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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

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008  
    I’ve been reassessing my view of ye olde abandoned road and have been occasionally taking my walks there (most recently yesterday morning).
    It takes twenty minutes to do the loop so it’s good for a ‘’half marathon’’ when you‘re not up for the ‘’full marathon’’ (all the way down the mountain which takes about double that time).
    And because it’s blocked off at both ends it’s like having your own park with a quaint little road winding through it.
    It’s secure too.
    One of the cops was telling me that they literally swept it (of rocks etc) because their boss exercises there “so he won’t trip over’’.
    Somehow I can’t imagine the head of the Lebanese police rapid intervention force tripping over so easily (i.e. strolling through the forest).
    With the exception of Gerald Ford, survival of the fittest ensures that people with a tendency to trip over don’t usually reach the upper echelons.
    The cops, like their boss, are very civic and community-minded, keeping their prefabricated base and its environs spotless (even beautifying it with a small garden) and undertaking various projects around the buildings*.
    Because it’s no longer in use it’s not as polluted and hectic as the main road.
    You can actually smell the pine trees.
    I’m just scared of snakes because years ago I nearly stepped on a snake there and hyenas because someone told me that they once encountered a hyena thereabouts.
    Hyenas are no laughing matter as far as I’m concerned.
    But I can’t imagine that they'd be any worse than the taxi drivers I’d have to encounter if I walked to Jounieh instead.
    Maybe if I encounter an actual hyena on my forest walk, I can give it ten thousand lira (the usual night time taxi fare) and it will leave me alone.
    It works with the taxi drivers.
    The road might be secure as far as dangerous humans go because of the nearby police presence but I’m sure that the wildlife hasn’t received the memo yet.
    Although it seems quite safe, I wouldn’t fancy walking there at night especially now that it’s no longer lit up.

    -5.45 am Tuesday 3rd June 2008
    And pray for insomniacs!
    Just got back from my walk ‘’around the block’’.
    I’ve been trying to sleep since 10.30 last night and this was the mandatory walk that I have to take after my second failed attempt at sleep.
    My insomnia’s getting so bad that I’ve sought police ‘’assistance’’.
    At the end of my walk I was talking to one of the cops, mainly about my insomnia, and when we parted company he said ‘’God willing you’ll sleep now’’.
    ‘’Pray for me’’ I replied jocularly.
    He took it seriously and said that he would indeed pray for me.
    That’s very nice and I appreciate it a lot but I think it would be better if he just shot me – that would cure it for ever.
    Eternal sleep.
    After all Omar Khayyam, the medieval Persian philosopher, did promise ‘’awaken, you have eternity for sleeping’’ although I think his emphasis was more on the first part of that not the latter which I’m looking forward to.
    Who died and made you an alarm clock?
    I bet that he never had insomnia.
    Still, it’s reassuring to know that the cops are on the case.
    As often happens, my telling people about my insomnia illicit their own so-called ‘’insomnia’’ complaints.
    The cop was telling me that he’d been having ‘’insomnia’’ lately.
    It’s been taking him an hour or two to get to sleep lately.
    My heart bleeds for him.
    -4.00 am Friday 6th June 2008
    And kill snakes!
    Was just talking to one of the cops after my walk and he told me that he’d just killed a snake (the seventh snake they’d killed).
    He showed me his kill – a tiny baby snake that looked more like a worm than a snake except for the distinctive head - and waved it around a bit for me and then draped it over his gun barrel like a cannibal warrior wearing the skulls of his victims around his neck.
    That’ll scare of Al Qaeda!
    He also told me that there are no hyenas around here so close to civilization and that they’re mainly found in remote mountain valleys.
    Still, I’m not taking any chances.
    What if a hyena gets lost or goes’s on holiday or something?
    This is a tourist area after all and there is a hotel under construction next door.

    1.00pm Friday 23rd May 2008
    UPDATE: I did some ‘’research’’ (Wikipedia) on hyenas and they’re a lot more dangerous than I thought.
    I’d never taken them seriously because they look so funny and because the cartoon cartel conspires to present them as benign amusing creatures (that’s so irresponsible!).
    I urge people to take hyenas more seriously!
    I even asked my neighbour about their prevalence in the area and he told me that the good folks up in the village had recently shot and killed one.
    When I asked him whether they were deadly he replied ‘’I haven’t tried them’’ in his dry laconic style.
    So hyenas, coupled with reports of ‘’Patriarch police’’ (army intelligence officers at the nearby Patriarchate which we overlook) pouncing on walkers, have put me off walking on my ‘’private road’’ at night.

    My ‘’hyena research’’ also included chancing upon a documentary on television that showed hyenas getting all smart-alecky with tigers (encircling them, nipping at them and then running off etc)!
    Whilst my estimation and fear of hyenas has increased, my estimation and fear of tigers has greatly decreased.
    Tigers are wusses.
    I reckon I can take them on.
    Why can’t we have tigers around here instead of hyenas?
    Life is so unfair.
    Bring back tigers I say.

    Misleading: hyenas as depicted by Big Cartoon
    Finding pictures of Hardy Har Har isn’t as easy as it sounds (there aren’t the many suitable pictures of him on the internet).
    I need a research assistant.
    ‘’I need pictures of cartoon hyenas and I need them yesterday!’’ I would demand of my assistant.

    8:45 pm

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