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    "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

    Monday, July 12, 2004  
    On the way to the pub yesterday I got caught in the summer Sunday early evening traffic jam.
    I had to wait a while for a service on the Jounieh autostrade as most of the public transport around was buses which I never catch – too crowded, too many stops (anywhere anyone wants it to stop) and too dangerous (the smaller minivans may as well be registered as suicide bombs).
    It seemed as if every Southerner was coming back from the Northern beaches - ending their weekly pleasure exodus to the Promised Land and squeezing out the last remaining pleasures of the day on the autostrade.
    Kids carrying-on, adults singing and gawping – there was even, I kid you not, a vanload of derbaki* drummers, dressed in the traditional Ottoman era garb, banging away on their drums.
    This screaming, singing and staring motley crew spilling out of their garish and overloaded vehicles looked to me like participants in an inverted modern day equivalent of the exodus described in Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath".

    *Arabic bongo drum – a small but LOUD long-bodied drum usually held between the knees and played with the hands.

    The Philippine government has folded to the demands of fundamentalists holding a Phillipino hostage and begun an early withdrawal of their some fifty strong contingent from Iraq.

    11:48 am

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