---------------------------------------------- Serious satire "Humor is a funny way of being serious" -Thomas Edison -------------------- To have your emails deleted please write to me at renatoobeid@hotmail.com -------------------- Copyright© 2001-2010, Renato Obeid

Archives April 2001 May 2001 June 2001 July 2001 August 2001 September 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 January 2009 April 2009 October 2012
<< current
  • 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, January 06, 2006  
    My notebook’s on the blink (literally, the screen is “shivering” and darkened), so I’ve gone back to my old better habit of reading proper literature instead of reading online newspapers etc (a Sisyphean task - as soon as you finish the day’s newspapers, it’s time to start all over again with the next day’s newspapers).
    I’m reading a "notebook" (aka a "book") I bought for 2500 Lebanese Lira ($1.6).
    This example of a brilliant millennia-old “cutting-edge" technology is about the size of my hand, 600 pages of text and has an endless power supply.
    Compare $1.6 with the $121 the local C**tpaq agents want to charge me to import an adaptor (which they think may be the problem) from overseas (my Compaq laptop is comparatively ancient and they allegedly don’t have an adaptor for it), which I have to pay for whether or not the adaptor proves to be the problem or not.
    This equivalent of having to buy an item of clothing without being allowed to try it on first would have been okay at Moscow’s Gum department store during the Soviet era but is not acceptable in a modern so-called capitalist economy (I think Lebanon veers more to the feral capitalist side though)
    That plus a $50 service charge to examine the computer if the problem doesn’t turn out to be the adaptor means that I could end up paying $171 before I even know what the problem is.
    Although I’m enjoying my reading, I’m faced with the Scylla of exorbitant anti-free market practices and the Charybdis of not having a properly working computer.
    I’m writing this on waning battery power - it barely gives me enough time to check my spam (believe it or not but I actually read my spam because some of them have proverbs and quotes etc.).

    But I still speed-read the papers as a sort of sorbet to cleanse the palate between reading heavier stuff.
    A kind of break yet still reading – like a jogger running on the spot while stopped at the side of the road waiting for the traffic to pass or for the lights to change or like a swimmer treading water.
    Reading the papers and other periodicals is also like the starter or aperitif for a literary feast – at the start of the day I always read the papers to ‘’warm up’’ for proper reading and at the end of the day I read the papers to ‘’warm down’’.
    And I’m not going to run out of books to read anytime soon.
    I’ve been raiding the discount sections of two Beirut bookshops for a couple of years now – a veritable goldmine of literature classics sold for 2000 to 2500 lira.
    They’re new not second-hand but are older prints.
    That people just don’t read books anymore, let alone classic literature, is my gain.
    In my biggest acquisition I bought fifty books, in two visits, weighing ten kilos (I weighed them when I got home) for one hundred thousand lira – that works out to ten thousand lira a kilo!
    That’s literally as cheap as chips – a fifty gram bag of chips costs around five hundred lira here so a kilo of chips (20 bags times x five hundred lira) would cost ten thousand lira (the same as a kilo of books).
    I don’t buy books just because they’re on sale but it’s coincidental that the books I read, old classics that I’ve been paying top dollar for over the years, are the ones that are now on sale.
    As if weighing the books wasn’t eccentric enough, when I get home I also wipe the covers with rubbing alcohol (not that they're dirty it but it freshens them up a bit after years on the shelves and in storerooms)and put my literary laundry outside on the clotheshorse to air for a couple of hours.
    God only knows what my neighbours must think of me.
    The taxi driver driving me home after one of my literary jaunts, seeing me lugging bags of concealed printed ''produce'', must have thought that was I shopping for actual produce because he told me that his friend was selling discount vegetables off the back of a truck and recommended him to me.
    I was too embarrassed to tell him that I was lugging books not beets.
    These back editions are not only cheaper but also smell nicer – I love the sweet vanilla like smell of old books.
    Newer prints just don’t compare, they hardly smell at all and when they do, it’s a tangier tarter smell than the sweet settled smell of older books.

    I’ve pretty much mined and depleted that vein though – along with some people you’d think least likely to be interested in classic English language literature.
    I went to one of these bookshops only to find the discount section completely empty.
    The shop assistant told me that a Hezbollah orphanage had bought the whole lot (including everything they had in storage).
    Two thousand dollars worth!
    Who knew that Hezbollah was so interested in Daniel Defoe?
    Maybe the next generation of Hezbollah fighters will be challenging Israelis to duels at dawn by taking a glove off and slapping their faces with it.
    I wish they would – this old-fashioned way of dealing with grievances man to man was a lot more gentlemanly and spared everybody else.
    Good on them and good luck to them – English literature is tough enough for any kid, let alone a Hezbollah orphan.
    My English teachers in high school had to put up with whining complaints from the back of the class such as ‘’Miss, when we go to a job interview are they going to ask us if we’ve read ‘Of Mice and Men’?’’.
    Say what you like about them but at least they look after their own.
    Which is more than can be said for us – Christians often remark that the Muslims and the Muslim religious bodies look after their own better than we do and that if the church loosened its purse strings a bit, it could wipeout poverty and unemployment in Christian areas on its very own.
    Not such a wild claim when you consider that the various religious groups are estimated to own about a quarter of all Lebanese property.

    11:29 am

    This page is powered by Blogger.