With everything that is going on around us it is hard for me to stick to my resolution of writing positively. There is so much anger around us. Justified anger, and with it has come violence in a lot of instances.

 

Today in Jordan demonstrations of Anger were reportedly peaceful. To me that is a big and pleasant surprise. Reports of olive branches being given to security forces by demonstrators put a big smile on my face and reminded me of images of flowers in the muzzles of guns in anti war demonstrations. I am happy to see the voices of the people rise. I am happy to see them assemble and march. But I wonder how much change will be affected by this? It is no secret that the marches would not be possible without a security clearance and the government’s approval. So we were “allowed” this freedom of speech today. We were “given” the space and “permission” to march, to chant and to express ourselves about inflation, prices and economy.  I wonder if it would be the same had the issues being protested different.

 

Last night whilst talking with a bunch of friends we said Tunisia is burning, and quickly others replied with and so is Egypt, and Sudan is disintegrating, Lebanon has no government, Jordan is angry and the list is growing. There is a lot of dissatisfaction all around, and with it has come dissidence. The winds of change are here. They are raging storms in some countries and gentle breezes in others. But the wind is gaining speed. You can hear it in people’s conversations and rhetoric and it is about time.

 

 

 

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It is now officially a year. A year since I arrived in a car with two people, two cats, useful and useless stuff and a lot of hopes and anxieties. One year later I am not sure what to say about this move and this life I have made for myself. I initially moved for four months to “test the waters”. Four months in I knew this is not the place for me, I just don’t fit in. This is not to say Beirut is bad, it just doesn’t work for me. I am not suited to live in the Paris of the Middle East. Yet I stayed. I was doing something I really enjoyed and believed in and that is why I stayed. I persevered and struggled along day in day out. Some days were better than others and I must say I have accomplished a lot in this year. However, is a good “fulfilling” job worth staying in a place where I have progressively and accumulatively gotten angrier and angrier and sadder and sadder?

 

 

And so one year on I know that I am planning my exit strategy. To go where and do what I do not know, it is challenging, it is scary but I know that I can’t stay in a place of anger, in a place that takes away hope and laughter from me.

A friend of mine scaled Everst and when he returned he brought me a small package. It was a very colorful roll that when unraveled a string of beautiful colorful flags with prayers surrounding Buddha was on each one. He told me they were pray flags that need to be hung in the wind so that they may send out prayers on your behalf to the world. They ward off evil, bring luck and protect. I hung them immediately and for over two years no one questioned their presence only their purpose!

Knowing I was going to move to Lebanon and into new territories I asked a friend who was visiting Tibet to bring some home for my new life. I thought I needed all the help I can get as well as some reminder of home. And so after I arrived I unraveled my new set and put them out. How quick were my Lebanese friends to make fun and joke away at the colorful flags making remarks that I found not only hurtful but very rude and intolerant as well. The flags stayed.

Earlier this week I moved to a new apartment and only last night did I hang my flags, happy to see them flutter in the wind for me. It is part of what makes my home a home. And so I went to sleep just that bit more content with my symbolic and simple nestling. But after coming home from work today I was confronted by the doorman making these statements “the other tenants want you to remove the flags immediately” “what are they anyway?” And the most upsetting remark of them all “that there is no need for them” said in a very dismissive tone. The reason given for the removal of the flags was the outside of the building is “ours” not “yours” and so it has to remain uniform. And mind you this Urban, concrete jungle is not so pretty so I really don’t understand this obsessive need for concrete uniformity!

The whole issue in the grand scheme of things is trivial, but is significant of much larger things at play to name a few xenophobia, conformism, and that simply it is very difficult for the Lebanese to celebrate what isn’t them or even their idea of them.

I have been here for a bit over four months and I feel Lebanon is a hostile unwelcoming place. It is about circles of exclusivity. I have been trying very hard to turn those ideas around and become positive about this experience. Some days I am successful and other days I fail, sometimes even miserably. There have been people around me who are supportive and welcoming and inclusive and to them I send out a big heartfelt thank you. Slowly I am finding these people, but it is a struggle which I will explain another time. For now I have to try and find a way to make these flags flutter in the wind for me where there is no wind.

I feel impotent. I feel angry and frustrated. Gaza is being leveled people are being exterminated like they are vermin, rodents to be snuffed out easily and quickly. And we watch doing nothing. You can go out and demonstrate in front of government offices, embassies, unions. You can donate time, money, resources and blood. You can send thoughts, prayers and all of that. But it is all futile; The killing will not stop.

Aid is all good and necessary to support the Palestinians. The opening of borders for humanitarian cases is also good. Solidarity is good. Our anger and frustration is all good. But to me it is all a farce. All of this should never have to happen! There should be freedom of movement. There should be food, water, medicine, electricity and dignity. And there is no way we can give any of that to the people in Gaza.

Nothing justifies the killing of humans in this way. This genocide, this cleansing is an extermination of a peoples unwanted by the Israelis. It is horrific and the international community condemns these acts with one hand and with the other continues to support Israel with justifications, sympathy, money, and weapons.

I feel impotent because whatever I do here may help the situation but will not stop it and that is what needs to happen. I have been racking my brains since I heard and my anger and frustration levels have just been escalating. If I demonstrate will politicians or diplomats here be able to pressure Israel into stopping? If I donate blood will it erase the trauma and the pain inflicted in the psyches of the wounded and the maimed? If I send aid in any form or shape or size will it bring back the dead?

Who can make this stop? How can we make it stop? I am at a loss! As an individual sitting here in the comfort of my home, in the warmth of my office, behind a screen what can I do? Singularly or collectively not just to help ease the suffering but to stop this atrocity WHAT CAN I DO?

Its been a little over two weeks since I’ve written. It’s a long time, or so it seems. I made the decision not to write while I was in Palestine, and since returning I have not been able to pick up. Looking back I can say the decision was made so I don’t write in anger. 

 

 

The silence has been a seething one. Anger and frustration borne out of wanting, what I can’t have, not being in control of my own destiny, denied entry into places  I want to go, guns everywhere, conversations stifled and taboo, expectations unfulfilled. Oh the anger. And so the decision was until I decompress and become a less passive aggressive human once again I will not write and subject others to the hostilities within. The words would only scald and pierce and I have done enough of that with individuals.


And so I’m back to putting pen on paper and I can say with a smile on my face… watch this space 😀

The prices have gone up. We are all feeling the crunch. I noticed it immediately with the commute to work and how my transportation costs went up by at least 15%. I also eat out a lot and the prices there have gone up by at least 20%. The electricity bill has sky rocketed because we can’t really afford to buy diesel anymore and if we do we use it frugally. I have yet to go grocery shopping but I fear the worst there. Will this stop or is there more to come? And I haven’t even spoken about surcharges or taxes.

A lot of my behavior is going to change in the coming months. Things I took for granted and spending without thought are behaviors of the past. Today, before I open my purse I think twice and thrice. But I am still very privileged. I can make these choices. What about the poor?

I have heard stories of shoes being stolen from mosques to burn as fuel. I have heard stories of child prostitution late at night. I have heard grumblings from all around. I have heard of farmers who have given up on their crops because they cant afford to water them anymore. The result? Everyone is trying to make an extra shilling from everyone. People are even complaining about a difference of three piasters now; The three piasters may not hold a lot of value, they sure do make a difference.

We are in a situation that will explode if the people are asked to give one more thing. There is nothing left for us but to sell our souls, and hike up our skirts if anything else goes up. AND IT WILL. Something’s gotta give and I don’t know what it is. I am not an economist, but whether it is to divorce the weakening dollar, increase wages and not marginally and insignificantly, and infuse the economy in a way that does not depend on handouts, something’s gotta give and soon.  I don’t want to see our skirts being hiked up in anyway.