Stories from Afar & Up Close


My last post was apparently dripping with irritation, somehow giving off the impression I have totally had it here. Fact of the matter is: I feel finally calm and happy enough to write it down, instead of wanting to spit in the face of the next man who opens his car window. But it seems that I am the only one who is calm and happy. The rest of the country is going crazy with the uncertainty and political dead-end-rhetoric, with the economy going down the drain and consequently the prices of things like gas and bread going up. As I have noticed since I first came here, the Lebanese solution to all this is not to complain to those who might be able to change things, or to change things themselves, but to predict when it is going to go absolutely and completely wrong.

I got acquainted with this phenomenon during the war of Summer 2006. If I would tell people where I was staying, they would inevitably come up with ‘knowledge’ that the bridge next to our house would be bombed. That night. They thought they could predict with absolute accuracy when it would be hit.

Then the war was over, and the real predictions began. “You have to leave the country NOW, Nicolien, because civil war will start at the end of this week!” my friends would tell me, in all sincerity. Ever since, I have been bombarded with warnings: Friday there will be a big explosion. Or Don’t leave your house this week, there will be demonstrations and everything will go wrong. Or In two weeks Hezbollah will take over the country. The most recent warnings concern tomorrow, Jan. 24th: the opposition will take to the streets (again) and hence, the country will explode.

Now you won’t hear me say that there won’t be more demonstrations, riots, explosions, fights, or even civil war. But tomorrow? Tomorrow I will do what I always do on Thursdays: I will go to work, make a visit to the supermarket and go for a run on the Corniche. Maybe I will even get to sing a bit, if everybody will stay home to watch the news.