'Paris of the Middle east'
05.09.2010 38 °C
BEIRUT known as the Paris of the Middle East, it was when I arrived in this wonderful city that I realised why its known as the Paris of the Middle east. All of a sudden I hear 'Bonjour' 'Cava' instead of 'Merhaba' or 'salam', suprisingly I start saying 'merci buku' instead of 'shokran'. When I approach people to ask for directions I am asked : la franco/ Arrabic.. my response is 'Nay- no French / Arrabic' only English this is followed by head shaking and confused look hmmm .Language is not the only reminder or difference from the rest of the middle east but the lifestyle of this city is surely different from anywhere you have been in the middle east. You also get the American influence in this city.
As you walk down the street you see a churche standing next to a Mosque.The church-bells starts ringing: 'ding dong- ding -dong'!!! and all of a sudden a call of prayer is heard from a mosque next to it. After spending three weeks in the Middle East durring ramadan this occurance was very odd indeed, I thought to myself it can only happen in Beirut. As you stroll the streets you notice the multi-culturalness of this city people from all walks of life, nation and race etc. The long robes and Hijabis are replaced by woman wearing skimpy shorts walking hand in hand with their boyfriends. The small coffee shops which sell Arrabic coffee in small glasses are replaced by many American style coffee shops, all of a sudden you have an option of ordering American late instead of Turkish/ Arrabic coffee.
As you procede in the streets of Beirut you notice the past this city has been through. Bullet holes on buildings walls, this is a reminder of the horrible past this amazing city has gone through.You also notice placards with missing persons notices all over the place, family members searching for their loved ones who went missing durring the war. In all this you still notice how this city has recovered and rebuild itself after the war, new buildings around this city makes you to realise this is a resistance city indeed.
As you navigate this city you see the big american style cars, you notice their emergency numbers, police cars etc you might be forgiven to think for a minute that you were in America. To make matters worse when you enter a shop to purchase a drink you are priced in US dollars or Lebanese pound (L£/ Lebanese Lira (Arrabic)) which has equivalent exchange rate with the American dollar , this made it the most expensive city in the Middle East (this was before I went to Israel). As I proceded in my navigation of this city I noticed a billboard for 'Ushers' concert to be held in a weeks time oppps its pity I will have left in a weeks' time, I would have loved seeing Usher in Beirut.
In the evening Beirut is a totally new game ball at hand. Tourist in youth hostels take out their make-up bags (large amounts of sun-screen are replaced by make-up foundations etc, hair gets transformed -hair - straigthners come out of bags and dormicilary rooms in the hostels become hair saloons with everyone having to wait for the plug to connect their straightners. Day outfits (khakhi trousers/jeans etc) are replaced by little black numbers, all of a sudden travel budies become hot ladies on a mission. You will be forgiven to think that you are in one of the party cities in the world. Going out for a meal in Beirut needs some serious arrangemnets to be made prior to attempting to enter one of their renowned resturants. Families celebrating birthdays or any other occasion,women well dressed seating in company of their male family companions or not , some strange seating arrangments can be observed as well which make you to wonder if they are family members, wife /wives, girlfriend or female companion for the evening ??? you can be bewilded as you observe the occurances in this resturant. After finishing my wonderful Lebanese meal, I decided to navigate the streets of Beirut by night. Strolling along the streets you notice people heading to the night clubs of Beirut,you hear music busting from the night clubs, you can party till the early hours. You will also notice families out and about, the night suddenly became a day. My watch tells me its midnight but BEIRUT tells me its midday...