Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Furn el Chebak

A night at Jamal restaurant in Betroun; (August 11, 2009)

Note: Story extracted from my diary of Saturday, July 26, 2008

The weather is cloudy and slightly windy this afternoon.  Hanane left early. David slept over and is helping William with a project.

Adrea left with Elie (the driver of Victor) to open the dress shop.  Chelsea is watching cartoons and Victor is sleeping.  Ashley has finished taking a shower and is getting dressed.

Victor wanted to take Chelsea with him to work, but Chelsea would not miss her scout meeting this afternoon.

David and Ashley are assembled in William’s study (on the ground floor and I was using the other half).  A girl is honking for David to chase away the dogs in the courtyard.  Tony has joined the gang of three in William’s study.

I sat on my computer (that William has assembled for me) and resumed writing my diary.  Victor and Raymonde left at 5:30 p.m. for the wedding around Betroun.

Ashley brought down a few pieces of “gateau glace”: they had purchased two large pizzas from Pizza Hut.

A discussion was floating around “where to spend the night?“.

Romie, (a friend with David and Ashley)  strongly suggested Jammal Restaurant in Betroun; she said that she was familiar with the owner and the restaurant is inviting a band.  Nobody offered another alternative, so Romie’s option was agreed upon by default.

Betroun is a coastal town, about 75 minutes drive, and it has been experiencing some attraction with its nightlife and bars: there is a powerful rumor that the USA intended to establish a maritime base around Betroun.

These are pure chimerical dreams in Lebanon: even if the US wished to have a base in Lebanon with all its heart, it cannot happen.

Around 8:30 p.m. Ashley asked me if I would like to join them for a night out in Batroun and I accepted.  Elie brought Adrea around 9 p.m. and she was satisfied with the selling of clothes: she had cashed over 200,000 LL.

We drove off around 10:30 p.m. in two cars; Romie and David went with Hanane; the second car was driven by Fadi (friend of Tony).  Ashley, Tony and I went with Fadi.  Ashley stopped at the Byblos bank to get cash and we met at Antelias public parking lot.

We met Habib and then we dropped Hanane’s car in the parking lot of the supermarket Aoun in Zouk.  Hanane drove with Habib and we stopped in Jubail (Byblos) to pick up Youmna (David’s girlfriend); she was wearing high shoes and hanged a long face to prove to David that she is very upset with him; probably David failed to provide details on how to dress according to the event.

We arrived at Jammal Restaurant by 11 p.m. as Fadi realized that he is running out of gas for the return trip. Fadi decided to check a gas station to fill his car tank.

We had to cross the dense main street of Betroun in this crowded Saturday night. I guess we found no gas stations around; Fadi ended up consuming more gas and we got in the restaurant pretty late.

The entrance fee to Jammal’s was $20, including two drinks.

Many were swimming in the sea and there was a firework in the nearby beach.  Hanane and Habib were already enjoying a swim in the sea; we had hard time finding an empty table by the sea.

There were many foreigners in thongs and swimming trunks. Most of the girls were drunk or getting there fast.

It was not just an impression; my walk to the isolated far end of the beach showed me the precarious barefoot steps of the girls, and their need to get hold of arms and waists.

I ordered vodka and cranberry juice because I like sour cranberry. David danced for an entire hour with Romie, uninterrupted, and in lascivious contortions.  I joined them at the outside ring of the open “dancing floor” along with Ashley, Hanane, and Habib.

The tiny passage to the bar was blocked by the dancing area. Fadi was bored; I am not sure if he is on a short vacation or he is leaving shortly to France for a job.

A Capella Lebanese band started playing after 2:30 a.m. I decided to have a swim but the beach was filled with rounded stones; the waves made it even more uncomfortable to reach the deeper part.

At 3 a.m. everyone in our group decided that it was time to leave and it was a let down for me because I felt that this is the best moment for the party.

My getting wet was not worth it. What with these people?  If they were already worn out before going out then why force it?

Habib dropped David and Romie at Aoun supermarket and we picked them up; it was an occasion for me to piss “en plein air”.

We arrived home by 4:30 a.m. Tony decided that he was in an adequate form to drive home to Furn El Chebbak.  I backed my car to let Romie drive to Beit El Kiko.  I ate a small “fatayer bi lahm”. I had many dreams by 6 a.m.

Marie of my youth: Introspection (Addendum # 11)

 

“Marie”, She Said

 

It was a time when I was about seventeen or less.

By early dawn, I was on the balcony, the first floor of a ten-story building, facing Main Street. By early dawn.

I was reading or studying on that balcony, but my heart

Was looking out for this young girl soon to show up on the front steps of her building.

 

She was olive-skinned, large dark-eyed and hair done in two pony tails.

I was waiting for her to step out of her apartment building, opposite mine.

She would wait for her school bus with another schoolmate girl.

 

By early dawn, I am sitting or standing on that balcony,

And my heart is swooping down on that school girl about fifteen.

She is in her school dress, white shirt and blue short skirt.

Her blond and chubby schoolmate waited with her for the school bus.

 

Within two years, that blonde blue-eyed chubby girl metamorphosed

Into a blonde Nordic beauty, a svelte Prussian tall.

My dark-eyed girl used to lower her head then raise her cunning eyes up toward me.

 

It was a game for her. 

I was to her that stupid bookish young male.

In that game, she was the Beauty Queen and she was pleased of the attention.

 

She must have got used to me. 

Maybe she started to like me,

Or she appreciated the stubborn care that I generously bestowed upon her.

 

Her errands increased in the neighborhood so did my heart beats.

 

For a year, I could never muster enough courage to step down this one ridiculous floor,

Cross the street and start a chat with her.

 

One day she was waiting for a taxi.

I rushed down the stairs and waited by her side for a taxi.

I could not speak, my mind went blank and I barely was breathing.

 

Taxis made themselves scarce for an eternity.

I clumsily blurted out with a dry, unfamiliar voice:

What’s your name?”  “Marie” she said.

 

That is how it started. 

From then on, “what’s your name” is all the conversation

I could have with a girl I like.

 

Returning from a long stay overseas, I was told that the local militia ganged up on her. 

They used her as their love slave. 

She has gotten married.

 

It was a time when this womanhood was blossoming in roses and rainbow colors.

Fluttering in front of that manhood, shy and dazed with pallor.

It was a time when this womanhood was leaping in bounds, raw.

Looking at that degenerative manhood, crawling and craning his neck in awe.

Introspection (continue 11)

Something about my primary and secondary schooling

My brother and I were enrolled in a French Catholic Brethren school in Beirut, Furn El Chebak, and my sister Raymonde at a Sisters’ French school nearby.  I could not write or speak a word of French and had to waste another school year to catch up with my French.  My aunt Therese, who lived with us for three years before she forced herself to get married and whom I missed very much, used to be very patient teaching me French.

I recall the first time I was asked to memorize a few French history sentences about “Chevalier Bayard sans peur et sans reproche” and Therese was patient with me for over three hours.  Therese was training us for “dictee” spelling and I was awful and my pieces were fraught with mistakes even after several trials.  At the end of the year, I was one of the best in French and succeeded in both the Lebanese and French certificates. Therese used to take me to movies and buy me French books, “collection green and rose”, and she was basically my unique buddy.

I had no social life outside my family and the family of my aunt Montaha on the next parallel street.  The next school year, I was so good in French that I used to come from school and read French books till it was time to go to bed. I recall that I visited only once a friend at his house and was amazed at the freedom that he enjoyed and the collection of songs that he owned; it was Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Rolling Stones period.  I never received friends at my home and was never asked to be visited.

Dad purchased a black and white TV in 1964 and then a music box, basically as decoration in the salon but which we used occasionally as we grew up.  My parents were well off financially at the time but they cared less for entertainment; and we never demanded anything since we were not used to luxury life and luxury items.  Luxury is a training exercise and you have to be trained to spend money until you get proficient in looking luxurious.

Dad would never give us pocket-money and I never asked him to.  I used to save what I received on special occasions like Christmas and Easter.  I do not recall that I ever asked dad for money, either out of pride or because I reduced drastically my range of desires for products.  When I was about 18 I started taking the tramway alone and saw movies alone and roamed the streets alone for many years alone.  Even during my university years I traveled alone and never missed a new theater performance or a good movie whether commercial or projected at cultural centers.  Maybe Ghassan was a bit shyer than me; I recall during my class of “cinquieme” that once Ghassan needed badly to go to the toilet but refrained from asking permission.  Ghassan left a long trail of excrement on the street on his way home.

Girl helpers

At the time it was the custom for well off family to hire girl child helpers from Syria around Safita.  My family was no exception. The father of any of these children between 10 to 12 years old would visit once a year to collect his money and leave.  We had three child helpers. The first one was named Salimeh and she was my age of 12 but was taller, robust and all muscles; I recall that I used to box her buttocks, hard as rock.  She was not pretty but she loved us dearly and we got used to liking her cheerful attitude.

The next one was even younger and she used to get lost everytime she had to accompany my sister Raymonde from school.  Once, she lost her way and Raymonde was already at home and she saw Raymonde on the balcony and hollered to her to come down to join her and go home.

The third helper was short, hard working and pretty; she had a round face and very large drooping eyes. She was in love with me but I was at the age when I could not stand romance.  I was glad when her father took her away but she was in cry and would not leave.  This girl helper was the last that mother hired.  I guess mother realized that these kids were more of a hassle to her as we had grown up a bit.

Mother was hard on the helpers and she made them wake up very early and work all day long for over 13 hours, but mother was meticulous that they keep clean, eating of our own food and wearing decent clothes.  It was hard for me to accept the conditions of these helpers once I became conscious of their alienation away from their homes for over two years sometimes.

The late author, Mai Ghoussoub described the life of one these kid helpers in her book “Farewell Beirut” and how she turned out to be a ferocious and fearless fighter during the civil war; most importantly, she never tried to get any revenge on her “masters” even though the eldest son had raped her and she was confined never to leave the apartment; the girl was just utterly happy to feel free.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2021
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