To me, Beirut has hands. This beautiful lady of a city, sparkling by the sea, she somehow gets under your skin. I have traveled for many years for business and pleasure, but I never found a city quite like her. My first visit was in 2001, but its only during the last five years that I really got to know her.
Having had the pleasure of working on a long-term project in Lebanon, I have had to return again and again for meetings and more meetings. The key to effective meetings is to know your partners well and build mutual trust, so you spend time doing other things too. For example, long dinners with plenty of food and stories, as well as an excursion or two.
Almost without you noticing, you start to extend your visit by some hours, or a day. Later, you find that traveling to Beirut without including 3-4 days extra is a waste. At some point, you find yourself in town for pleasure only, as there is not enough time to do everything and see everyone if you add work to the mix. Then, your promise of a quick return feels insufficient, and you are suddenly struggling to explain why you are leaving. Again.
That’s it, she has you on your knees. You start wondering how it all happened. Is it the energy in the air, the bustling social scene, the amazing food and drinks, the generous people, the feeling of history, the sweet sun, the annoying traffic, the blue sea…?? You try to figure out the consequences of feeling so much at home somewhere so different from your own place. The conclusion, believe me, is inevitable: you promise that one day, you will live in Beirut.
So, here I am. I know I am not the first one to fall for her tricks, and I will not be the last. I can see her smiling now, but I am ready to dive into the experience, full-time, as a resident. Dreams may come true, and dreams may be utterly smashed. Perhaps it’s all illusions, and I will fall straight on my face. I fear Beirut might devour me, but I am certain I will feel alive while it is happening.
Over the years I have read a lot about Lebanon, Beirut and Lebanese culture. I never find it to accurately show and tell the full picture. Perhaps that’s not strange at all, as there is a Beirut for everyone. This blog is a collection of my stories, of my Beirut.