – anyone who thinks this is a logical or mathematical impossibility doesn’t know Iyad.
Not just because he spared the life of an insect but because of what that says about him on an overall scale as a person in general.
Just as sparing an insect says a lot about a person and is an indication of the type of person they are then chasing a dog away also says a lot about a person and indicates what type of person they are.
My young cousins are as devastated as I am about this.
They won't forget this (one of them even said as much) and neither will I.
The Sandynista movement is born!
My eight year old cousin asked me "why did they have to take her away on New Years Eve?"
She also said to me "we can visit her – we'll go to Sin el Fil (a suburb of Beirut were Sandy was ALLEDGEDLY taken to) and call her and she'll come to us".
That broke my heart.
The first piece I wrote on Sandy (see archives - 10/30/2003) was titled "Sandy to move to a compassionate neighborhood where dogs chase people and not vice versa".
I sincerely hope that that is what has happened but I very much doubt that if the people who deported her are anything to go by and, indeed, if people who deport dogs are anything to go by!
I was misled – I had been assured that she would be dealt with humanely (to those who'd say "but she's not a human" I say "but we are and are supposed to act accordingly").
That was not the case.
I have since learned that Sandy was drugged and electrocuted – she was given some sort of sedative and when that didn’t work and she wasn’t cooperative with the policemen trying to deport her she was zapped three times with a what was apparently a tazer stun gun (she yelped in pain).
Is this the way to treat a pregnant dog?
It certainly doesnt require a commando operation - this is a pregnant dog in Harisa not a Black September highjacker in Entebbe!
I certainly would not of agreed to Sandy's deportation had I of known what they were going to do and what they were – although I definitely had my suspicions as to what they were and these suspicions have been confirmed a hundred fold.
Now that the "grandee's" of the Paradise Buildings have chased all the dogs away and don’t have any dogs to chase any more I just hope that they don’t start chasing cars.
Anything is possible in a compassionless neighborhood where people chase dogs and not vice versa.
Admitedly this is not the nicest friendliest piece I have ever written but neither is taking away a child's pet (and mine) at Christmas.
Writing this goes against my grain and gives me no pleasure but this has to be done and it has to be said and is merely an understandable reaction to unacceptable actions.
PICTURE : This site is too low-tech to have pictures but imagine if you will the above wanted "picture" of Sandy superimposed onto the ace of spades playing card (a la Saddam)
I have since learnt (Sunday 4th January) that Herod's dog has ATTACKED AND BITTEN FOUR CHILDREN!
And this is just what one single source knew about.
This feral bitch is obviously the threat to the community not Sandy!
This further belies their alledged civic concerns - most of them concerning the safety of the children!
You do the calculations!
I have included the following patented table and converter to aid you in your calculations.
Feral Bitch - 4
Sandy - 0
Extrapolating from those figures, Feral Bitch has bitten four children - four more than Sandy who has bitten zero children.
Furthermore Feral Bitch has bitten FOUR HUNDRED PERCENT MORE CHILDREN THAN SANDY (WHO HASNT BITTEN ANY CHILDREN)!
CAN WE REALLY AFFORD A DOG IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WHO HAS BITTEN FOUR HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE CHILDREN?
**Actually maybe catching criminals is a bit too ambitious for them.
It took three policemen some three hours to catch Sandy.
Even then they only caught her after they had enlisted a Sri Lankan maid (also a Sandynista) and an eight year old girl (who's pet Sandy was and who had to be led away crying by the maid after the deed was done).
This laughable Keystone Cops-esque scenario sounds like something out of a cartoon - Sandy avoiding Acme traps for three hours (a la the Road Runner).