Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 30th, 2012

How the Displaced residents of Achrafieh explosion are navigating compensation?

Victims of Friday’s Ashrafieh bombing, staying in hotels while their homes are inaccessible, expressed a mix of appreciation for officials’ efforts and confusion over the process of repairing their apartments.

Alex Taylor published in The Daily Star on Oct. 24, 2012:

BEIRUT: Sarah Abi Saab, 22, has been displaced since Friday when the car bomb that killed senior intelligence official Wissam al-Hassan and two others exploded at the entrance of the parking garage of her building.

She is now staying at the nearby Hotel Alexandre and was able to access her apartment Tuesday for the first time since the blast.

She returned to a scene of disarray where “not just the glass but the metal frames [of windows] had fallen out and everything was on the opposite side of the room, even the doors.”

“Everything was on the floor,” said Abi Saab, who lives alone in the apartment while she finishes school at the Lebanese American University in Jbeil.

The Higher Relief Committee began meeting Monday with Abi Saab and other residents of Ibrahim Monzer Street, the site of the explosion.

According to operations coordinator Elie Khoury, the HRC had registered residents of 59 apartments by the end of Tuesday and distributed $1,000 to every family living on the main street of the explosion.

“Today we finished processing all the families living on the street where the explosion occurred and have given out cash for rent to those families,” Khoury said.

Khoury could not yet estimate the total cost of the damage, nor when residents in the blast zone would be able to return to their apartments, as HRC teams are still surveying the damage.

“The engineering studies are still ongoing – can the buildings be renovated or do they need to be demolished? We have not been able to determine yet,” Khoury said of the five buildings at the center of the blast.

Abi Saab was at home Friday afternoon when the bomb exploded.

“I was sleeping on the bed and heard a boom. I woke up all of the sudden and a wind of glass just came over me,” she said.

Luckily she was not injured except for minor cuts on her legs and feet.

Although she was able to enter her building briefly Tuesday, Abi Saab wasn’t allowed to collect her possessions and had to be escorted by police as the criminal investigation into Friday’s bomb is ongoing.

Abi Saab said she had received $1,000 from the HRC to pay for temporary accommodations, but was facing difficulties registering her case for damages because her immediate family live outside Lebanon, in the United States and Cyprus.

“We had to fill out papers, but they wouldn’t accept my signature because the house is in my mom’s name. They need a lot of documents, papers and IDs but I didn’t have them because they’re all trapped in the building,” the student explained.

“I’m the only one that is responsible for the house and the papers. If I don’t get it done, they won’t come check the house.”

Various government officials have told the residents different timelines regarding when they may be able to access their homes.

“I wish there was more transparency,” said Zeina Nehme, a resident of the same building, who says different officials have told her she will either be able to enter her apartment within a day or not for a week.

“If only they would tell us on these few days, from this time to this time, we’ll be going to the apartments and checking on the damages … because now we’re getting different answers.”

Nehme, who works as a visiting university professor, recently returned to Lebanon for the year after working abroad for a long period. She was teaching Friday afternoon, but her elderly parents were in the building at the time of the explosion, escaping relatively unscathed.

“Nobody died in the building. It was a miracle,” Nehme said.

Nehme and other displaced residents have been given free hotel rooms in Hotel Alexandre for a week, personally paid for by Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui and other Free Patriotic Movement officials.

“I thank everybody for their help and for putting us up in this hotel. But we want to go home,” Zeina said.

Nehme is anxious to salvage what remains in her apartment, which she was only able to access with police escort for a few minutes Tuesday to retrieve medicines for her parents.

“The weather is changing and it’s going to start raining. We need to go start fixing and cleaning,” she said.

Despite confusion over proceeding with the HRC, Abi Saab said she was impressed by the response of ordinary Lebanese citizens to the bombing.

“Leave the politicians out. The Lebanese people and youth, they really surprised me, they had donations coming in, they’re holding a concert [to raise money] and they have gathered lists of what we need,” she said.

“I’m very, very proud.”

 A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 24, 2012, on page 4.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

“Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov

I don’t recall when I first heard of “Lolita”.

One day, during my frequent visits to Barnes and Nobles in Montgomery County, I stumbled on the book “Lolita”.

Barnes and Nobles didn’t make it a comfortable place for people like me who could not afford to buy books, or the delicious pastries in the adjacent coffee shop, you go in from a door in the megabookstore.

It was hard to find a comfortable chair or table to read, and I sat on the floor.

I attended the talks of authors invited to publicize their recent books, sold at the store, in a corner, a dozen chairs set up for the audience…

Even at an advanced age, I felt uneasy to be discovered reading “Lolita”, and I am a slow reader, and I had to hurry to read as much as I could…I didn’t get the story: Just glimpses of what to expect…

Ten years later, I stumbled on the movie, in black and white, on one of the TV channels. I understood the story, and missed the interesting and most valuable treasures in the book…

And here I am, comprehending “Lolita” via “Reading Lolita in Teheran” by Azar Nafisi.

Basically, I am reviewing this book through the eyes, sensitivity, and comprehension of Nafisi…

Humbert Humbert is writing from jail on a murder charge, and not of the terrible harms he committed on Lolita…

Humbert is travelling and teaching literature in universities, maybe on sabbatical…He has an unfulfilled young love in Annabel Leigh.

At one of his sabbatical, he lands as a tenant at Charlotte Haze’s and rent a room. Charlotte is a bereaved middle-aged widow, and she suffered the loss of her 2-year old boy, and she has a 12-year old daughter Dolores or Dolly (Spanish for pain).

Charlotte marries Humbert and he treat her badly, as a faked southern cultured woman…The movie gave me the impression that Humbert planned the death of Charlotte…

Humbert arrives at Lolita’s summer camp to pick her up as her guardian father, and didn’t attempt to tell her the purpose of the visit. Nabokov writes on this visit of Humbert:

“Let me retain for a moment that scene…hog Holmes writing out a receipt, scratching Lolita’s head, pulling a drawer out of her desk, pouring change into my impatient palm, neatly spreading a banknote over it…photographs of girl-children, some gaudy moth or butterfly, still half- alive, safely pinned to the wall (nature study), the framed diploma of the camp’s dietitian, my trembling hands, a card produced by efficient Holmes with report of Dolly Haze’s behavior for July “fair to good, keen on swimming and boating”. a sound of trees and birds, and my pounding heart…

I am standing with my back to the open door, and I felt the blood rush to my head as I heard her respiration and voice behind me…”

This scene is the prelude to two years of captivity, during which the unwitting Lolita drifts from one motel to another with her guardian-lover. Humbert prevents Lolita to mix with children her age, watches over her so she never has boyfriends, frightens her into secrecy, bribes her with money for act of sex…

And all the while, Humbert parades as a normal husband, normal stepfather, normal human being

Humbert selected Lolita, Lo, or Lola for Dolly. She was Lolita when she sobbed on nights he had his ways with her. He tried all kinds of tricks to get in Lolita’s pants, drugging her, promising plenty of money and never delivering on his promises, threatening her and a few times beating her… As Humbert wrote: “She had absolutely nowhere else to go

The very first painful night, Lolita demands some money to call her mother. Humbert answers: “You can’t call your mother. She is dead” And in the middle of the night, Lolita came sobbing into Humbert’s bed, and “we made it up very gently. You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go”

Humbert wrote: “What I had madly possessed was not she, but my own creation, another fanciful Lolita, more real than Lolita…Having no will, no consciousness, indeed no real life of her own…”

But Dolly had a past, and she is in lack of her mother and her brother and a steady place to live and friends…

Humbert turned Dolly into a reincarnation of his lost unfulfilled young love…

Nabokov tells on Lolita through Humbert, an imaginary past…Humbert is solipsizing Lolita, attempting to orphan the child for a third time by robbing her of her past, a figment in someone else’s dream.

Lolita’s truth, desires, life…must lose colors before Humbert’s one obsession of turning a kid into his mistress.

A half-living butterfly, fixed on a wall…This perverse intimacy of victim and jailer.

Humbert is exonerating his terrible actions by implicating the victim: “It was she who seduced me…Not a trace of modesty did I perceive in this beautiful badly formed young girl whom modern co-education, juvenile mores, the campfire racket…had utterly depraved. She saw the stark act merely as part of a youngster’s future world, unknown to others…”

Or in other paragraphs: “the vile slut, her obscene young legs (sitting on his lap), engrossed in the lighter section of a newspaper, indifferent to my ecstasy, as if it were something she sat upon, a shoe, a doll, the handle of a tennis racket…”




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