Dunking & lounging: parents in Beirut
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on March 27, 2008
Its a lovely Thursday evening at home – I’ve been out most nights this week, and am delighted for the chance to do nothing but catch up on exciting home projects like laundry and desk cleaning.
Yes, its a lovely Thursday evening at home – especially since I am enjoying the not-to-be-underestimated pleasures of a rat-free apartment 🙂 .
But I am also missing my parents, and fondly remembering the quirks of Beirut that struck them most.
The day after they arrived, my father was thrilled to discover that Dunkin’ Donuts has established a solid foothold here.
You won’t believe what I just thought I saw, he said. A college student carrying a Dunkin’ Donuts to-go cup.
Well, I was taking them around Ras Beirut at the time, so the college student part wasn’t too unbelievable. And H mentioned just last week that Dunkin’ Donuts is apparently the fastest growing franchise in Lebanon. So when I sent my parents back to their hotel while I stopped at home to toss in a load of laundry, my father had a little adventure of his own: he asked the concierge for walking directions to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts.
They didn’t have crullers, he reported later. (Yes, he’s a New England’er. For those of you wondering what a cruller is, you can find more information here. As for the pronunciation, real Northeasterners say it “krul’-ah”.)
But the Dunkin’ Donuts he found did have something more.
I wish I could have taken a photo, my father said. It was the perfect image: typical Dunkin’ Donuts franchise, but instead of a police car out front, it had a machine-gun toting soldier manning the turret of an APC.
Ah, Beirut :).
(Advertisement taken from yesterday’s Daily Star. H must be right about the growth rate.)
As for my mother, she would definitely have gotten the “Army men like doughnuts too” photo. She turned out to have a wonderful knack for taking out her camera in front of almost every military installation we passed. And despite my paranoia and anxious “No, Mom!” cries, not one soldier raised a fuss. Perhaps she looked too intent on her photography – or perhaps they gave her a break because Friday was Mother’s Day :).
(I’ve had to hand my camera over to soldiers for taking photos in the wrong place before, and have had at least one friend hauled in for questioning, so it wasn’t gratuitous paranoia.)
My mother also wanted to do some shopping while they were here – she has fond memories of buying out the souks of Damascus. But after a trip to the artisanat (“well, I’m ready to move on”, she said after politely examining all the trinkets) and the ABC (“but I can get all this at home”, she said. Um, yes – and its cheaper. That’s why I save my shopping for the US.) she hit upon a new idea.
I’d like a really nice argileh, my mother announced one afternoon.
Now if there is anyone who truly embodies the American distaste for smoking, that person is my mother. So I tried to dissuade her.
You can buy those in the United States, too, I told her.
I don’t think so, she said. I’ve never seen one.
Well, said my father helpfully, perhaps you haven’t been hanging out in enough head shops.
But I see from her latest email that she did find a treasure – hip, modern, and distinctly Lebanese, and one that I can’t wait to borrow. On their way home, my parents stopped off in Boston so my father could get a real cruller … and visit our extended family, of course.
So when my mother emailed yesterday afternoon, she told me that she was packing up for Iowa – to the sounds of her latest CD purchase: Virgin Megastore’s Lebanese Lounge.
Its not exactly an argileh, but it does sound good. You can hear samples here, and of course those of you in the Middle East can buy your own copy at your local Virgin store.
Miss you, Mom and Dad!