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  • prequel

    "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, September 23, 2004  
    Went for my customary emergency walk this evening (with my young cousins this time) – a half hour walk down the mountain until I'm parallel to the Paradise Buildings and then back up which I do only when I absolutely have to.
    We detoured at one of the roadside restaurants that dot this area and had pizza for dinner.
    On the way back we stopped outside another of those restaurants to visit our friend the (now) friendly guard dog (she used to be real bitch though) – a German sheperd bitch who lives in a humpy next to the restaurant she guards.
    Either she's sick of us or is losing her edge – I had grown accustomed to her ferocious barking rattling me as I went on my 6.00am emergency walk (couldn't sleep so I was "sleepwalking” – walking so that I can sleep, escaping the insomnia and trying to outwalk it or lose it) but that is no more.
    These days she barely even notices us – sometimes she doesn’t even dignify us with a bark or, if she does, she just performs a perfunctory bark, as if just to prove to us that she's doing her job but doesn’t want to waste her time on people she considers insignificant and not a threat, and goes back into her humpy.
    Or maybe childbirth has slowed her down – there are now two cute little pups (not chained up like their mother) who used to just wag their tails and look at me as their mother let loose a tirade of abuse.
    They'd look back at her with quizzical expressions that seemed to say "he looks alright, he seems pretty friendly, why don’t we try and befriend him instead?"
    She's not the first guard dog I've seen gone soft – years ago there was a ferocious guard dog called Duke at my uncle's house in the north.
    Well he started off ferocious but eventually he must have been corrupted by the lackadaisical staff there and ended up quite tame to the extent that, towards the end of his life, my aunty even disclosed the attack word to me.
    I'd always wanted this canine code and had even considered reading out the entire dictionary to him until I fluked upon that one word that his trainer had programmed him to attack on*.
    I've since forgotten what the actual word was but I'll never forget Duke, the apathetic aristocratic guard dog.

    Don’t ask me how a guard dog can be popular with children, but Duke was very popular with the kids.
    I was once teasing my little cousin Foad about him - “Duke’s a dog!” (universal insult).
    “No, he’s a ‘oow oow’” (the Arabic “translation” of “woof woof”) he defended.

    *IMPORTANT ADVICE: To avoid accidental sooling, this shouldn’t be a commonly used term such as "ahlan" (welcome – very commonly used in Arab societies) or your bitten guests will be left feeling less than welcome.
    "Ahlan Mr. Prime Minister!... Down Duke!... Bad Duke!...Let me get you a bandage for that Your Excellency."
    In fact, I recommend that you scour ancient manuscripts for hapax legomenon to use as an attack word or even use the term "hapax legomenon" itself.

    Umm...make that one little puppy...I'm sad to announce that this morning when I went for a walk I saw one of the puppies dead on the highway.

    On Another walk, I encountered, for the first time ever, the so-called “guard dog” “unplugged” (unchained).
    What do she do?
    N OT H I N G!
    She even shrank away from me!
    It’s all been a big lie!

    *Sorry, I got a bit carried away with the Maoisms.

    11:30 pm

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