Thursday, July 21, 2011

Leysen and registration

 (not) an imaginary setting.  (not) an imaginary experience.


"Leysen bleez."

You hand over the license.  The driver's license.  You want to pay the traffic tickets.  You need to go back to the OTHER CITY, to finally get the registration done.  But they force you to come back.  Somehow there are tickets that MUST be paid here before the other violations are paid.  So you're back to where you began.

You don't have enough cash on you.  So you go home, get the cash, come back.  Beaming.  You pay. 

Then you go to the OTHER CITY a couple of hours away, and you are ready to get the registration done.

"No, you cannot do it here, before you pay the violation found on your driver leysen."

So you react-naturally- with, "ARE you kidding me?!  So what do you suggest I do now?  Can I pay the violation found on my driver's leysen here and now and move right along?"

"No, you cannot pay it here because this was found to have been charged in the OTHER CITY."

So.  You drive to the other city.  The one you were at 2 days back.  You march right in.  The money is ready.

The lady at counter 5 says, "There doesn't seem to be a problem here.  Are you sure you have a violation on your leysen?"

"Ummm, YES.  The OTHER CITY insisted I come back here and do this here.  PLEASE kindly check again."

You are slowly fuming by now. 

"What's your leysen number?"

"It's on the card. That's in your hand."  You are now grinding your teeth.

Some more fumbling.  Some further inquiries.  She disappears somewhere.  Comes back.  Slowly tap tap tap on the keyboard.  Really deep focus.

"Ah, yes.  Here it is.  Yes you owe this much.  Please go to counter 8 to pay it."

"Umm.. okay. Can you please check if I have to pay any other violations? I really don't want to keep driving back and forth for the same thing, if I could only do this once and for all, and you know the OTHER CITY is not so close as you know."

"I cannot help you with the OTHER CITY.  I only show the ONE CITY."

You walk over to counter 8.  The dude is talking on the phone.  He closes reluctantly but not quickly enough.  The money is shamelessly dangling from your fingers. Please let this be it.  Please please please.  You still have to drive again to the OTHER CITY and do the registration.

"I cannot help you with this.  You have to pay this in the other building, not here."

You want to scream and tear your hair out.  You want to run around the building.  You can't believe this.  So what do you do when this happens? 

You smile.

And then you ask a question.  THE question.  "So... is the building open right now? Can I go now?"

And the answer of course. "No, it's closed now.  Come tomorrow at 8."

His phone rings, he picks up, and turns away.   The lady at counter 5 is yawning.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beirut vs Dubai (or the country vs the other country)

Leb 1- You must not write a text message or bbm while driving, unless you are, in a way, wanting to commit quick suicide

Dubai 1- You most certainly CAN write a whole essay while driving, especially if you're on the right-ish lane and there's no police mister in sight

Leb 2- You must not talk about religion, sex and/or politics with a bunch of people who disagree with you

Leb 2.5- unless you're ready to be very angry, or to make someone very angry, and you must bear the consequence of either

Dubai 2- You must not talk about religion, sex and/or politics with a bunch of people. Full stop.

Dubai 2.5- unless your bag is packed and at the door.

Leb 3- You must not smoke while on AUB campus grounds

Dubai 3- You must not smoke while on AUB campus grounds, because there are no AUB campus grounds.

Dubai 3.5- and yes, this whole point was unnecessary to mention.

Leb 4- Picture this: the designated parking space is empty next to the CAFE, you can choose any spot, but NO, there's a bored man called the valet who simply MUST take your car and park it himself

Leb 4.5- and make you wait till you get your keys back when you want to leave, and then you pay for all this unnecessary situation.

Dubai 4- You find a space, you park, you pay at the machine.

Dubai 4.5- unless you're fancy, then you give the keys away because you can't be bothered, and you CHOOSE to do so.

Leb 5- You must NOT watch a TV CHANNEL that doesn't politically appeal to those in the same room, regardless of the program.  Even if it's something stupid and unfunny and unpolitical like the program "LOL."

Dubai 5- If you're Lebanese, point Leb 5 applies here too.

Leb 6- You must NOT believe that Lebanon is NOT a healthy society. You have the poor and the not so poor, and the rich, and the disgustingly rich, and somehow you're supposed to think that this is real and healthy because you naively believe that you're "exposed" to all of these. 

Dubai 6- You must NOT believe that the UAE is NOT a bubble society.  You have the poor and the not so poor, and the rich, and the disgustingly rich, and somehow you're supposed to think that this is bubble-like because you are not "exposed" to all of these. 

Dubai 6.5- if you simply look around you a little, trust me, you will be very "exposed." And very heart-broken.

Leb 6.25- I guess what I'm trying to say is that Lebanon is THE bubble society and on so many levels. 

Leb 6.5- Because once there's an old WOMAN who could be anyone's grandmother or old aunt found on the streets begging for money, then there is something very very very unhealthy, and very very very unacceptable, going on.

Leb 6.75- And if that's not a bubble society, then I don't know what is.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Try writing a poem
While sitting at your desk,
Headset like a pilot,
No music flows though,
You’re just pretending,

With four guys in the same space,
Gentle guys yet,
You really don’t wanna hear
About what’s her face again,
Or the way she walks in the hallway,
Hips swaying like she means it,
Like she knows they watch:
Hunters by heart, brothers by mind.

Try writing when there’s lunch and gardening and missing
Winters on your mind, stilettos and that Sudanese
Woman, her sobs still pushing against your chest,
Punished with god knows how many slashes, for wearing pants for god’s sake!
Cops ogling like they’re getting off, a microscopic leader
Relentless because this, he says, is religion.

Try writing while surfing the net for jobs because you know
Yours is suddenly temporary, waiting on a king-
Dom’s mood swing or power
Nap. So you surf the net, but instead type
Angelou or Darwish and remember how long it’s been
Since you’ve written anything. So then you try
A poem but you fail, because your love life’s too perfect
A good friend once said, she said, when things are well
Down there it becomes difficult to write,
And she’s right.

Or when you know your co-worker’s mother won’t last,
She has cancer, he said quietly, and shook
His head. Well, not really, but I know he meant to.
When you know he doesn’t believe in god or anything
Beyond what can be felt with the hands what do you say,
In Arabic, about his dying mother?  God is in everything
When your tongue is Arabic.  Insha Allah, God willing, or forbid, or forgive,
May God heal or listen or help or show any sort of illumination.

You wonder about this idea, as old as waiting, and why we need it so much,
And where is it when Libya burns and burns under its own
Sort of god, the right amount of massacres and finger wagging
Qualifying for the title; no white beard necessary for the job.

Where is the merciful, when a mother suffers
Tumors or a nation or a people, he said
His mother is in chemo now, and he doesn’t look you in the eye, he fiddles
With his laptop, so you nod and look serious while your heart
Breaks at the way he tries to work, and by now you
Can almost touch his atheism, hard crystals forming
By the minute.

Try writing when you feel your words are just words, writ and read
For a night of poetry, for a book of poetry, for nods and applause
At this universal nuclear instant- a spiral movement towards loss-
But you’re still in the office,
Looking for words as close to explosive as divinity
And end up with what looks to you
Like god:
A teenage skinhead with pierced tongue, shoulders shrugging,
Legs staggering away.

Link to EDP website

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."- Jonathan Swift

So there's a law already being drafted by activists and awesome people alike in Lebanon, to protect women from domestic violence but it's still under discussion in parliamentary debates.  I find that hilarious.  That it's still being debabted I mean.  What I don't find hilarious is the heavy offense some are taking over this law.  Specifically Dar el Fatwa.  Read more details here, the Daily Star article.

(Notice how no one decided to comment on the article in the DS.)   At least when I read it.

Motran George Khodr, bless his heart, wrote an article a couple of days ago, in Annahar, criticizing how Lebanon shall soon become a country divided between two parties in conflict, not based on political fronts or confessionalism as we know it, but on those who are WITH progressive domestic and social attitudes and those who are against them.  The former group is, thankfully, made up of all religious sects. Amen to that.

Now I'm no religious freak by any means, and feel a bit awkward discussing this, for the sole purpose of not wanting to offend any "body."  But when I read the article in the DS all courtesy went to the dogs. 

What's unbelievable is that some think that implementing the law would "break the family" or that it's "too western."  TOO WESTERN?!!  How is crying against beating a woman up too WESTERN?  

(In the U.S., the Violence Against Women Act was brought forth as part of the Crime Bill of 1994. Well, they took their time to get there now didn't they!)

What ticks me off even more about this MAJOR issue, is a Lebanese series I began watching (please don't tell anyone)- last night was episode one- called el hob el adeem (old love).  The girl left her husband because apparently he used to beat the crap out of her, out of love of course, and jealousy of course, because he "loved" her so much, and she still "loves" him, and can't forget him but is willing to marry another guy who is actually wonderful to her and not nearly as psychotic, but she can't tell her ex-crazy-husband because the guys are cousins and best friends, NEVERTHELESS, she can't get her ex-husband out of her mind, and he can't either.  Because- and here it comes- they LOVE each other. 

How does that work? Where love is accompanied by violence and humiliation and possessiveness and distrust and misogyny?

What makes me nauseous is not that I actually sat there and shared the plot with you guys, but that the notion of love is being used so loosly and so ignorantly, that we, the Lebanese overly-exposed-to-violence-in-and-out-of-the-home viewer, are supposed to somehow identify or be sympathetic towards the woman who still "loves" her ex-husband.   Hence, the name of the stupid show, el hob el adeem (old love).  Excuse me while I throw up a little.

honestly, wtf.