A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

security blankets: sleep in troubled times

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 22, 2007

“You’re like a five-year-old child”, G said yesterday afternoon, upon hearing that rather than going directly home after work I had gone for coffee in Hamra with my friend S. I disagree, of course, but I think the childhood analogy works well in other respects.

I suspect that many of us have our own adult versions of the security blankets (or, in my case, stuffed seal named Artica) we used in childhood. During moments when “the situation”, as the Lebanese call it, deteriorates, I take mine to bed with me.

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Last night I emailed a careful but reassuring analysis of Sunday & Monday’s events to my aunt and sister and went off to brush my teeth.

As I washed and dried my face, thinking how nice an early night in could be, I heard the boom that was the car bomb in Verdun.

It wasn’t particularly loud – nothing like the bombs from last summer, which thudded in my heart as well as shaking the glass in my windows.

It wasn’t particularly loud, but it was … different. I knew what it was immediately.

What was strange to me was how normal the nighttime neighborhood sounds were immediately after the bombing – no running feet, no slamming shutters (instead, I heard shutters opening as people tried to see where the explosion occurred), and no sirens.

I live near one of the main arteries that leads to Verdun, which is often used by ambulances and police vehicles whenever there is an emergency. The sirens did not begin to wail for ten or fifteen minutes – long after I had found my flashlight, put my mobile in to charge (in case the electricity should go for any reason), and booted up my computer.

To be honest, I’m not sure which was more impressive: the fact that by the time my computer was booted the Free Patriotic Movement’s newssite was already reporting on the explosion (while LBC, al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya and the English-language sites were still silent), or the fact that my mother in Iowa knew about it within 20 minutes. Since when has the Midwest been so focused on Beirut? I mused idly while chatting with her online.

Bedtime came close to midnight, after I was satisfied that I had exhausted all the immediate news of the bombing. And as the photo above shows, I curled up with my favorite bad-times-in-Beirut items: mobile phone, radio, and flashlight.

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3 Responses to “security blankets: sleep in troubled times”

  1. intlxpatr said

    I’m so sorry this is happening again in beautiful Lebanon. Might as well have that cup of coffee.

  2. I was struck by how quickly news of the Ashrafieh bombing spread, and how slow the Lebanese press was to report on it.

    I got emails from people on the other side of the planet before Bahaar had even heard about it. Both he and I were on the shore, although a few kilometres apart. He hadn’t heard the bomb or the word.

    Many Lebanese had already gone to bed when both the Ashrafieh and Verdun bombs went off. It struck me as odd that the entire rest of the planet knew that Beirut was more insecure when people living at the epicenter of insecurity didn’t.

  3. to be honest, I was in bed when the Achrafieh bomb exploded – G called me to let me know.

    as for the Verdun bomb, I don’t know anyone, Lebanese or non-, who was already in bed.

    plus anyone on our side of town would have been woken by the ambulances/security vehicles, if not by the bomb itself!

    on the other hand, I know several people who, like myself, stayed up til 10:30 or 11 last night and then decided: I can’t wait up forever for tonight’s bomb. so nice of them to arrange this evening’s Aley bomb for 9 pm, before any of us goes to bed :(.

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