Monday, August 08, 2005
Seeing a friend off at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport this morning, I was surprised to see cigarettes, albeit Marlboro Lights, being sold at the airport pharmacy (it calls itself a “parapharmacy”).
Most pharmacies here used to sell herbal cigarettes (which were probably no healthier than regular cigarettes).They smelt like marijuana – I was smoking them at a pub once when the proprietor kindly asked me to refrain and gave me a complimentary pack of Marlboro Lights.
I prefer the old airport to this Hariri-built Saudi style marble box.
It had a lot more charm and character.
My overwhelming memory of the old airport was that there always seemed to be some fat middle-aged veiled chador-clad Shiite woman passed-out on the pavement next to the outside departures gate, overwhelmed by the heat and the emotion of seeing a son or daughter off to a distant land, being administered to by her kinfolk.
That doesn’t seem to happen anymore at the new airport.
I don’t know – maybe this new airport’s too fancy for faintin’.
But another feature of the airport remains - it’s still the only real melting pot in Lebanon, where you’ll find people of all creeds, classes and ages all united, for once, by one thing, the desire to leave this country.
The good news for fans of fainting (if there are any fans of that genre) is that fat middle-aged veiled chador-clad women still faint with astonishing regularity in Egyptian soap operas.
To save you the bother of watching these annoying programs, here’s a brief synopsis of almost every one of them: a son or daughter wants to marry someone from another class, big drama, fat middle-aged veiled chador-clad mother faints, etc, etc, etc.
A far cry from the fainting spells in Victorian era novels.
‘’Oh dear, I’m feeling a little peculiar, I’m all of a perspiration – bring me my smelling salts, summon an apothecary’’ is a lot more refined then today’s screaming, shrieking shrills.