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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, June 24, 2005  
    My cousin told me about a friend of his who was paying for something at a village shop with a one hundred dollar bill.
    The shopkeeper got a bit overzealous with his state-of-the art anti-counterfeit verification technique (pulling and snapping the note) and accidentally ripped it in half.He then told his hapless customer to take it to a bank and that they’d exchange it for him.

    8:00 pm

    Sunday, June 12, 2005  
    - General Michel Aoun’s FPM wins a clean sweep in the Mount Lebanon Christian heartland in third round of Lebanese parliamentary elections

    TSUNA MICHEL AOUN - banner across the highway in Jbeil celebrating Aoun’s victory (Aoun’s imminent return was pejoratively characterized as a tsunami by his arch foe Walid Jumblat a couple of months ago).

    New definition of “sectarianism” in Lebanon: · Christians voting! (How dare they!)
    · Christians voting for Christian candidates! (How dare they!)
    · Christians voting for Christian candidates not preselected by Muslims nor voted in by majority Muslim electorates! (How dare they!)
    · Those candidates actually winning! (How dare they!)

    10:00 pm

    Thursday, June 09, 2005  
    Just got back from my sleepwalk to Jounieh.
    On arrival at the taxi rank, the hobo who thinks that I’m a priest greeted me (“welcome Father”) but the actual taxi driver was preoccupied – he was chasing some youths with a stick.
    It appeared to be politically related because the taxi company supports one candidate and the young men were setting up Aoun paraphernalia.
    I stood and watched for a little while, not wanting to intervene because it looked too insignificant to warrant intervention (an old man chasing some boys with a stick) but the hobo kept yelling to the driver “stop it – the priest is here!”
    So I thought that if they think I’m a priest, I should fulfill my priestly duties.
    Thus, to the protestations of the hobo who was saying “don’t bother with it Father”, I walked over and convinced the driver to renounce violence and drive me up here (he told me “they were disrespecting their elders so I decided to ‘fan’ them a bit”).
    Just call me The Reverend Jesse Jackson.
    The reason I didn’t correct the hobo is that I don’t like contradicting people – a la the taxi driver who still thinks that my name is William.So I’m all things to all taxi drivers and their hangers-on.

    I walk to Jounieh nearly every day now – quite a departure for someone who used to consider showering a form of exercise (my only form of exercise).

    I used to somewhat enjoy my walks until I became too "professional" about them - power walking has cut the time it takes in half (from approximately an hour to approximatley half an hour) but doubled my discomfort.

    The good thing about walking down a mountain is that you can’t turn back – you have to keep going all the way to the bottom of the mountain because the alternative, walking back up the mountain, is suicide (the only flat terrain in Lebanon is in your appartment).
    And the bad thing about walking down a mountain is that you can’t turn back.

    It’s not your mountain until you’ve walked it – surveyed and reconnoitered it on foot.

    I used to walk down a smaller mountain on the outskirts of Campbelltown to the closest shops (in Campbelltown proper) in the middle of the night when I’d run out of smokes – a forty-minute roundtrip that was counterproductive because I’d be too winded to actually smoke them when I got back (for a while anyway).
    Not the safest thing to do in the world – put it this way, I feel a lot safer walking in Lebanon at 3.00am than I do in Sydney or Melbourne.
    Quite ironic.
    Seeing the ubiquitous police patrols didn’t make me feel very much safer either – what are they doing? Why are they here? Now I know that it’s unsafe, that just confirms it.

    I don’t know anybody in Lebanon who has a house alarm – we don’t need alarms we have neighbours.
    An informal yet very effective neighbourhood watch.
    Put quite simply, everybody watches everybody else.

    3:00 am

    Sunday, June 05, 2005  
    - pork-barreling in some areas of Lebanon means merely cleaning the streets
    Elections in this region might not be until next Sunday but hitherto unseen street cleaners have begun collecting the garbage… and collecting votes.
    Just looking out the window here, I can see five of them on the one stretch of street picking up and sweeping.

    1:30 pm

    Friday, June 03, 2005  
    - hotchpotch Hariri caravan heads north
    The interloping Hariri carpetbagger express is heading north, where their list is expected to pork-barrel its way to another clean sweep - all twenty-eight seats in mainly Sunni Muslim North Lebanon on Sunday 19th. It’s ironic that Beirut MP-elect Saad Hariri couldn’t even vote for himself in Beirut (let alone the north) because he is still registered in his ancestral Saida (in the south) – unlike his late father who had cynically switched his registration (very uncommon and almost impossible to do in this parochial country) to Beirut.
    Despite being born some 13885.73 kilometers away (Melbourne Australia) and having never spent a whole day there in my entire life, I am registered in my ancestral village in the north by mere virtue of the fact that my family is from there.
    If I were to die and be buried in the Lebanese region I actually live in (Keserwan), the church bell that would toll for me would literally ring a different toll as there are separate death knells for natives and for non-natives.Taking all that into consideration, I’d have to say that Sheik Saad’s electoral involvement anywhere other than Saida rings pretty hollow to me.

    10:20 am

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