Stories from Afar & Up Close

Déjà vu

It’s been four summers in Lebanon, this year, and I’m seeing the patterns, the rituals, the routine. I’ve seen the Lebanese expatriates come, party, and go. I’ve seen the international students at AUB getting lost in Hamra in June and looking like they own the place in August. I’ve seen the enormous Saudi cars fill up the streets, and I’m seeing the streets emptying again.

I’m feeling the familiar end-of-August heat – oppressive, with no wind. Without looking at the calendar I know the end of the summer has arrived, when life in Beirut returns to its pre-tourist state. No more emails from strangers saying ‘I’m coming to Lebanon, what should I see?!?’, no more going out every night because inevitably somebody has just arrived or somebody else is leaving, or everybody who’s here on vacation just wants to have a good time.

It’s Ramadan already. Instead of being taken by surprise, I’ve been looking forward to seeing the stages built on sidewalks with strange installations of Dar al Aytam. I’m happy to see the little kiosks around Hamra specifically for Ramadan donations, and the decorative lights in Verdun and on the Corniche. It’s nice to see life going through its cycles. It’s nice if life feels familiar.