A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

Archive for the ‘kleenex’ Category

morning in the suburbs

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 11, 2008

Good morning and happy Sunday from Beirut’s suburbs. Its a beautiful day, and finally it seems that the city is becoming as calm as my current view of it suggests:

I think I’ll take advantage of the calm and blog about something trivial 🙂 .

I’m an early sleeper and an early riser, so when I’m not living solo, I often spend my first waking moments indulging in a little forensics.

Yesterday afternoon we were joined by a mutual friend who had made it out of Hamra during a lull in the fighting. This morning, my CSI Lubnan investigations tell me that his presence has added greatly to the guy-ishness of H’s apartment.

961 beer bottles on the kitchen counter … cigarettes in the ashtray … TV remote controls inter-mixed with recharging laptops – all the trappings of a Saturday night at home in media-savvy guy land.

But I’m mystified by one thing: there are also five or six torn pieces of kleenex scattered around the living room and front hall, leading into the kitchen. They’re clean, but torn.

I can understand the remote controls (staying on top of the wada3) and the laptops (staying in touch with friends around the country and the world).

I can understand the beer (Saturday night) and the cigarettes (small acts of rebellion, justified by the wada3).

But what on earth were they doing with the little tufts of kleenex?

I’m tidying up my laptop as I ponder this utterly mystifying question, and sorting through photos I’ve taken over the past few weeks.

This is a photo of the Corniche, coming towards Ain El Mreisse, that I took on Wednesday afternoon. Thanks to the strike, the road was totally empty – shocking at the time, but now merely a footnote to all the events since then:

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Posted in Americans, beer, Beirut, friends, home, kleenex, Lebanon, media, politics, words | 3 Comments »

bovine shopping & artistic license

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on July 8, 2007

For the past few hours I have been working away on things domestic and things professional, and anticipate capping off this afternoon of excitement with a trip to my local ba2ala, “mini-grocery”, for some kleenex.

In an earlier stage of Arabic study I used to mistakenly refer to the ba2ala as ba2ara, “cow”. No jokes about Asian r’s and l’s, please, or about my Midwestern roots – the mistake was utterly my own, and it was a strange one. Not only is that crucial third consonant different, but ba2ala has a long second “a”, while ba2ara’s vowels are all short.

On the other hand my most frequent purchases there are milk and yogurt, so perhaps my sub-conscious mind does see “grocery” and think “moooooooo”.

In between bouts of productivity I discovered the “contrast” feature on my photo editor. This is a little slice of Bliss Street, taken last month after a strange summer rain, with the photograph’s contrast heightened by 25%.

bliss-st.jpg

It could have been taken today – Beirut’s streets are always quiet on Sundays, and never more so than during the summer, when the heat and the siren call of the beach empties the city of its usual traffic.

Posted in Americans, animals, Arabic, art, Beirut, dairy, Iowa, kleenex, Lebanon, photography, time, vanity, words | 2 Comments »

the Phoenician gene

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 29, 2007

It has been hot here this week – not in the Kuwaiti way my aunt describes, with dry heat and dust, but in the Lebanese way. The “typical Lebanese” summer weather is upon us, and it is sticky and humid.

The afternoon humidity here hovers a little above 70% – roughly 66% higher than Kuwait, and 62% higher than Damascus. Since my personal dew point seems to be situated somewhere in the 50th percentile, I not only sweat but appear actually to produce dew from my skin’s contact with the thick air.

Yes, dew and sweat, the reality of which is even less attractive than whatever image those words might suggest. During the summer here I walk around in a state of semi-liquidity, shimmering as the sun shines on the millions of micro-droplets that rest on my skin.

It sounds lovely, and from a distance it might be. But up close, I fit my college junior advisor’s adage about women who look “good from far, [but are] far from good” when the distance narrows.

To cope, I have adopted that most Arab of remedies: the kleenex. Boxes of tissues abound in this region, perched atop cash registers, behind the passenger seats in taxis and private cars, and, of, course on tables in so-called “popular” restaurants, where they double as napkins.

The abundance of kleenex boxes is not due to some mysterious Arab need for frequent nose blowing. People here use tissues to wipe their faces when it is hot out – a practice I have learned to endorse whole-heartedly.

I can learn the fine art of tissue-ing, but what I cannot do is train my body to cope with the heat.

When I look out of my taxi door window, glasses sliding down the bridge of my nose, I see cool and collected Beirutis going about their business without the slightest trace of sweat.

How do they do it? I wonder.

This morning, I came up with an answer: its the Phoenician heritage. Perhaps there really is a Phoenician gene.

Posted in Americans, Arab world, Beirut, fashion, humor, kleenex, Lebanon, neighbors, weather | 1 Comment »