time & stamps
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 23, 2008
Last night I attended a function for work, during which I was introduced to a woman of Lebanese-Saudi origin. How long were you in Lebanon? she asked me – and I realized that yesterday marked four months to the day since I left Beirut.
The passage of time matters to me for many reasons. For one, it means that its been four months since I last heard gunfire on a regular basis – just one of many normal nighttime sounds in my Beirut neighborhood. On a less exotic note, its been four months since I bought groceries in French, or in Arabic – or paid in a mixture of dollars and lira. So the passage of time signals to me how much my daily life has changed.
But it also suggests to me that my knowledge of Lebanon is moving from “present” to “past”. I’ve been told – and believe – that “in-country knowledge” has a shelf life of approximately six months. After this period – and without any major sustaining ties to the country, like family – one can no longer credibly claim to be able to speak about the country in the present tense. So come December 22, I will need to change my focus, and start to write about Lebanon in ways that acknowledge that the Lebanon I know is in fact a Lebanon that has evolved beyond my knowledge of it.
Not that this means that I won’t still continue to offer my opinion of this new Lebanon, of course :).
Back to Faylasoof’s stamps.
Today’s set includes more flora as well as a few stamps that are graphically very interesting. Look at this blue one at the top left, showing two men working with a pick-axe and a … I don’t know what. A blowtorch? At any rate, I like the verticality of its design and particularly the arabesque column at the left. And the two stamps on the right: cherries and figs, both of which are delicious in Lebanon, but as usual about which I have little else to say.
More flora in the bottom row – and you may notice that the fruits are from the same series that I posted when showing my little collection. I like them, and I certainly agree that Lebanon has good fruits – but I also imagine that fruit was a safe choice. Fruit isn’t sectarian: there are no Maronite oranges, or Druze pears. So I can just see how fruit would have been a happy, happy choice for the Lebanese post office.
I don’t find the pink stamp in the middle below particularly attractive, but I am curious to know more about it. The caption reads: “Ball of the Little White Beds 1964”. I am guessing that it commemorated some type of fund-raiser, but did Lebanese children really sleep in beds like this? Does anyone (Kheireddine?) know anything more about this?
The brown stamp at the right is another one produced in honor of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. The image on the left to me looks like a simplified Aztec calendar, while on the right I see a Phoenician ship with the Olympic rings emblazoned on its sails.
And below: grapes and flowers, another safe choice.