Beirut Art Center, “Sexy Semites” ad in the Village Voice. It’s the next best thing since sliced flying pigs.
Arabic slips out occasionally, and sometimes the words are mine.
The sun is out and I am too. I’m squinting and smiling and admiring your crow’s feet. “Some kind of light is coming from her head.”
I’m still pissed off about Roman Polanski. And Arizona deserves to sleep on the couch.
Conversations at Cafe Younes, I will miss those. Starting to think about the things I’ll miss.
Went to Tripoli today. Took a bus from Beirut for a dollar, driving along the water the entire way and thinking “If I lived here…” I was eating knafe two hours later. Passed the big mosque and a creepy garden next door. Reminded me that if I ever get married, it will be at the Enchanted Garden Chapel. Why do women still marry men?
I’ve been walking far and my feet are flatter than ever.
Language keeps on getting in the way, trouble conjugating verbs and people.
Walking along Nahr Ibrahim, in the mountains. The water was cold and my jeans are still damp. My lungs needed that hike.
3anjad my lungs can hike!
Check it out! Today was the Laique Pride March from Ain El Mraisse to the Parliament.
“SECULAR WALK TOWARDS CITIZENSHIP
We are Lebanese citizens seeking to live in dignity, exercise our rights and duties with equality when dealing with co-citizens.
Empowered by rights, public and private liberties granted to us by the Lebanese Constitution, we demand:
– non intervention of religious institutions in state affairs as much as the non intervention of the state in citizens’ freedom of worship;
– independence of people’s representatives from any allegiance to religious leaders and the sectarian system;
– laws respecting human rights and absolute equality between women and men;
– a Lebanese civil code for personal status;
– reinforcement of public education to promote citizenship values among coming generations;
– securing equal opportunities in employment in the public sector based on qualifications rather than religion, race or gender;
– an independent judiciary in charge of protecting citizens’ rights in an attempt to circumvent the unhealthy predominant social habit of resorting to the power of kin-groups for backing.
On 25 April 2010, we will march for the first time for a ‘Secular Lebanon’. Let us prove our force on the ground and give a face to our demands.
During the march, the only flag raised will be the Lebanese flag.”
Arrived in Syria, sitting in Damascus at a café. About to have Turkish coffee. And orange juice. Staying at a palace (Nassan) in Old Damascus, Bab Sharqi, with a load of tourists coming through to take pictures every morning while I’m walking across the courtyard brushing my teeth. Last night, sat on the border for only two hours (WASTA). Gorgeous, Damascus is cleaner than Beirut and more quiet. No mopeds, bikes instead. Staying in Christian center of the city for Good Friday. Palace is from 1640, there’s a club attached to the back. Walked through the palace’s garage last night to get a gin and tonic.
Meaningful lyrics –>Weird like a bearded lady. Get the funk out my face.
Remember this from last week, that your liberation is bound up with mine.
Sitting in a church, Notre Dame of Damascus. Today we went through the Hamadiya Souk, I did not find my lingerie but I did find ice cream and Hezbollah posters/wallets/t-shirts. About to celebrate Easter Syrian style… with music and crucifixion. I like this church and want to sit here longer, but we have to keep running through the city.
Umayyad mosque, Iranians crying and singing over the death of Hussein. Kids spread out across the mosque’s floor, making a star shape with their bodies. I went to the wrong side, and these men are laughing at me. But the sky here is big and blue.
“Hey! Charlie!” “blah blah blah (some stuff about the navy),” from a guy at the Syrian bus stop. “Chalas!” I say. But we made friends after he quit yelling at me. I need to get out and see more of what’s around Lebanon. On Nick’s roof this morning, Saluah holding Hezbollah decoration she bought in Hamadiya, explaining her friends’ response, “They just don’t get the kitschy aspect of Hezbollah!” Hassan’s beard. Eating eggs and bread and drinking tea on Nick’s roof before I leave for Beirut. So much sun, so much more I will write about later.
A couple nights ago a bunch of us munched our way, via falafel, downtown. Once we reached Martyr’s Square, a friend mentioned that just down the block there’s an artist collective that meets. Yes! Of course, we changed our direction in pursuit of art! As we approached what appeared to be an enormous bombed out egg, we saw a sign that read “You are here for now.” A police officer standing by said the building used to be a cinema. I took pictures (below). And then I climbed over some rubble and dirt to take more pictures of the outside. But what was inside?
“Due to the long history of Lebanon’s everlasting instability, and to the insufficiency of the land for its people, the Diaspora has become a banal situation that many Lebanese go through.
It is never for the same reasons that one becomes part of the Diaspora, but it is an experience that no human can ever forget. Some go by their own will and some are forced: some travel for career opportunities, some for studies, discovery, and some do it because they have to escape.
Escape violence and flee conflict zones to look for a safer future…
My story is one of them. At the age of 19, I decided to travel to France to study in a university. I have the good fortune to possess French nationality since my ancestors have lived and worked in Ivory Coast when it was under French administration. My journey outside of Lebanon lasted for five years, during which I would come visit my family every now and then.
Summer 2006 was somehow a particular visit. I arrived on the 10th of July, two days before the Israelis declared their blitzkrieg on Lebanon. After my ancestors’ and my parents’ generations, it was my generation’s turn to witness events that would drive many of us to evacuate the country.
Through those photographs, I have tried to capture the last visions I had while being evacuated from Beirut in August 2006 on a French repatriation emergency boat. I chose to represent the division between the land and its people, the empty spaces created by the war and the inhabitants’ confused state of mind.
The moment you see your homeland shore become smaller and smaller until it disappears from your sight, you are so overwhelmed with feelings that the journey becomes an intensely spiritual one. That moment of separation might be the first step of one’s Diaspora experience.”
– Ralph Nashawaty
To see more work from the exhibition and pictures of the egg, look to the right and visit my flikr page.