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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

    Sunday, November 18, 2007  
    Another day, another walk and another tart tale from the taxi driver.
    Just got back from my walk to Jounieh (mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun).
    On the way up the taxi driver (not last week’s raconteur) was telling me about a Syrian Kurd living in Lebanon he knows who went back to Syria and literally bought an eighteen-year-old wife (also a Syrian Kurd) for a hundred dollars, brought her back to Jounieh where he works her as a prostitute in a ‘’cabaret’’ (cabaret is another Lebanese euphemism for a whorehouse).
    It seems that life is indeed a cabaret in Lebanon these days.
    Punters at the cabaret pay a hundred dollars a pop (pun intended) for the bride of Kurdistan – fifty dollars of that goes to the house and the other fifty goes to the husband.
    Thus, according to my calculations, the husband recouped the cost of purchase in just two sessions.
    But it’s the poor punter who’s being exploited here – he’s paying the same amount it cost to buy the whore for just one measly session.
    Business was going so well for the husband that he went back to Syria and bought another Syrian Kurdish bride (a twenty-five-year old), also for a hundred dollars and pimps her too.
    I’m told he earns three or four hundred dollars a day from his two bitches (excuse the vulgarity but I’m using pimp lingo here in the interests of authenticity.

    - the bride comes to yellow sky : Jounieh emblem

    12:15 pm

    Saturday, November 17, 2007  
    Life is a death sentence.

    2:15 am

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007  
    Just got back from my walk to Jounieh.
    Got into Jounieh at around 5.00am so I was there in time for the daily prostitute parade – the girls from the ‘’super nightclub’’ sashaying out of the club and onto the mini bus that takes them home.
    This prompted me to tell the taxi driver that prostitutes where the only ones making a decent living in this country these days.
    Make that prostitutes and taxi drivers because he then told me this story that illustrates the symbiotic relationship between taxi drivers and tarts.
    A young local man in his early twenties who works in Saudi Arabia and was back home for a visit approached the taxi driver (who looks at least seventy years of age to me) and asked him if he objected to taking him to an assignation.
    Surprise, surprise, the taxi driver said that he had no problem with that (no taxi driver would ever object to anything).
    So they gallivanted off to the highway near the nearby Casino du Liban where, according to the taxi driver, some ten to fifteen girls ply their trade right there on the road.
    At least somebody gets ‘’lucky’’ at the bloody casino.
    The sex tourist had already pre-chosen two sisters in their late twenties who stand on alternate sides of the highway across from each other plying their wares so they found and accosted them.
    The girls wanted a hundred dollars for the ‘’sister act’’ that the young man had in mind but he got them down to seventy five dollars.
    They then drove to a hotel in a resort area on the coast some fifteen kilometres to the north and procured a room for thirty five dollars.
    The young man told the taxi driver that he was afraid to be alone with the two girls so he insisted that the taxi driver accompany him inside.
    It was literally a single room so the taxi driver sat down and watched them for an hour.
    Why couldn’t I have been a taxi driver!
    I told him that it sure beats watching television.
    When the festivities were over, the sex tourist got the taxi driver to drive the girls to Beirut where they would catch a bus home to the South and paid him a hundred and twenty dollars for one and a half hours ‘’work’’.
    He paid more for the taxi ride than he did for the ‘’ride’’.

    I don’t know whether the sex tourist got his money’s worth from the slut sisters but I certainly got my money’s worth from the taxi driver/prostitution facilitator – two stories on two days in a row!
    But, still, I wouldn’t credit this to his skills as a raconteur – it’s more luck than anything else.
    I find that you can’t actually go out looking for stories or ask people for stories because, when asked, they’ll end up telling you the silliest and most irrelevant things.
    You really just have to wait and leave it to serendipity and coincidence.
    So I never actually ask anybody for a story because if you do, you’ll never get one that’s suitable.
    Anything creative is surprisingly random – a random encounter, a stray thought, etc.
    Initial inspiration aside, even if you set out to write the same story from the same notes on two separate days, you’ll more than likely get two different stories.

    Sometimes I think that I must spend more time on the streets than prostitutes.
    Sometimes I feel like the wandering Jew.

    5:15 am

    Monday, November 12, 2007  
    Just got my back from my walk to Jounieh.
    The taxi driver on the way back was telling me about another taxi driver who was preventing him from working in what the later considered his exclusive domain.
    So this victim went to the bully’s feudal patron to complain.
    ‘’If somebody owed me money and I asked you to split his head in two for me would you do it for even five thousand dollars?’’ the sheik asked him rhetorically.
    ‘’Well, this guy would do it for a thousand dollars, he’d even beat up his own brother if I asked him to – that’s why he’s indispensable to me’’.
    Case dismissed.

    5:45 am

    Saturday, November 03, 2007  
    Just got back from my walk to Jounieh.
    On the way up the taxi driver kept closing my window and I kept opening it until I finally asked him if it was a problem if we kept it open.
    He replied that of course it wasn’t but that he was closing it for my sake because I’d been walking and (he incorrectly presumed) that I was sweaty and thus liable to get ‘’struck by the wind’’.
    Not wanting to offend his animist sensibilities, I agreed with him but said that I was also hot and needed some air.
    So I proposed and negotiated a compromise whereby I opened the window halfway.
    These earnest entreaties are getting most tiresome.
    I’ve been ripped-off, robbed, abused, assaulted and God knows what else by Lebanese taxi drivers but if there’s anything that I really hold against them it’s this boring me to death with this so-called advice.
    Anything else I can handle but not this!

    2:15 am

    Thursday, November 01, 2007  
    Eli got his driving license last week.
    He’s quite a good driver considering that he took lessons with an outfit that calls itself an ‘’autodriving school’’.

    1:30 pm

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