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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, March 31, 2008  
    Just got back from my walk to Jounieh.
    Is my taxi driver an old veteran or what!
    He literally was a service before there were even cars (in the village)!
    Not usually the most talkative of people, today he asked me how long it takes me to walk down.
    When I replied about half an hour he told me that he used to do it in fifteen minutes when he was young.
    ‘’I used to do a service (sic) from the village to Jounieh on foot’’.
    It’s the first time I ever hear of a service without that actual service (the car) but you learn something new every day.
    In the early fifties, when he was a preteen, there were only two cars in the whole village so when people needed something from Jounieh (particularly medicine from the pharmacy) they used to give him one or two piasters to walk down and get it.
    He used to do this once or twice a day.
    This was on the old now-defunct approximately two meter wide carriage road that cut straight through the forest right down to Jounieh in the days before the switchback road that crisscross the mountain.
    Too bad that that old road doesn’t exist anymore, it sounds perfect for walking.
    Fifteen minutes is a lot better than half an hour.

    I don’t have just one taxi driver – there are different taxi drivers from different places at different times of the day – but they all morph into ‘’the taxi driver’’ when I refer to them individually.

    1:00 pm

    Thursday, March 27, 2008  
    I’m quite a talker when I want to be.
    I was on the debating team in school, did high school and university theatre and worked as a spruiker and radio broadcaster but my greatest rhetorical feat was out-talking a Mormon proselytizer.
    In 2001 I was accosted by a pair of American Mormon missionaries on the street in Liverpool Sydney.
    Not long into their spiel I cut there proselytizing short by launching into my own ‘’proselytizing’’.
    It wasn’t long before one of them escaped to harass someone else leaving his comrade behind.
    This patient soul just stood there listening to my carrying-on (hello karma!) for Joseph Smith knows how long until he couldn’t take it any more.
    ‘’I won’t keep you any longer sir – I’ll leave you to go about your business’’ he pleaded before taking his leave.
    And I was only getting warmed up!
    It felt pretty cool to be one of the few people who had ever out-talked a Mormon until I realized that the flip side of that was that I was also one of the few people who had been rejected by a Mormon – even Mormons don’t want to talk to me!

    1:45 am

    Friday, March 21, 2008  
    It looks like Lebanon’s so-called ‘’anti-Syrian’’ government will be boycotting the upcoming Arab League Summit in Damascus and that Lebanon will instead be represented at a lower level (ambassadorial) or by someone from the opposition.
    Fair enough but if they get lost on the way to Damascus then they have to call someone from the ruling clique for directions because no one knows the road to Damascus better then they do.
    They’d know the route blindfolded.
    The late Rafic Hariri made over five hundred (publicly announced) visits to Damascus during his five terms as Prime Minister and yet he’s remembered as being ‘’anti-Syrian’’.
    I bet that there are Beirut to Damascus service drivers who haven’t made that many trips to Damascus.
    If that’s ‘’anti-Syrian’’ then I’d hate to see how many visits pro-Syrian politicians made.
    How many visits to Damascus do you have to make before you’re considered pro-Syrian?
    A thousand sounds reasonable to me.
    We don’t want to jump to any hasty conclusions based on just five hundred visits.

    1:00 am

    Saturday, March 01, 2008  
    The United States has dispatched the warship USS Cole off Lebanon’s coast as a ‘’show of support’’ for the Siniora government.
    This is the literal definition of gunboat diplomacy because it is that very government that is currently ‘’negotiating’’ with the opposition on a raft of issues ranging from the presidency to the makeup of a new cabinet.
    The latest round of talks, known as ‘’the four party talks’’, grouping two loyalists, one opposition leader and the Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa, ended unfruitfully earlier this week.
    Or should that be ‘the five party talks’’?
    Just as some Muslims say that when an unrelated man and woman are alone in a room together, the third party in the room is the devil, it can be said that when you negotiate with American or her allies, the third party in the room is the threat of force.

    12:30 pm

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