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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

    Monday, September 26, 2005  

    "Unfortunately, we are facing some kind of a ghost..."
    - Lebanese Interior Minister Hassan Sabaa on Sunday's attempted murder of LBC journalist May Chidiac - the thirteenth bombing in Lebanon since February.
    To the Minister’s credit, at least he lives here.
    Some of the country’s top political figures have practically set up a government in exile in Europe where they’re hiding out for security reasons – including the Defense Minister and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri.
    Still, I think it’s a good swap – the half dozen or so of them for General Aoun, who came back from exile in Paris last May.Nobody wants them to put themselves in harms way (besides, it’s not as if their presence here would make any difference) but one cant’ hold a position of responsibility in one country but live in another – especially if you’re the Defense Minister (what kind of defense is that – does he have one of those remote alarms?).

    12:00 pm

    Somebody recently told me this anecdote about a former Arab ambassador to the Soviet Union they knew (who has since passed away from alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver – he liked a drink as you'll probably gather).
    After the 1956 Suez War, the ambassador asked for a meeting with the Soviet Defense Minister.
    After several requests he finally secured a meeting with the Minister, whereby he thanked the Minister for the Soviet Union’s support for the Arabs during the war and assured him that the Arabs had no expansionist ambitions towards any Soviet territory.The Minster burst into un-Soviet-like laughter and the ambassador never had any trouble securing any future appointments with the Minister.

    The same person also told me an anecdote about a young man who was kidnapped at a checkpoint during the civil war.
    The person who told me the tale was asked by the young man’s family to intervene with his captors and secure his release.
    So he telephoned a high-up in the militia that kidnapped the young man who told him that they don’t have any captive by that name but promised to look into it further.
    He did and reported back that indeed they did not have any captive by that name but a willing hanger-on.
    Not a case of the Stockholm Syndrome but a case of common cause – the young man was a homosexual and had obviously found that his guards shared the same ‘’interests’’ that he did.

    7:15 am

    Saturday, September 24, 2005  

    1:00 am

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005  
    At a dinner party some ten years ago, the subject turned to most embarrassing moments with various attendees sharing theirs.
    A friend asked me to disclose my most embarrassing moment and I told him that I couldn’t because it involved him.
    Now, with the passing of time and the expiry of the Faux Pas Statute of Limitations (as it had only recently occurred), it can be revealed to this wider dinner party.
    I’d known the friend in question for a couple of years then and had always assumed that he was the same religion that I was (Maronite Christian).
    That I didn’t know what religion my friend was is a testimony to Lebanese multiculturalism, but, as I got to know Lebanon, I got more politicized and in Lebanon politics is all about religion.
    So, while spending the weekend at my house, my friend felt that he had to confess something to me.
    He was a bit hesitant but, after some coaxing, he finally began to reveal what it was he wanted to tell me – in stages.
    “My mum’s a Muslim”
    In Lebanon, if your mother is from one religion chances are that your father, not to mention you, are from that same religion too so I should have stopped right there but I didn’t of course.
    “Is that all?” I replied, “What’s the big deal? We’ve both got the same problem – my mum’s a Muslim too!”
    “My dad’s also a Muslim,” he continued.
    “That’s okay, as long as you’re not one of those bloody Shiites” I “reassured” him.
    I had though that this was a safe assumption because his mother is from the north and all the Muslim villages in the north are Sunnis except for ONE village that is Shiite, which just happens to be the village that his mother is from.
    Of course, my mother (who was also there) knew that because he’d earlier told us the name of that village and tried to shut me up to no avail.
    Of all the villages in all the north, his mother just happened to be from that one.
    Anyway, all’s well that ends well and we’re still friends to this very day – once again, a testimony to Lebanese multiculturalism and also a testimony to my friend’s nobility and definitely not to my tactlessness.

    PS: I have no problem with Shiites but I call a spade a spade whether it is in our tool shed or their tool shed or anyone else’s tool shed.

    7:30 pm

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