A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

Beirut: sunset days

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 15, 2008

I’m realizing how much I will miss bits and pieces of life here – and how difficult it is to embrace the idea that I am starting to see things – billboards, roads, neighborhoods, villages – for the last time. Well, not for the last time, but for the last time in a while.

My aunt photographs Kuwait’s sunrises; H’s building faces west, so I photograph sunsets. Tonight’s was a liquid summer sunset – the humidity in the air seems to make the sunset thicker, but still beautiful:

Thanks as always to my google news alerts, I learned that someone else is feeling nostalgic for Beirut as well. (Legitimately nostalgic – mine is a weird type of predictive nostalgia: I’m nostalgic for what I think I will be nostalgic for once I have actually left Beirut.)

Roger Cohen, one of the New York Times columnists, apparently worked in Beirut during the early 1980s. While I’ve been missing Beirut on behalf of my future self, he has been missing Beirut on behalf of his past self – and on behalf of the future his past self could not imagine.

Here’s the beginning of his column:

About a quarter-century ago, I was in West Beirut at the Commodore Hotel, once described as a functioning telex machine surrounded by 500 broken toilets. You lined up to use the telex. There was a war on in a divided city. There was also plenty of Black Label.

It was hard to get in, harder to get out. The airport was closed. You sailed from Cyprus to Jounieh, a village north of Beirut. The ship couldn’t dock there so you transferred at sea to small fishing boats that took you ashore. Jumping from one to the other across a yard of heaving water caused some women to scream or balk.

We were comfortable enough at the Commodore. You got used to the shelling. Some Beirut kids, it was said, could not sleep without the sounds of war because that was all they had known.

It was good to be cut off. As a journalist, that’s what you wanted to be: cut off, except for that telex line.

The rest (its not a long piece, and you’ll enjoy reading it) is available here.


One Response to “Beirut: sunset days”

  1. moose said

    Roger Cohen writes with nostalgia more of the adreline pumping through his veins as he worked in war torn Beirut.
    I wonder if the “other” Cohen was speaking of Beirut when he sings about the HOLE in the universe…

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