How to Be Lebanese

ImageRelax, take a deep breath, roll out of bed and make yourself a cup of coffee – Turkish or instant. It’s a new day, feel the warmth of the sunshine on your skin. Greet your parents, you’d probably still be living with them by the time you are 30. Look at the calendar, it’s Friday. Half of the country is going to shutdown before noon this day, so you better hurry up and get whatever it is you need done before the noon prayers.

Spend two hours and twenty minutes in front of a mirror – better arrive late than look ugly. Change your clothes a few times, and fix your hair. Grab your two, or more, cell phones; snatch your car keys and get out of the door. Start the engine, flip through the radio stations; songs that have no meaning or artistic value are being played. Listen, because you have no choice. And realize that this agreeable behavior will bring you a step closer to becoming Lebanese.

Drive into the crowded streets; curse the crowded streets. Try to take shortcuts, and branch out into less crowded roads, only to realize that most people have done just the same. Get stuck in traffic, again, for two hours instead of walking for 20 minutes to your destination. Try to drive between the lanes, mount the sidewalk if you have to; and when you arrive to your destination, cut through the line and say: “I’m in a hurry.”

Have qualifications but don’t have a job. Or have no qualifications and have some VIP put in a good word for you. Complain about the prices of gas, how the money is being wasted on phone bills, and how no one can afford decent housing. Complain some more about the electricity and how Lebanon is one of the few countries worldwide to still be experiencing electric blackouts on a scheduled daily bases. Whine very often, on Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp messenger; but perform no action whatsoever to change your reality.

Speaking of social media, be very active. You have a much fulfilled life, in spite doing nothing and being on the verge of bankruptcy, and you do not hesitate to document every moment of it. On weekends check-in wherever you go out for dinner or a party. On the other days, photograph you lunch, or give your eager fans a selfie.

Dramatize everything: your life, your relationships, your problems, your boobs, lips, and behinds. But keep your thoughts and ideas small; they probably won’t get you anywhere in life. Speaking of ideas: DO NOT READ. You’re above that. Reading is for the ignorant, and the lifeless. You have a fulfilled life, doing nothing, and you are the smartest person on the planet. If you’ve gotten this far reading this post, then you probably don’t have a big chance of becoming Lebanese. But read on, there might be hope.

Become a terrorist if you have to, joke about terrorism, or say things like: “We are used to terrorist bombing.” All your beloved country needs is more people like you, who have given up on it. Last but not least, look around, see the smog coming from the bombarded buildings, watch women and children cry over lost ones, observe people rot on the streets and die from hunger, notice the demolition of culture and nature around you, and the death of hope in everyone you know; then say: “Lebanon is the most beautiful country in the world.”


20 thoughts on “How to Be Lebanese”

  1. Had me lol on the commuter bus. Great build as the acerbity rises through the banality to the quiet rage of the last parag. But lacking the bombed-out buildings, it could be Honolulu here, too. We need a Camus to communicate the hollow electronic busyness of today.

  2. @Margaux this speaks to more people beyond the borders of Lebanon – I suppose then many of us are on the path of being Lebanese! What a beautiful piece! Haven’t read such in a long time.. Keep Writing!

  3. It takes great courage to speak up and to be blunt. Since I do visit Lebanon on a yearly basis, I hear you loud and clear. “The demolition of culture” is worrisome and so is the destruction of the environment. I do think though that perhaps this is how people get to cope and normalize a dysfunctional existence. There is still beauty in Lebanon though, it is hidden in people’s hearts as they try to deal with their daily struggles, and it is embedded in a culture that is quite special in many ways.

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