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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

    Saturday, April 19, 2008  
    I had to interrupt my start of the day reading of the newspapers online because the Hajji needed to make an ‘’important’’ phone call to Tripoli to deal with the crisis du jour.
    Someone’s daughter had left her husband.
    ‘’If you’re going to call every Muslim commoner who’s left her husband today, I might as well get you the Tripoli phonebook’’ I protested to the Hajji.
    ‘’You might as well call a cat who’s just left her ‘husband’ because even that is rarer’’ I pleaded to no avail.
    Aware that no man can stand in the way of the Hajji one a mission, I reluctantly surrendered the phone line.
    Although divorce is famously easy in Islam, it’s generally the lower classes that practice it with such frequency and relish.
    If these people read as many books as they ‘’wrote’’ (the marriage contract in Islam is called ‘’writing the book’’) they’d be geniuses!
    And before they get married and divorced they seem to get engaged to different people on a daily basis.
    I’m no sociologist but it seems to me that the Muslim lower classes – like the lower classes everywhere (just watch the Jerry Springer Show for confirmation) - are always squabbling.
    These daily doses of drama are like a sport to them.
    "There is material for a dozen buccaneering stories to be picked up in the hotels at Circular Quay" Robert Louis Stevenson observed of colonial Sydney.
    By the same token, there is material for a dozen soap operas to be picked up in the day’s events in one Tripoli household.
    Such squabbling is the characteristic of the lower classes but an important distinction to make here is the short-term nature of such squabbles as these people don’t have the patience to maintain a long-running feud.
    Just as soon as a squabble erupts, it is forgotten and replaced by another one.
    They’ll forget about it and move on to something else long before you do.
    That’s what I’ll often tell the Hajji who takes these things at face value and gets worried.
    ‘’Call them back in half an hour and you’ll find that they’ll have forgotten about it and moved onto something else’’.
    As I said before, squabbling is endemic to the lower classes anywhere, but it seems to me that in Lebanon Christians don’t tend to squabble so much.
    Maybe it’s because they’re to busy trying to rip people off and make money.

    Maybe commoners fight more because they’re less inhibited and protective of their reputations than gentlefolk or maybe, quite simply, because there’s nothing else to do to like they ‘’dance and drink and screw, because there's nothing else to do’’ according Pulp’s brilliant 1995 hit “Common People’’.
    Common people care about appearances in the superficial sense only i.e. their looks and their clothing often dressing “better’’ than gentlefolk because they’re complexed and have the typical demotic misconception that class is about superficial appearances and luxuries whereas class is really about character not cloth.

    5:45 pm

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