Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘beit-chabab

Mon Cher Ado”

Note: Georges Bejani has dual citizenship (French/Lebanese) and is settled in France. He taught in France before retirement. Georges started writing a few of his childhood souvenir on FB,  I prodded him that, by the by, he will learn to be bolder. I also reminded him that I have already posted my autobiography on wordpress.com several years ago. It kicked and Georges is posting one of his memoirs almost everyday. Here are a few samples.

Mon cher Ado,

Ce dimanche matin du 12 août 2018 , je me suis levé du pied gauche, parce que ma femme à occupé ma place habituelle au lit , celle qui me permettait de me lever du pied droit .

Cela me rend irritable ! Et si tu rajoute une douleur désagréable qui me titille à la poitrine , alors tu comprends dans quel état se trouve ton ami .

Bref, et comme l’horloge du salon m’indique qu’il est presque huit heures , c’est à dire , neuf heures au Liban à cause du décalage , alors je suis doublement irrité car je ne pourrait pas me rendre à Mar Sessine pour la messe du dimanche , et où je pourrais me remémorer ceux de ma famille qui nous ont pré cédés au ciel , ni rencontrer ceux qui sont encore là.

Avec aussi l’espoir de te rencontrer en chaire et en os  (a Beit Chabab).

Autrefois , notre terrain de jeux était le petit espace devant l’église, (Mar Sessine ou La Vierge Marie), quelques mettre carré , on jouait à cache cache , à saute moutons , aux billes , car aux débuts des années cinquante, la petite place n’était pas encore dallée , ni d’ailleurs les escaliers du village .

Et les maisons étaient bien jolies avec leurs murs en pierres de taille et leurs toits en tuiles rouge de Marseille, et devant chacune d’elles , un jardinet et où les mains robustes de nos aïeux faisaient pousser des fruits et légumes , avec évidemment quelques fleurs en bordure du jardin, pour plaire à leurs épouses et aux passants.

Sans oublier le poulailler et pour certain une chèvre qui nous procurait du lait frais et du fromage blanc, qu’on appelait fromage vert, dont on se régalait surtout en été quand on accompagnait ce fromage avec une grappe de raisin ou une tranche de pastèque ou même une tomate bien rouge qu’on cueillait dans notre jardin

Tu pourras en rajouter si tu veux mon cher ami . Que rien ne t’en empêche ! Bon dimanche et à la prochaine !!!!

Adonis Bouhatab replied: 

Mar Sessine event day is in September 15. Are you already in Lebanon for Al Sayyidat (Vergin Marie) in August 15? I overheard from third party that probably they’ll play petanque/boule that day. Amene les toupies (belbol) aussi, and a few billes (kelal). J’entends te faucher toutes les billes, Le pied gauche est mauvais pour le coeur: ta femme devrait le savoir? A demain: on fera de sorte qu’on defriche un terrain pas dalle’

Mon cher Ado ,

En 1966 , l’école des frères Maristes de Jounieh fut transplantée à Dick el Me7di . De ce fait , nous avons déménagé à Beit- Chabab qui se trouve à quelques km de cette localité .

Ainsi j’allais tous les matins à l’école , du nom de Champville pour poursuivre mes études secondaires .

Cette année -là , à part les études , nous n’avions rien à faire car le village s’endormait dès 6 heures de l’après – midi .  (Ca n’a pas change’)

Parfois nous nous promenions jusqu’à l’orée du village , vers le pont tout en grignotant des cacahuètes et en cassant des pépins .

Par beau temps nous nous installions chez Alexandre Le Bas ( Scandar Lwati ) surnommé Le Bas parce que sa maison se trouvait au bas du village .

Et là, nous jouions aux cartes et autres jeux de société jusqu’à la fermeture de la boutique , qui se faisait au plus tard vers 8 heures du soir .

Alors nous rentrions nous coucher … Nos amours étaient courtes pour ne pas dire inexistantes . Je me souviens d’une fille charmante qui était interne au collège dès fille , et que j’aimais , mais que je n’ai plus revue depuis ce temps- là.

Je crois qu’elle s’appelait Aida , si ma mémoire est bonne . Le sort a voulu qu’ à la fin de l’année du bac , en 1968 , je partis pour la Guinée pour rejoindre mes parents . Tu dois te dire pourquoi je te raconte tout ça ? Et bien pour rien !

En 1976, nous avions quitté le Liban avec notre fils de trois ans, fuyant les atrocités de la guerre civile qui sévissait dans notre pays. Nous sommes partis pour Abidjan , capitale de la Côte – d’ivoire où j’ai trouvé un poste d’enseignant dans la ville de Bondoukou , située à plus de 400 km au nord est d’Abidjan .

Nous embarquâmes dans un taxi brousse car c’était le seul moyen pour y aller . Au bout de 100 km sur une route bitumée , mais bien sinueuse , nous avons poursuivi 

The dust invaded us from everywhere so that we arrived all red to destination and were greeted by the principal of the high school who hastened to accompany us to the hotel where we were eager to take a bath to get rid of pounds of dust that had piled up all over the body.

The next day, I walked to school, sandals and shorts. The students were very nice and applied.

One day I was writing on the blackboard, a student approached me silently: she was barefoot, like the majority of students, lack of means, and she tapped my leg. I flinched and asked for explanations!

She told me there was a horsefly who wanted to steal me! And the whole class started laughing and applauding the young girl who had just saved me from the worst disaster that could happen to me that day!

Back in Abidjan, for Christmas Holidays, I contacted the bocoum, to inquire about the health of Brigitte and Marie Jeanne who had been my students at the college in Lebanon where their father was ambassador to Ivory Coast and on leave . I wonder today if my dear Suzanne wasn’t with them?

Royan , face à l’océan !

Ce matin , je me suis promené au bord de l’Atlantique , cet océan qui a vu au cours des siècles derniers des marins s’aventurer pour aller pêcher la morue jusqu’aux confins du monde et souvent disparaître , engloutis Par ce monstre impassible …

Tôt , ce matin , je me suis donc trouvé seul , sans aucune âme qui vive alentours, et là, je me délectais à admirer le spectacle qui s’offrait à mon regard et écouter cette musique que fredonne cet océan , admiré et craint à la fois par les hommes , que Baudelaire compare dans ” l’homme et la mer ”

Adonis Bouhatab:  le morue ou les baleines? C’etait une industrie prospere dans le north east coast of USA qui a decime’ les baleines au 19eme siecle.

Georges first essay before starting “Mon chere Ado” series 

La côte Charentaise est une des plus agréable pour passer un été ensoleillé tout en évitant les grandes chaleurs. À partir de Royan, on peut prendre le bus , soit pour aller vers le Nord , vers Saint Palais ou La Grande Côte et La Palmyre , soit pour aller vers le Sud , vers Saint Georges de Didone ou encore Talmon sur Gironde .

Talmont , un petit village plein de charme avec ses petites ruelle parsemées de boutiques et de restaurant prêts à vous servir les bonnes fritures , les moules ou autres crustacés accompagnés d’un bon vin du pays car il ne faut pas oublier que le Médoc ou le Bordelais s’aperçoivent à vue d’œil .

Talmont sur Gironde avec son église du XII e siècle .

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Et là , nous pouvons visiter la petite églises de Sainte-Radegonde avec son cimetière marin du XII siècle et qui fut érigée sur la route qui mène vers Saint Jacques de Compostelle autrefois fréquentées par les pèlerins qui venaient du pays des Charentes ou d’ailleurs

Sachant qu’en 1284 , Édouard 1er d’Angleterre fut le fondateur de la ville close de Talmont . Au-delà de l’estuaire de la Gironde , nous pouvons apercevoir l’océan Atlantique confortablement installé dans son lit et toujours prêt à accueillir les navigateurs de tous bords qui se balancent à sa surface avec l’espoir d’aller tranquillement à destination , sur les bords américaines .

Voilà mon cher Ado ce que j’avais à te raconter ce matin.

Comments and Notes posted on FB and Twitter in Arabic/Lebanese slang. Part 2

Note: These are notes and comments in Lebanese dialect written in Latin characters and with numbers (2,3, 5, 7,8) representing vocals and consonants Not available in Latin or Saxon languages.

Moush same3 bi beit al Conte? Elleh 3amleen 7alon Parisiens, elleh hawdi saakneen bi Nantes, wa rej3o sakano bi Loubnan? Wa lamma betnadi ya tante, sherrefna ya mon cousin, eymata jito wa feen kont? Parole sharrefna ce soir.

3awad narvaz. For a reason Not related to him. Maybe he forgot to take his pill in his jittery state. He said: btou3edni ma terja3 tnarvezneh? Shou ana walad 3indo?

Lazem, wa lazem… Louzoum ma la yalzam?

Saar kel wa7ad mnarvaz, mhayyaj, met7ammass… bado yet7atat 3alayyeh. Ou3a tejra7 shou3ouro al morhaf bi telmi7a. Wa ana saber 3ala kalimaat, wa estehdafaat montazima. Khammano mwatta 7ayteh min ajel jam3a faashila.

Shou ana walad ta seer maksar 3assa? 3arfeen ma bosbor 3ala zolm, wa 3a yalleh dareb 7alo bi 7ajar akbar minno, wa laysh ketret hal zakzakat? 

Israel badda tbayyed wejha la Amrica: sawwaded wejha, wa Trump, wa Tellerson, wa Satherfield, wa company. Loubnan mouwwa7ad 3ala al naft

Saudi Kingdom wali al 3ahd matloub yomthol bi ma7kamet bi New York, shakhsiyyan. Hal fawdat badha dabt

3am bet3ayyet 3alay? wa lesh 3ayyat 3allay abel ma 3ayyet?

Shat al zbeleh samayto Shat Sami 3ala assass oulouf ma zaaro shawate2 Loubnan, bass shaafo Sami 3am yetmasha wa yaakhod souwar. Jameel enno baladiyyat Beit Chabab ta7t al mijhar

Shou bye3neh Israel Netaniyaho: Ma bi ye3nina al tas3eed? USA jabreto wa tole3 bi swaad al wajeh?

Ta ghayyaret awlawiyaat Tellerson: wousoulaho al Khamees moush nahar al daynounet. Israel ma 3aadat 3askariyyan mouhemmeh kharijiyyan lel USA, aflasat. Israel mouhemat daakhiliyyan fi USA lal Extremist Evangelical Zionists

 

Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 170

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pa attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

La survie est une affaire personnelle. Les grandes souffrances et douleurs ne resserrent pas necessairement les liens dans une famille. On souffre pour l’illusion d’un amour a venir.
Mike Pence the idiot (Vice my ass) is a “Christian” Fundamentalist who believe the next coming will arrive as Jerusalem is converted to Judaism
Artificial intelligence is helping police combat gang violence in London. By applying predictive analytics in collaboration with Accenture, London police were able to turn raw data into risk scores that guide safety efforts and resource allocation.
Bolstered further by drones and bio-metrics, smart policing programs are growing worldwide—from San Francisco to Singapore—and have become a proving point for institutions and companies looking to invest in intelligent innovation.
Christine Lagarde (IMF chief) quoted Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything and that is how the light gets in.” referring to women rights. She then asked each panelist to identify the cracks they see, to an engrossed audience.
“Whoever controls the data, controls the world.” Everyone from Modi to bankers to law enforcement officials at cyber-security events kept repeating that phrase at Davos 2018
The village of Souwayri in central Bekaa3, close to the border with Syria, is daily experiencing dozen of frozen dead Syrian refugees trying to flee  into Lebanon. The extremist factions in south-west Syria, close to the Lebanese border, have been vanquished and no food supply is reaching the people from Israel, as during the past 4 years. 

According to a global survey of more than 30,000 people, government officials are now less credible than journalists, for goodness’ sakes.

atlas_BkP0mSHSf@2x
Alfo lejnat lel nazar fi ma3ayeer moukata3at Israel, kabel ma al siyassiyeen yedlo bi mawakefhom
Nifayaat 3ala shate2 Sami ejet min nifayaat Beit Chabab, Cornet al Hamra wa Mazra3at Yachou3. Hal baladiyyat bit kebb nifayatouha 3ala majra Nahr al Kalb wa al shetteh al ghazeer  bit jamme3a bil nahr

 

Last of Silk makers in Lebanon?

Silk industry bloomed in Lebanon in the early 1900s. The factories in the city of Lyon (France) were the major importers of silk from Lebanon. Until about 1945, there were more than 100 silk factories across Lebanon. One of them was in Bsous, a village just 4 km from Jamhour. When the Asseily family bought the factory in 1965, they preserved the old machinery. And in 2001, they opened it to the public as the Silk Museum.

My hometown Beit-Chabab was one of main silk producers and weavers. The entire family members worked in silk at their homes. There many ancient vast and two-story kerkhaneh around my hometown where natural silk were produced and weaved, and they are being remodeled and transformed to other usage.

Back when silk was a profitable industry in Lebanon, the road to silk started with the import of silk-worm eggs. As the eggs hatch, larvae come out and start to eat mulberry leaves continuously for one month straight, growing to about 10 thousand times their initial size.

Once they finish eating, they spend 3 days making a cocoon out of the silk they produce. Lebanon used to import the eggs and farmers would feed the worms until the cocoon was made. The cocoons were then sent to the factories, where they would throw them in basins of boiling water. The heat makes the silk of the cocoon more supple and the thread then becomes untangled.  Four or five threads are joined to improve its thickness, which finally makes it a thread of silk.

Actually, it was the number of basins in a factory that measured its importance. Once the thread was made, they would send it back to France for weaving.

YASMINA  HATEM posted this July 12, 2013 on NOW

Meet Jeddo (grandpa) Albert. He is 82 years old and he welcomes people by cracking jokes. Standing in front of a traditional silk-weaving machine, he tells the story of how he came to work on it.

Albert Feghali, or Jeddo Albert as he likes to be called, has worked for the Asseily family for more than 50 years, in charge of putting together machinery in their factories.  When the Silk Museum opened and they received a traditional silk-weaving machine as a gift from France, the Asseilys asked Jeddo Albert to try and put it together. The rest is history.

Jeddo Albert not only put the machine together, but he also taught himself how to use it. Even at 82 years old, this dedicated man comes to the Museum almost every day and weaves about half a meter of silk. He has made all kinds of pillows and scarves for the museum shop, but most importantly, he is the only person in Lebanon who knows how to use this machine.

“It’s better than sitting at home,” he says. “I used to make 2 meters per day, but now I can’t anymore,” Albert explains. He says he is trying to teach younger people how to use the machine so that the craft doesn’t die with him, but Albert cautiously notes that “weaving requires a lot of patience.”

The Last of the Silk 1
The Last of the Silk 2
The Last of the Silk 3
The Last of the Silk 4
The Last of the Silk 5

From worms to silk, the process from the moment the eggs hatch until they cocoon.

Silk worms eating mulberry leaves. Cocooning. Cocoons in a basin of boiling water. A map of the silk factories that used to exist in Lebanon. Here you can see Bsous and the number of Basins in each factory. Silk threads of different colors after being dyed. The weaving machine. Jeddo Albert. One of Jeddo Albert’s silk pillows.

Last potter in Beit Chabab? In this town of traditional pottery? Who is Fawzi Fakhoury?

BEIT SHABAB, Lebanon: Fawzi Fakhoury’s hands are calloused and brown. Hours  of shaping tough clay and standing in front of a burning wood oven have stained  them shades darker than the rest of his body and toughened them so they are like  leather.

He is rather short, with salt and pepper hair and bushy eyebrows, and dressed  in simple, mud-stained clothes.

His weathered hands stand testimony to the  thousands of pots he has created for the better part of his life.

I have posted many articles on Lebanon, and Michelle  Ghoussoub has this latest.

Michelle  Ghoussoub published in The Daily Star, this June 20, 2013: “Meet  the last potter in Beit Shabab

Fakhoury is the last working potter in Beit Shabab.

Fakhoury, left, works with his brother Assad, who helps out occasionallyin the shop. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

The scenic village is nestled in Lebanon’s mountains just outside of Beirut.

Sixty years ago, dozens of Beit Shabab  families produced traditional  pottery, and the heat from 40 burning ovens could be felt on the streets during  the summer, Fawzi explains.

The town’s name was synonymous with pottery, and people came from around the  country to purchase the artisanal clay pots, used for storing everything from  arak to grains, olive oil and wine.

Now, he is the only one left.

Fakhoury’s workshop resembles a hermit’s cave.

Though dark and dusty, it  remains well used and loved. Perched precariously on the edge of a small but  steep ravine, Fakhoury’s working space has a crumbling old stone facade nestled  into the mountain itself.

An elegant stone archway frames the entrance, with rusted scrap metal and  broken pieces of mortar piled on top to prevent rainwater from flooding the  small room. Bits and pieces of fragmented pots are piled haphazardly in a back  corner.

A traditional stove, or babour, Arabic for kerosene burner, commands the  center of the room. It doubles as the only heat source during the winter months, as nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing.

An old television set crackles in the background, the colors and shapes on  the screen disfigured by poor reception. A fine, white film of dust covers every  surface, and it puffs out of antique pillows on the faded couch when it is sat  upon.

No one knows or remembers exactly how long the workshop has been running.

Fakhoury believes the family folklore and says that Roman potters trained his  forefathers when they came to construct the ancient, colonnaded citadel of  Baalbek in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley around 300 B.C.

When the Romans left, his ancestors searched for the purest clay in the  country, and eventually settled in Beit Shabab to be close to the best natural  source: a small and muddy lake in the forest beneath the village (the mawsel).

Fakhoury’s creased wrinkles deepen and his brown face cracks into a crooked  smile as he recalls a childhood of running among the clay pots. He’s worked as a  potter for 60 years. His father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and  great-great-grandfather all worked in this same space before him.

At no moment in his life did Fakhoury, now 66, wish for an alternative career  path. He loves this job, he says.

Years of hard labor have given him a worn appearance and demeanor, but they  have also kept him strong and tough. Toiling in the workshop where he was  raised, he cuts the figure of a surviving Chinese terra-cotta warrior, stained  by the mud that has defined his livelihood for half a century.

Fakhoury left the village temporarily during the Lebanese Civil War and  worked in trade in West Africa. He always dreamt of returning to his workshop to  continue his family’s legacy.

“I lived there, but I dreamed in Lebanon,” he says with a smile.

Fakhoury returned to find a wall of the workshop blown out by a bomb, but his  tools intact. He wasted no time in repairing the room and reopening his  business.

His wife and he have three daughters, all of whom are married and have long  since left the house. Women don’t do pottery, he says, at least in Beit Shabab.

His face falls, however, when he reveals that he has no heir to continue Beit  Shabab’s trademark industry when he retires.

“This workshop has been running for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, and  when I go, it may all have been for nothing,” he lamented, looking wistfully  around the chamber.

Though customers used to flock from across the country to hand pick his pots,  the advent of plastic containers has slashed demand massively.

Nowadays, customers are often decorators seeking a rustic look, or tourists  looking for authentic Lebanese craftsmanship.

He still ships a couple of hundred pots every year to a Jordanian arak  producer, who uses them to store the anis-flavored liquor.

Producing pottery is like cultivating a crop, he muses. The clay is collected  in the spring when it has the right consistency, then handspun into pots using a  potter’s wheel.

The kiln, an oven designed especially for pottery, is fired up  in August, the hottest month of the year, to accelerate the baking.

During these scorching weeks, Fakhoury stays up throughout the night to  monitor the ovens and rotate the pots, making sure that months of intensive  craftsmanship and exertion do not go up in flames.

The work is hard, and the fruit of his arduous labor much less plentiful than  it once was. While his father would light the oven seven or eight times in one  summer, he now only produces one batch of pots a year.

A pottery festival and exhibition in Normandy, France, once invited Fakhoury  to learn different pottery techniques. He says it was an honor to be recognized,  but that he found himself underwhelmed by the developed industrial techniques of  French potters. Having made thousands of pots in his life, he says he prefers to  stick to what his father and grandfather taught him as a child.

Nassar Fakhoury, Fawzi’s neighbor and former landlord, shares his surname but  is not sure exactly how they are related. Family lineages and histories go so  far back in the village that they are sometimes impossible to keep track of or  untangle.

“Fawzi is a part of this village in the same way that these streets are. He’s  always in his workshop and his family has always been there. The children call  him ‘the pottery man.’ There’s just no other way to describe him,” Nassar  says.

When asked what has changed about the business since he began over half a  century ago, Fawzi’s answer is simple: “Nothing. I still do business the way my  father and grandfather did.”

It’s a legacy that may end without an apprentice or heir devoted to following  in his forefathers’ footsteps.

It is almost impossible to picture the village without its main attraction,  and for now, Fakhoury will continue to fill that role. He says he cannot imagine  himself anywhere else.

“My grandfather and father died here, and one day, I will join them,” he  says. “What I want is to die here.”

Note 1: In my childhood, I visited and was acquainted with three families of potters in the lower part of Beit-Chabab. The entire family members participated in the production, especially in summer time. Traditional pottery is vanishing quickly in Lebanon, and not even replaced by mass production facilities. There are is few potters in Rashaya Fokhar, and are closing shop for no family members replacing the older ones.

Note 2: A couple centuries ago, pottery was started in the upper quarters of Beit Chabab, but the clay was whitish. The potters in the lower part of Beit Chabab had the reddish and better clay to use, and they supplanted the upper families in that art and industry.

Note 3: A  version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June  20, 2013, on page 2.
Read more:  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Culture/Lifestyle/2013/Jun-20/220923-meet-the-last-potter-in-beit-shabab.ashx#ixzz2WpopbDU6 (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::  http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

Monica-Lynn is wed to Samer:  How Chevy Chase met Beit-Chabab?

July 2, 2011

I attended the wedding of a relative of mine three weeks ago.  I also intended to write a piece on the wedding and I saved the title for later posting.  I was sidetracked by other articles to getting it  out.  I am reminded constantly that I have a draft to finish, and I am delivering.

Asaad and Nadia, the father and mother of Samer the groom, visited my parents to deliver the invitation.  I was not home.  Asaad and Nadia are from Beit-Chabab, the hometown of my parents: My dad is the uncle of Asaad from the mother side.  My parents were born in Beit-Chabab, though I was born in Bamako, the Capital of the African State Mali.

Actually, Samer met Monica in Bamako:  They both were working in Mali.

Samer works with his brother Shaker in Segou, a town that I visited for a couple of months in the early 80’s, and where my parents got wed, so long ago.

It was a harsh and dangerous travel for my parents from Lebanon to Mali after the end of WWII:  It took almost two months to reach destinations on rickety boats, rickety trains, rickety cars, rickety planes…

Just to reach the seaport of Marseilles (France) from Beirut the boat needed 3 weeks, and then waiting for a month for an available rickety plane to land in Senegal, and resuming the never ending trip to Segou by land. The captain of the boat predicted that mother would not make it: She was constantly seasick…

The beautiful and alert brunette bride Monica-Lynn was born in Chevy Chase (Maryland), just on the northern border with Washington DC. It also happened that I lived there for three years in the late 90’s and know Montgomery County street by street.

Monica-Lynn parents, Linda and Julian have been divorced for many years.  Julian lives in Dallas and Linda in New York City?

They attended the wedding of their unique daughter; the unique brother was here too, along with his fiancee.  Six other girl friends of Monica made the trip.  Masha, the air hostess, was the best girl, the one who signs as a witness to the marriage, performed in the Maronite Church of “The Great lady” of Beit Chabab.

My parents could not join the ceremony for health reasons, and I represented the family since I am still single.

Actually, my parents and I attended the wedding of Shaker, three years ago.  Shaker has a blonde boy by the name of Asaad (as custom goes to naming the first boy by the granddad name).

The wedding was to be held at 7 pm, an excellent timing for the hot season.  I arranged to be at the groom house at 6 pm to have my photo taken, with Monica and Samer, separately and at different location within the building.  The invitees flocked an hour before the official ceremony for the official photos at homes.

I chatted with the “American” guests who have been touring Lebanon for the last three days. It is Saturday, and all of them are to return to the US on Tuesday to “work”.

I forget names. There is a Theresa who is a civil engineer working in Detroit. There is the fiancee of Monica’s brother who is a administrator at Columbia University. (a university I visited twice). There is this lady who said she is known as Kaika (I guess) and who claimed that Monica considers her as her second mother.  There is another beautiful blonde who read the English version of St. Paul epistle (You know the lousy epistle on Jesus marrying the Church and that no power can divorce the bondage of a marriage done with Jesus or God…)

A band dressed in Lebanese ancient traditional attires played their instruments as the bride descended the stairs to go to church.

The groom had advanced the bride to receive her at the door of the church, 100 yards away.  Thus, we accompanied the bride in fanfare on foot.  In the yard of the church, the traditional band danced “dabket” and someone blew fire.

We attended mass and the priest read both versions in Arabic and English from the New Testament, and we had a choral (without the customary US organ setting…).

After the swapping of rings and vows, the closest relatives took photos with the newly wed in front of the altar.

Outside, we had extravagant fireworks.  The family lined up outside to receive congratulation, especially for those who might not attend the dinner party at the Delb Restaurant, five miles away, up by Bikfaya.

I had ride with Jihad and Nada, and was seated with the Bouhatab clan, on a long table, loaded with a variety of food “mezza”.  Fifteen minutes later, the newly wed arrived and were met by another dancing and singing band.

I encouraged the adolescent girls on my table to join the dancing floor.  We danced like crazy: The girls barely left the dancing floor:  I didn’t either, though I took time eating well of every dish and drinking whiskey.

The uncle of dad Jean from the mother side, and younger than dad of a few years, had a long glass of whiskey and was ready to go home after the glass was over.

It was pretty common in previous generation to still have children at older age, mother and daughter giving birth at the same time...and giving birth to dozen children, half of them dying in childbirth or shortly after.

It is still the custom to carry the groom and the bride on shoulders and dance with them. The tired newlywed are to be at the center of the floor most of the time, and we danced around them.

By the by, it gets confusing and order is relaxed.  The “american” girls got over their shyness and got crazy on the dancing floor: they even got wild on “Night Fever” too.

I think we left the party around 12:30 am.  Happy marriage to Monica-Lynn and Samer.  More of these multicultural weddings are needed in Lebanon.

Auto Stop in Mount Lebanon: Around Ain 3ar, Kornet Chehwan and Beit-Chabab…

I have been walking to the nearby private library of Fares Zoghbi (50,000 books) almost every day, rain or shine in the last 15 years.

It is no longer private, see note. It is maybe a two-mile walk and I make sure to flag every passing car in the first years when I had no internet connection: my purpose is to reach the library and to type my articles and post them on wordpress.com.

Yes, my purpose is to enjoy a climate of quiet and focused brain work and selecting fresh acquisition of books and magazine to read at home.

The manager Rita Zoghbi always bribes me with a cup of coffee: I am the most dedicated customer, and frequently I help myself with a cup of Nescafe around noon.

I am often invited to have pieces of cakes, sandwiches, cookies so that I don’t feel hungry when I arrive home around 2:15 pm.

The library closes at 2 pm and reopens at 3 pm, but I never return in the afternoon; supposedly I have other “cats to whip”.

Recently, Rita allowed me to stay while she is on afternoon break, and I am enjoying a continuous stay till 4:15 and generating plenty of productive works…

I decided to walk to the library, rain or shine, after I sold my car and do prefer Not to drive other people’s cars: You are always blamed for previous car defects that were not repaired…

Only old cars stop to pick me up; but I don’t mind at all: any short lift saves me time and physical energy.

A few drivers extend their arms meaning they are going far; as if I am going to Beirut or asking them to tour the world.

Any short lift is fantastic service to me, but how drivers figure that out?

Drivers of new cars and women drivers never even slow down to check on this hapless guy having the guts and recklessness of flagging them.

Since I start walking by 10 am, after finishing work on my garden and using up the scarce resources on water, I noticed that most cars are driven by women.  Not that they are going to a job, but they look intent on reaching destination and they have got to be driving somewhere.

Invariably, cars driven by women are very new; mostly monstrous four-wheel drive cars, and shining: cars driven by women have got to be shining for glamour reason.

In rainy days, I keep flagging my arms to warn drivers to slow down, lest they drench me worse than the pouring rain. Most people interpret my waving arms as curses and they accelerate. A few understand the gesture and smile to me sheepishly and slow down, then accelerate furiously.

You may be asking the interesting question: “Why do you have to walk?

First, I sold my old car: I could no longer afford to repair it, much less afford the increasing cost of gas.  I figured that 50% of my “savings” went into my old car.

Second, I am very reluctant supporting the huge budget imbalance of my pseudo-government, sort of civic disobedience:  apparently, the government makes tons of money from direct and indirect taxes from the stupid people who own a car.

Third, my monkish life-style (forced hermit) is restricted to about 4 miles around my residence and I don’t need to pay extra expenses renewing my driving license or car insurance or shoulder any other emergencies tasks like giving rides to nieces and nephews.

Oh, I can find many other reasons for why I have to walk, but mainly I am out of work and not in the mood of working at minimum wages or having to commute to a stupid job and wear down my nervous energy in traffic and pollution.

I used to teach at a university and I needed two hours to drive back and forth for a one-hour class.  I figured out that staying put, doing what I love to do best (reading, writing, and publishing for free), was saving me money and useless anxieties.

Thus, the best strategy to save your mental, physical, and nervous health is to decline earning money working for other people.

The less money you have the better; unless you win the jackpot: and you are stuck with an even bigger problem of managing too much money.

You almost always lose your money to scams who are much more astute than you are in these kinds of “money distribution” business.

One more huge advantage for walking to the library and being penniless:  I developed intelligent sensitivities.

I now have figured out that my close relatives are extremely judgmental for no other reasons that they have no guts to change their lifestyle.

I once asked my niece for $20 a month (less than what most people earn in third world countries).  That request was sent by internet two months ago; I have got to receive a reply.

I know that my other nieces and nephews learned about my request but there are no volunteers.

Judgmental are people; worst than Nazi, even if they don’t care about politics or are vegetarians or veg.

I noticed that all my nieces and nephews agreed to punish me for not trying to find an “earning job“. As if spending $100 on a stupid single eating out is an “energy booster” for their stupid “middle class” mentality…

Note: The library is no longer private: Owned by the French Jesuit University and making it hard for people to enjoy reading…They started charging $30 to come in and read.

And this year 2012, the university closed the library for December, and we are waiting for the end of February for the university to decide on a new manager and other higher fees and constraints.

Paved decrepit path: Half-cooked literates trailing feudal process; (May 1, 2010)

Municipal Elections in Lebanon

In my hometown, there are obtuse half-cooked literates constituting the newer classes of feudal “bosses” running for municipal election, and forming lists of candidates:  These literates may be able to read but they don’t (at best they browse their “favorite” daily); they could write a few sentences but never do. The feudal process of packaging lists of candidates goes as follows:

The “bosses” of each list, bored and in need of occasional excitements, get together in non formal setting (custom of relaxed chattering postures go nicely with entente in town’s affairs). First, the contending bosses lukewarm attempt to form joint lists, just for the sake of confirming in their famous pamphlets that they communicated and discussed town interests but unfortunately, communication failed miserably.

Under more favorable conditions, analyzing the various pamphlets could be very interesting and an essential part of the election. I discovered that the pamphlets were similar and pretty identical; kind of copy-paste of older versions.  Programs are out of the question: they don’t rhyme with feudal prerogatives. The logic is simple “why fool the voters with programs if they don’t take them seriously? The voters have learned not to take election programs with a grain of salt; even if the candidates wished to follow a program wholeheartedly.”

The process is applying the well-tested image of feudal mentality and practices:  Candidates got to be selected from the half illiterates from the various families or clans.  Yes,  a functional municipal council requires one boss; discussions and accounting must be kept totally opaque.  Once a list is complete (in our town the council is constituted of 15 members), then “eureka”: changes are on the way with the speed of a bullet train.

Now, each boss has a roster of voters and “pointage” of the leaning of each voter is undertaken.  For example, is this voter pro or con?  Does he need special attention to pay him a visit?  Is this vote to be bought and how much?  Does this voter can lean on the larger members of the family or clan?  I was not contacted one way or the other; I guess all the bosses classified me as a definite voter for one list; that I am not a reflecting individual; that I never change my minds and that no one ever change his position in a feudal town.

Now, taxis are hired and chauffeurs are dispatched to drop the famous lists of candidate to residences; the names of the lists comes with a long trail of the names of the father and grandfathers for discrimination purposes and for the older generations to reminisce on genealogy of the town. Anyway, why exacerbate matters with CVs: candidates are simple citizens and not government members? Mystery is the best tool to win the hearts and minds of voters: the less known is the character the better to win election: The more known is the figure the more warped the picture due to accumulated calumnies and belittling chats.

In my hometown, three lists of candidates are contending for the municipal council. Each bosses of lists included two female candidates.  How could they include more than two out of 15 members?  The bosses have no business with women and don’t know the varieties of women around: obviously, no professional women advisors were deemed viable in the selection process.  You hear rumors that valiant attempts to lure women in “politics” failed.  First, have women be contacted at the beginning of the process?  Second, what kinds of politics the bosses do for the benefit of the town to encourage women to participate?  Do they contact the proper sources in power and deep pocket to promote projects?  Are they in touch with foreign embassies to arranging twin coupling with foreign municipalities?  Are they planning and allocating funds to modernizing the administration?  Do they have in mind to starting a semblance of transparency in administration, project planning, discussion, and decision-making to encourage the general public to participating in town business?

I have no intention of voting: the “bosses” of the three lists took me for granted as a stupid clannish member of the community and they didn’t find it worth it of their time to contact me or include me in the process. I met with one boss of the Tayyar at a library; he was taking video of poetry recital and his son playing flute; that was a month before election time; he didn’t know me but I recognized him; we got into talking and he promised to relay my suggestions to the coming evening meeting for selecting candidates and resuming alliance discussions.  I never heard of him. My gut feeling is that he relayed my position but the code name was: “only half-cooked literate are permitted to butt in.”

No one of the candidates in the three list cared for my opinion then, why should they care for my vote?  If I ever change my mind then I might vote for the six female candidates on the three lists: The town is want of excitements.  Deep down, I wish excitements might degenerate into immolation of a couple of town people at the alters of the Gods of Ignorance and of the Absurd.  As far as I am concerned political parties in Lebanon are not valid parties:  two cheeks of the same ass; they stink.

Note:  They claim that a stupid individual is one who talks at the wrong moment.  My problem is not discriminating what is the proper timing:  I have missed so many opportunities postponing what I had to say.  I suggest to people not to clutter their brain of what timing is proper, and just talk and get talking.  I do write all the time.

Hassib’s welcome home party; (Nov. 26, 2009)

My cousin Hassib is visiting Lebanon after 30 years of absence. He left in 1979 to France for specialization in Pediatrics.

His British wife Sonia was then pregnant and they married secretly.

Hassib is currently working in Al Ain in the Arab Emirate, healing, teaching, and doing research. Joelle, Hassib’s married sister, is throwing a welcome home dinner party this Friday’s evening.

All the first generation cousins and cousines are invited. The second generations are too numerous; besides, on their own volition they would not join.

The invitees were:

From the Bouhatab (my mother Julie who wouldn’t miss a gathering, sister Raymonde, Victor Choukeir, brother Ghassan and his wife Diane, and I. Dad does no longer do dinners anymore: he goes to bed by 7:30 pm and dad was missed because he is very funny in gatherings)

From the Fahkoury (Edward, Joe and Marianne his wife and their elder kid Eddy; my aunt Therese could not join because of the many steep steps that are a serious handicap. Tony and Janine failed to come);

from the Tannous/Ghoussoub (Marie, George, Noel, Viviane, Bernard and his wife Nellie);

From the plain Ghoussoub or Gsub (Jihad and his wife Nada, Joseph or Zouzou, and sessine Moukarzel.  Jihad tried several times to contact Nassif in Vancouver, at home and on his cellular, but failed);

From the Narchi (Montaha, Joelle, Hassib, Jean or Jeannot, and Khaled their son).

Jihad had arrived from Dubai a couple of days ago. Khaled has signed up with another French company “Air Liquide” with a branch in Lebanon.

Jean is teaching 6 credit-hour at a new French university in Bikfaya (the courses are opened from 5 pm to 9 pm; this university is branching out in Tripoli, Baakleen, and in the west Bekaa town of Gaza in Lebanon).

Smoking was prohibited in the house. The smokers were Montaha, Nada, Jihad, Zouzou, and I.

We took relay in the enclosed front porch (it was cold and couldn’t use the gardin). Hassib used to smoke pipe but quit 20 years ago.

Montaha reminded her son-in-law Jean, when she visited him in France, that she was banished outside for taking a smoke and then it got cold; she asked Jean to hand her a Vison coat. At this request, Jean invited her to the kitchen and opened slightly a window and told her “As for the Vison, you just have to wait”.

There was plenty of food and in a dozen varieties such as “kebeh nayeh”, tabouli, hot fish “samkeh harra”, homus, chicken shaworma, mouton with rice, rocca salad, and mother brought in “kebbeh bil hileh of kara3”.

I might also mention the dozen varieties of desserts that we enjoyed an hour after the first break.

Jihad loves “kibbeh nayeh” and Zouzou was relentless on that matter because Jihad is not supposed to indulge in eating heavy food: I guess Jihad should have been on strict diet. Zouzou also was relentless when Jihad enjoyed the sweet “karabeej”

My brother Ghassan cracked a joke: Our ex-Seniora PM was out of Lebanon for a few days and his whereabouts unknown.  Then, the rumor said that Seniora was asked financial counsel from the Emir of Dubai. As Seniora returned to Lebanon, Dubai declared bankruptcy.

I had two small glasses of arak “mtalat” (grape wine or Ouzou distilled three times).  I felt tipsy and kept my silence for ten minutes.

Bernard is hot for the next municipal elections (if election is not postponed); he wants to be member of the next council.  I am never asked on these matters: my CV in community services is nil and void.

A lovely and memorable feud story among the kids in the 70’s was resurrected.

Two groups got upset for one thing or another and two buses were hired by each group for a trip on a Sunday. Hassib was leading the first gang including Katia, Joelle, my brother Ghassan, and twenty other friends and relatives.

Zouzou and Ghassan Ghoussoub were leading the second gang, including Nassif, and twenty others gathered in great difficulty and in no time.

As Zouzou recounts: “I was on the street and then, I saw a bus passing by and Joelle was mocking me with agitated signs from the window. I hurriedly hired Milad, a bus driver, and he was drunk and just arriving home but he relented and agreed to drive us.

The two gangs met at the same places during the trip but they would not speak with one another for two weeks.

Joelle and Diane mentioned that they have photos of that trip; I have no idea who took pictures at that period; most probably a photographer showing up at expected touristic locations.

Hassib recalls that he had to wait for me because I was not home in Koneitra and that I boarded the other bus on the return trip and didn’t pay my fair.

Five minutes after we finished these recollections then my brother Ghassan remembered the event. He said: “Nassif saw me and said “we smash heads” and Ghassan retorted “we pluck out beards (menn nattef li7a)” ( Nassif was growing a beard).

I was lucky that I did not carry a beard at that period; my beard will grow several times with all kinds of shapes and styles…

I recollect these events but I have this strong impression that I watched “Hassib bus” passing by while I was on the balcony of his mother Montaha’s in Beit Chabab. There are discrepancies on the date of this feud.

Zouzou is under the impression that it took place in 1974 but I am sure he is far off the date.

I believe that it might be in 1970.  A few people mentioned that it was the year of the play that we gave; then it should be in 1969; I was to be playing and then I dropped out because I realized that I had to prepare for the second session exam of my first failed attempt at the Matheleme general public exam.

I am confused and whoever has better memory he is invited to join in his comments.

Khaled was in charge of taking pictures; ask him to post pictures on facebook. We parted company by midnight. It was Ad7a Eid to Muslims.  Happy Adha Eid to all.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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