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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, December 14, 2007  
    Just got back from my walk to Jounieh.
    The mountain is crawling with soldiers ahead of this morning’s funeral here in Harisa for Brigadier General Françoise el Hajj, the chief of operations in the Lebanese army, who was martyred in a car bomb attack in a suburb of Beirut on Wednesday.
    This was my first ‘’unforced’’ walk (a ‘’forced’’ walk being a walk I have to talk after my second failed attempt at sleep) in my new waterproof rain suit.
    It was very rainy and stormy so it was a real baptism of…water.
    It works!
    Not only does it keep you dry but it keeps you warm too.
    Because this winter has been quite mild so far, it was 12.5 degrees outside, I couldn’t wear my tracksuit underneath because I’d get too hot so I wore pyjamas underneath, albeit a pair of trendy Gap pyjamas that the Hajji got me seven years ago but I never wore because they aren’t elasticized at the wrists, waist and ankles as is my preference in pyjamas.
    I didn’t wear my newish headlamp as I usually do when I walk in the dark and there’s no electricity because, although it was dark when I set out at 5.50am, dawn was fast approaching.
    The Achilles heal of my rain proofing is my glasses – someone joked that I need windscreen wipers for them (I’m working on it).
    Because I couldn’t see perfectly due to the bad light and rain, nor hear perfectly because I had the hood of my rain suit on, I ended up saying ‘’good morning’’ and ‘’God give you strength’’ to everything that moved and looked army green (and forests are quite green).
    And probably everything that didn’t too.
    There must be a lot of confused trees and lampposts out there (‘’hello lamppost, what ya knowin’?’’) and I apologize to them for the mistaken identity.
    The soldiers didn’t enough bother questioning me because it was clear that I was crazy (for being out in this weather when I, unlike them, didn’t have to) and not a terrorist.

    As usual, I was rewarded for my efforts with a good story from the taxi driver on the way up.
    Apropos the heavy security, I remarked that all the security in the world couldn’t help if they really wanted to get you ala the Hariri assassination that succeeded despite the millions of dollars that Hariri spent on security.
    ‘’No one other than Saint George killed Hariri’’ the taxi driver replied.
    He went on to say that it was Saint George’s revenge for Hariri building a huge mosque (the ‘’mother of all mosques’’ as Lebanese blogger Jamal Ghosn calls it) next to the nearby Saint George’s Maronite Cathedral.
    After all, ‘’the (Muslim) call to prayer can be heard from the church!’’.
    ‘’Even up until now they still don’t know who killed him – the explosion came from beneath the ground!’’ he continued.
    And he wasn’t joking, he really does believe that Saint George killed Hariri and, by George, I’m even beginning to believe it – it wouldn’t be the first time that Saint George slew a dragon.
    He’s done that kind of thing before.
    At that very location too - Hariri was assassinated at Saint Georges Bay where legend has it that Saint George slew another dragon.
    Tell the international commission.
    Case closed.
    Saint George is a force to be reckoned with and apparently quite good at extracting confessions.
    The taxi driver also told me about a Christian man who dared a Muslim man he suspected of robbing his house to accompany him to a church and swear by Saint George that he didn’t do it.
    Muslims also recognize Saint George but they know him by another name (Khodr).
    Just as the alleged perp was about to swear his innocence to Saint George he saw an apparition of a fierce Saint George brandishing a sword at him and screamed ‘’I beseech you Khodr! I did it!’’
    I don’t know whether such a confession would hold up in a court of law seeing it was extracted under apparent threat of violence.
    Going for a walk (and then catching a taxi back home) is fast becoming just as much a professional necessity for me as it is a health necessity.

    7:15 am

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