A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

Archive for the ‘curfew’ Category

a little night blindness

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 4, 2007

I don’t think you should go out this evening, G said to me. You can’t see and there’s a war.

Right on both counts, it seems. Thanks to an eye exam in the afternoon, my eyes are big glassy pools of dilation. (I’m typing this post tap by tap, squinting at the screen through one eye.)

And thanks to an as yet unknown perpetrator, the days of quiet have been replaced by another bomb – this one set in an empty passenger bus on the eastern fringe of town.

Don’t worry, I replied. I’m not going anywhere.

I imagined myself wandering through the city night with these eyes. Pardon me, I would say, but could I feel your chin? I can’t see anything, and I just want to be certain there aren’t militants about.

Not the most efficient system, nor the most efficacious. On the whole, I’m glad to have stayed in.

Posted in Americans, Beirut, curfew, explosion, health, home, Lebanon, news, politics, radio, words | Leave a Comment »

depending on one’s definition of fun: the week in Beirut

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 27, 2007

Last night I had supper with a friend who lives in Syria but comes to town occasionally. We were four, dining in a quiet restaurant in Gemmayzeh: two Americans, two Lebanese.

Midway through a supper filled with talk of the “what do YOU think will happen next” variety, our conversation hit a brief lull.

“So,” my friend asked, “did any of you do anything fun last week?”

I looked at him. I looked at the other two. They looked at him. They looked at me. We started, slowly, to laugh.

Not hysterical giggles – a big full laugh from each of us, that rose and swelled with the relief of knowing that this wretched week was ending.

“Honestly”, I finally gasped, “this really wasn’t the best week for fun”.

Posted in Americans, Beirut, curfew, Damascus, food, friends, Lebanon, media, news, politics | Leave a Comment »

under pressure; under control

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 26, 2007

I learned a new expression yesterday: ضبط النفس, self-control. For a while I mis-read it (I watch television on my computer, and sometimes the streaming pixillates televised text) as ضغط
, which means “pressure”. I wondered how it was that “pressuring the self” translated to “self-control”. But no – ضبط means overcoming, mastering, or restraining, and was very appropriate for the day.

Yesterday afternoon, Nasrallah and Berri issued announcements saying “friends [an9sar] of the opposition and constancy [al-muwala, a word with Islamic connotations of contracts and the obligations of friendship], steer clear of/get away from discord [al-fitna] and leave the streets immediately“. Saad al-Hariri, who had been conspicuously absent from the news these past few weeks, somewhat tardily asked his followers to “exercise self-control“. I appreciated both requests, as well as the language lesson.

In the end, the army-enforced curfew made it possible for all concerned to honor both requests with no loss of face.

I passed the remains of their night-time installations on my way to the gym: road blocks on my street and on Edde/Lyon Street; trucks filled soldiers and MPs; and more, unsmiling, clustered on the street corners, guns in hand.

Today is beautiful: sunny and warm, with a hint of balmy spring in the air. I wish it were raining; I can’t see the Lebanese mixing things up in bad weather. The sunshine and the warmth make me uneasy.

On the other hand, the sunshine and sunny clime is precisely what makes Beirut and its sister cities up and down the Levantine coast such storied entrepots. As I rounded the corner to the sea, I saw a container ship making its massive way to the port. It seemed the latest incarnation of the ships celebrated in one of the poems I loved most in high school – John Masefield’s Cargoes:

Quinquireme of Nineveh, from distant Ophir
sailing home to haven in sunny Palestine.
With a cargo of ivory
and apes and peacocks
sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

**********************************************************************

 

On my way home from the gym, I made a small detour (actually, my daily trip is filled with small detours – I like seeing the different streets, and I prefer not to have a totally fixed morning routine). The little street I walked down houses a hotel where my friend M and I stayed during a delightful overnight trip here two years ago.

We had come for a party: my friend A was turning 33, which, as I so helpfully pointed out, was the same as as Christ when he was put to death.

Before the party, though, we had our own adventures. Sandwiched in between lunch at the Virgin Megastore Cafe and what would prove to be a quite fruitful shopping jaunt in Verdun, we ran into a Hizb al-Tahrir demonstration.

M. is Canadian, but was working for an organization with strong ties to the United States government. “So, what do you think the American Embassy would say about our being here for this demonstration?” M. asked me, while snapping photo after photo of the peaceful and rather friendly-looking demonstrators.

Ha ha, I laughed uneasily, less sanguine and a bit irked with myself for having left my camera in Damascus.

The demonstration was a family affair: men, women, and children of all ages. They insulted no one; and no one we saw or heard insulted them.

I miss demonstrations like this, and Lebanon does, too. Without the leavening presence of fathers, mothers, sisters, wives, and children, groups of young men are a danger to themselves and those around them.

And as for the leaders who so willingly transform this next generation into fodder for their own glory, shame on them. Universities are the locus of a country’s hopes for its future – not for its destruction.

Posted in Americans, Arabic, Beirut, Canadians, curfew, friends, Iowa, Islam, Lebanon, time, tourism, travel, weather, women | 3 Comments »

life as an ostrich

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 25, 2007

Rather ironically in light of the day’s events, the one post I had planned to write this day was titled (in my mind, at least) “life as an ostrich: head-in-the-sand pleasures of Beirut”.

I had intended to talk about the little things I love here, like my … shower curtain.

I’m a serious person – at times, edging toward dour. My shower curtains have always been plain: stark whites in luxurious fabrics. Grave curtains to match their grave owner.

When I shopped for a shower curtain for this apartment, I found something quite different. Perhaps this is what comes from shopping in Kuwait, where I found much of my apartment’s “detailing”.

In any case, my shower curtain here is light and witty, a heavy clear plastic covered in …. rubber duckies.

I have never had a rubber ducky. I never sang the song. But I love this shower curtain.

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However, it turned out to be a difficult day to be an ostrich. From the Jund al-Sham this morning to the Mustaqbal/Amal/Hizbullah/meen kamen this afternoon, today seems to be a big step backward for this little land.

So tonight this curfewed ostrich will bury its head in work and journalists’ punditry about what the day’s events portends for tomorrow.

Posted in Americans, Beirut, curfew, home, Lebanon, news, politics, time | 2 Comments »