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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

    Friday, May 06, 2005  
    Coming home from Beirut early this evening, the highway was interspersed with scores of cars bedecked with flags and portraits of General Michel Aoun spilling over with jubilant screaming youths flashing victory signs and blaring anthems and beeping the trademark Aoun beep on their car horns (“taratata, General” – the only person I know of, other than the Road Runner, who has his own beep*) celebrating on the eve of Aoun’s return from fourteen years of exile in Paris.
    This, along with all the recent pro-Geagea/LF activity (it’s the first time that I see flags of the disbanded LF openly being sold by the side of the road – right alongside Aounist* *and Lebanese flags) led the friend I was with to observe that it was all eerily reminiscent of 1989 when Aounist/LF polarization led to a ruinous intra-Christian war.
    Lets just hope that all these, so far benign, manifestations of nostalgia are just that – manifestations of a nostalgia that has been kept alive over the years by the exile of one leader and the imprisonment of another and now revived in the run up to the return of one and the imminent release of the other.

    *It's quite a popular tune - I've even heard kids ringing it on their bicycle bells.
    **Actually, this is the first time I’ve ever seen an Aounist flag anywhere – this, coupled with the fact that Aounism is more about a person rather than an ideology or party (notionally called the Free Patriotic Movement) and that these flags are the revolutionary color a la mode (Ukrainian orange) would indicate that that they’re new flags of convenience (you’ve got to wave something).

    Just as it’s said that Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is playing on some radio station somewhere at any given moment in time, it seems that General Aoun has been giving an interview to some media outlet or another or addressing some conference or other via telephone at any given moment in time over the past fourteen years.
    Yet he was uncharacteristically uncommunicative when I settled down to listen to a pre-recordered interview with him on BBC World Service Radio last night.
    The interview had barely begun when Aoun Quixote took offence at the host’s asking him how he would get along with old foes and hung up.
    Never mind, I went into the living room and had a smoke while watching him being interviewed live from Paris on LBC television, went for a walk to Jounieh – walking past walls plastered with pictures of him stuck right alongside those of Samir Geagea (or vice versa) - and heard the rest of that interview, simulcast live on Radio Liban Libre, in the service on the way back up.
    Just before I wrote this, I saw him being interviewed on the evening news.

    A bomb has just gone off in Jounieh.
    I was putting up the washing on the balcony, overlooking Jounieh, when I heard a loud bang and then saw the subsequent grey/black cloud.
    It appears to have occurred near the Jounieh central square.
    Sirens are blaring in the distance and a fire truck has just roared past us down the mountain so it’s obviously stretching all resources.

    I don’t get it.
    Is it just me or did not a bomb go off some fifty minutes ago?
    I heard it; I saw it yet there’s nothing on any of the local television channels.
    Doesn’t the LBC have a balcony?
    They’re atop the next mountain down from us – also overlooking Jounieh.
    Yet they’ve got some singing and dancing on, NBN’s got old news, Future’s airing a political interview program and New TV’s yammering away too.
    Actually, LBC’s finally covering it with live pictures – at 10.16.

    An LBC reporter, live at the scene, is confirming the target – the Voice of Love (Christian) radio station* and a neighboring church.
    Both have been completely destroyed.

    Future’s finally joined in – an anchorwoman in the studio is talking to a reporter at the scene via telephone.

    Future has suspended their coverage and gone back to yammering, promising to bring us any further developments – I suppose that this just doesn’t interest them.
    NBN and New TV are finally doing similar studio-to-telephone correspondent exchanges.

    P.S: The twenty-five kilogram bomb injured twenty-two people

    *Can’t say I listen to the station myself but the Hajji does – in her sleep.
    Sometimes when I go to check on the Hajji and find her asleep I change the station on her radio from the Islamic station it’s on to the Voice of Love.
    They both broadcast mainly religious music and the Hajji says that she’ll wake up on those occasions thinking that her coreligionists have become a lot more melodic until it slowly dawns on her that she’s listening to Christian chants.
    The poor Hajji must have thought she’d died and gone to heaven.
    Every bit helps and if people can learn German in their sleep then it stands to reason that they can learn another religion in their sleep too.
    Isn’t German just drunk and/or angry English anyway?
    Converting the Hajji to Christianity while she’s awake certainly hasn’t worked so maybe I can convert her while she’s asleep.

    10:34 pm

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