Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Majdal Tarshish

Diary of a potential volunteer day-work in Rashaya (Lebanon): Or May be Not!

Saturday, Sept 17, 2011.

I woke up at 4:30 am and got busy preparing a large bag for a volunteer day-work in the village of Rashaya in west Bekaa Valley.

Rashaya is the gateway for hiking expeditions to Mount Haramoun (Hermon) or Jabal al Rab (over 3,500 meters in altitude), where Jesus supposedly was transfigured and showed up alongside Elias and someone else…

I have another larger bag for sleepover occasions that I used once in the last 10 years.

This program is a grant from Italy and coordinated by the ministry of social affairs.  The project is to refurbish all the 140 doors of the shops of the Old Souk…The program is for a series of 3-day volunteer works until the doors are done…

Ironically, this project was delayed twice. Why?

Every week, the minister Fa3our is either sick or busy to show up in Rashaya to have his picture taken. A few NGOs got pissed off and refused to participate any longer in that project. We have hundreds of NGO: They train people on how to fill and complete forms for grants…and very few other “useful” things…

I wore the T-shirt for this targeted project.  Let me think; I guess this is the only T-shirt I have that says “volunteer work”.  As if I am that stupid, at his advanced age, to physically get on my knees to rub and paint stupid doors…

I have been witnessing horror stories: University graduates in their late 20’s and 30’s, not finding steady jobs, or even temporary paying jobs, registering for volunteer projects with promises of free outing and free food…

I was supposed to be on the road around 6:15 am, but without warning me, Cedric decided that this time is too early.

I got in the car by 8 am and headed up toward Majdal Tarshish (1,200 meters in altitude), another road that links the seashore to the Bekaa Valley, beside the “Arab Highway” that passes by Aley, and has not advanced a single mile in the last two decades.

We crossed two dozen heavy trucks carrying loads from three big quarries in Majdal Tarshish.  I wish these trucks will dump their cargoes at a very useful public work, in order to justify these unlicensed quarries to keep functioning freely outside laws and regulations.  The trucks are either Abil Lama3, MSC, or non-marked.

We stopped at a small restaurant in Majdal Tarshish that serves breakfast of manakeesh, fresh vegetable, cheese, eggs, bread on saj… It turned out that the owner is the uncle of Father Simon, director of the private and religious school of St. Joseph in Cornet Chehwan.

Father Simon was the rector of the private Christian Maronite school of St. Joseph in Kornet Chehwan; he is now managing the religious association Caritas targeting needy communities and families: I am not sure this organization is transparent enough to verify that donated money is reaching the proper destinations.

We got back on the road at 9:30.  Ten minutes later, we had a flat tire. We used the spare tire that was not suitable to continue our trip.

I always warn people to borrow new cars for long trips.  We could see the Bekaa Valley down there; we saw a huge column of black fumes reaching 100 meters in the air: Was it a fire or an industrial complex…?

On our way back, we had to bypass the trucks.  The speed signs on the return way said 30 km.  I guess the signs were meant for the trucks, but we had to deal with this ugly reality since nothing was specific.

Cedric saw a tire shop in Bikfaya and got a deal to change two tires for $105 each.  Cedric dropped me home and went ahead to withdraw money…

The day was not a total loss: Days are never a loss to me, as long as I manage to post articles, read books, tend my garden, and do house chores…

Adrea is at the beach: She returned from a 3-week vacation in London, visiting her sister Joanna.

Chelsea refuses to study and joined the scouts’ activities this afternoon.

Raymonde is beside herself on how to control this Chelsea, the latest of 6, who dreams to be an actor in Hollywood…

I posted two articles and working on two other articles. Saturday, Sept 17, 2011.

Note: I almost forgot: I had my head shaved yesterday.  For over a year, I grew long hair and attached a ponytail.  I feel relieved, light, and energized.

I wake up looking as I looked before going to bed, no fuzzy hair every which way…. Many think that shaving my head was a drastic statement, sort of “I am still daring community common opinions...”.

This idea of shaving head was not originally in the plan: I am not an artist, or in the art business. It was a split-second decision, but I certainly love the interpretation.  I believe that extreme behavioral statements, Not political opinions, are the salt of mankind life.

Actually, I had my head shaved for a couple of weeks, three years ago, just to see how my head looked like, and if it was round enough and in nice shape…People didn’t like my head, my shaved head, and I was unable to get impartial feedback. (I think my shaved head is ugly and Not fit for esthetics)

At least, the skin of my head recovered health and got tanned for a while, for the first time in my long life. I intend to keep shaved the sides of my head, for the time being.

“Take that dog, pour on kerosine, and burn it”: Order literally obeyed

Raising cows for milk? : May 18, 2010

There are many cases of violence on pets.

For example, many cats lost an eye by youth targeting an eye for pleasure; an owner of a dog felt bored and ordered the attendant of the building to take the dog, pour on kerosine and burn it; the attendant literally obeyed the order.

My nephew and I started the trip to the Bekaa Valley around 7:45 am and we returned by 8:30 pm.

Mother prepared us two sandwiches of jam and cheese; they were returned intact.  About forty minutes drive and Cedric felt ravenous; we stopped at a restaurant in the town Majdal Tarshish and had “mankoushet” of whole wheat grain without sugar.

We took the mountainous road of Dhour el Chouweir-Tarshish- Zahlet.

Cedric was to call Lorice as we reached Chtoura to lead us to the farm land.

The Destination was in Kab Elias, sort of about 7 miles south.  I noted that the main entrance to the famous vineyard (winery) KSARA was located on the highway.

The farm was actually a cow raising industry for milking cows; about 60 heads producing one thousand liters of milk per day for 305 days a year.

A cow is not  productive for two months before it gives birth to aid in the birth process. Milking resumes just after birth by allocating a portion for the calf.

A cow gives birth about 4 times in its lifespan before its milk production is evaluated in the declining trend of less than 25 litres per day.  Increased illness frequency adds to decision of making use of its meat.  A cow is milked twice a day using mechanical equipment; once early morning and again around 4 pm.

A milk and cheese factory picks up the milk production everyday in refrigerated trucks. A calf is not productive for two years, unless sold.

Beside injecting cows with medicines for infection of the mammals, the vagina, pulmonary diseases and four other ailments, cows are not much trouble.  Now, if you integrate the business vertically by establishing wholesale cow feed enterprise and an animal pharmacy shop, then you can secure substantial profit.

Profit can be generated in many other venues:

First, by importing pedigree cows from Holland and selling them in Syria at a large profit margin.  Pedigree sheets come with names of the great grand father and mother cows; heck, we the citizens in Lebanon do not enjoy the honor of such detailed pedigrees as German or Dutch cows. Apparently, Lebanon and Syria forbid commerce in cows; this slight trouble is bypassed by intentional loose borders, along with secondary roads that circumvent stupid non economical regulations.  Original Syrian and Lebanese cows are not considered productive for the milking industry.

A second venue for increasing profit is by renting the space for horses: horses eat the same food and get along with cows.  I failed to ask if raising pigs with cows is a good idea: pigs are excellent in going through leftovers.  I guess collecting manure could be a good source for profit.

I got into thinking:  How about installing in-ground water jets directed toward the mammals as cows are eating before each milking?  Cows will be pleased, the milking would be facilitated with probable long-term increase in milk production, and the consumers will be satisfied with such “healthy” promotional ads.  The main disadvantage is the stench. 

I read that cow industries are major sources of CO2 production that are ruining our environment.  I also read that the Australian government is seriously thinking of destroying the one million wild camels because they generate enormous amount of CO2.

There are not much you can do in a cow farm, if visiting. 

Time drags on and you feel like napping most of the day.  The weather is dry and your eyes are dry and reading becomes a difficult alternative to killing time.  In my case, it turned out to be a busy day: more than 40 people came by for one reason or another; and I had the luxury of listening and communicating with more people than I meet in months.  For example:

A group of American students dropped by at noon; they intended to taste wine at Kefraya vineyard and then head on to visiting Baalbek.  They were from Vermont, Boston, Jersey, Silver Spring (Maryland) and studying at the university of Alexandria in Egypt.  They are enrolled in Semitic courses (mainly Arabic and Hebrew); I failed to investigate further whether they know that Aramaic is the root language for Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac (still spoken by many minorities in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey).

The group of Americans had two more days to tour Lebanon; they intended to visit Byblos and south Lebanon.

They could Not enjoy the public beaches in Egypt because women are practically fully dressed; they had to drive 5 hours west to the coastal town of Marsa Matrouh by Libya’s borders for some privacy.  I asked them if they investigated the availability of nude beaches: it never crossed their mind.

In mostly rural Vermont, you dig 160 feet and you reach fresh water wells. I said “The Amazon and Congo virgin equatorial forests will vanish but Vermont will remain intact”

I chatted with students at the Lebanese university in Fanar: they were not happy with the crowded learning environment of 300 students filling amphitheaters.  Most of these professors teach in private universities and they do field questions in restricted classroom sizes but not in public universities.

I learned also that private “foyers” or dormitories are also crowded: 11 girls in a single apartment with 4 bathrooms. Those university students who are not from the district of Metn believe that Fanar is in Beirut.  That is why it is preferable to name the coastal towns as belonging to Greater Beirut and save the humiliation that many districts are subjected to for being ignored by university students.

A relative to the owner of the farm came by and talked politics; especially on municipal election in Kab Elias.  Kab Elias is the vastest town in the Bekaa Valley and has 55 thousand inhabitant with only 10,000 registered to vote of which 5,000 voted.  He lost the election but considered himself a winner compared to the $2 million spent by the contending list of candidates.

I learned about the Beta dog organization that receives donations from foreign organizations to caring for the 300 dogs in the shelter at Mansourieh. French ex-actress Brigitte Bardot had donated 8,000 Euro last month.

Anyone interested in owning a dog has to undergo strict interviews and expect to be inspected twice a year for the dog comfort environment.

There are many cases of violence on pets.

For example, many cats lost an eye by youth targeting an eye for pleasure; an owner of a dog felt bored and ordered the attendant of the building to take the dog, pour on kerosine and burn it; the attendant literally obeyed the order.

Another dog owner got fed up with his barking dog living in the restricted balcony: he carried the dog and threw it over the balcony (problem solved).

A rich person had 7 dogs and donated money to charities but would not care for the dog.  One dog died in the the arms of the volunteer as the owner was on a vacation trip.

I got into talking with George; he is finishing his dissertation in Toulouse (France); he developed a software for handicapped individuals who can barely move a single finger.  A trackball is to be used and the QWERTY keyboard is displayed on the screen.  The handicapped person will point to a couple of characters and then a list of option names will be displayed to choose from.  George validated speed and accuracy of the software by experimenting with three subjects.  I blurted out that three candidates is not enough.  During the day, George was eating potatoes chips from a bowl and then, when he was satisfied he passed the bowl around and skipped me.

Gaby told me that you dig 6 meters and you obtain fresh water wells in Kab Elias.  Fruit gardens of peaches (about 8,000 sq.meters each) are flooded for an entire day. Given the number of gardens in that particular sector each garden is flooded every 20 days.  Gaby said: “Peaches of Kab Elias are the best in the world”.  We don’t get to enjoy Kab Elias peaches because refrigerated 8 and 16 wheeler wait to transport the harvest directly to Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Jordan.  I have eaten great tasting peaches in Lebanon; maybe they are not grown in Kab Elias; otherwise, I would die happy here and now.

I learned from Nada that her cousin Izi spend 6 months a year among tribal primitive people and six months in Lebanon.  Izi draw the daily life and  primitive people but she does not take pictures or even publish her diary for the benefit of us all: Izi is financed by her rich uncle and thus, has no compunction for sharing her knowledge.  Nada said that Izi has already toured the world.  Nada is to run the private museum in Jal El Deeb within two months that her rich uncle (brother of her grand father), living in Lauzane (Switzerland), is financing.

It seems that youth are very poor in tiny Lebanon geography.  No one of the subjects from the Middle Bekaa Valley district ever heard of Kesrowan.

Cedric had the hardest task of the day: He sat for 8 hours interviewing volunteered candidates for the experiment in a hot tent and sitting on a thin cushion.  He barely had two short breaks to have a quick lunch and then a cup of orange juice.  He ended up with a terrible back-pain.  I would suggest that the jury be reminded that the main controlling variable in the experiment was the ultimate discomfort that subjects were subjected to in order to extracting valuable confessions.

Going tangent has two advantages: first, novels that occasionally go tangent add spices and meat to the skeleton of mostly deja-vue stories; and second, going tangent is the trademark or main criteria of fun loving cultures.




February 2023

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